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Red Champion by Dellacqua

Format: Novel
Chapters: 23
Word Count: 87,269
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse

Genres: Humor, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Scorpius, Albus, James (II), Hugo, Rose
Pairings: Rose/Scorpius, Other Pairing

First Published: 05/04/2009
Last Chapter: 07/12/2011
Last Updated: 07/12/2011

Summary:




Completely outstanding banner by the incredibly talented MissyPadfoot @ TDA

The Triwizard Tournament is back. Rose Weasley finds herself fighting for Hogwarts, with her past enemy Scorpius Malfoy, in a Tournament of impossible riddles, fights with magical creatures and a race against time, not just to win the Tournament but also to save her heart. Can the feisty redhead who acts first and thinks second possibly succeed?


Chapter 1: 1 - The Next Generation
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Author Note: This is, bizarrely enough, being written way after this chapter was first published as I’m resubmitting it purely to sort out the formatting which was a bit shoddy before – too many essays mean I always block text together. Anyway, hopefully the layout is easy to read now. Thank you very much to anyone and everyone who decides to read this story, it’s my first fanfic and I am enjoying writing it immensely. If you have a moment it would make my day if you left a review. Enjoy!



1- The Next Generation:



“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyse you,


they’re supposed to help you discover you who are.”


Bernice Johnson Reagon



 



For one short moment in time it felt as if the world had stopped moving.



It happened at the exact moment that Professor Quila’s painted red lips shaped and spoke the three words, “Rose Weasley. Hogwarts.”



Rose released a sharp breath as the sounds and actions of those around her finally reached her ears over the deafening beat of her thumping heart. She felt Albus’ firm hand pressing on her shoulder and squeezing slightly, offering his congratulations and support.



Rose smiled, dazed, at the congratulatory remarks of those around her and with near robotic actions she clambered from the worn wooden bench at which she sat and walked towards the staff table at the head of the Great Hall.



“Through the door to my left, Miss Weasley,” Professor Quila gestured with a manicured hand, a glitter of triumph and confidence in her eye. Rose followed her Headmistress’s instruction and turned the rusty iron handle of the door to her left and stepped quickly inside. She shut the door noisily behind her and pressed her back against it.



She grinned, letting out a burst of laughter as she realised she’d done it; she’d been chosen. A hand shaking in fear and excitement pressed against her heart as she tried to calm its feverish pumping. Two other students around her age stood surrounding a crackling fire which burnt merrily in an ornately decorated hearth and both stared unabashed at her as she walked further into the room. The girl of the pair, with deep brunette hair, raised a hand in greeting whilst the boy cocked a pale eyebrow and gave a curt nod.



These two people confirmed it. Rose was one of three; one of three champions. Rose was the Triwizard Champion for Hogwarts.



With semi-confident steps she crossed the room and sank into a patched leather armchair, jumping suddenly as the door to the room swung open and another Russian student, like the girl on her right, stalked into the room and embraced the Durmstrang champion. For a moment Rose felt confused before remembering the new rule to the Tournament; each champion would have a partner. The partner could not partake in any of the challenges but would be given all the same information as their school’s Champion, giving them as much help as they could.



Rose’s mind worked over all the possibilities of who her partner could be. Also chosen by the Goblet of Fire, her partner would consequently be somebody who had originally entered themselves for the Tournament which narrowed down the possibilities.



 However, her musings were interrupted by the heavy tones of the girl beside her who offered her hand and finally introduced herself as the Durmstrang champion, Katalena with her partner Dimitri.



The room’s wooden door opened a second time, the rusted hinges creaking as a sandy haired boy entered; his nod and handshake with his fellow schoolmate showed they were not familiar.



The Beauxbatons champion followed the example of Katalena and held a hand to Rose, introducing himself as Alexandre and his partner as Philippe.



Rose smiled genuinely at her fellow Champions but stayed seated, eagerly awaiting the next person to enter the room, her partner. The sound of scraping metal echoed throughout the somewhat claustrophobic space as the door creaked steadily open and a fair-haired boy strolled into the room.



Rose’s heart sank as she recognised instantly the arrogant swagger, the messy mop of dark blonde hair and the smirking lips of Scorpius Malfoy.



He cocked his head and continued to Rose, taking the chair beside her.Rose sighed deeply enough for Scorpius to hear, and turned her head away from him.



“Don’t worry,” he whispered quietly to her, leaning slightly forward, “you can rest assured I dislike this arrangement as much as you.” He sat back in his seat, folding his arms across his chest and introducing himself to the other people occupying the room.



Rose and Scorpius had always had a ...turbulent...relationship. They had known each other since childhood as a side effect of the pre-existing relationship between their parents, who had post-war decided to put their differences aside.



Consequently their paths tended to cross during social functions and in an effort to move on from old feuds, they were constantly paired up. This, however, didn’t inspire any co-operation between them.



Rose didn’t even know what it was about Scorpius which riled her up so much, she just knew his very presence constantly annoyed her. His easy arrogance, infamous womanising and over-confidence hardly helped matters, and now she would have to work with him. What help could he possibly be to her?



Rose frowned and couldn’t understand what qualities he could have which the Goblet of Fire would justify as being helpful during the competition. She shook her head slightly, dark red curls bouncing, as the Heads of the three participating houses entered the room.



Professor Quila led the two other individuals, both of whom were men, to the glowing fireside and congratulated each of the students in turn.



“For now,” she said, “you will need to do nothing except relax and work on your existing magical skills. The First Task will be a secret to you all, with any luck, and you will have the advantage of your wand.” She smiled at them all.



“What is to follow will be difficult however with your partner we hope adversity and obstacles can be overcome, and the rightful champion will claim their reward.” At this point she clapped her hands together, making a slight metallic sound as several jewelled rings clashed, and her mouth changed to a firm line.



“However, remain assured that any cheating in this competition will be harshly punished and animosity between houses, or competitors and their partners, swiftly dealt with as more than anything this is an activity for bringing people together.” She paused for a moment, letting her words sink in.



“On that note, you should all go to bed and get a good night’s rest, this evening has been eventful.” With a final nod at the rooms occupants and a smile to Scorpius and Rose she swept out of the room, leaving the two Headmasters to speak to their students in low, hurried voices.



Rose climbed to her feet and made to leave the room without a second thought to Scorpius. A firm hand closed on her arm as the boy, supposedly now her partner, pulled himself up to his feet from the chair he was still comfortably sat in, a picture of ease.



“Not so fast,” he said grinning. “I am your partner after all.” Rose merely scoffed and attempted to shake his hand off but found his grip too hard. Together, much to Rose’s dislike, they left the room and as soon as they were out of earshot of the other Champions Rose slapped his hand off her.



“Now, now, Red” Scorpius laughed. He used the nickname he had created for her so many years ago and used countless times since; suffice to say she hated it.



“No need for that. Remember we have to “overcome adversity”.” Rose stopped dead and whipped round to face him.



“Right, Malfoy.” She spat. “I don’t like this, I will never like this. However for the sake of our school and this competition I’m going to try and ignore the fact that you are an arrogant, egotistic, annoying idiot and try to get on with you. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t make it harder than it already is.”



With that, she turned quickly and continued down the darkened corridor which was lit only by flickering flamed torches, the burst of light dancing in a myriad of colours on the stone walls. Scorpius gave a frustrated sigh and quickly caught up with her, once again laying a hand on her arm. The look in her bright hazel eyes was enough to make him release her fast.



“I understand what you’re saying,” He said quietly. “I’m not trying to make this hard for you; I want us to win this too. But still, could you try being a little less... well... like yourself. Make it a bit easier on me as well?” Rose shot him a glare and continued on, turning her back on his wide grin.



“Did you ever consider that maybe there is a reason why Albus is friends with me?” Rose froze once again and turned to him, wondering if he could read her mind as he questioned exactly what she had been thinking. Albus and Scorpius had been good friends ever since the day they first met on the Hogwarts Express, cheeks red and giddy from excitement, fear in their hearts over where they would be Sorted. They were so alike, and yet so different. Rose had struggled unsuccessfully for years to establish what had kept the bond between them.



They began moving once again and soon reached the bottom of the main staircase, Rose quickly heading up knowing he wouldn’t follow. He started on his path down the cold stone steps into the dungeons where the Slytherin common room was located, before turning his head back and shouting.



“Night Red, try and get some beauty sleep, you need it.” With a laugh he disappeared under a worn archway leaving Rose had no time to retort.



She made her way quickly up towards the Gryffindor Common Room, muttering angrily under her breath and causing a First Year on his way to the Owlery to hide behind a suit of armour as she passed.



She eventually reached a large portrait showing an equally large lady sporting a pink dress, all frills and silk. She hastily gave the password, “locket” and climbed through the circular hole revealed behind the moving picture.



She was met with a crescendo of noise and laughter rocketing around the Gryffindor common room as she wandered in and couldn’t help but feel a smile tugging at the corners of her lips as she was absorbed by the infectious atmosphere. The entire Common Room was packed with people, all of whom cheered enthusiastically at her entrance, raising full goblets and shouting her name. Cracks and pops sounded around her as fireworks from her Uncle George’s joke shop sprawled themselves lazily through the room, ignited by an unknown source.



She made her way over to a full-to-bursting table of food and chose a particularly big slice of chocolate cake, taking it with her as she hunted down her cousin Albus who she suspected was mostly responsible for all this. She found him sitting at the fireplace grinning over at her.



“This is just what I needed.” She claimed wholeheartedly, dropping onto the floor within her group of friends and Albus and taking a large bite out of the moist cake.



“Well you were in need of a good Gryffindor party really,” Albus replied, “especially after being put with Scorpius!” He smiled at her, knowing as everybody did of her and Scorpius’ legendary dislike of each other.



 Albus having got on so well with Scorpius despite them being in different houses, could never quite understand his cousin’s motivations in disliking him. Dawn, one of Rose’s room-mates laughed at Albus’s statement.



“How exactly are you going to cope with Scorpius twenty-four seven for the next year? I’m pretty sure a death would spoil the mood of the tournament somewhat,” she asked, laughing through a mouthful of Pumpkin Juice.



“Trust me,” Rose replied. “Nobody would be upset if Malfoy mysteriously disappeared anytime soon... well apart from his vast fan club of course.” She glanced to another of her room-mates, Eve, who was notorious for fancying the blonde-haired Quidditch player.



She was really hoping the subject of Scorpius wouldn’t come up around the slightly obsessive Eve, but luckily she had been distracted by Hannah talking to her and hadn’t heard.



Albus and his best friend Artemis soon fell into a discussion about the current Defence Against the Dark Arts work they’d been set. Rose tuned out and leaned back against the arm of the sofa at which Artemis sat, mulling over the events of the day.



She felt bizarrely excited about the competition, the consequences and dangers of which had yet to worry her. Despite the obvious tension between her and Scorpius she hoped they would be able to get on for the sake of this, she knew when it came to the tasks she could use all the help she could get.



She closed her eyes gently and found herself drifting towards sleep, only being jerked out of it by the noise and laughter around her. After a couple of hours of nearly falling asleep, Rose pulled herself lazily to her feet, bid goodnight to everybody and climbed the ancient, worn staircase to her room.



She quickly fell onto her bed and, fully dressed, dropped instantly into a deep and dreamless sleep. Rose awoke early the next morning and as she stretched the tiredness out of her body she smiled at the thought of the previous day’s events.



It felt so good to wake up knowing she had something to aim for; a challenge to complete. Feeling motivated to do something despite the early hour she jumped out of bed and moved to the window, pulling the curtains wide.



Morning winter sunshine shone down over the breathtaking Hogwarts grounds. She could see frost glistening, from the smallest cobweb to the largest grassy expanse and opened the window slightly, letting the cold air wash over her face.



She stood there for a few more minutes, taking the time to enjoy the solitude and quiet which was surrounding her, only the sounds of her room-mates snores disturbing the peace.



Giving a sigh she unwillingly left the window-ledge and moved into the bathroom, taking advantage of the chance to have an undisturbed shower whilst the rest of the girls were asleep.



Half an hour later she emerged, showered and dressed, and made her way down the winding staircase into her familiar Common Room where she had spent the past five years.



This year, however, was proving to be different already and Rose could hardly imagine what her life would be like a whole three hundred and sixty-five days from now. The next few months seemed so susceptible to change.



As she left the familiar room she took a moment to realise how monumental her selection for the Triwizard Tournament really was and the potential danger. People died in this Tournament, she could die in this Tournament.



A small flicker of fear took a hold of her as she imagined her family and her friends who she loved so much and what it would be like to leave them.



Seemingly directionless in her wandering, Rose quickly turned a corner in the labyrinth of corridors and hit somebody hard. She fell backwards and dimly heard hurried apologies as a strong hand pulled her to her feet.



She found herself looking into the dark grey eyes of Scorpius Malfoy. This really, really wasn’t what she needed. She glanced down quickly, but not fast enough as Scorpius had already caught the fearful expression in her eyes, her inner thoughts about the Tournament still plaguing her mind.



“Hey,” Scorpius said. “What’s going on, are you ok?” When Rose refused to answer and just tried to pass him he stopped her, lifting her chin with a gentle hand.



“Are you ok?” he asked again with more conviction. Rose hardly knew what to say, her lips shaping words without making any sound as she shook her face out of his grip. Scorpius slid down the wall, taking a seat on the old, coarse carpet beneath them and patted the space beside him.



She sat next to him and stared resolutely at her knees, unsure what to say and wondering why all of a sudden she found herself alone with a guy she’d never really got along with. They had never been enemies, that much was obvious, but she couldn’t fathom the undeniable feeling she had, that she just wanted to reveal everything to him; her deepest, darkest secrets.



Scorpius cleared his throat uncertainly. “Thinking about the Tournament?” he asked. Rose nodded quickly.



“It’s just... well up until now I was fine but...it’s dangerous isn’t it? The Tournament I mean...” She trailed off, her eyes focussed on her hand as it picked at the loose fibres of the worn red carpet. “You only just realised?” Scorpius replied with a small laugh.



“If you’re just going to laugh...” Rose said angrily, attempting to jump to her feet. Scorpius swung out his arm and pressed firmly on her shoulder, causing her to sit back down.



“Of course it’s dangerous. I guess you’re not usually one to be immediately scared by something. You’re a fighter,” Scorpius said quietly. Rose felt the compliment in his words but shrugged it off, unhappy about sharing or assuming too much too soon. Suddenly a great chiming sound echoed through the hallway from a grandfather which stood regally nearby; it reminded Rose it was now eight and time she headed for Breakfast.



She started to climb to her feet and this time met no resistance from Scorpius.



“I’m ok,” she said once she was on her feet, “really, I just needed to get it out of my system a bit. We are going to win this Tournament. Easy.”



“We?” Scorpius said smiling. “I got the feeling you weren’t that happy about me being your partner?”



Rose smiled slightly before meeting his eyes directly, her hazel ones clashing against the silver of his. “Well, I’m sure you’ll have your uses. After all, for the first time in history, I think I’ve found something I can’t do alone.”



She turned and made her way down the corridor, leaving Scorpius sitting alone.          



 


Chapter 2: 2 - Realisation
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Author Note: Nearly forgot to put this! Thank you to everyone who has so far read the first chapter, first and foremost. I should be posting pretty regularly with any luck as I have chapters one to five written and six to ten planned. This is my first fanfic and the culmination of a ton of ideas I've had recently. Thank you for reading! Enjoy! 



2- Realisation:



“We are not put on this earth to see through one another,


but to see one another through.”


Anonymous



 



Rose Weasley piled her plate with breakfast from the numerous dishes surrounding her whilst talking to Eve and Dawn. She turned towards the doors of the Great Hall just as Scorpius walked through, brushing his fingers through his already messy hair and joining his group of friends at the Slytherin house table. She could hardly believe she’d just had a conversation with him which didn’t end in a fight.



“What do you reckon, Rose?” Eve asked, interrupting her thoughts. “Erm..what?” Rose said dazedly having not paid attention to the conversation, her thoughts dawdling elsewhere. Eve sighed and laughed.



“In your own world today aren’t you? What do you reckon to me and Scorpius? I mean what with you spending a lot of time with him because of the Tournament... You could put in a good word for me couldn’t you?”



 Eve grinned at her and Rose sighed having known that Eve’s legendary crush on Scorpius would come up at some point. It was common information amongst the school’s many students but despite her advances, Scorpius had always rejected her. She was beautiful, in a regal – almost unbreakable – way, as well as being from a strong Pureblood family.



She knew this wouldn’t matter to Scorpius, but Eve assumed it would, what with his own family apparently being so focussed on blood status. Nonetheless Rose thought Eve’s looks alone would have tempted Scorpius, but he’d never once returned her affections. Rose just shrugged at Eve. “I’m not playing matchmaker,” she said plainly. Eve might be her friend but Rose, dare she say it, needed Scorpius for the tournament and she couldn’t imagine him getting intimate with her friend would help matters.



“Why not?” Eve returned, seeming to be genuinely confused. “You know me and Scorpius would be great together. Unless....well...surely you don’t like him!” Rose bristled, half at the accusation she liked him and half at Eve’s tone which implied she would never have a chance with him.



Dawn quickly stepped in obviously noticing the impending argument and steered the conversation onto lighter territory, asking the girls about what they thought the First Task would be.



Rose smiled discreetly at Dawn to thank her for diverting the conversation and turned her mind to what Dawn had just said. She hadn’t for a minute even spared a thought for the First Task, having been whisked into the whirlwind that was the Tournament as a whole.



“It’s just the First Task is usually quite early on isn’t it?” Dawn enquired, but before Rose had time to reply she heard somebody clear their throat loudly behind her.



 She turned and saw Scorpius standing there uncomfortably, Eve was grinning at him but he seemingly only had eyes for Rose.



“Sorry to interrupt but Professor Quila wants to talk to us after breakfast, I assume about the First task. She didn’t really say,” he said quickly.



Rose thanked him and he went back to the Slytherin table. Eve was still staring towards Scorpius in a way that Rose could only assume she thought was seductive. It looked pained more than anything. Luckily before any further Scorpius related conversation was instigated, the bell for first class went and Rose was able to leave Eve and Dawn to meet Professor Quila at the front of the hall.



When she and Scorpius had both arrived they were led into a small room leading off the Great hall and once they were ushered into seats the Hogwarts Headmistress began.



“Sorry to take time from your free lesson but this information needed to be given to you fairly urgently.” Scorpius and Rose both nodded at her in acceptance of her apology, willing her to go on.



“Well my reason for calling you both is there has been a change of location for the Triwizard Tournament. As you are aware it was meant to be Hogwarts however certain people in the Ministry...” at this point she frowned and shook her head slightly, “...believe Hogwarts doesn’t quite meet Ministry regulations.



“Obviously since the war a massive restoration process has been taking place, but some damage done by dark magic can’t be fixed without great time and energy given to it. To keep the school open and keep students taught the teachers haven’t been able to give that time to repairs. So although I was originally told Hogwarts would be more than suitable. Apparently now it is not.”



The Professor looked thoroughly angry about having to give this information. “So I’m afraid all students who want to watch or are participating in this Tournament will be travelling to Durmstrang Institute to which we have been relocated.



“Also, because of the lateness with which I was given this news, we will be moving next month, on the first of December and I can’t apologise enough. But I assure you, you will both still have the space and materials you need to study and practice for the upcoming Tasks.



“We will be travelling on a ship provided by Durmstrang and living and eating on there during this school year as the Institute is unable to accommodate the sheer volume of visiting students... unlike Hogwarts,” she added in an undertone.



She sighed deeply before continuing. “Each student will have their own cabin and a shared bathroom with the exception of you two. Because of the demands of the Tournament it was decided your rooms would be on a private corridor together and you would obviously have separate bathrooms.



“Additionally you will have a shared room fully equipped with materials for theory work, adequate space for practical work, a well stocked potions supply and your own private library. I will ask that, in particular, other people don’t use your shared room as it is a privilege which is purely for use in the Tournament.



“Our accommodation will also house classrooms in which lessons will be held, so you will not miss out on your education.” At this point she paused, relaxing into her seat somewhat. Rose had never seen her usually invincible Headmistress ever look so worn out before and guessed she must have had quite a fight to try and keep Hogwarts as the hosting school.



Eventually Professor Quila continued. “The First Task will be taking place on the twentieth of December however on the second of December the two of you will receive a clue. I can’t give you any more information at the present time but it will hopefully help you prepare for the First Task.



“On top of this, although obviously Scorpius can’t participate in the First Task he will be giving you, Rose, a significant amount of help during it, however once again I can give you no further information at the present time. I’m sorry you will have so short a time to prepare for the First Task, but apparently organisation is not our Ministry’s strong point.



“The traditional Yule Ball will however be taking place on the twenty-fifth of December, Christmas day. More information about this will be given nearer the time and once again I must apologise for the lateness and disorganisation of this. I know that was a lot of information to take on all at once. The rest of the school will be informed of these developments through notices in common rooms; I just thought you two needed to know first. Is there anything else you want to know?”



Rose and Scorpius sat silently as the Professor waited for any questions but neither of them could think of anything else they hadn’t been told. “In that case,” she resumed, “I will have to take my leave, as I have Common Room notices to supervise and travel to organise!” On that note she nodded to the two students and swept out of the room.



“Wow,” said Rose, breaking the silence. “Talk about information overload.” She rubbed her temples and took a deep breath. “I know exactly what you mean,” Scorpius agreed. They sat in silence for a few minutes further as they both internally processed the information they’d been given. “I know we haven’t exactly got on amazingly in the past,” Scorpius began slowly, “but what with us living in such close quarters for the rest of the this year, I hope we can get on... call a truce maybe.”



Rose nodded. “No problem.” She said agreeably, “as long as I don’t have to listen to you with your numerous women whilst we’re next door at Durmstrang, I’ll be happy.”



Scorpius had a flicker of disappointment in his eyes as he said, “Is that all you think I’m interested in?” Rose let out a small laugh. “Well that’s all you are interested in. You’re telling me all those rumours I’ve heard are wrong?”



“Believe what you want.” Scorpius said suddenly, rising from his seat. “I just hoped you would have the brains to see past petty gossip. Obviously I don’t know you at all, and it seems you don’t know me either.” He stalked out of the room before Rose had time to think.



The rest of Rose’s day passed fairly quickly. She only encountered Scorpius once, when they had a Potions lesson together and although he ignored her she could see from his eyes that he was angry.



She began to feel annoyed at herself for openly judging Scorpius on what she had heard from gossip as it was always something she hated in others. She sat throughout the potions lesson, the last lesson of the day, going over how to apologise. Rose wasn’t a person renowned for her apologies, more for her fiery temper, but nonetheless she knew in this case it was needed.



As the bell went signalling the lesson’s end the room sprang into a flurry of activity as everyone packed away their books and Rose quickly threw her things together looking over her shoulder at Scorpius. She could see he was eager to leave the classroom so she moved towards him quickly, catching his eye as she went. He walked quickly to the classroom door and just as he crossed the threshold Rose caught hold of his sleeve, successfully getting his attention.



“Can I speak to you a minute?” Rose asked quietly, she didn’t want to leave the situation like this. She saw Scorpius give a deep sigh as he led her to a more secluded corridor, obviously feeling this was a waste of his time.



“I’m sorry,” she said as soon as they were alone. “I didn’t realise what I said would upset you, I really didn’t. I hate it when people judge me on what they’ve heard about me and I shouldn’t have done it to you.”



She’d been staring at her feet and only now did she raise her head. “It’s ok,” said Scorpius. “I overreacted really. I just hate what people say about me, I’ve never treated a girl badly, ever.” Rose nodded, “I know,” she said gently.



They stood silently for a few moments, just looking at each other before Scorpius laughed suddenly. “Can you believe this?” he said, “Me upset and you apologising, who would have thought it?” Rose smiled back at him. “Things are changing. I think we’re changing,” she told him. “I think maybe we can do better than a truce.” She held out a hand. “Friends?”



She could hardly believe she was doing it, but then she had started to see more to Scorpius than what she’d heard about him. She knew something must have made Albus like him and she was beginning to see what that was. Scorpius extended a hand and shook hers warmly. “Friends,” he replied.  



The two of them walked back towards their Common Rooms, eventually having to part. Rose felt happy with the way things had gone, but almost shocked at herself. She felt the presence of the Tournament itself was changing her, making her far more co-operative than she usually was. At any rate she was sure it wasn’t a bad change.



When she got to the Common Room she immediately saw her friends in their usual place and hastened over to join them. She’d only had the chance to see them at lunch that day and quickly reiterate what she had been told by Professor Quila before their time was up and they had to split up for different lessons. Albus was the only person she’d had her two lessons that day, Potions and Herbology, with.



As she sat down on the soft fabric of an armchair Albus immediately spoke to her. “So what did you and Scorpius have to speak about then? I saw you two disappear off at the end of Potions.” In the corner of her eye Rose say Eve’s head whip round at this revelation.



“We just had some things to sort out,” Rose replied mysteriously, knowing it would aggravate Eve no end. “Well I hope it put him in a better mood at any rate. He was in such a stress all through Potions, something about someone judging him wrongly. He seemed disappointed more than angry.”



 Albus looked at her questioningly. Rose shrugged, “I’ve no idea who that was,” she replied but she could feel her cheeks blushing and Albus’ inquisitive eyes on her. However, he was her cousin and understood when she didn’t want to talk about something so he left the conversation there, much to Rose’s gratitude.



Rose found the month which followed to be both fraught and relaxed. Luckily all Tournament related processes and events had been postponed until the move to Durmstrang, so in that sense, she was left to her own devices.



On the other hand the impending move at short notice resulted in an over-stressed Rose constantly worrying over what she would and wouldn’t need, both for her studies and the Tournament. The day before they were due to leave for Durmstrang Rose found herself sitting on a full to bursting black suitcase, its patched and worn sides obviously splitting under the pressure of the items it contained. Rose knew when she had been defeated.



She shifted off the ancient case and started taking out less important items to make more space, only to be interrupted by Dawn entering the dormitory. “What are you doing?” she asked inquisitively. “I thought you had finally decided to take those books?” she continued, pointing at the pile of books Rose had thrown onto her duvet covered bed. Rose nodded her head at the still over filled case which lay on the red carpeted floor. Dawn sighed.



“Sometimes I wonder if you’re actually a witch at all!” She turned to her bag and pulled out her wand, whipping it quickly through the air she pointed it at the bulging case and said “Amplifico!” The suitcase closed suddenly, snapping quickly shut, much to Rose’s amazement.



She hastily opened it, seeing that miraculously despite the case and her belongings being the same size as they were originally, she now had plenty more space to pack. “It keeps the exterior small but makes the interior big.” Dawn announced proudly from behind her.



“What on earth would I do without you?” asked Rose, laughing and hugging her friend.  


Chapter 3: 3 - Moving On
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Author Note: I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who have read my story thus far so I have to say a massive thank you! I’m grateful for the support I’ve had with this story especially through the lovely reviews which have been left. If you could take the time to review, it would mean the world; short, long, positive, negative I don’t mind! I’m always happy to hear what you think I’m doing right, or wrong. Thank you for reading. Enjoy!



3- Moving On:



“We may have all come on different ships,


but we’re in the same boat now.”


Martin Luther King



 



“Rose Weasley we have to leave NOW!” Eve’s angry voice yelled up the staircase to the Sixth Year girl’s dormitory. Rose hurriedly checked through her things once more before zipping her case closed and enchanting it to float down the steep stairs to the Gryffindor common room.



“You do realise you’ll be the worst ever Hogwarts Champion is you actually fail to turn up!” Eve continued. Rose could hear her stamping her foot impatiently on the bottom stair.



“Give me one minute will you!” she yelled back irritably, clutching a piece of parchment her owl had just delivered to her. She frowned as she thought of the contents of the letter in her hand. Her parents had been very supportive of her, but she had been detecting a hint of uneasiness lately. More references had been made to Scorpius and her contact with him; she suspected this was the influence of her father rather than her mother. She shrugged off this feeling and found out her coat, gloves and scarf. She sprinted out of the doorway and began to ascend the ancient staircase.



Finally she hurries up!” Eve said as Rose appeared and hastily jogged to the foot of the steep staircase. The three girls withdrew their wands, flicking them towards their cases which resumed levitating and followed them from the near empty Gryffindor Common Room.



Today was the First of December, the day they would travel to Durmstrang and Rose could hardly wait to get stuck into the Tournament after a month of general spell practice and research. In her newly expanded case she’d packed practically her entire Hogwarts room as she didn’t want to leave anything to chance.



After all, what if she did need that old worn copy of “NEWT Level Potion Making” to help with the Tournament? This was her reasoning for several hundred books which she’d hurled into the case on top of the wobbling stacks of clothes, all of which had been packed “just in case”.



The three girls hurried through the castle, darting down secret passages hidden to the naked eye behind dusty tapestries, centuries old.



As they struggled into the entrance hall, their luggage still floating sedately behind them, they were breathing harshly and their legs ached however the sight of Professor Quila’s impatient eyes fixed on them caused them to continue their furious pace. Her firm frown deepened as the girls approached.



“I’m assuming I don’t need to tell you all how late you are?!” she announced, briskly walking towards the Hogwarts Lake with the girls following tiredly.



“You are the last three people. The journey has been delayed by ten minutes because of your inability to organise.” Rose attempted to speak but the angry Headmistress interrupted her.



“I don’t want to hear your excuses, I expected better of you, the Hogwarts Champion.” Rose felt embarrassed and ashamed; a red blush crept into her cheeks.



The three girls quickly caught up with their Headmistress as her high heels clicked across wooden boards on the lake’s side where the ship bobbed gently on the murky, dark water.



“Come on, come on!” She gestured hurriedly through a large open door leading to the ship’s interior. They stepped quickly inside and were met with instant warmth.



The ship was impressive with its lush velvet wall hangings and dark oak doors leading off the spacious entrance room. Rose was absorbed in admiring it when she realised they weren’t alone; a blonde haired boy stood lazily in the corner looking through the room’s only window.



Professor Quila pulled the heavy ship’s door closed behind her causing a loud bang, bringing everybody’s attention instantly to her.



“Miss Malone and Miss Walker if you could take the door to my left,” she said to Eve and Dawn, motioning one of the two doors in the left hand wall.



“You will find your rooms next door to each other, numbers’ eleven and twelve, on the second floor.” She turned her back on them and faced Rose and Scorpius, leaving the two girls to quietly leave the room, Eve attempting to catch Scorpius’ eye as she went.



“The two of you will follow me. I will show you to your rooms.” The harassed professor led the two remaining students through one of three doors to the right.   



Rose and Scorpius were led to a corridor on the third floor, isolated from the Professors’ cabins on the rest of the level. Eventually Professor Quila came to a standstill outside thick wooden doors in a hallway leading to a dead end. Three oak doors shone in the light given from two glowing orbs fixed to the wall.



“The two doors on your left are to your rooms, the first is Rose’s and the second Scorpius’. The door on your right leads to your shared room. I would like to stay longer but I’m afraid I have matters to attend to.



“Enjoy having a day to relax and settle in, it will be one of the last days you will get like this for a good while I would think. I will contact you both in the morning concerning the First Task Clue you’ll receive tomorrow.” She smiled at the two of them before heading off through a door which segregated their corridor from the rest of the ship.



The two of them immediately moved to their doors, eager to see their rooms. Rose stood looking incredulously at the door handle-less doors, unable to get in. She saw Scorpius smirk and fixed him with a glare.



“Sorry, sorry!” he said, raising his hands in defence. “You just looked so confused. The doors are enchanted to recognise our hands and voices, so you press your hand against the door, say your name and the door handle appears.”



He demonstrated and a gleaming bronze door knob materialised which he quickly turned, allowing him to enter his room. Rose followed him, curious to see if their bedrooms were anywhere near as lavish as the ship’s general decor. She stepped over the threshold and gasped, her eyes unsure where to look first.



The gigantic king-size bed dominated the room, its four posts of dark twisted wood almost touching the ceiling. Curtains of deep green velvet hung around the bed matching the silver and green padded quilt and shimmering silver cushions spread over the bed and window seat.



A large wooden desk with intricate carvings on the legs stood in the corner with two chairs and stacks of parchment and quills. Opposite the desk stood an impossibly large chest of drawers and wardrobe beside which was an adequately sized bookcase.



Rose’s eyes were drawn to the window behind the head of the bed, showing an underwater scene.



“We’re underwater?” she asked, looking at Scorpius who also looked impressed by the grandeur of the room.



“Mmm...” he mumbled in reply, still examining the room, before looking back to her. “Durmstrang’s always been obsessed by security so I’m guessing that’s why we travel below water, we have no idea where we’re going or where we’ll end up.”



Rose shuddered at the cloudy, almost black water she could see through the window; only glimpses of scales and flickers of colours giving any indication to life outside. She turned back to look at the room noticing Scorpius heading to a second door in the room, presumably the bathroom.



She followed him as he swung open the door revealing an immaculate pure white bathroom with mosaic blue tiles surrounding a bathtub, double shower cubicle, toilet and basin. A big fluffy cream rug lay in the centre of the floor obscuring white tiles with blue mosaic edging.



Rose once again found herself in awe of the sheer cleanliness and sparkling white of the enormous bathroom, stacks of big white towels, edged with Scorpius’ initials, hanging off metal rails in the corner. Scorpius turned to her and grinned.



“Tournament isn’t looking so bad anymore is it?” he said with a grin.



She laughed and left the bedroom heading for her own room. After pressing a small palm against the smooth grain of the wood and speaking her name she used the aged door knob to swing open the door, revealing her living quarters for the next year.



It was much the same as Scorpius’ save for the gold and red colour scheme and a single rose standing in a glass on her desk. Rose smiled, lifting the rose in her hand and pressing it to her nose, deeply inhaling its floral scent. Rose heard movement and looked around to see Scorpius walk into the room.



“Shared room?” he asked her. She nodded and put the rose back in its water, following him across the hallway.



Scorpius spread a large hand over the wooden doors panelling and with no need for speech a gold door knob appeared. The room beyond it was quite literally a breathtaking sight.



Taking up the space of all four of the rooms opposite it, it seemed cavernous on first appearances and provided more space than any of the classrooms would have back at Hogwarts.



Scorpius immediately moved towards to the duelling area with its five shelves of helpful spell books which didn’t surprise Rose in the slightest. Since being partnered with Scorpius she’d asked Albus about his strengths and weaknesses in terms of magical ability and found charms and transfiguration – the predominant spell-casting subjects – were his strong point.



She on the other hand, tended to excel at potions and so made her way over to the bursting potions store-cupboard which certainly wasn’t lacking. Next to Scorpius she couldn’t help but notice another door handle almost completely concealed on the bottom right hand corner of the third shelf down. She walked over to it and pressing it firmly; she heard a loud click as the entire bookcase swung backwards to reveal a completely separate room, the private Library.



The room was at least the size their two bedrooms had been and was filled from floor to ceiling with alphabetically arranged books on every possible magical subject. Rose smiled from her position in front of the Herbology section and turned to look at the rest of the room but was stopped as she met Scorpius’ eyes which smiled back at her.



The two of them stood for a minute, unmoving, as if time itself had been suspended. Rose felt she couldn’t look away as she became absorbed in the smoky grey eyes which had caught her own. She cleared her throat hurriedly and looked away.



“I should unpack” Rose said softly, as they both made their way out of the library and closed the door swiftly behind them.



Scorpius nodded before settling himself in a slouched armchair, one of two, which stood around a marble fireplace where orange and red flames burned in the grate.



She moved quickly from the room, letting the door close heavily behind her and sought refuge in her bedroom where she could set her mind on the simplicity and blandness of unpacking. The next few hours flew by as Rose threw herself into making her room as homey as possible with the contents of her case which had been dumped unceremoniously in the hallway when she arrived.



The sheer amount of luggage she had meant this wasn’t a problem. Eventually she arranged the last of her bath products in her bathroom cabinet and stepped back into her bedroom, smiling at the sight of the luxurious room filled with her own personal belongings.



She grabbed a book she’d left on her desk and climbed onto the window seat, resting her cheek against the windows cold pane and settling down to read “Triwizard Champions Through The Ages”.



The large volume documented those Champions far in the past that had completed the Tournament as a means of friendly competition until it was eventually banned due to the ever increasing death toll. It even explored the last known Tournament which her Uncle Harry had won, but in terrible circumstances, leading to it ceasing to occur once again for a number of years until the present time. It was Professor Quila’s decision that, with the installation of partners, the Tournament could once again be a method of co-operation and friendly competition between the three participating schools.



Rose was reading predominantly in the hope that some pattern would emerge in the Tasks chosen for the various Tournaments meaning she would at least have some idea of what she faced. As yet she had found nothing.



This was the third book she had trawled through looking for clues and been disappointed by and as her current book began exploring the thoroughly gruesome death of a Champion many decades previous she threw it down.



She climbed to her feet deciding to look for Eve, Dawn and the rest of her friends which would be a positive alternative to continuing with the dusty book which now lay on the window seat. She left her room and saw nothing of Scorpius, unaware of whether he remained in their shared Common Room or had moved to his own bedroom.



 She pulled her door shut with a click and quickly made her way down several corridors and staircases until she found herself once again in the entrance room to the ship. This time she took one of the two doors opposite her, which she had seen Eve and Dawn take earlier, and proceeded up two staircases until she eventually reached Dawn and Eve’s rooms, eleven and twelve.



She knocked at both and patiently awaited a reply but heard nothing so continued down the corridor hoping to bump into somebody she knew. Eventually she reached a larger door with a small plaque bearing the word “Gryffindor” and realised this must be the Gryffindor Common Room. Pushing open the door she was met with noise, warmth and shouts of “Rose!” from the far corner where her cousin Albus, Eve, Dawn, Artemis, Hannah and their other friend Sebastian sat.



Rose walked over and took a seat beside the dark haired Artemis who smiled at her before returning to the book that lay in his lap.



“The Falmouth Falcons are so out of their league!” Albus argued heatedly with fellow Gryffindor Quidditch team chaser Hannah. “They’ve been getting worse and worse each year, now they’re just an embarrassment. They need to stop now, go out on a high...well semi-high.”



Hannah shook her head at Albus’s remark. “Falmouth Falcons will always be brilliant, Mario Treble just transferred. He’ll bring us back up.” Albus scoffed and shook his head.



He began another retort as Rose turned to Artemis. “How long have they been at it?” she asked. “Getting on for a good hour now,” he said, sighing. Albus and Hannah were notorious for their long and arduous arguments especially concerning Quidditch.



Rose had a feeling it was all because deep down they liked each other and neither wanted to admit it, despite it being obvious that they would be good together. If they could just stop arguing for one minute, that is.    



Eve and Dawn leaned forward to be within earshot of Rose and tuned out of Albus and Hannah’s increasingly aggressive discussion.



“So what isyour room like?” Dawn enquired. “Gold encrusted, jewelled, that kind of thing?” she added with a laugh.



“Naturally,” replied Rose, laughing. “Well it’s certainly big...well ok, it’s massive! The shared room is fantastic, everything I could need. The Tournament isn’t looking quite so out of reach anymore.” “And Scorpius....?” Eve asked leadingly, a sly grin on her face.



“What about him?” Rose answered in a bored tone, examining the fingernails on her right hand. Eve looked slightly put out but went on anyway.



“Well have you seen him? He’s next door right? I definitely need to come and see your room.” Rose shook her head slightly, feeling almost embarrassed by her friend’s near desperation.



“I don’t think so,” Rose replied. She didn’t like lying, but this was for the best. “Scorpius and I were told we’re not allowed visitors, because we have different living spaces to everyone else and because we have privileges to help with the Tournament, not for others to have fun with.”



Rose knew full well only the shared room was off limits and visitors to their rooms were perfectly fine. She was deliberately lying to her friend but she could see no other way round it.



“Well. We’ll just have to bend the rules a bit wont we?” Eve replied with a smirk, sitting back in chair and crossing her arms across her chest.



Rose didn’t even dignify her with a response and instead turned her attention to the rest of the Common Room which was full of Gryffindor students all with the same look of excitement etched upon their faces.



 Luckily, to save Rose from any further conversation, the dinner bell suddenly rang throughout the room and she jumped to her feet, hoping to leave the room quickly.



Led by the hungry boys of their group, Rose, Eve, Dawn and Hannah followed quickly behind and soon found themselves in the entrance of a vast wood panelled hall with curved walls and four large tables much like those at Hogwarts.



The seven of them took seats at the Gryffindor table and started immediately on the hundreds of dishes of food which materialised in front of them. Soon they had all finished and after the announcement that they would arrive at Durmstrang early the following morning, they were dismissed and free to return to the Common Room.



After numerous games of gobstones and wizard chess Rose felt exhausted and bid everybody goodnight before tiredly making her way back to her room. She found the corridor outside her room deserted and had no idea whether Scorpius had returned yet. She had only seen him once since she’d left him in the shared room earlier, during dinner after she’d followed Eve’s eagle eyes to what they were fixedly staring at.



Rose quickly made her way into her room and threw herself on the supremely comfortable bed which sank only slightly under her weight. The quilt and pillows were softer than she could have imagined but she was no longer feeling tired as thoughts of what was to come the following day made their way into her mind.



She sighed and sat up, rubbing her temples and wishing she could see the future.



There were so many risks she would have to take, so much responsibility she would have to shoulder and she just wasn’t sure she was ready. She padded over to the window and sat on the seat there, looking out into the misty depths of the dark water beyond.



Every person in the school was behind her. Every person in her family was behind her. And yet she felt so unbelievably alone in this Tournament.



She leant a cheek against the cold pane of the window and soon her heavy eyelids fell and she was taken by sleep.



  


Chapter 4: 4 - New Landscapes
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author note: And there we are, Chapter Four! I can hardly believe I’m actually now posting this Chapter. I’m really nervous about the clue, I hope it doesn’t seem stupidly easy, from the perspective of somebody who has always known the answer it is hard to distinguish over whether it is hard to decipher or not! Either way please let me know what you all think, and if the answer doesn’t seem obvious to you, feel free to make some guesses! This Chapter should be up quickly thanks to the great work of HPFF staff who have been validating so quickly recently. Thank you to everybody who reads and extra thanks to the lovely people who have been reviewing. I hope you enjoy this Chapter!



And I thought I ought to mention as I hadn’t as yet, I obviously own nothing associated with the Harry Potter books; that is all the property of J.K Rowling.



4- New Landscapes:



“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,


but in having new eyes.


Marcel Proust



 



Rose awoke early the next morning as shards of natural light began to shine upon her face which still pressed against the large window in her bedroom. Sluggishly she began the move, yawning widely and stretching her arms above her head as she rubbed her cold cheek and blinked at the sudden light. The previously darkened room now glowed with morning sunshine defying the winter coldness which consumed outside.



Rubbing her eyes she glanced at the window and noticed the ship was now above water and her view consisted of thick dark forests of statuesque, sharply angled trees which were crowded together in so organised a formation they looked as if about to attack.



There was no doubt Durmstrang was beautiful with its mountainous terrain, the entire ground uneven with crags of mossy rocks creeping out of worn, deeply emerald grass. However remnants of dark magic once used there seemed to hang in the air, chilling Rose to the bone. Deciding she wanted a chance to explore a bit, and spotting the docking platform beside the ship, she dressed quickly and left her cabin.



She surprisingly quickly found her way to the heavy doors leading off the ship and thankfully finding them unlocked she stepped out, bumping directly into a dark haired boy standing with his back to her.



He turned instantly and she recognised the piercing blue eyes of Artemis. She had known Artemis indirectly for a couple of years through his friendship with Albus but hadn’t really spoken to him until the previous year and even then it was fleetingly. Nonetheless she always liked his quiet, serious manner and the small smiles he gave when he acted the peacemaker between their friends.



“Decided to make the most of the morning as well did you?” Artemis asked, smiling down at her from his several inches advantage in height. Rose smiled back and pulled the woollen coat she was wearing closer around her as she felt the bite of the cold air.



“It’s so nice to be above water again,” she replied, looking around her. “I thought I’d take advantage of the quiet and do a bit of exploring while nobody else is up. I’ve never seen a wizarding school other than Hogwarts before.”



“Well as far as I know,” Artemis said, beginning to walk, “the school is this way.”



Rose fell into step beside him and they walked companionably, chatting about the Tournament as they climbed the rocky hill before them.



Eventually they reached the upmost point of the slope and Rose gave a deep sigh of disappointment as she saw only uneven and hilly landscape and more vast lakes before them. She heard a chuckle from Artemis beside her.



“So easy to give up? You’ll need more stamina than that to be the Triwizard champion!” he laughed. He pressed a hand against the small of her back and urged her to step forward. She stopped suddenly and gasped, clutching a hand to her mouth in shock.



“What on earth?!” she practically shrieked at Artemis. “Where on earth did that come from?” She questioned, gesturing in front of her where now an immense castle stood, hewn from black stone and precisely carved with Gothic arched windows and highly decorative turrets.



Hideously grinning gargoyles leered down from their perches high above her and huge windows made of tiny diamond shaped glass pieces mirrored the darkness of the landscape perfectly.



The two students stood in awe, it was positively the most imposing building Rose had ever seen, and she felt frightened just standing outside it.



“Extra security device,” Artemis said vaguely. “You can’t see it until you’re literally right next to it. Works well enough,” he added with a grin. Rose smiled wryly back and took a step forward before stopping.



“On second thoughts I don’t think I want to see what security devices are in place for uninvited guests, I think I might just wait. No doubt we’ll get shown around later.”



Artemis nodded. “Good plan,” he said.



The two of them continued their walk through the Durmstrang grounds which seemed unending; even from their higher stance they couldn’t see anything but lush greenery interrupted by clusters of broken rocks.



Behind them they observed the ship they had arrived on which bobbled gently in the frosty morning breeze on a vast glittering lake. Rose’s eyes continually picked up bigger ripples in the water and flickers of creatures within, she shivered at the very thought and wished she were back at Hogwarts.



She turned to see Artemis looking at her with a concerned expression on his face.



“It’s not as bad as it seems right now,” he said quietly, turning to stare into the distance. “This place isn’t home, or anything like it and I’m sure this whole Tournament must feel like a dream, or even a nightmare, to you but you just have to take things one step at a time.



“Whilst you’re here you’re going to meet so many new situations and challenges but you just have to deal with them.” Rose nodded her head, knowing he was right.



She felt that she was stranded in the midst of a vast ocean with dangers surrounding her on every side. What was she to do? Should she carry on and fight, striking out for land and a reprieve, no matter how dangerous it may be; should she just give up and admit defeat.



This moment almost felt like a turning point, it was the moment at which everything truly became real and solid. There was no going back now. Deep down she knew that there was no way she would be chosen for this Tournament if she wasn’t right for it and this fact kept her pushing on, that and the support of her friends and family alike.



Rose shook her head to relieve herself of the thoughts now churning through her mind. She took a deep breath as strands of her red hair flew in front of her face, moved by the chilling breeze which, like tiny ghostly hands, pulled her this way and that as if fighting over her. Turning to Artemis she smiled slightly and started to take a step forward.



“I’d better get back; I’m supposed to be getting information about the Tournament today.” Artemis nodded and sat down on the hard ground, placing his feet flat on the floor and drawing his knees up, resting outstretched arms on them.



“You go ahead; I think I’ll stay here for a while. Get some air before everybody else gets up,” he said. Rose bid him goodbye and made her way down the jagged hill-side back to the Hogwarts ship where, once boarded, she navigated herself back to her cabin.



On arriving on her corridor she saw the Common Room door was standing slightly open and so approached it, looking through the gap and seeing Scorpius settled in one of the large leather armchairs which circled the fireplace.



He looked up as he heard her footsteps on the creaky wooden boards and gestured to an owl which hopped impatiently beside him, a large fragment of parchment attached to its leg.



Rose quickly crossed the room and took the seat next to Scorpius as he detached the note from the owl, leaving it free to spread its brown wings and soar out of the open window.



Rose sat anxiously staring at the paper in Scorpius’ hands which he handed quickly to her. She accepted it and broke the crimson seal immediately, noting the elaborate writing of the Hogwarts Headmistress when it was unfolded. Sitting back in the chair and crossing one leg over the other Rose began to read.



For the attention of Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy,



 I hope you have both enjoyed your first night aboard your home for the remainder of this year and found everything to your liking.



As I’m sure you are aware I’m writing you this note to inform you that a meeting has been arranged to take place this afternoon at 1pm which both of you must attend. It will be attended by yourselves and the champions and partners of the other participating schools and you will all receive clues to help you begin to prepare for the First Task in 18 days time.



 I require that you meet me on the mooring platform beside the ship at 12:45 in preparation and we will travel up to Durmstrang Institute together. I look forward to seeing you both later.



Headmistress Violet Quila.



Scorpius’s previously rigid posture relaxed as he too sat back in his chair, however his face betrayed how he really felt, his lips in a thin line and his eyes dark.



“And so it begins,” he said suddenly. The tense atmosphere was broken as Rose laughed suddenly. Scorpius looked confused.



“Sorry,” Rose apologised, “It’s just...over-dramatic much? “So it begins” It’s like it came right out of a film.” She grinned at the confusion on Scorpius’ face. He began the smile and shook his head slightly from side to side.



“I’m never going to quite understand you am I, Red?” he asked suddenly, still smiling at her.



“Of course not,” she replied. “Where would be the fun in that?”



They both sat in a comfortable silence for a few moments whilst they mused over what the rest of the day would bring, Rose picking insistently at her fingernails. She turned and looked at the antique clock which hung lazily over the mantelpiece and saw it was already eight thirty.



“We should go get some breakfast,” she said to Scorpius, climbing quickly to her feet and making to leave the room.



Shaken out of his reverie with a start, Scorpius slowly followed her lead and together they made their way to the Food Hall which was heaving with the hundreds of students contained within, all of whom were noisily tucking into the numerous offerings for breakfast. Rose started to make her way over to the Gryffindor table but was stopped by a firm tap on her shoulder.



“Meet at our rooms at twelve thirty?” Scorpius asked. The fingers of one hand threading through his already messy dark blonde hair, making it stand on end.



“Sure,” Rose replied with a smile and with a nod she and Scorpius parted, making their way to their respective house tables.



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



Rose stood nervously in her and Scorpius’ Common Room unable to sit as she felt an irrational need to keep moving. She was getting nervous about what they were about to learn from the Tournament.



She wasn’t sure whether an obvious or mysterious clue would be better; half of her felt like she needed to know now what she was going to face and the other half was more than happy to wait until the day of the First Task. But deep down she knew she was just putting off the inevitable.



The door squeaked behind her and she turned quickly, in time to see Scorpius step into the room exactly on the dot of twelve thirty.



He smiled grimly and gestured back through the door he had just entered, letting her walk ahead of him. The walk to the mooring platform was silent as both mulled over the impending meeting and before they knew it they had arrived at the large door leading off the ship.



Rose’s movements were stilted and jerky as she exited the ship and was met with the sight of Professor Quila, standing observing the landscape before her. The Professor turned when she heard the slam of a door and smiled warmly at them both.



“Miss Weasley, Mr Malfoy,” she said, nodding at them both. “It is good to see you. Now, if you could just follow me.” She set off at a rapid pace over the craggy terrain with Scorpius and Rose lagging behind, used to the smooth hills of Hogwarts.



Eventually they reached the peak and Rose laughed at Scorpius’ shock as he reached quickly inside his robes, brandishing his wand, as the magnificent castle suddenly rose before them. The Professor joined her laughter as Scorpius frowned, a slight smile beginning to toy with his lips.



Professor Quila approached the vast oak, metal studded doors set into the impossibly dark stone and hastily rapped against it, four times. The doors were quickly swung open seemingly without assistance and the three figures stepped inside onto polished black and white tiles which gleamed in the sudden light let in from outside.



As the doors closed behind them the light was dimmed and darkness consumed their surroundings. Corners were impossible to locate and the occupants of portraits sat with bored expressions on their faces, just viewable from where Rose stood, otherwise shrouded by the dark.



“Violet!” a deep, male voice echoed from what Rose could only assume to be the top of a staircase, the foot of which could barely be seen before them.



“Do come up, do come up,” he said a tad impatiently. Rose heard another voice through the darkness, this one softer.



Lumos,” it said and light suddenly shone throughout the entrance hall in which they stood. Rose could now see the entire interior walls of the castle which were lined with identical dark wooden panelling which at no point seemed to show any indications of doors or rooms beyond.



The dull paintings which Rose had previously seen were now filled with wincing people, most of whom wore heavy fur coats, as they struggled against the sudden light.



Ahead of them was a glorious staircase of black marble, seeming to be oddly out of the place in the otherwise wooden surroundings. Rose could make out letters carved into the banisters which stretched up the length of the staircase to where two people stood at the top.



One was Professor Volkov, Headmaster of Durmstrang, immediately noticeable because of his thick furrowed eyes brows, dark eyes and thin lips which didn’t seem capable of smiling. Beside him stood a shorter and slighter man, he barely looked older than Scorpius but appeared much feebler. It was he who had conjured the light and who smiled faintly at the three of them, beckoning them up the staircase.     



Professor Quila greeted the sour-faced headmaster as they began to ascend the stairs; Rose and Scorpius glanced at each other, both with the same expression of gloom reflecting their grim surroundings.



On reaching the top of the staircase where the two inhabitants of Durmstrang stood, the frail man introduced himself as being Luka, the Assistant Headmaster. Rose and Scorpius smiled at him as their Headmistress briskly shook his hand and he began to lead them down a lengthy corridor by the light of his wand.



Professor Volkov seemed disinterested as Luka pointed out to them particular paintings of interest and the doorways to certain rooms; he assured them they would get a complete tour later in their day.



In a matter of minutes they reached a small dark door with a dull brass handle barely glimmering in the sudden light of the wand. Luka turned the handle and led them inside a room lit by the flickering flames of a roaring fire around which Professor Arcenau, the Beauxbatons Headmaster, sat with Alexandre and Philippe.



Opposite them in small armchairs sat Katalena and Dimitri, both of their expressions impossible to read in the shadowy light. Scorpius and Rose took the remaining seats on an uncomfortable sofa which felt like it had been stuffed with cardboard.



Professor Arcenau got to his feet and joined the other two schools’ Heads as Professor Volkov cleared his throat and began to speak in a rough, deep voice.



“You are all aware why you are here; each school’s Champion is to receive a clue concerning the First Task. Each clue will be different and it will help none of you knowing another school’s clue, so avoid sharing its contents with anybody except your partner.



“These clues will give you some indication of a starting point however the only advice we can give you regarding the entirety of the First Task is to work on all of your magical skills as they will all be tested. Without further ado - your clues.”



At this moment he motioned to a small wooden box which stood on the mantelpiece over the fire, it abruptly burst into flames and, much like the Goblet of Fire had, it sprouted three singed pieces of parchment. Each Professor caught that which flew nearest to them and passed it to their Champion. “You are now free to go and read through your clue and analyse it as deeply as possible. We will however require the attendance of Hogwarts and Beauxbatons students at a tour around the castle later today, at 4pm. I shall see you there.”



Professor Volkov nodded at the students and gestured for his own to follow him as he swept from the room. Rose clutched her piece of parchment tightly in her hand as she, her Headmistress and Scorpius left the room; she had barely glanced at it since receiving it.



Thankfully, they were soon out of the dreary, darkness of the castle and back into the frosty brightness outside where Professor Quila stopped, causing the two students to do the same.



“I’m afraid I have engagements I have to honour and due to the rules of the Tournament I should technically be giving you no help, so I therefore will leave you both to discuss your clue in private,” she began with a grim smile.



“I am sorry for the shortness of the meeting after our efforts to arrive on time, there was little to be said but certain Tournament ceremonies had to be honoured. I wish you both the best of luck and will see you later for the Durmstrang tour.”



On saying this she glanced up at the imposing castle and frowned, before smiling at Rose and Scorpius and entering the castle once again through the doors they had just exited. Rose and Scorpius continued in silence.



Rose felt the impossibility of the Tasks ahead of her closing in around her and playing on her insecurities. Their setting was hardly helping, Rose thought, as they walked away from the bleak castle which had thankfully disappeared. She was only too glad that the Professor had shown them the way out before returning to her meetings as she didn’t feel comfortable travelling without her. The two continued on to their cabins without speaking as both knew there was nothing to say until they had read the clue. Scorpius went directly to his door and pressed his hand against the wood, speaking his name, and beckoned Rose to follow him.



They both sank comfortably onto Scorpius’ bed, he with his back against the headboard and legs outstretched and her sitting opposite him, cross-legged. Slowly, Rose unfolded her fingers which had at some point formed a fist and revealed a blackened, crinkled scrap of parchment. It read:



“A strong emotion I can mimic,


Consumed by feeling with no limit


Too much and I can be a liar,


Take me right, you’ll get your heart’s desire.”



 


Chapter 5: 5 - Inspiration
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Author Note: And here, without much further ado, is Chapter Five. Thank you so much to everybody who had read (Red Champion has just exceeded 600 reads, wahey!) and even more thanks to my absolutely amazing reviewers, you all make me so glad I’m writing this story. So far I’m having such a great time writing and I’m trying to get chapters up as regularly and quickly as possible. Hope you all enjoy, thank you for reading and, if you get a chance, please leave a review!



5- Inspiration:



“In the midst of great joy do not promise to give a man anything;


in the midst of great anger do not answer a man's letter”


Chinese Proverb



 



Rose walked hurriedly down the never-ending corridors of the Hogwarts ship with Albus and Dawn in tow. It was three days since she and Scorpius had received the first clue and fifteen days before she would be humiliated in front of the school for being so unprepared for the First Task which, as yet, neither she nor Scorpius had any idea what to expect from.



They had had numerous conversations, musing over what it could be.



 



“I know it sounds stupid but the Mirror of Erised is possible, it was always meant to show you your heart’s deepest desire wasn’t it? Wasn’t that how your Uncle got the Philosopher’s Stone?” Scorpius had argued three days earlier.



“But this was years and years ago, back when both our fathers were at school here, surely it couldn’t still be around. And anyway, what would the Task be? I just wish my very hardest to win the First Task and move on to the Second and hey presto, it’s done?!” Rose had quickly retorted.



“Well what could this “emotion” it refers to be?” Rose has questioned Scorpius a day later. “Well, anything!” Scorpius had returned with a hint of hopelessness in his voice. “Strong emotions aren’t exactly hard to think of: love/hate, sadness/happiness. This is pointless.”



 



 Their suggestions ranged from the ordinary to the extraordinary but nothing seemed quite right and they appeared no closer to finding out the truth. They were meeting again later that day, after Rose’s two, two hour lessons.



The first of which, Defence Against the Dark Arts, was situated on the third floor and the three students had been hastily checking the numbers of numerous doors until they eventually found the gleaming number five hanging lopsided on the door now in front of them.



Rose breathed a sigh of relief and pushed down the handle, entering the classroom which already bustled with the noise and movement of her fellow students. They took seats at the back; Dawn and Rose sat next to each other and Albus with a tired looking Sebastian whose chin was propped up by his hand.



Just as Rose pulled her books onto the table the quiet voice of Professor Gault permeated the room, entering into even the noisiest corner and causing instant quiet. The tall, fair-haired and sharp featured Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor had been teaching at the school for the past six years.



Thankfully things had changed since the mysterious inability for Professors in such a subject to teach beyond a year, back in the days of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. As students, who had been talking noisily with their friends beside and behind them turned in their seats to face the front, the Professor flicked her wand at the board where writing began to appear.



“Welcome,” she said in her shrill voice, “to your first lesson in Defence Against the Darks Arts aboard the Hogwarts ship. We shall continue this year as we began it and have now reached the letter E.”



Rose smiled at her teacher’s over-logical method of teaching by going through the alphabet and looking at the magical creatures beginning with a different letter each lesson.



“This first period we will look at the Erkling and Erumpent. So can anyone tell me what an Erkling is?”



Several people raised their hands, Rose amongst them. The Professor’s eyes scanned the handful of students in the room and rested upon Rose’s downturned face which was focussing on the notebook in front of her as she scribbled in it furiously.



Professor Gault glanced down at the seating plan which had magically materialised when the students took their seats, as she was still unfamiliar with many of them.



“Miss Weasley,” she said suddenly. “You know the answer?”



Rose quickly looked up, meeting her Professor’s piercing gaze and nodded. “Yes, Professor. The Erkling is native to Germany and small and elf-like in appearance; they have a very high pitched cry which they use to entice their prey.”



“Ten points to Gryffindor,” the fair-haired woman replied. She proceeded with the lesson, beginning by looking at the ministerial restrictions put on these dangerous creatures causing Rose to tune out having read all of this information before, during the summer holidays.



She doodled absentmindedly on her new notebook as her mind filled with the Tournament’s clue:



“A strong emotion I can mimic,



Consumed by feeling with no limit



Too much and I can be a liar,



Take me right, you’ll get your heart’s desire.”



The numerous answers she and Scorpius had come up with never quite fit; they always related to only one part of the riddle and never the other. As she scrawled the clue out on crisp white paper in her sharply italic script she looked at each word in turn and obsessed mindlessly over the possible interpretation of each.



What could imitate emotion? She mused. Her mind could only consider the Boggart and similar creatures which were able to impersonate at will but even they didn’t seem to fit the idea of imitating an emotion.



She moved to the last line and her thoughts caught on the first few words, “Take me right”; thus far she hadn’t taken much time to consider them. She had assumed that “take” was an alternative to “use” and so thought it unimportant but suddenly her bright hazel eyes lit up as the real meaning became clear to her.



Taking something didn’t always mean to use or to steal but usually referred to some kind of medicine or potion. She grinned widely and couldn’t wait to see Scorpius and tell him her idea, how obvious it seemed now; she’d been taking such a narrow look at the clue.



She felt like a whole new facet to the clue had been revealed; she finally felt they had made some progress. The rest of the two hour period dragged on as the class moved from the Erkling and Erumpent to the Fire-crab and the Fwooper.



Rose had taken notes fleetingly on some elements she hadn’t yet researched but a lot of the information she knew already, much to Dawn’s dislike who glared at Rose as she hurried to scribble down the notes. Rose practically leapt out of her seat as the bell finally rang signalling the end of the lesson.



She yelled a hurried goodbye to Dawn as she sprinted from the classroom, hoping to get to Potions early and speak with Scorpius. She arrived at the classroom two corridors along in a matter of seconds but found she was the first there; Scorpius not in sight.



She waited impatiently outside, hopping from foot to foot and swinging her head from left to right hastily checking for Scorpius’ arrival only to see Albus making his way towards her.



“You left Defence quickly, surely Gault isn’t that bad?” he laughed as he stood beside her, leaning back into the wall.



“She’s fine. I just really needed to speak to Scorpius before the lesson but he’s not even here early!” Rose replied indignantly. Albus laughed at the expression on Rose’s face.



“Did you expect him to just happen to get here early for a change? Why are you panicking anyway, I thought you two were meeting later?” Rose felt suitably embarrassed at her obvious desperation to see her Triwizard partner and smiled at Albus in apology.



 



Scorpius had probably thought of this element of the clue already, she felt she was being stupid. She sighed as she seemed to be back at square one. Feeling frustrated Rose entered the Potions classroom, the door of which had just been swung open by the gaunt and pale-looking Professor Queep, whose white face seemed to cast a bright glow in the darkness which consumed his classroom.



Rose avoided looking at the dark-eyed Professor as she took her seat towards the back of the class, waiting for the unlucky person who arrived last and found themselves having to take the spare seat beside her.



To her surprise the chair next to her was pulled back from the table, and the space taken already, when half the classroom was full of empty seats. Artemis smiled at her before diving in his bag for his parchment and quills, setting them carefully on the table.



“I didn’t realise you were in my Potions class,” Rose commented in confusion, surprised she’d never noticed Albus’ dark-haired friend before.



“I just joined,” Artemis replied. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to take another year of Potions but I spoke to Professor Quila and decided I might as well as the lesson doesn’t clash with anything I’m already doing.” He smiled at her once again and adjusted his cauldron which sat on the floor beside his chair.



“Do you mind me sitting here?” he asked hesitantly.



“Of course not,” Rose replied, smiling warmly back.



Rose watched as Albus, followed quickly by Scorpius, entered the room and took the desk next to herself and Artemis. Albus frowned when he saw Artemis but righted his expression so quickly Rose wasn’t sure she’d even seen it. Regardless she couldn’t see why Albus wouldn’t like his friend sitting with his cousin.



The door to the room clicked almost imperceptibly closed as Professor Queep swept to the front of the large board covering the wall at the head of the room. His thin, bloodless lips were unsmiling and he spoke in a sombre, deep voice with an expressionless face.



“In today’s lesson we will be looking at potions used to conceal elements of one’s true self beginning with the Beautifying Potion. This potion was most famously used by the hag Malodora Grymm as a method of hiding her true form and has been used numerous times since as a method of disguise or self improvement. We will be attempting to make this potion today.



“Those made will be bottled and handed in at the end of the first hour to be marked by myself. We will then continue for your second hour to make Euphoria which creates a false concealment for your emotions.



 Rose sat up with a start. She turned sharply to where Scorpius was sitting to see him looking equally excited and staring back at her. They grinned at each other as their eyes met; both were consumed by impatient excitement.



However, Rose was aware that the answer to the clue wasn’t Euphoria; she was looking for something to imitate an emotion rather than conceal. The class began to move suddenly, all of them rushing to the potions ingredients cupboard. As they were working in pairs Artemis followed the crowd whilst Rose assembled her cauldron and, with a flick of her wand, lit a small fire beneath it.



“So, a potion then?” a deep voice said in Rose’s ear. She shivered at the feeling of Scorpius’ breath tickling her neck.



“That’s what I was thinking,” she answered, “after all in the clue it does say “take me right” what else would you take than a potion?”



“Good idea! I didn’t even think of that, I’m afraid I’ve been a bit of a useless partner so far. Are you still up for talking after this lesson?” Rose dimly heard Artemis return to the table and busy himself with chopping and juicing various ingredients.



“Sure, after all we still need to find out what potion it is.” Scorpius returned to his seat and Rose turned her attention back to Artemis.



 



Rose’s strength had always been Potions so luckily, despite how distracted she was throughout the two hours, she still managed two average potions; it was, however, mainly due to Artemis’s concentration and focus.



She found herself constantly watching the clock which ticked away unhurried in the corner of the room. Finally, when Rose hardly felt she could wait any longer the bell rang and she dropped her things into her bag, glancing across at Scorpius to see he had hardly moved.



His face was obscured by a dog-eared copy of “NEWT Level Potion Making” which was a compulsory requirement for the course. He hadn’t moved from his seat and seemed barely aware the lesson had ended at all; Rose walked over to him, tapping him quickly on the shoulder.



His widely grinning face turned to her as he grabbed his Potions materials in one hand and Rose in the other, dragging her to the door. He didn’t stop until they had reached their shared room; his large rough hand still grasped hers. 



As Scorpius pushed the panelled door forwards and strode into the room he swung Rose round to face him, placing both his hands upon her shoulders. Rose’s arms hung weakly at her sides as she tried to ignore how warm and comforting the weight upon her shoulders felt.



“I’ve got it,” Scorpius said quietly, staring directly into her eyes. “I’ve actually got it. As soon as you said about it being a potion it just completely occurred to me!” He stumbled over his words with his haste.



He paused at this moment as Rose let the information sink in. The silence dragged on as she looked at him expectantly.



“Well?!?! Are you going to tell me or just let me work it out for myself?” she said irritably.



“Patience, Red. Just wanted to create dramatic effect,” he grinned, wolfishly. “We kept on reading the “getting your heart’s desire” as being getting what you want; some way of achieving a materialistic desire.



“What about if instead it was about making you experience an emotion which embodied your greatest desire?” Rose looked confused.



“How about a potion which would create in a single splash of pearly sheen every smell you have ever loved, and which, when drunk, would make you feel one of the strongest emotions; it would make you believe you truly desired something. What...if it could make you fall in love? The ultimate desire.”



Rose stared at him open-mouthed; she knew exactly what he meant.



Amortentia,” she breathed.  



The two Hogwarts students sat in silence for a moment; feelings of relief, elation, excitement and fear mixing eclectically together.



“It seems so completely obvious now,” Rose commented. The answer which had been plaguing them was now so laughably easy. What else than the well-known love potion could create “your heart’s desire”? The clue obviously accused the potion of being a liar because it usually manipulated you to think someone was your heart’s desire, even when they weren’t.



Rose shook her head, half frustrated, as she couldn’t imagine how she had missed this, especially being the Potions expert Professors had always thought her to be. Rose felt her lips moving into a broad smile and couldn’t help letting a small laugh escape.



They had solved the First Task clue.



She felt like a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders and Scorpius’ easy grin and relaxed posture told her he felt the same.The two of them enjoyed this moment of relief before analysing what they had found out.



“What does this mean then?” Rose questioned. “What could the First Task possibly be? How could it involve Amortentia?”



She ran a hand over her red hair which was confined to a ponytail as it was usually, with several fiery strands floating around her face. She brushed these strands impatiently back and out of the way of her eyes, threading her fingers through the curls which ran in a vivid stripe down her back.



“I really can’t imagine,” Scorpius answered. “It’s not like it’s a potion for healing or defence, or even a potion that would be helpful in a potentially dangerous situation in the Tournament. Professor Quila didn’t mention that we needed to do anything right now about it. I assume that means we don’t need to make it and bring it to the Task.”



Rose nodded. “I think you’re right,” she said. “It isn’t going to help in the Tournament so I don’t know what would be gained by bringing it; nonetheless I wouldn’t mind practicing making it. Just in case.”



Scorpius gestured with a hand over to the potions store-cupboard and cauldrons set up in the room and with the other hand reached into his bag to retrieve his potions book. Rose rifled through the old book and quickly found the ingredients list which she gave to Scorpius to assemble.



She instead focussed on lighting the fire under one of the smaller cauldrons available and gradually took the ingredients from Scorpius’ hesitant fingers and added them one by one, taking care to follow the instructions directly.



Eventually the potion’s bubbling surface showed a curious mother-of-pearl sheen, above which hovered spirals characteristic of the Amortentia potion. Rose smiled at their success and inhaled the curious aromas being emitted from the simmering liquid before them.



She could smell the beautiful floral scent of a rose, like the deep crimson ones which flowered at home and which reminded her of her childhood; she smelt freshly baked bread, her mother always insisted cooking the muggle way gave a better result.



She smelt a heavy, rich fragrance which reminded her of pine trees and thick forests, but she couldn’t put her finger on where she knew it from. She sighed contentedly and leant back on the chair behind her, glancing at Scorpius to see a similar look of satisfaction on his face. Soon after, the two of them vanished the potion and went their separate ways, agreeing to meet later that day to work on Rose’s spell-casting which she felt most worried about.



When she returned to her room she saw an owl hopping impatiently on the window-sill outside her bedroom window; it pecked loudly on the glass in agitation. She recognised the speckled brown feathers and large yellow eyes of her mother’s owl, Quentin.



She slid open the window, letting in a shock of cold air, and allowed the austere looking owl to enter the room and hold out a leg which had strapped to it a role of yellow parchment. Rose’s heart beat slightly erratically as she removed the letter.



Her parents had written fleetingly over the past few days, giving her support but with an underlying detachment and she feared this impromptu letter was about to explain why. Once the parchment was in her hand Quentin flew off through the open window, not waiting for a reply as usually happened.



Rose reluctantly broke the red seal with the Weasley crest, one of many luxuries the family was now prone to, and opened the letter, instantly recognising that it was in her mother’s neat hand.



 



Dear Rose,



 



Your father and I received a letter from your brother yesterday, he said that you were sharing a corridor with Scorpius Malfoy, alone. In your letters since you have arrived at Durmstrang Institute you have never mentioned this and I was wondering why.



Neither your father or I feel comfortable about you being such close quarters to this boy. We think this is inappropriate and unacceptable and I have written to your Headmistress this morning to dispute the issue. I had hoped you would have had the honesty and maturity to tell us about this, as you must have known we would not have been happy.



You know that your father in particular seems to still hold a grudge against the Malfoy family, which although I don’t share, I can understand his motivations. I can’t help but feel, from information I have been given about Scorpius’ reputation, that he is not the right sort of person for you to be spending your time with and seems to be so very much like his father.



We are not blaming you, after all it is not your fault he was selected as your partner, however hopefully this issue will be resolved soon and your room and partner in this Tournament will be changed.



From your loving mother and father.  



 



 


Chapter 6: 6 - Confrontation
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Author Note: And here I am at Chapter number 6 already, I can hardly believe it. I have to give massive thanks to all my reviewers and readers, especially all the guys who read and review week after week, you are my heroes. This chapter I originally wasn’t going to do but thought I’d write it to see how it worked and ended up really liking it. In fact I still like it, I’m not sure I’m all that good at it but I do like writing arguments and confrontations – plenty of which I think are to come in this story. So without further ado – please read and if you have a moment leave a review, it’ll make my day. Enjoy.



6 - Confrontation:



A single fact can spoil a good argument.


Anonymous



 



Rose sat in shocked silence. She really was lost for words as she stared down at the parchment still held firmly in her hands.



Since when had her fair, neutral, peaceful mother turned against the Malfoy family so suddenly? It was no secret that her father would always hold a grudge against Draco Malfoy because of their relationship in their school days; however Scorpius was nothing like his father!



She couldn’t understand how her mother had believed in idle gossip about Scorpius and judged him so harshly when in the past it had always been her encouraging the two to get on and ignore past feuds between their parents.



She felt anger welling up inside her at her parents whose harsh criticism of Scorpius had caused a heavy, painful feeling deep in the pit of her stomach.



She could feel angry tears starting to appear in her piercingly hazel eyes but swept them away with an impatient hand as she jumped to her feet and left her room in a flurry of activity, not even bothering to close her bedroom door behind her.



In what felt like a matter of seconds she reached the Gryffindor Common Room and pushed heavily against the door, causing it to swing back and bang against the wall. The sudden sound caused a hush amongst everybody in the room, who turned to stare at her, but in her anger she was looking for only one person.



She strutted over to the fireplace where her brother sat and grabbed his arm in a strong hand, dragging him from the room.



“Hugo,” she hissed menacingly when they stood in the corridor outside, “what the hell is wrong with you? What exactly have I ever done to deserve having you report to mum and dad every single part of my life?” Hugo stared up at her in wide-eyed shock.



 He suddenly found his voice and replied, shakily. “If you’re talking about telling mum and dad about you and Scorpius practically living together then that’s not my fault! They asked me if you were with Eve and Dawn and I couldn’t lie to them could I?!”



“You didn’t have to answer!” Rose yelled incredulously. “You know what mum and dad are like. They would have forgotten they had even asked by the time they got your reply!” Hugo stared resolutely at his feet, kicking his scuffed shoes against the wall.



“Are they angry?” he said quietly, after a lengthy pause. Rose softened slightly, she and her brother weren’t exactly best friends but they had always been pretty tolerable of each other and she didn’t like having to shout at him.



“Yes, Hugo, they’re very angry. They’ve written to Quila.” Rose sagged back against the wall in defeat. Her anger had sapped her energy.



“Quila? I didn’t realise it would be that bad! I thought they’d just talk to you about maturity and responsibility for a while!” Hugo hurriedly argued back. “What’s going to happen, are they going to stop you competing in the Tournament?” he asked worriedly.



“I don’t know.” His angry sister snapped back. A red flush from her previous fury stained her cheeks and she took a moment to realise the seriousness of the situation they were in.



“They don’t want Scorpius to be my partner,” Rose practically whispered, her head lowered and her eyes fixed on the floor. “Even if I’m allowed to continue I won’t have a partner, I’ll be by myself.” She felt a pain inside her at the thought of this; worry started to churn in her stomach and wave of unstoppable fear hit her.



She couldn’t do the Tournament alone, it was impossible. Despite her original prejudices against Scorpius it was obvious why the Goblet had chosen him. He was level-headed and intelligent; loyal and creative; brave and strong. He excelled in the subjects she found most difficult, whereas he tended to have more problems with subjects which came naturally to her.



Together they were an incredible team; invincible.



She felt an overwhelming sense of defeat as her earlier elation over discovering the clue to the First Task quickly dissipated leaving in its wake only doubt and fear.



“I need to see the Headmistress,” Rose said quietly and stalked off down the corridor, her eyes steely and staring straight ahead. She didn’t spare him so much as a backward glance and quickly left him standing alone in the long hallway where silence reigned eerily.



Rose concentrated on steadying her erratic breathing and putting one foot in front of the other; she didn’t even know what she would say to Professor Quila, she just knew she had to say something.



Rose was soon approaching a deep oak door behind which she knew lay her Headmistress’s office and without so much as taking a breath she knocked harshly on the hard wooden surface. From within she heard the call: “Enter!”



She now took a moment to steady herself and control the anger which was still swirling within her. She pushed open the door and was met with a moderately sized and well furnished office where the Professor’s grave face looked up from a desk of paperwork. She gestured wordlessly to the stiff backed chair opposite her which Rose sat in rigidly.



“I was wondering when I would be seeing you Miss Weasley, I assume you are aware of your parents’ letter to me?” Rose nodded curtly, her bottom lip beginning to shake slightly. She took a deep breath and before Professor Quila could proceed launched herself into her argument.



“You can’t take him out of the competition Professor, I need his help. You can’t handicap the school in the Tournament this way just because my parents have got a bee in their bonnet about something. If you won’t let Scorpius be my partner then I refuse to compete. I refuse. Because it’s pretty much impossible for me to win without his assistance.”



Rose flushed at her outburst and paused to take a breath. The woman sitting in front of her held up her hand and started to speak.



“There is no need to worry as Scorpius will be remaining your partner. When you both entered your names into the Goblet you entered a legally binding contract which you now have a responsibility to fulfil. However, your parents have raised...doubts... over you spending a significant amount of time with Scorpius.



“They seem to doubt his character, which although I have argued continuously against, they refuse to compromise on this issue. I therefore have no choice but to change the living arrangements so you are not together and arrange for all meetings between the two of you to be chaperoned by a member of staff as per your parents’ request. Your time together will also be limited.” Rose stared at her open-mouthed in shock.



“You can’t be serious?” she said with a mocking laugh. “That’s completely irrational! What exactly is Scorpius going to do? Hex me when my back is turned? I’m pretty sure if he was going to try anything he would have done it already! As usual my parents are reacting without thinking, and it’s my fault, because I didn’t tell them about me and Scorpius living so close together. This isn’t his fault.”



Rose shook her head incredulously, her eyes pleading desperately with the woman in front of her.



“Miss Weasley if you think for a minute that I don’t appreciate how foolish this is or that I support your parents’ judgement of Scorpius then you are completely wrong. However, I cannot ignore their complaints. I’m sure you are aware of the position your parents have in the Ministry of Magic and so there is nothing I can do, this issue is out of my hands. I understand that...”



Rose interrupted before her Headmistress could answer, her eyes flashing with anger. “You understand?!” she shrieked with the same mocking laughter which had escaped before; her shrill voice ricocheting from wall to wall.



“Do you really understand? Have you just been chosen to compete in a Tournament which could ultimately end in your death? Where everybody you know is relying on you and putting pressure on you and believing in you?



“Do you know what it feels like constantly worrying you’ll let down everyone? When you think you can’t possibly succeed in this challenge which is always on your mind? Do you really understand that? Because nobody can, nobody can understand a single tiny fragment of how I feel... except Scorpius.



“He is the only person who can come even slightly close to understanding how I feel right now. He is the only person who can help me right now. If you take him away, which you are effectively doing, then I can’t cope, I can’t do this. Don’t make me do this.” Her voice shuddered and broke as she spoke the last line.



Her voice had fallen to a near whisper and Rose felt entirely helpless. She felt like Scorpius was the only ally she had in the Tournament and because of her parents’ stupid over-reactions she was going to be alone, or have to cope with awkward meetings with a teacher watching. Professor Quila sighed, and when she spoke, her voice was soft.



“I am so very sorry Rose, believe me I am. But as I said, this is out of my hands. Trust me when I say I have done everything possible to stop this from happening but there is nothing more I can do.” There was a heavy finality to the older woman’s tone and Rose felt a strange emptiness. As if all her anger had suddenly disappeared and she was left with hollowness inside her. She glanced behind her Headmistress and saw a large ornate fireplace above which hung a huge portrait.



“Floo powder,” she whispered.



“Excuse me?” Professor Quila asked with a frown at the sudden outburst.



“Do you have Floo powder Professor?” Rose asked quickly, an idea springing to her mind. “Because I need to visit my parents. Right now.”  



The energy, movement and dizziness created by the process of flooing did nothing to calm Rose’s anger. When her spinning ceased and she found herself standing on the familiar cream carpet of her front room...she was furious.



She could hear the muggle radio in the kitchen blaring out cheesy pop songs and the sound of pots and pans clattering together drowning out any sounds marking her arrival. She took a moment to straighten her top and brush soot off her jeans and, deciding her unruly hair which was now making a bid for freedom from her hair-band was a lost cause, she made her way to the kitchen taking large decisive steps.



She stepped through the open door into the chaos which constantly inhabited the Weasley household. Rose’s mother, Hermione, was busy at the stove mixing the contents of a large saucepan whilst looking over her shoulder and talking to her husband who sat at the table behind her.



On seeing her daughter, Hermione ran forward and embraced her oldest child; Rose returned the hug lightly. Hermione saw the grim determination on her daughter’s face and immediately moved to the stove to reduce the heat and then switched off the radio, leaving the kitchen in complete silence.



Somehow the sight of her parents had dampened Rose’s anger and she took a seat at the table opposite her father, waiting for them to speak first. Her father Ron looked at her directly and began to speak once his wife was seated.



“I know you’ll be angry at us, Rose,” he began. “This wasn’t a decision we made lightly but you have to understand that we simply don’t trust this boy with you. You’re alone with him the majority of the day, isolated from the rest of the school and I won’t have it.”



Rose could see anger simmering beneath the surface of his controlled speech and decided it was best to negotiate rather than retaliate in the same way. It was never safe to fight fire with fire when her father was concerned.



“You have both always encouraged me to get on with Scorpius. Why change now?” Rose asked her mother. Hermione looked reluctant to answer and glanced at Ron before beginning.



“Old grudges die hard I’m afraid. This was not the message I wanted to give you, or the way I wanted you to act. I never wanted our past problems with people to be passed on to you but I can’t help wanting to protect you when I continually hear what an...unpleasant...person Scorpius is meant to be.



“We just want to protect you Rose. I had hoped he would have grown up and not adopted his fathers’ ways but he seems just the same as Draco was at his age.” Hermione sighed, knowing her daughter wouldn’t be content with this explanation. Rose decided to try a different approach as she couldn’t imagine discussing Scorpius would get them anywhere; obviously her parents had already made up their minds about him.



“When Uncle Harry was in the competition, he was alone wasn’t he?” she asked. “He didn’t have help from anybody did he?”



“Well I wouldn’t say that,” Ron answered quickly. His pride was getting the better of him as Rose had hoped.



“He had help from your mother and me all the time. Couldn’t have done it without us really,” he commented proudly. Rose smiled in triumph.



“Then why are you denying me that? If you can admit that Uncle Harry having friends to help him benefitted him why are you actively stopping me from having the same resource? I can’t do this Tournament on my own.”



“That’s all well and good,” her father replied quickly. “But why does this friend have to be Scorpius Malfoy? I can’t even remember you giving that boy the time of day before now. Why can’t you go to any of your other friends?” Rose shot back a reply, she didn’t need time to think.



“None of my friends want to help in the Tournament,” she answered truthfully. “Albus, Dawn, Eve they all want to enjoy the Tournament for what it is: a competition, a game. They don’t want to look at the serious side or acknowledge the dangers.



“They think it’s all one big adventure. If I started trying to share my burdens with them it would force them to confront feelings they’ve been ignoring so far. You have to remember, it was me who was chosen, and not them, what right do I have to spoil this for them? So far there has been one person; one person who fully understands and who has been helping me. I’m confused as much as you are as to why that person is Scorpius.



“All I know is that me and him were thrown together in this competition, neither of us really liking each other at all, but we had to co-operate, we had to work together, for the Tournament and for Hogwarts. And now I can’t imagine anybody else taking his place.



“I could spend the next hour telling you his attributes but I know you wouldn’t believe them. So instead of making a judgement in a second, give him time to prove who he is rather than relying on what you hear from other people.



“Of course people are going to criticise him, the people you socialise with are ex-Order of the Phoenix members, I have no doubt if you listened amongst old Voldemort supporters they’d probably be as critical about me, or Hugo, or Albus, or Lily.



“Please just ignore those grudges you’ve held onto from the past and stop comparing Scorpius against his father until you’ve actually met him, and seen what he is really like. You two should respect more than anyone the damage gossip can inflict.



“Was every rumour passed around about Uncle Harry at school right? Did everyone always believe his word, his strength of character? No, he had plenty of people willing to believe he wasn’t good and he had to prove it to them in the end. I’m so shocked that after witnessing that first hand, the two of you can’t ignore gossip and wait until you’ve met Scorpius yourselves.”



Rose took a deep breath, retaining the eye contact she had had with her parents throughout her speech. Her father looked shocked at her outburst whereas her mother looked...ashamed. Rose could see her words had affected her mother but before she could give any further arguments Hermione spoke.



“I think we should withdraw our complaint to Professor Quila,” she said suddenly, much to the apparent dislike of her husband. Before he could launch an argument she raised a hand which stopped him instantly and she continued to speak.



“I know you will think I am being stupid, Ron. You have always considered me easily persuaded. But I think there is nothing else for it. We have acted in an appalling manner and we need to make amends for that and apologise.



“Until now, Rose, I must admit I worried about you being to rash, throwing yourself into situations without thinking. I don’t think I ever appreciated for a minute how much you have grown up. Every word you have just said is the truth. Your father and I have no right to judge Scorpius on his father’s faults when we have barely ever met the boy ourselves.



“I feel embarrassed at how we reacted and I feel above anything else, proud of you. I had almost forgotten that I too witnessed a Tournament; I had quite forgotten how it felt every time Harry went in for a Task. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for you.



“I could never take away your aid in this competition, as I would never have dreamed of not helping Harry. I know Ron,” she said, looking to her husband, “that you won’t be satisfied with this but we need to do what we should have done all along, trust our daughter, because she knows what she’s doing.”



Rose felt a rush of love towards her mother who sat smiling at her across the table; the battle was nearly over as she knew her father rarely beat her headstrong mother in an argument. He knew this himself and gave a great sigh, shaking his head with a slightly annoyed expression on his face.



“I’m not happy,” he said gruffly, “and I won’t be until I know what this boy is like for myself. But I do agree with your mother, with all the focus on Scorpius, I had forgotten what you’re going through. I’m sorry.”



 Rose grinned and jumped to her feet, crossing the floor to where her parents sat and wrapping her arms around them both.



“Thank you,” she whispered almost too quietly to be heard. But the two adults heard her clearly enough and smiled, not entirely sure when their daughter had grown up so much.



 



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



 



Several hours later Rose found herself once again standing in an empty fireplace with a handful of Floo powder, however this time she was waving goodbye to her parents. She said a final goodbye and threw the powder to the ground, shouting “The Hogwarts Ship, Durmstrang Institute Lake.”



In seconds she was transported in a whirl of colours and textures to the fireplace in Professor Quila’s study. The woman in question sat sedately at her desk.



“Welcome back Miss Weasley,” she said smiling brightly, unlike Rose had ever seen from the Professor before. “I received your parents’ Patronus message and wheels which were in motion have been stopped and nothing will be changed. I think it is best nobody underestimates your temper in the future.”



She nodded to Rose and returned to the paperwork in front of her. Rose took this to be dismissal and started to walk from the room, as she reached the door she heard the Headmistress speak once more.



“Oh, and before I forget, I suggest you go straight back to your cabin for tonight as a certain Mr Malfoy has been worrying quite extensively about your whereabouts since he found you missing from your room earlier. I have reassured him you are well but he, of course, refuses to believe me until he sees you for himself. Goodnight, Miss Weasley.”



 



Rose smiled to herself and thanked her Headmistress before leaving, eager to return to her room. As she arrived on her corridor moments later she noticed the shared room door was open so she made her way quickly there, expecting Scorpius to greet her immediately.



Instead she reached the doorway with no interruption and saw why as she entered the room. In one of the slouchy armchairs sat Scorpius, his arms crossed in front of him and his feet resting on a spindly table with his head dropped onto one shoulder as he slept.



Rose had forgotten how much time had passed since she had left earlier and it was now quite late, Scorpius has obviously fallen asleep waiting for her return. She decided not to disturb him but instead wrote a quick note, saying she was back and perfectly well and that she would see him the following morning when she would explain everything.



She stuck the note so it hung from the mantelpiece in front of Scorpius’ silent figure and, in a moment of compassion, Rose fetched from her bedroom a woollen blanket which she draped over him, before returning to her room to sleep.    



  


Chapter 7: 7 - Danger
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Author Note: Well the good news is that Red Champion, after posting Chapter Six, exceeded 1000 reads! Wahey! The bad news of course is that this is to be my last update before the queue closure I reckon but I will be posting as soon as is humanly possible when the queue reopens! I hope you all enjoy this chapter, I’m afraid its slightly shorter than its predecessors but I hope that what it lacks in length, it makes up for in impact. There is now nothing more for me to say than so many, many thanks to the fantastic people who have been reviewing, reading and favourite-ing my story, it really does make my day to know people enjoy this story. So please, enjoy reading the newest chapter and if you have a moment, leave me a review – it means the world.



 



7 - Danger:



 



“Never was anything great achieved without danger”


Niccolo Machiavelli



 



Rose was awoken from her deep sleep by a quiet but insistent tapping at the door. She rubbed her eyes tiredly and pulled on her dressing gown which lay abandoned on the floor at the foot of her bed. On swinging open her bedroom door she was met with Scorpius’ equally tired looking face, his hair tufted and ruffled from where he had slept on it.



“I’m sorry to wake you up,” Scorpius began apologetically. “But we both seem to have overslept after all the excitements of last night.” He smiled wryly and pointed at Rose’s clock hung on the wall beside her. She gasped as she saw it was eleven, she’d never been one to sleep in as she preferred mornings to evening.



“Lucky we both have the day off,” Rose said with a small laugh. She gestured into the room and let Scorpius take a seat on the untidy bedcovers; she followed him, seating herself on one particularly comfortable pillow and faced her fellow student.



“So...” Rose began uncertainly. “How did you know I was gone yesterday? Professor Quila said you had been to see her.” Scorpius shuffled uncomfortably and looked embarrassed by his actions.



“Well I came out of my room to go to dinner, before our session to practice and saw that your door wasn’t quite closed. So, thinking you were in, I knocked but there was just silence. I opened the door slightly but I could see you definitely weren’t in there and I knew you weren’t one to just wander off without closing your door, it was just...weird.



“So I went to look for Albus, I figured he would probably know where you were. He was then leaving your Common Room to go to dinner and he said he’d seen you an hour ago, looking massively angry and dragging your brother into the hallway to speak to you.



“Nobody had seen Hugo since so I couldn’t ask him, so I went to Professor Quila, I know it was a bit...over the top...but you just seemed to be acting out of character and I wanted to make sure you were ok.” A pale blush crept into his cheek as he stared down at the bedspread, picking at its threads absentmindedly whilst he spoke.



“When I eventually found her office she said you’d gone to see your parents and she couldn’t tell me anything else about it, although she did assure me that you were ok. So I hung around for a while, but it became obvious you weren’t coming back anytime soon so I went back to our shared room and sat down, planning to wait, obviously I was more tired than I thought.”



Rose was surprised by the concern Scorpius obviously showed about her the day before and felt glad that somebody was always looking out for her, especially given how much she argued in his favour to her parents.



Without further ado she launched into her story; telling everything from the letter, to seeing her brother, to yelling at the headmistress, to visiting her parents and their eventual resolution. Scorpius watched her in shock as she retold the whole saga and when she had finished sat in silence for a few minutes attempting to process all of the information he had been given.



“So I am still your partner then? Your parents withdrew their complaint?” he asked, confused.



“Yes, they sent a Patronus message to Professor Quila and explained everything, you are definitely still my partner.” Rose recognised that Scorpius was obviously going over things in his mind from his distracted expression.



“I’m sorry about their behaviour,” she said. “I can’t apologise enough because they were completely out of order, they had no right to judge you like that. I hope you can forgive them.” Scorpius looked up at this and his lips gave a small smile.



“It’s ok,” he said finally. “I know people still hold prejudices and it’s understandable after what resulted from all the negative relationships back in the war. I know what my father is and how people feel about him. That’s something which I doubt will ever change, however I won’t ever stop trying to convince people that I’m not my father.”



He paused for a moment, before looking deeply into Rose’s eyes.       



“Thank you. Thank you for defending me and trusting me enough to say all those things to your parents. I’m not used to people defending me, but I’m glad you did. Who would have thought when we were put together for this Tournament that we would be sitting here now talking about this? I think the Goblet knew what it was doing. We make a pretty unbeatable team.”



 



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Rose had never felt more bored in her life as she swung her legs backwards and forwards causing the dark wooden chair she was sitting on to rock slightly.



She had been invited on this day, a mere five days before the Tournament, to attend the traditional Wand Weighing ceremony and since she was the last to have her wand examined she had been sitting for what felt like hours waiting whilst her fellow competitors chatted amiably with the grey bearded man who was the chief wand-maker.



Alexandre was currently being assessed, Katalena having gone first, and the process seemed unbearably long. As was also tradition, the press for the host country was there, snapping photographs of Rose when she least expected and asking inane questions about how she felt about being in the Tournament, and what she thought the First Task would be.



Usually she would have politely sat and answered the questions with suitable but not personal answers. However today it was raining and it was cold and the inside of Durmstrang seemed even darker than usual, none of which did anything to improve her mood. She hated feeling like a doll, being passed between people; she felt she’d just like to be left alone.



 As another reporter approached her she sighed but decided to put on a brave face, after all she knew her parents would deliberately get hold of this newspaper just to read the article. A brown-haired young woman sat beside her, with her photographer sitting a little distance away and snapping pictures of the two of them together.



“So Rose,” she began with a broad, toothy smile, “are you and your partner working well together so far?” Rose nodded and put on her best “good student” face.



“We are, I can’t imagine doing the Tournament without him, he is a great help.”



“But of course!” the reporter said suddenly. “I had forgotten you have a male partner, how is that going?” Rose frowned at what was being implied.



“Is there any romance on the cards yet?” The young woman laughed shrilly and Rose suppressed the urge to give her a slap and instead stayed silent.



“We are good friends,” Rose finally said with little emotion in her voice. “Nothing more, nothing less.”



“But of course, working together so closely for such a long period of time things are going to change...” The reporter asked leadingly. Before Rose could retort, her name was called and she was summoned to present her wand.



Without a word to the woman next to her she walked off to the front of the room where Mr Daletsky stood. He had dark, almost black eyes like nuggets of coal which were set deep into his face and which twinkled with kindness as he observed the nervous looking girl approaching him.



“Miss Weasley!” he said in greeting. “Finally we meet. Could I have your wand please?” Rose smiled at the cheery man before her and instantly found him likeable. She handed over her wand and he took it carefully, turning it over rapidly in his fingers.



 



“Eleven inches and made from rosewood I believe?” he said with a smile. Rose nodded, “Notoriously not very flexible, with a unicorn hair through its core. Not a common combination. With the right owner however...” He smiled at Rose at this point and she blushed, remembering how she had stood for hours trying wand after wand only eventually finding this one.



It had been made years ago but had never suited anybody, until she came along and it obeyed her every wish. Mr Daletsky flicked the wand slightly and from the tip grew a green stem which sprouted jagged leaves and eventually a large rose bud which blossomed into flower.



He took the flower and handed it to Rose, proclaiming her wand was in full health. Before returning it he laid it on one side of a pair of shining silver scales and noted down the information he was given. After a few more minutes of questioning her wand’s general abilities and whether its magic was working as well as usual Rose received her wand back and slipped it into her robes pocket.



Within the following half an hour and after numerous pictures being taken with the other Champions Rose was allowed to leave. She grabbed her things and exited as quickly as was possible, before anybody else had even gathered together their belongings.



She made her way quickly through the castle which, after the few weeks of being there, she now knew her way around. She walked down a particularly dark corridor which was bereft of windows and therefore had no natural light; this was easily her least favourite part of the castle.



As she arrived about halfway down the corridor she heard a creak behind her, she turned her head quickly and brandished her wand but could see nothing through the darkness and shadows.



 Deciding to cast a Lumos spell to give some much needed light she was just about to utter the word when a whisper could be heard, but the words not distinguished, and a flash of light lit up the corridor as a spell hurtled towards Rose. It hit her full in the stomach with a piercing red glow and its force threw her through the air, disarming her, and causing her to hit the wooden panelling at the end of the corridor.



A crash echoed throughout the castle as she made contact with the wall and a portrait hanging above her, shaken by the impact, fell from its hook on the wall to strike her shoulder. She cried out from the pain and heard the sound of quickly moving footsteps.



She could see a shadow at the end of the corridor shifting and disappearing into the surrounding gloom just as an out of breath Alexandre rounded the corridor.



“Miss Rose!” he cried out when he saw her. “What ‘as ‘appened? I ‘eard a loud crash from across ze castle and so ran and ‘ere you are, lying against ze wall and bleeding!” He pulled her gently to her feet and wrapped an arm around her waist to support her unsteady body as she placed her outstretched hand across his shoulders.



“My wand,” she said suddenly, “I was disarmed; where is my wand?” Alexandre cast a simple summoning charm and the wand flew to him, which he quickly handed to Rose. She relaxed and clasped the wand firmly, not wanting to be parted with it again.



“Somebody hexed me,” she said to Alexandre as he helped her hobble down the corridors, a pain in her stomach making it hard to walk. “I heard a sound and turned around, then just as I was going to cast Lumos a spell hit me.”



“Zese are dangerous times to be walking alone in the Durmstrang castle, or so it seems,” Alexandre replied, frowning deeply. “People play by dirty tactics sometimes.”



The corridors were getting gradually slightly lighter and Rose recognised that they were not far from the entrance doors and felt massively relieved; she couldn’t wait to get out of there. As they reached the bottom of the main staircase and approached the exit to the castle Rose heard a rustle beside her and cried out as a figure appeared through the gloom.



She was about to hit the person with a spell when she recognised Scorpius’ dark blonde hair.



“Scorpius? What are you doing here?” she asked. Scorpius frowned at the boy around which Rose her arm and glared at the hand Alexandre had firmly at her waist.



 



“What the hell’s going on?” he asked, his eyes narrowing with anger before his eyebrows suddenly rose and his eyes widened. “Your shoulder,” he said. “You’re bleeding, what’s happened?” He walked quickly over to her hastily pulling her robe to the side to see the wound at the base of her neck. She winced.



Scorpius continued to scowl at Alexandre before Rose found her voice.



“I was walking back from the Wand Weighing by myself and heard something behind me; I turned and got hit with a spell. Luckily Alexandre was nearby and heard the disturbance so came running to help me.” Scorpius obviously still felt some animosity against Alexandre but softened his expression.



“I’d better get you back to the ship,” he said as the young Frenchman relinquished his hold on Rose and let Scorpius support her.



As the three of them left the darkness of the castle Rose stopped and turned to Alexandre.



“Thank you very much for all your help. I hate to think what would have happened if you hadn’t of been there.” She smiled at him as he bowed and kissed her hand, answering simply with, “you’re welcome.”



He departed and headed towards another lake, the twin of the one the Hogwarts ship was settled on, in the opposite direction where a similar ship was bobbing. Scorpius’ hand rested on her hip as he half carried her down the rocky terrain towards their current home as she winced in pain.



“You never answered my question,” she said suddenly. “What were you doing in Durmstrang?”



“Well, ironically enough, I was coming to meet you after the Wand Weighing so you wouldn’t have to walk back alone. Obviously I was too late.” As they boarded the ship Scorpius steered them towards doors to the left, causing Rose to stop in her tracks.



“Where are we going?” she asked. “Our rooms are through to the right.”



“I’m taking you to the Hospital Ward, it’s right near Quila’s office, you need to be checked over.” As he started to move again Rose remained resolutely still.



“I’m not going to the Hospital Ward here,” she said, determined, “imagine the fuss when they find out I was hexed in Durmstrang? Professor Quila will have to be told and then will have to speak to Volkov, I can’t imagine he’ll be too pleased about having one of his students accused of attacking me. It’ll cause so many problems.”



Scorpius could obviously understand her argument and sighed deeply, knowing he wouldn’t win this.



“Fine,” he said suddenly. “I have some healing things back at my room.”



He supported her all the way back to their chambers and eventually laid her on his bed whilst he moved to the bedside table, pulling open the drawers. He removed from it a large box on the front of which was written, “St Mungo’s Magical Maladies Supplies”, Rose frowned at this until Scorpius explained.



“When my mum heard we were in the Tournament she sent me this, in case you ever got hurt. She’s a healer at St Mungo’s” He ducked his head as he examined the case’s contents.



Rose felt embarrassed over how her parents had treated Scorpius when obviously his mother only showed kindness towards her. Scorpius began with simple cotton wool and water to wash the dried blood from her shoulder and then used a green paste which he applied thoroughly to the wound before covering with a tight bandage.



He frowned uncertainly.



“That should do for now. Although we will have to change it every morning and night. Where else other than that are you hurt?” Rose hesitated for a moment, not sure whether to mention her stomach where the spell had hit, and where the pain had increased exponentially over the journey back to Scorpius’ room. Reluctantly she laid a hand over the throbbing pain.



“The spell hit me full on in the stomach,” she said and rolled up the bottom of her t-shirt slightly. The entirety of her stomach was consumed by a black bruise the edges of which were raised, red and blistered; it had obviously been spreading since it had formed.



The sight of this and the sudden realisation that whoever hexed her really meant to hurt her made Rose take shallow shuddering breaths and, relaxing back onto the soft quilt on Scorpius’ bed, she fainted.



 



 


Chapter 8: 8 - Running Away
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Author Note: I’m back! This is going in as soon as the queue opens however I doubt it will be up for a while as just about every author on this site is going to be putting in chapters for validation!



Avanell 2 asked me a long while back at Chapter 2 if we could get some Scorpius perspective. I was worried about changing the POV because I thought it just wouldn’t work, but luckily because of the 3rd person narration it doesn’t seem like such a jump and I think it does fit, let me know what you all think!



Thank you once again to every single person who has read and reviewed this story, you are all absolutely amazing; please continue to do what you do best!  



 



8 – Running Away:



 



Love isn't about the “I love you's” or “I miss you's”.


Love is about the butterflies you get when you think of her.


It’s the chills that run up and down your spine whenever you see her


And it’s the pain that hits every inch of your body


When she walks away...”


Anonymous



 



Rose furiously swept rich cherry red strands of hair away from her face where they clung possessively to the sweaty, sticky surface of her skin.



She groaned loudly with impatience and fought the urge to just throw her wand to the ground and give up with this pointless exercise. This was all Scorpius’ fault.



It was exactly four days since Rose had been attacked in the halls of Durmstrang and therefore exactly four days since she had fainted and been carried by a terrified Scorpius Malfoy to the Hospital Ward on the ship.



She had taken time to recover and was now entirely back to her usual self whilst Scorpius had thrown himself into making sure every element of Rose’s spell-casting was perfect, both for the Tournament, and for every day.



The incident at Durmstrang seemed to have installed some fear in him and so to satisfy this Rose had agreed to practice day after day, hour after hour, to make sure she could always defend herself.



The boy in question wasn’t even present; he had left her to hone her spell casting skills alone and was studying in his room. She’d been stuck working on this damned Banishment spell for the past two hours and there didn’t seem any reprieve to the continuous failure to complete this spell successfully. She took a steadying breath, rolling her shoulders back and stretching her neck back and forth, left and right.



She eyed her mortal enemy, a lamp, and swung her wand to point directly at it and screamed, with every ounce of enthusiasm, frustration and anxiety she had left, “Depulso!”



The lamp shot with an unnatural speed at the wall opposite to Rose where is smashed completely, pieces of china decorating every surface and corner of the room. The lampshade landed with an anticlimactic thud atop a padded armchair where it settled briefly before, in the wake of the noise, it rolled off, falling to the floor.



Rose grinned from ear to ear; she never had liked that lamp anyway. Buoyed by her success she laughed ecstatically and danced madly about the room in celebration.



She ran triumphantly to Scorpius’ bedroom door which she swung open in a fit of excitement and enthusiasm only to stop in her tracks, at the sight of a surprised looking Scorpius clad only in a towel, his skin wet from the shower he had obviously just had.



Rose couldn’t help her eyes taking in his broad shoulders which tapered down to narrow hips, nor could she prevent herself from seeing the way the droplets of water clung to the slight muscles of his arms and the smooth planes of his chest.



Neither could she, as she convinced herself, stop those same eyes from following the line of wispy, dark blonde hair which trailed down from his belly button to where the towel hung effortlessly at his hips.



Embarrassment hit her as she realised she had been outright staring at her fellow student’s body whilst he stood there helpless. She brought her gaze back up to his face, readily anticipating his smirk. There was no smirk, no smile, and no laughter in his face. Instead his mouth was serious, his eyes searching to meet hers.



The way his eyes bore deeply into hers and the manner in which everything around her seemed to stop moving for that impossibly long moment frightened Rose. She ran a hand over her hair.



“Sorry, I...I mean, I just did the spell... I didn’t think you would be... I mean... I shouldn’t have just barged in,” she stuttered out apologetically.



She glanced down, breaking away from his intoxicating gaze, seeing the fragments of china dusting her clothes, the way her baggy t-shirt sagged and shrouded her curves and feeling her messy red hair falling from its bun and sticking out erratically.



“I’m sorry, I must look awful,” she laughed, looking back up to meet his gaze. Still he didn’t laugh or joke but met her eyes evenly.



“You don’t look awful. In fact, I think you are bea...”



Rose fled.



She fled from the serious expression, the sincerity in his voice and the words which she feared he was speaking. Her clattering exit obscured the words which had died in his throat anyway at the sight of her running from the room.



Shaking hands slammed her door shut behind her as she waited until she heard the lock click into place. It was only then that she slid down the smooth, hard wood of the door to the ground, where she sat with her knees drawn up to her chest, staring unblinkingly ahead.



She let out a breath she had been holding without realising, slightly relaxing her tensed posture. She didn’t even know why she ran, just that when she saw him begin to speak with that undeniably honest look on his face she knew he wouldn’t lie to her and wouldn’t joke with her and that scared her.



She pushed the palms of her hands to her forehead and pressed slow circles into her temples, trying to ease out the anxiety. Her fast heartbeat had calmed and she instead started to feel embarrassed at the way she had first burst into his room with no explanation then run out, in exactly the same way. Nonetheless she knew that she didn’t want to confront either issue now, or talk things out with Scorpius.



So for the moment she would do what she had always done when she got stressed or worried and she climbed into her soft and comforting four-poster bed and lay on her back, staring up at the swirls embroidered onto the red fabric hanging over the top of the bed. Her eyes followed the curves as they swept across the sea of crimson for what started as minutes which bled quickly into hours.



 



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Scorpius sat on the edge of his bed where he had slumped after Rose had sprinted from the room. He had heard the bang of her door all too clearly from his position and willed her to come back, knowing she wouldn’t.



He held his head between the palms of his hands, resting bony elbows on his knees. He couldn’t believe he’d been so stupid. He knew this would happen if for one minute he was actually honest with Rose about his feelings but at the time he just couldn’t help it.



She’d run into the room looking all dishevelled in her baggy t-shirt which had slid down one shoulder, covered in – well now he thought about it he wasn’t sure what, but it definitely looked like, well, broken crockery – her hair making a fiery halo around her face, the red curls escaping from their hair band. And she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.



He could hardly take his eyes off her as he saw hers travelling over himself and had hoped that maybe, somewhere, there was just some tiny little flicker of attraction there. Her sudden and shocking exit had destroyed that idea.



 Scorpius had fought with himself about this for weeks. He couldn’t see how the two of them getting any closer would solve anything, in fact it would just complicate matters. As it was he felt guilty whenever Rose spent time with him because then she was neglecting her friends.



Albus had said to him only a few days previously that he had missed his cousin’s energy and humour since they’d been at Durmstrang and had claimed Dawn, supposedly Rose’s best friend, felt the same. Scorpius had taken this to heart and tried to get Rose to spend more time with her friends and had even visited Dawn at her room and convinced her to come and see Rose, especially after she was attacked in the castle.



Dawn had been only too happy to oblige and the two girls had definitely seemed to be spending more time together and renewing their friendship. Rose of course knew nothing of Scorpius visiting Dawn as she had been sworn to secrecy by the blonde-haired Slytherin she was beginning to slowly admire and trust.



It was because of this that Scorpius could have kicked himself for exposing himself so suddenly to Rose; for demonstrating how he actually felt. If only, as he usually did, he could have laughed it off and made a joke, laughingly teasing her for bursting in on him. But before he knew it the honest truth had crept up in his throat and was threatening to reveal itself to her.



He lay back on his bed, eyeing the swirled patterns on the emerald velvet until the sky outside had darkened considerably and he could barely pick out the silver curls with his eyes any longer.



His stomach grumbled in protest wanting, and needing, a meal as he had long missed dinner. He had listened out for Rose but she had obviously not left her room either; they were both too scared to risk seeing each other and having to encounter the awkwardness and tension which now hung between them.



Scorpius picked up an old, dusty copy of “Quidditch Through The Ages” from beside his bed and began to read, barely registering anything but enjoying the monotonous rhythm of scanning his eyes over the words.



Sooner, rather than later, his stomach gave an almighty lurch and Scorpius realised he needed food now more than ever. He wished he were back at Hogwarts, after missing a meal then he could have just popped down to the kitchen and asked the ever obliging House Elves to whip something up.



Here however, there was no kitchen to go to. Scorpius sat up, his brow furrowing, thinking that there must be a kitchen somewhere. He barely knew his way around the ship as it was, however, and didn’t thinking going on a hunt for one elusive room was going to help matters. Instead he held a hand over his groaning stomach.



“What I wouldn’t do for some food!” he said loudly. There was quite suddenly a loud pop, so close to Scorpius that he withdrew his wand and lit it in the same breath, muttering a quick Lumos.



In the suddenly bright light of his wand he could see a short creature with large bat ears staring directly up at him.



“Good day, Mr Scorpius sir. I is Twine, here to help you whenever you needs it.” Scorpius sat flabbergasted in his bed and in the midst of his silence, Twine continued.



“As the Champion’s partner, you and Miss Rose, sir, get the best of House Elf service. Whenever you needs it, sir!”



His large bulging eyes twinkled with kindness as he observed the student in front of him who was slowly regaining his ability to speak. Scorpius let out a deep breath and flicked his wand at the light switch, causing the whole room to flood with light, leaving him to drop his wand by his side.



“Well, erm... thank you, I guess.” Scorpius said uncomfortably. “So... does this mean you can get me, and Miss Rose, food and bring it to our rooms?”



“Of course!” the House Elf replied in his high pitched, squeaky voice. Scorpius grinned.



A mere twenty minutes later Scorpius was stood in the shared room, having transfigured several books into large tables to hold the numerous items of food the willing House Elves had delivered.



He had been trying to build up the courage to ask Rose to join him for several minutes and finally decided to take the plunge and knocked solidly on her door. He heard movement in the room beyond and a quiet, “just a minute” before the door clicked and swung open. Rose still wore her baggy t-shirt and jeans but had obviously showered since he last saw her and was no longer covered in, what he now knew to be, fragments of lamp.



She ran her hand worriedly through her hair as she stared up at him, opening her mouth to speak. Scorpius cut her off before she began however, not wanting to hear her apologies.



“Turns out we get exclusive House Elf service!” he said with a laugh and gestured through the doorway behind him. Rose’s mouth opened wide as she gasped, leaving her room quickly and walking to the piles of food.



“We have our own personal House Elves, always happy to deliver food up whenever we want it. Since I figured you had probably missed dinner as well, this looked like a good option.” Rose grinned at him eyeing the huge array of delicious food.



“This is...incredible!” she said suddenly, breaking the silence she had previously been holding.



“Thank you,” she added with a small smile. Scorpius handed her a plate and the two tucked in.



They sat in their comfy armchairs thirty minutes later finally finishing off their meals and Rose sat back with a groan, massaging her stomach.



“I feel that maybe I should have left that second portion of chocolate pudding,” she said miserably. Scorpius laughed and tried to get up.



“No,” he said, “the sticky toffee was obviously too much for me. I’m going to have to stay in this chair for the rest of my life.” The two of them laughed before a comfortable silence took over.



“About earlier...” Rose suddenly said, looking shyly at Scorpius. He interrupted her before she could carry on.



“If you’re going to apologise for barging in on me, don’t, I’m the one who needs to apologise. I’m sorry for...well...acting strangely earlier, the last thing I want is any awkwardness between us especially just before the First Task.” Rose smiled at him.



“It’s absolutely fine,” she said quickly. “No awkwardness at all, after all we need to be on top form tomorrow.” Scorpius released a breath he’d been holding, waiting for her response.



“I can’t believe it’s crept up on us like this, it always felt like a lifetime away and now suddenly the First Task is tomorrow,” Scorpius replied, relaxing into his chair.                  



The two of them discussed the upcoming task for several hours, both of them entirely at ease after relieving themselves of the earlier awkwardness. Eventually they decided they might as well get some more spell practice in before they went to bed. Scorpius walked over to their private library and rifled through the numerous books to find a new spell which could help in the Tournament.



Instead as he looked at spine after dusty spine he noticed something slightly different, a box, almost entirely obscured by cobwebs.



He hastily pulled it out of the shelf and blew off the spiders which were making it a home and smiled as he read the barely legible blocky writing, Monopoly. He quickly went back through into the shared room and held it up to a confused Rose who, when she saw the identity of the board game, jumped up with a large grin.



“Where on earth did you find that?” she laughed. “What would a muggle board game be doing on here?”



“I really haven’t the faintest idea,” Scorpius replied and set the box down on the now clear table, peeling off the ancient lid and finding the contents still in perfect condition.



“So,” he continued, a mischievous glint in his eyes, “are you up for a game?”



Never one to back down on a challenge Rose confirmed she was and the two played competitively to the early hours of the morning when Rose and her Top Hat playing piece had entirely conquered the board and destroyed Scorpius’ fortune.



They parted ways, both feeling more than ready for the challenges they were to face the next day, having enjoyed the calm normality of their evening together.   


Chapter 9: 9 - The First Task
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: So finally we reach the chapter depicting the First Task. This is a chapter I desperately wanted to get right and I hope I have, various parts of it have been edited, taken out and put in but the original idea for the Task remains the same. Thank you to every single person who has read and reviewed to far, please continue to do so because I’d love to hear your views on the start of the Tournament.This chapter is dedicated to three people who were my first ever reviewers right back when I posted Chapter One, they came back when I updated and have reviewed and read every chapter I’ve posted since without fail. Thank you Severus478, Avanell 2 and L.



 



9 – The First Task:



 



“Don't be afraid to fail. Don't waste energy trying to cover up failure.


 Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge.


It's OK to fail. If you're not failing, you're not growing.”


Anonymous



 



Rose hardly knew where the time had gone.



The last time she’d had a moment to herself was when she was lying in bed that morning, enjoying relaxing before the First Task began.



 Now she was standing to the side of the imposing Durmstrang Castle with Scorpius, nervously eyeing the crowds of people who had gathered on stadium style seating behind her. They all chattered insistently, joking with their friends in stark contrast to what they knew was to come.



To Rose’s right stood Katalena; her face was blank and emotionless much like her partner’s, both remained quiet with their eyes staring fixatedly ahead. Alexandre, alternatively, stood to her left and smiled genially at her, greeting both her and Scorpius with apparent ease. The air was thick with tension as even the noisy audience quietened, reacting to the sight of the three Heads of the participating schools who suddenly strode from the vast doors of the host castle, each with their wand in hand.



Rose immediately felt her body go rigid in nervous anticipation in the midst of the sudden silence, only the leaves of the statuesque forest forming any kind of distraction as they whispered eerily. Impatiently, she adjusted her clothing, finding creases and imperfections invisible to anybody but herself. Scorpius tapped a finger against her agitated hand to still it and offered a wry smile, moving his arm to embrace her briefly.



Professor Quila wore formal black robes and a worried expression as she approached, not meeting Rose’s bright eyes which feverishly sought hers. The three Professors swiftly reached the champions and stood beside their own before swishing their wands in identical synchronicity ahead of them.



Three immense circles appeared, one in front of each champion, initially the same in appearance with their matching translucent consistency which was seemingly neither liquid nor gas. Rose’s heart filled with warmth as through the artificial bubble she could see the stone castle she knew to be home; Hogwarts.



That on her right showed the twin image of the imposing castle which rested resolutely behind her and the bubble of Alexandre’s showed a beautiful pastel blue palace, the picturesque and fragile qualities of which gave the impression that it was made from glass. Professor Volkov stood in front of them all, beginning to speak.



“Champions, as you can see in front of you there are three circles; these are doorways. Through each an imitation of your respective schools can be seen and when you pass through the circular barrier these will become completely real. You were each given a clue exactly a month ago and the answer to this clue should be an object you could commonly find in each of the three castles.



“The aim is to find this within your own school, going to the location which you would commonly associate with that object.



“On arriving you will meet a challenge, overcome this challenge and you will receive a key and a further riddle, leading you to the next object and location. Before you continue you will be transported to a private chamber where you will have a limited amount of time to confer with your partner about the next riddle.



“Overall you will have four challenges and consequently four keys to collect. It is vital you use your time well, for although there is no physical limit, points will be awarded relating to in what order Champions complete the entirety of the tasks and with what success.



“Healing cannot take place during the Task, only in the event that a Champion withdraws during this first test can they consequently be treated, until then any injuries must be tolerated. Good luck, the Task is to begin shortly.”



Professor Quila began to move, a hand of flawlessly painted nails resting onto Scorpius’ shoulder as she went.



“You need to come with me, Mr Malfoy,” she said as she motioned to Katalena and Alexandre’s partners to follow her as well.



“The best of luck, Miss Weasley,” she continued, her voice ringing with sincerity. As she went, Scorpius stopped for a moment, leaning over to whisper in Rose’s ear.



“Good luck, Red. I’ll see you soon.” He grasped Rose’s hand and squeezed it tightly as Professor Quila attempted to move him away, leaving him to mouth the word “Potions room” and then follow her resolutely.



She watched him as he retreated, his head turned back once and his eyes fixed on hers with a vivid determination which she felt begin to flow through her. Rose took a steadying breath and prepared herself, watching the circular doorway ahead of her and planning her route. Scorpius’ meaning was clear in his parting words, the Potions Room was the only place to find Amortentia, and find it Rose would.



With keen motivation she bounced on her heels slightly, loosening her bones and readying herself for the unending pace she would need to set to emerge triumphant. Suddenly Professor Volkov, with the help of the audience, began a countdown. As her time decreased Rose felt the first flickers of panic burning inside her stomach, which she pressed a nervous hand against, her ears echoing the loud cheers of the crowd as a klaxon sounded deafeningly.



At the shrill signal Rose ran as fast as was possible through the barrier to Hogwarts, only wincing slightly at the freezing feeling which met her, as if she had been submerged in cold water.She stepped directly onto soft spongy grass and began to sprint across the smooth lawns towards the castle, anticipating every rise and fall of the hilly ground.



Struggling for breath she eventually made her way into the castle, absorbing the strange silence of the magnificent building bereft of all its students but one. The dewy grass had made her shoes slippery and as she ran over the floor of the entrance hall her feet stumbled erratically, throwing her from side to side as she maintained her furious rhythm.



She passed by the numerous portraits which were nostalgically familiar to her as she met the steps to the Dungeons, descending quickly into the soft darkness which commonly enveloped these underground passages.



The dungeons were cold, damp and plainly echoed her stumbling footing as she passed doorway after doorway waiting for that which led to Professor Queep’s dingy classroom. She eventually reached the right corridor and took a breath, ignoring the burning muscles in her protesting legs. She continued down slippery stone stairs into the unending darkness, the only interruption being occasional flares of light from burning torches.



She reached the Potions room, swung open the door and was met with a strange sight. The view of the classroom was blurred and obscured by something consuming the room which only emphasised the lack of natural light and cast deep greenish shadows. Rose moved closer and realised the mystery substance was water, flooded into every corner of the room which now was home to straggly reeds and leafy underwater plants whose mottled foliage wafted from side to side.  



It was obviously enchanted not to leave the room and so formed a jelly-like barrier in the doorway, through which Rose anticipated she would have to travel. Through the cloudy darkness she could see a brightly glimmering light which faintly outlined the shimmering form of a golden key, a glass vial of potion and a fragment of browned parchment tied to its neck.



 It stood on a desk at the farthest end of the room and Rose shook her head, groaning in worry at the realisation there was no option but to swim to it. Swimming, and water in general, were not her strong points but she couldn’t fall at the first hurdle. She pointed her wand at her head, muttering the Bubblehead charm and plunged through the jelly barrier into the watery depths beyond without giving herself a moment to think and talk herself out of it.



The water was excruciatingly cold; Rose could hardly breathe despite the bubble of clean air which consumed her head. Her arms and legs stopped working temporarily as they struggled to cope with the sudden drop in temperature.



She felt like she could hardly function in the water’s icy grip, but fixed her eyes on her goal ahead and pushed herself on, moving her frozen limbs as she started reluctantly to swim. It took her what seemed like an age to even cross half of the room, but just as the key looked brighter and closer a long fingered bony hand closed defiantly around Rose’s ankle.



She screamed out in the confines of her bubble of air and shook her leg, kicking out at the creature which she could see hiding in the depths.



She regained her leg but had lost her rhythm, finding the momentary stop had caused her struggling limbs to cease moving in the icy surroundings. She fought to keep moving, grasping unsuccessfully in front of her and searching for anything to grab hold of. Her hand rested on a softer surface which suddenly moved, a hissing fanged face turned on her and scraped pointed teeth across her outstretched hand, leaving ribbons of blood to trail hypnotically through the water.



Finding the stone once again she used her useless legs to push her along the floor, over which she swum almost completely horizontally, clutching the solid slabs with trembling fingers and pulling herself along. Something moved impossibly quickly to her right; a flash of dark mottled green could be seen as it swept through the cloud of bloodied water.



Rose gasped at the sight, muttering under her breath, “Grindylows.



 More and more of the small water demons appeared out of the muggy depths of the water, grabbing hold of her and pulling her away from her task, their small sharp-nailed hands snatching and scratching at her flesh.



She shot out stunning spells, producing thick jets of red, boiling water which hit the Grindylows’ horned heads, burning them instantly and causing some of them to retreat. She was blinded by swarms of the insistent creatures which surrounded her as she blindly sent out defence spells hoping they would eventually give up. At last they began to move away to a safer distance but Rose wasn’t free of them by any stretch of the imagination.



She resumed her painfully slow progress across the dungeon floor, pulling herself along as her passive legs barely moved. The key was getting closer and closer; Rose chanted under her breath, “just a little further, just a little further,” ignoring the small hands clutching at her clothing and legs, kicking out with enough effort to have them swirling away through the water.



The key was so close she couldn’t bear it, crying out in frustration she pushed herself to the limit, kicking out wildly with her legs consumed by pain. She had almost made it when sharp teeth sank into the bare skin of her ankle, blood haunting the watery depths with crimson streaks and causing Rose to let out a harsh cry of pain as she twisted round shooting a stunning spell at the offending creature, shaking its immobile body off her.



Dragging her injured leg behind her she reached out with a desperate hand and clutched finally the cold vial and with it the key and parchment.



She instantly felt herself being transported to a room blissfully consumed by warm, clean air. The Bubblehead charm ceased working in the absence of water as Rose lay on the floor, marvelling at the sudden warmth.



“Rose!” Scorpius cried as he hastily pulled her to her feet, pointing his wand at her and muttering a spell which dried out her clothes and hair. Rose thanked him numbly as she took one of the two seats in the otherwise empty chamber.



“You did incredibly well,” Scorpius said, pointing to three identical circular windows behind him which showed him the three champions’ progress, much like those the audience had. “I could see everything you were doing.”



Rose felt her limbs regaining their usual feeling and sat back in the chair enjoying this brief moment of relaxation. She opened her clenched hand and dropped onto her lap the vial of corked potion, the key and the scrap of parchment. She hastily pulled off the parchment and opened it, turning to Scorpius and smiling before she read it.



“Here we go again!” she said with a laugh. She read aloud.



 


“Feather light and wickedly fast,


A memory that will always last,


A glimpse of colour catches your eye,


Forever my home will be the sky.”



 



They stared at each other for a moment mulling over the words in their heads. Suddenly, in no time at all, they raised their heads identically and made eye contact, similar looks of excitement on both their faces.



“The Golden Snitch,” they said at exactly the same time.



“Thank goodness for an easy riddle,” Scorpius said suddenly, relief obvious on his face. Rose glanced at the small box mounted on the wall which showed the time she and Scorpius had left to confer before she moved onto the second part of the Task; it read only two minutes.



“So the Quidditch Pitch then?” Rose said, realising the location of the second challenge.



“I assume so,” Scorpius replied, “I just hope you don’t have to go back through that water to escape the dungeons.” Rose shuddered visibly at the thought so instead changed the subject, eager to be updated.



“How are the other two doing? Who’s ahead?” she asked quickly, flicking her eyes to look at two of the windows opposite Scorpius, one was clouded over; the other showed a fair haired boy climbing what looked suspiciously like Devil’s Snare.



“Katalena is ahead of you, but only just, she should be out of her time any second now. You’re in second, you should be in first but Volkov obviously made things easier for his champion. Whereas you and Alexandre were both placed outside your castles and had to run in to find your rooms, Katalena was placed right outside hers!



“Luckily you got your riddle quicker than she did, so you’re almost level. Alexandre is just behind the two of you, he hasn’t quite got through the first part yet.” Scorpius looked at the timer, sighing deeply as it read thirty seconds.



“You’re doing brilliantly though. I only hope the next task is as easy as the riddle was.” The two of them sat in silence a moment, Rose climbing to her feet wincing at the pain from her Grindylow bite and straightening her clothing, readying herself to be transported back.



“See you soon,” she said with a grin before she was whisked away in a flash of colour.



Thankfully she was transported outside the door to the dungeons and so left the watery room far behind her as she sprinted off up the steps, stumbling slightly as her painful ankle struggled to hold her weight. She felt confident after her success in the Potions Room and used all her energy getting to the Quidditch field, eager to see what the next challenge was. As she arrived she gasped, staring at the sight ahead of her.



Thousands upon thousands of tiny golden snitches were hovering, completely still except for the barely perceptible flapping of their minuscule wings, around two metres up from the field beneath them. A broomstick lay on the floor, on the handle was tied a brief note.



 


“Follow your instincts,


Focus on one,


One snitch which will lead you,


To a challenge won.”



 



Rose smiled smugly, eyeing the thousands of snitches and the broom which she picked up and mounted. This shouldn’t be hard for the Gryffindor Seeker who had led her Quidditch Team to victory for the past three years...should it?



She shot into the air just as the snitches did the same, moving incredibly fast and swarming around her, making it near impossible to distinguish anything. The golden cloud obscured her vision entirely so she had to rely instead on striking out and grabbing that nearest to her, smothering its fluttering wings and checking it for any sign of the key or the next riddle.



She hastily muttered “Impedimenta” pointing her wand at the snitch in question and dropped the now immobile object to the ground, eliminating it from possibility. Rose continued to catch and freeze hundreds upon hundreds of snitches yet the golden blur around her barely faltered for a moment, the humming of wings smothering Rose’s ears, mocking her. Suddenly, from the midst of yellow she caught a flash of blue.



It reminded her suddenly and quite nostalgically of a blue ball her parents had enchanted for her and her brother to play with when they were young instead of a real snitch. It felt strange that that memory should pop up just now, and that a blur of blue should appear in the exact same shade as that of the one from the past.



Rose heeded the instructions she had been given, “follow your instincts” and launched herself after it, only seeing a flicker of blue momentarily before the snitch became resolutely gold. She chased it as fast as was possible and finally found herself gaining on it.



She barely blinked, not daring to take her eye off the snitch which weaved its way in and out of its mirror images. Finally she was just behind it; it was just beyond reach of her outstretched hand so with one final push of bravery she lunged off the broom towards it, grasping it in her hand and falling heavily to the ground, a couple of metres below.



She felt the snitch break in her hand and dropped the two pieces on the ground in front of her. The golden fragments of snitch revealed the sparkling key and crisp piece of parchment which had been held inside. She closed her eyes as she was transported once again. She rushed over to where Scorpius eagerly awaited her and pulled open the parchment, passing it to him. He read aloud.



 


“Used to clothe and to advise,


With years of experience not hindered by size,


Patched and worn, I sing in vain,


I treat everyone I meet the same.”



 



Stunned silence consumed the small chamber after the riddle was read. Scorpius looked at Rose in confusion, she merely shrugged back.



“Something that sings?” Scorpius commented. “What on earth sings?” Rose was similarly in the dark, this clue was very different to the previous two.



“There are spells,” she said suddenly, “spells to enchant someone to sing, but that really doesn’t fit with the riddle in any way,” she finished sighing deeply as her eyes scanned hurriedly over the mysterious words in front of her.



Rose hastily rifled through the numerous spells, enchantments, jinxes and hex’s which were stored in her mind seeing if there was a way for any of them to be relevant. Failing this she thought about another area of the clue, about the object being used to clothe. She just shook her head, leaning back in her chair and rubbing her forehead in frustration.



“Why does it mention clothing?” she asked Scorpius incredulously. “This has to be some kind of joke! It makes absolutely no sense!”



Their time was quickly running out and Rose felt they’d hit a brick wall as angry frustration welled up inside her. They were down to their last minute together and neither of them could come up with anything. Scorpius scowled angrily considering even the most obscure of objects.



“The only thing that could possibly fit is an enchanted, talking, singing pair of trousers. Doesn’t sound likely does it?” He declared in desperation, his hands slapping down against the thick material of his trousers. Rose suddenly jumped, her back jarring as it hit the back of the chair with the haste at which she whipped up her head to face Scorpius.



“You’ve got it!” she half whispered. Scorpius’ expression suggested he feared for her sanity.



“Of course!” he declared, “the famous talking trousers of Hogwarts!” Rose disregarded his sarcasm as she laughed out loud, grinning broadly at his confusion.



“We don’t have talking trousers, you’re right. However, we might just have a talking hat!” she said triumphantly. Scorpius groaned.



“Of course! How stupid am I, the Sorting Hat. So you’ll be going to Professor Quila’s office then?”



He never heard Rose’s reply because at that moment she began to blur and flicker as she was transported quickly from the room and deposited back onto the Quidditch pitch.



Before springing into action she briefly checked her ankle which was now swollen, bruised and bleeding excessively, but she knew she couldn’t give up. She pulled her patterned sock up and padded the inside with various tissues she discovered in her pockets.



She made her way lightly back towards Hogwarts, over the soft grass of the Quidditch pitch. She slipped the key, which was still held tightly in her hand into a zipped pocket of her jacket, alongside that which she had gotten earlier.



Into her other pocket she added the snitch to the other object she had so far collected. She marvelled at her success and at the feeling that she was now halfway through the First Task. She had so far been jogging but now broke into a run, knowing it would take her precious time to climb all the way to the seventh floor where Professor Quila’s office was.



She eventually arrived and took a moment to compose herself as she saw the gargoyle which guarded the room. She stopped for a minute in exasperation, wondering how on earth she would get past the stone guard with no password.



To her amazement and relief however, the gargoyle merely let her pass, whispering a quick “good luck” as she went. She nodded and thanked the now passive statue and joined the moving staircase which quickly transported her to the large doorway through which lay the office of all Hogwarts Headmasters and Headmistresses from past to present.



She walked slowly into the room, looking around at the various portraits on the wall, searching for the all too familiar Sorting Hat. She eventually saw it perched precariously on the edge of the Headmistress’s desk and took a step towards it.



As she proceeded however the floor suddenly dropped beneath her, causing her fall and be enveloped by temporary darkness. She hit a solid surface and cried out as her ankle fell heavily against the cold stone of the floor.



Her floor space was barely half a metre in diameter mainly because surrounding her was a series of four stone rings, each larger than the next.



Each ring was decorated with countless engravings of birds and animals and Rose stood, attempting to see them all, when suddenly all four rings began to turn quickly in different directions. The stone pictures were now just a blur as Rose reached out repeatedly attempting to stop the spinning rings but didn’t succeed, the blunt stone grazing her finger tips.



At a complete loss she flung out an arm to the nearest ring, pressing down hard the picture which her hand happened to hit.



The ring stopped momentarily and the picture, that of an owl, stayed pressed down for a second then quickly flicked itself back up, the ring regaining its momentum. Rose frowned, beginning to understand what she needed to do; obviously she needed to select an animal from each of the relentlessly moving rings.



She ran worried hands through her hair, smearing traces of blood from her injured hand onto her cheek, unsure what exactly to do; it was impossible for her to distinguish any of the individual carvings much less find a pattern or relationship between them.



Precious minutes were passing by, of which Rose was only too aware as she stared blankly ahead of her, knowing hundreds of people were watching her right at this minute, as she failed spectacularly.



   


Chapter 10: 10 - Fighting On
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: Hello once again! This chapter is going in the day after Chapter Nine was validated however a long queue means unfortunately this might take a few days to get through, however the hard work of the staff hopefully means the backlog will go down.


I feel very proud of this chapter, I think overall it is my favourite thus far and I hope you guys feel the same. I found it hard to write but I’m pleased with how it eventually turned out.


This is a bit of a landmark chapter, number Ten! I can hardly believe it. I’ve also just exceeded 2,500 reads and 100 reviews and I am so completely overwhelmed and stunned at the reception of this story. Thank you so, so much to every single person who takes the time to review, every review I get means the absolute world to me and I feel privileged to have you all as my readers.


Whether you leave a few words or an essay it doesn’t matter to me, I’m over the moon with every review I get and so please continue to leave them and let me know what you think!



Enjoy.



 



10 - Fighting on:



 


Don't be afraid your life will end;


Be afraid that it will never begin.


Grace Hansen



 



Rose Weasley was stood surrounded by four impossibly fast moving rings with absolutely no idea what to do.



Her skin responded in shivers to the coldness of the room which provided ample distraction from her various painful injuries. Her mind whirled with the confusion and chaos around her and she found herself unable to concentrate on anything.



She closed her eyes for a minute, taking deep, measured breaths and visualised everything that was in front of her.



Rose had always been inclined to panic when she was overwhelmed by something but she did have a talent for stepping back and looking at a situation impartially and unemotionally.



She snapped open her glimmering eyes, looking at the challenge she had to complete; she tucked stray strands of hair behind her ears as she thought, suddenly stumbling upon what would hopefully be the answer.



Smiling in relief she withdrew her wand from her jacket and flicked it at the stone rings, clearly saying, “Tardesco”. The rings suddenly slowed to a snail’s pace and Rose let out a sharp breath, finally feeling she was getting somewhere.



From here she tried everything, selecting her favourite animals, related species, types of birds, dangerous creatures, friendly creatures, those with a high Ministry rating and those with a low Ministry rating. Nothing worked as she continued to press down combinations only to have them pop impatiently back up.



She had worn out both her Defence Against the Darks Arts and her Care of Magical Creatures knowledge and she was physically and mentally exhausted. Instead she focussed on Hogwarts, the centre-point of this First Task and the room she was in, the Headmistress’s office.



She closed her eyes thinking over what the significance was of this information but found nothing. Then suddenly, as clear as a flash of bright lightening, it occurred to her. Once again she could have kicked herself for such a blunder when the answer was so obvious.



She was currently in Professor Quila’s office, the core of the school. Despite this she had completely ignored something else which was the core of Hogwarts; something upon which it was founded. Rose carefully scanned the animal engravings on the outer ring and after finding that which depicted a badger, she pressed it down, awash with relief when it didn’t flick back up.



She analysed the second ring, pressing down a serpent, on the third a lion and the fourth, an eagle; the animalistic symbols of the four Hogwarts founders. Rose almost cried out in excitement as the floor of the chamber she was in suddenly ascended violently, not stopping until it was level once again with the familiar office.



The stone rings descended and Rose exited the circle on the floor and grasped finally in her open hand the worn material of the Sorting Hat. Reaching inside it she withdrew a key and a piece of parchment and relaxed as the now familiar transportation sensation took over. Scorpius sat in front of her, slouched happily in his chair.



“You know what, Red. You really are brilliant,” he said with a grin and gestured to the chair in front of him which Rose took gratefully.



The end of the First Task was now in sight, all they had was one more clue; one more challenge; one more key. Rose gently unrolled the last riddle, hurrying as she began to read knowing they had so little time.



 



“Don’t turn your face, keep your eyes on me,



My creeping feelers don’t need to see,



When I sense you I will snap and bite,



Prepare yourself for a green-fingered fight.”



 



Scorpius’ brow furrowed as he considered the words of the final clue, taking it from Rose’s hand to read it for himself.



 “So the location must be the Herbology greenhouses then,” Rose said. “If it’s “green-fingered” it must be a plant of some kind.”



“Exactly,” Scorpius agreed. “As to what it actually is though... I mean so far the object in question has been connected to the key as well as the location. So we need to know what it is as well.”



The two of them considered for a moment; neither of them was an expert in Herbology.



“What about Devil’s Snare?” Rose said suddenly, remembering Alexandre’s task which she had viewed earlier. Scorpius considered it for a moment, but shook his head.



“The creeping feelers bit definitely fits but what about snap and bite? I’m pretty sure Devil’s Snare has no way of snapping or biting.”



Rose groaned impatiently, eyeing the quickly decreasing timer next to her.



Fanged Geranium?” Scorpius asked, not sounding entirely hopeful.



“That’s the other way round isn’t it?” Rose said unhappily. “It will snap and bite but doesn’t have feelers of any kind.”Scorpius sat up suddenly just as the timer showed them their last few seconds. “Venomous Tentacula!” he half shouted at Rose as her body was once more transported. Fortunately she had heard his hastily shouted words and, ignoring the sharp pain still throbbing through her foot, she attempted to run down the numerous staircases to exit the castle. Stumbling blindly forward as her ankle collapsed beneath her Rose fell to the bottom of the current staircase she was on, her head connecting with the bottom step painfully.



She lay with her arms and legs at awkward angles, attempting to revive her tired limbs enough to get moving again. She groaned with impatience, not wanting to stop and be diverted from her goal, only too aware of the blood dripping down her forehead.



She climbed to her shaky feet and proceeded in a stumbling jog down the stairs, at one point even sliding down the banister in an attempt to travel quicker and had never been more pleased to see the large oak entrance doors to the castle as she passed through them. Rose tugged at her sleeve and ripped off a strip of fabric, hastily using it to press to her forehead in an attempt to stop the flow of blood.



Running in earnest now, Rose made her way to the Herbology greenhouses, making for that furthest away from her where the most dangerous plants were traditionally kept. From outside it looked much the same as usual, broad green leaves pressed against the interior of the glass walls making it impossible to distinguish anything.



On arriving, she slid open the old glass door, pushing against it heavily as it only opened halfway and then stopped. Finding it impossible to push it further she slipped through the gap allowed, into the darkness beyond.



Inside reflected none of the light from outside, the entirety of the greenhouse was shrouded in darkness, Rose could barely see her feet through the all-consuming gloom.



She jumped when the door slammed very suddenly shut behind her, simultaneously a light shone at the far end of the greenhouse, illuminating a roughly hewn table upon which stood a flowerpot, a key and a scrap of parchment.



The dull light showed her that her pathway over the uneven stones of the greenhouse floor was entirely clear, but she knew it couldn’t be that easy. Hesitantly she stepped forward, nothing happened. She stepped forward again, nothing.



She broke into a lengthy stride as the sound of something whipping through the air to her right struck her ears almost painfully in the silence.



She twisted herself impossibly quickly, her wand at the ready, towards the darkness beyond through which emerged the hideous snapping fangs and spiky feelers of the Venomous Tentacula. But not just one, behind and beside it emerged hundreds more dragging themselves along the ground using their dark red jagged feelers, their terracotta pots scraping across the hard stone and echoing horribly in the darkness.



From behind her Rose could hear the same sound and knew the terrifying plants surrounded her on all sides as the crescendo of noise smothered her ears.



She broke into a run, forcing her injured leg to move at an incredible speed as she turned herself repeatedly left and right trying to avoid the snake-like arms which were flicking out at her, bringing flashes of pain as they broke the skin repeatedly, clothing being no barrier against its sharp thorns. She had made it half way to the key when a particularly thick and branchy feeler wrapped around her ankles and pulled her to the ground, dragging her kicking and squealing towards it.



Its great head split in half to reveal two rows of spiked teeth which ground together and snapped towards her. She screamed, using her wand to hit the plant with spell after spell but nothing worked; her hands weakly grabbed at the flooring attempting the drag herself away from the plant’s strong grip but she merely grazed and cut the skin as she continued to be pulled towards its hideous jaws. The stunning spells were useless against its thick hide so in one last attempt she shot the only spell she could think of, an ice spell.



She whipped out her arm and pointed it at the plant, yelling “Conglacio!” A feeble flicker of pale blue light emitted from the end of her wand, quickly fading into the darkness as the plant’s bristly arms wrapped around her neck.



She pushed her hand quickly against her throat, attempting to halt her adversary’s terrifying squeeze. She pressed her wand into its thick fleshly branches and cleared her throat, a hacking cough taking over. She gasped for breath, screaming with as much feeling as she could muster, “CONGLACIO!”  



The Venomous Tentacula was temporarily immobilised and screeched in its paralysis, its feelers falling limply to the ground allowing Rose to stumble once again to her feet and scrabble back towards the gleaming, glittering key.



She jumped skittishly across the floor avoiding the unstoppable attempts of the numerous plants to trip and harm her once again. As she ran she shot spells blindly behind her in defence, hoping to at least slow her untiring enemies.



The key was still in sight and barely far at all. As exhaustion consumed Rose she battled on, her aching limbs propelling her forwards. The key was almost within her reach.



Just ten more steps, she chanted in her mind...nine...eight...a feeler scratched across her face wildly, catching and cutting the skin...seven...six...she stumbled and shot every spell that sprung to mind into the mass of hideous plants advancing around her...five...four...three...two... she was almost there, she reached out her hand to grasp her goal.



The largest and most terrifying plant of them all loomed out of the shadows and closed its massive toothy jaws around her outstretched arm; she screamed, dropping her wand.



She felt the teeth, sharp as daggers, pierce her skin as her other hand groped wildly on the floor for her missing weapon.



As she felt wet warmth dripping down the length of her arm she finally closed her fingers around the thin uneven handle of her wand. She weakly pointed it at the plant and screamed the spell, her voice breaking with exhaustion. The plant recoiled and froze, falling limp, leaving Rose to hastily rip the razor sharp fangs from her tender skin, gasping and choking in pain as she did so.



She grasped in front of her in chaotic desperation, feeling the legs of the table and pulling herself onto her knees, she finally felt in her hand the cold hardness of the golden key and the flowerpot. Her eyes fixed on the parchment, etched on it in italic script were the words: “Congratulations. You have completed the First Task.



She fell back onto the floor anticipating the pain as she hit the stone but was relieved when the ground was soft and spongy. A rush of noise met her ears, the cheering and gasps of hundreds of people as she turned her face to the side, feeling the grass of the Durmstrang grounds tickling her cheek.



She was back; she had made it.



She kept her eyes tightly closed as blood from her numerous head scratches and wounds dripped down her face, covering her eyelids. Her arm was burning from the excruciating pain the Venomous Tentacula’s bite had caused; her legs unmovable from the Grindylow’s teeth. She felt a sudden pressure on her arm, a hand.



“Rose? Rose can you hear me?” a voice said loudly in her ear, Scorpius’ voice.



Rose opened her mouth to speak but succeeded only in allowing the metallic tasting liquid to ooze into her mouth, so instead squeezed the hand he had now clutched around hers.



She felt herself lifted into his strong arms and held his shirt front tightly in her hand, not wanting to let him go.



Now that she had finished the final challenge of the First Task, she gave in to the overwhelming emotions she had been keeping tightly held inside her and now that she no longer had people to impress, people to fight for, she let the tears fall.         



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Scorpius ran faster than ever before in his life, holding Rose’s body tightly against his to try and dull the impact of his movements on her pained body. He could feel her shuddering as she sobbed, barely holding on to consciousness.



The medical tent Madam Roux had put up wasn’t far away but it felt like miles as he stumbled over the uneven ground, his breathing harsh. Just as Scorpius reached the tent Madam Roux emerged and Professor Quila and several Ministry officials apparated in front of him, worry etched on their faces.



Scorpius felt Rose go limp in his arms, her shuddering stopped.



He laid her gently on one of the pure white beds which was set up in the cavernous tent. The minute she made contact with the delicately folded sheets blood swept through the fabric, soaking it.



Scorpius stared, transfixed as the crimson liquid travelled in tiny lines around Rose, reaching the farthest corner and drenching completely the delicate cotton immediately around her.



The two colours contrasted horrifically; the red of her blood seeping into the white of the sheets; the deep cherry of her hair framing her ashen face; the scarlet of her Gryffindor robes against the surgically clean ivory of Madam Roux’s uniform. Red and white, sweetly embracing each other in the traditional representation of death.



Scorpius let out harsh choking breaths as he watched as Madam Roux slowly waved her wand over Rose’s lifeless body, muttering indistinctly under her breath. Scorpius could dimly hear noise approaching the tent, loud, tense voices, and heard as the make-shift door of the tent – a piece of white material – was whipped aside and somebody entered Rose’s cubicle.



Hermione Weasley ran into the room, her eyes wide with fear, watering with the obvious tears threatening to fall. Scorpius recognised her from the numerous Ministry functions his and Rose’s parents had attended together. Hermione’s position as the head of muggle-wizard relations and the numerous new reforms she had put into practice made her a regular in the Daily Prophet and therefore instantly recognisable.



She ran to her daughter’s side, placed a hand over hers and hastily ran her eyes over the limp body before her looking for any sign of life. Madam Roux quickly pushed her back from the bed.



“Mrs Weasley please, I need space to work.” Her face was a picture of focussed determination as she sent numerous spells into the body in front of her. The nurse suddenly flicked her wand into the air creating a ghostly owl Patronus and sending it away, she was obviously sending a message but what it said and to whom it was sent Scorpius neither knew nor cared. A few unbearably long minutes later a Patronus returned, Scorpius recognised its graceful bird form but his cluttered mind didn’t pause to analyse it.  



He numbly felt somebody’s hand on his arm; he looked briefly to the side seeing Professor Quila. “You need to sit down, Mr Malfoy. There are some chairs out here,” she said gently trying to guide him away from the bed.



 He resisted her, not wanting to leave Rose’s side.



Hermione stood beside him, until now she hadn’t even noticed that Scorpius had been standing there, but now she saw him she was shocked. His face was white with fear, his eyes fixed unmoving on the bed in front of him; his hands and t-shirt covered in Rose’s blood; his whole body perceptibly shaking.



 


Chapter 11: 11 - Recovery
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Hello all! :) Thank you all so much for the amazing reception I got for the First Task chapters, I’m so happy at everybody’s reactions.


As ever I couldn’t get the motivation to write without the fantastic support I get from all of you, so I can’t thank you enough for the absolutely lovely reviews you take the time to leave for me.


As many of you will know I got my Trusted Author Status so I’ll be hoping to update as regularly as is possible.


Without further ado, Chapter Eleven; thank you for reading :)



 



11 - Recovery:



 



“To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes,


May be the biggest mistake of all.”


Peter McWilliams



 



Scorpius suddenly started, shaken out of his reverie by a familiar voice. He looked over at the flimsy door to the tent in which he was stood as it flapped eagerly in the slight breeze. A tall and beautiful blonde-haired woman in St Mungo’s robes swiftly entered the temporary hospital, immediately greeting the Hogwarts nurse.



“Mum,” Scorpius said lightly. His mother turned to him, taking in his appearance and although every maternal instinct in her made her want to go to him she knew she couldn’t; Rose was her priority.



Astoria Malfoy crouched beside the bed quickly opening a large battered case she had brought with her, in seconds pulling out a vial of shimmering gold potion. At this point both Hermione and Scorpius were made to leave; the curtains were pulled round Rose’s bed as they were led to chairs on the other side whilst the nurses worked.



The two sat in strained silence for close to three hours before finally an exhausted Astoria Malfoy emerged.



“Rose should be ok,” she said quickly; Scorpius breathed a harsh sigh of relief.



 “But she is still in a bad way. Most of the skin injuries are superficial but the sheer volume of them and the length of time both her head wound and her Grindylow bite were left to bleed caused complications.



“We’ve managed to largely close her wounds and replace the blood she lost. It is the Venomous Tentacula bite which created the most problems. Despite how quickly she was brought back here the plant’s venom still had time to enter her system, already affecting her main organs.



“Luckily we had an antidote which has been working effectively since. There will be traces of the venom in her blood for weeks but there is nothing that can be done about that. Soon enough her body will begin healing itself and removing the last of the poison.



“She is quite a remarkable girl. Few people could have survived this but her body has fought the poison in its veins all the way, consequently despite the intensity of how ill she was, with any luck her recovery will not take long.”



Hermione broke down into tears, thanking Astoria profusely and eventually going around the curtains to sit at her daughter’s bedside. Scorpius sat numbly in his chair, knowing her mother should see Rose first.



Astoria sat down beside her son, wrapping her arms around him as he shook with the shuddering breaths he was still struggling to take.



“I’m just going to get you some Pepper Up potion,” she said quietly, “I’ll only be a second.”



As she gave her son’s shoulder a last squeeze she quickly went back behind the curtains, seconds later they moved again as Hermione came back out. Her face looked pale and tired as she nervously ran her fingers through untidy hair, a gesture her daughter had unknowingly adopted.



“Scorpius,” she said, her voice sounding hoarse and scratchy, “Rose isn’t awake yet but I need to go and contact Ron, could you sit with her please?” Scorpius nodded, not quite sure that he could remember how to speak.



“Of course,” he croaked.



“Thank you,” Hermione replied, “thank you very much for everything you’ve done for Rose leading up to the Tournament and today. You are a good friend to her.” She had gone before Scorpius had time to reply.



He slowly made his way round the curtains dreading what he would see. The cuts on her face and arms were largely healed and the dried blood had been washed off her skin but not her clothes; a stark reminder of what had happened.



One arm was heavily bandaged; the rest of her was carefully concealed under a thick duvet, her visible skin rivalling the quilts pale colour. She looked unbearably small in the sizable bed, like a small ragdoll tucked up in a child’s cot.  



He sat at her side, placing a hand over hers, feeling the soft smoothness of her skin interrupted by scratches from the obstacles she had faced that day. His mother watched as her only son tenderly ran his fingers over the deep scratches on Rose’s hand, his eyes blank and emotionless as he watched her rigid figure. She gently rested her hand on his shoulder as he glanced back at her with a dull gaze, taking the Potion she handed to him and swallowing it quickly.



The Potion worked instantly. It cleared his head of the painful hollow ache which reverberated around the interior of his skull, but couldn’t help to heal his heart which felt several times smaller, as if shrivelling under the weight of fear.



He had been sitting with her nearly an hour when the hand in his twitched slightly; he looked quickly at her face searching for any signs of consciousness to find her as still and peaceful as ever. Her parents returned a few moments later to their still silent daughter. Ron paused at the door, eyeing Scorpius suspiciously.



“Oh,” he said, as soon as he saw the blonde-headed Slytherin. Scorpius wasn’t ready to fight, he felt emotionally drained, all the fight had seeped out of him and been replaced by exhaustion. He stood quickly, ready to leave. Hermione raised a hand to stop him.



“You are more than welcome to stay. Isn’t he Ron?” she looked fiercely at her husband who hesitantly nodded.



“Of course,” he said he answered stiffly, “It’s nice to meet you.” He held out a hand to Scorpius who didn’t stretch out his, Ron frowned.



“I would shake your hand, sir,” Scorpius said apologetically, “but I haven’t exactly had time to wash since earlier.” He showed Ron his blood covered hands; Ron flinched when he saw them and nodded.



“No problem,” he said and nodded gruffly.



The tension still hanging morbidly in the air started to dissipate as the hours crept by and for a time the three of them sat in silence around her bedside just watching as Rose slept peacefully. Suddenly Scorpius felt her fingers move again.



“Rose?” he said quickly, standing slightly. Hermione and Ron looked up at him in confusion.



“Her hand moved,” he replied, “it did it earlier as well, I just thought...” He shrugged and took his seat again just as the red-headed girl whose head was nestled comfortably in her pillow suddenly made a coughing sound in her throat, her eyelids flickering.



Hermione and Ron jumped to their feet instantly bending over her, pushing her hair back from her face and talking quickly, trying to get some kind of response.



“Mum...Dad?” Rose’s hoarse voice replied as she coughed over each word. “What are you doing here?” Hermione grinned at her daughter, completely overjoyed.



“The Tournament,” she said quickly, “you were injured; me and your father came as quickly as we could. Do you remember what happened?” Rose closed her eyes slightly and nodded.



Noticing the warmth on her hand she turned to Scorpius who had been watching her silently.



“I finished!” she said with a laugh. “I finished the First Task!” Scorpius stared at her incredulously for a moment and then let out a choking laugh himself.



“You’re confined to bed, you nearly died, you got attacked by a giant angry plant and the only thing you can worry about is the fact that you finished? You’re completely mad,” he said, continuing to laugh. Rose grinned back at him.



“Speaking of which, where did I finish? I bet I was third wasn’t I?” Scorpius smiled back at her, wanting to laugh at her alertness and energy despite everything that had happened.



“You came first,” he answered quietly, “much to Volkov’s upset, Katalena pulled out after a Hippogriff tried to remove her leg by force and Alexandre finished just after you. You won.” Rose broke out into hysterical, overjoyed laughter which everybody else couldn’t help but join in with.



The rest of the day and evening was spent moving Rose to the more solid Hospital Ward on the ship where she would be able to safely recuperate. Finally accepting her son had recovered himself, Astoria Malfoy returned to St Mungo’s hugging Scorpius strongly before she went.



Much later that night when Rose and Scorpius had both dropped off, Scorpius’ fingers still entangled with Rose’s, Ron looked at the boy in front of him. He could hardly believe how much he had misjudged him although he knew that one meeting could hardly destroy all his prejudices against Malfoy’s son.



However, it had certainly helped to watch the way the young Slytherin made his daughter laugh time after time and how he kept his hand fused to hers, as if scared to let her go.



 Ron’s last few thoughts before he was taken by sleep were that of everyone who could be helping his daughter in this, the most dangerous time of her life, she could do a lot worse than Scorpius Malfoy.                



 



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Rose, Dawn and Hannah stumbled tiredly into the Gryffindor Common Room, thoroughly worn out. They each clutched a large silver bag in their hand, the front emblazoned with a golden dragon which flicked its long jewelled tail occasionally with sparkling elegance.



 It was three days after the First Task and Rose had, thankfully, largely recovered. She had been confined to bed the previous few days as she was fed potions, trying to tease out the traces of Venomous Tentacula poison which still swam through her bloodstream.



She’d been completely sapped of energy and now that she was feeling much brighter was glad to exercise some freedom which she hadn’t been previously allowed. The minute she was out of the miserable white-washed walls of the Hospital Ward she felt instantly happier, especially with Dawn and Hannah at her side.



Being that the Yule Ball was fast approaching, Professor Quila had set up several portkeys throughout the day to transport those who wanted to back to their familiar village of Hogsmeade. Rose, Dawn and Hannah had taken full advantage of this – Eve having politely declined their friendly invitation – and had spent hours sampling the formal dresses available, only settling on their favourites minutes before the last portkey was due to depart.



Luckily they had arrived just in time and now took a well deserved rest, sinking back into chairs in the corner of the room. Over at the far wall Scorpius stood, whispering suspiciously with Albus and glancing over at them every now and then. He had become a common sight recently, spending more time with Albus and visiting the Gryffindor Common Room with increasing regularity.



Artemis sat in a chair by the fireplace almost alone, happily reading a large leather-bound book which lay in his lap, Sebastian opposite him, neither of them paying attention to each other or anybody else.



“Go on!” Dawn whispered and nudged Rose painfully in the ribs. “It’s now or never!”



Rose swallowed uncomfortably. The two girls had badgered her throughout the day over who she was going to ask to the Yule Ball. She’d already turned down several boys all of who she was sure only asked because she was the School Champion and they wanted some publicity.



This, to Dawn and Hannah, meant that she must have a person in mind and the two Gryffindors had relentlessly interrogated their friend until she finally gave in and hesitantly admitted that maybe she would prefer to go with Scorpius.



Their squeals of delight were enough to make Rose wince and roll her eyes as they danced about in celebration amidst declarations of “I knew it!” Eventually the two of them had calmed down and sat with Rose on the floor of the vast changing rooms in their current choice of dress shop, the floor littered with fabrics of every colour of the rainbow.



Rose had run the various textured materials through her fingers as she explained to her willing audience what had happened the day before the Tournament. She still wasn’t sure herself what it all really meant, nor what she wanted it to mean. Confronting her feelings for Scorpius wasn’t something she had tried, or was willing, to do.



Nonetheless Dawn and Eve had demanded to know everything down to the last detail leaving Rose thoroughly exhausted by the end of it and the two girls practically brimming with excitement.



Before long Rose couldn’t help but join in with their happiness; as yet she wasn’t entirely sure of her feelings for Scorpius or, in fact, his feelings for her, but it couldn’t hurt to go to the Yule Ball together, surely? Just for the sake of the Tournament and them being partners of course, Rose kept trying to convince herself.



Despite how rational her explanation was for them attending the Ball together Rose still shifted uncomfortably in her seat and felt her palms sweating alarmingly as she knew now was the perfect opportunity to ask him. She stood from her chair suddenly and took a deep breath, about to walk over to Scorpius and Albus when another girl beat her to it.



She strode directly over to Scorpius, fluttering her eyelashes and flicking her long silky blonde hair over her shoulder as Rose watched her smiling at the Slytherin in front of her. A hand with long fingernails, painted pink to perfection settled itself on Scorpius’ shoulder as she giggled, her lips coated in shiny gloss stretching into a kittenish smile.



Rose had seen girls fawning over Scorpius for years before now and she had never cared less, but now, now she felt hurt building up inside her. Never before had she felt this overwhelming sea of humiliation washing over her; feelings of fear, anger and inferiority consuming her and trying to force reluctant tears, physical proof of her distress, cascading down her cheeks.



She held back, controlled herself as she always did. Rose watched for what could have been minutes or hours as the two of them laughed together, Scorpius doing nothing to dissuade her from her efforts.



The girl, whom Rose had never seen before, continued to touch Scorpius’ arm as she spoke and leaned towards him as she laughed. Albus who stood beside the two quickly went and joined Artemis and Sebastian at the fireplace, shaking his head slightly as he went. Rose became like a statue, fixed in her place as her eyes froze on the laughing couple. 



Her mouth set in a thin line, feeling humiliated. How on earth had she ever considered that her rational explanation would be enough? Why had she kidded herself that a multitude of beautiful blondes wouldn’t have thrown themselves at him already?



How could she have thought he would ever be interested in her, when there were so many girls available to him? She felt she’d awoken from a dream where anything was possible, back to reality where these ideas were shattered into glittering shards disappearing before her eyes.



She’d never been a person to doubt herself, or feel inadequate next to other girls but right at this moment she realised she could never be anything more to Scorpius than a friend, because she would, in her eyes, never be good enough.



She was unsure what to do; she couldn’t stand Dawn and Hannah’s commiserations and insults against Scorpius which she knew she would endure if she returned to her two friends who sat a few metres behind her. Instead she walked forwards, to where Albus and Artemis sat, taking a seat defiantly next to Artemis.



She immediately got his attention and as he looked up from his book Rose acted on a complete whim and looked directly into his eyes, beginning to speak.



“Artemis, I was wondering if you were going to the Ball with anyone. If not, would you go with me?” Rose heard Albus’ gasp from behind Artemis as clearly as if he had shouted in her ear; she ignored him. Artemis looked confused for a moment before trying a tentative smile.



“I’d love to go with you,” he confirmed.



Rose felt shocked, not that he had said yes but that she felt nothing, absolutely nothing. No sense of happiness that she finally had a partner, no happy anticipation for the Ball, just a sense of loss and finality as this meant she had a partner and not the one she wanted.



Unable to hold back any longer, Albus moved his chair closer to the two, frowning at Rose.



“Rose... well... don’t you already have a partner?” Assuming he was talking about Scorpius, Rose shook her head swiftly, scowling at him.



“I don’t think so,” she replied, her voice edged with a hint of anger at her cousin’s interference.



“It’s just...well...me and Scorpius, we were told you were going with Alexandre?” This certainly got Rose’s attention; she looked up at Albus in disbelief.



“What?” She said quickly. “I’m not going with Alexandre?!?! Why would you think that?”



Albus’ expression changed to that of worry as he looked at his cousin. “Somebody told Scorpius that yesterday; he thought you had a partner.”



Rose didn’t know what to say, so remained silent for a moment, whilst Albus looked at Scorpius across the room who was watching Rose intently, not taking the slightest notice of the blonde speaking to him. Rose muttered apologies to Albus and Artemis before she quickly got to her feet and left the room.



 



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



 



Scorpius had observed with confusion as Rose had made her way across to Artemis and Albus and had continued to watch with increasing anxiety as she leaned in close to the dark haired Gryffindor and asked him to the Ball.



He knew she had, he’d seen her rosy lips shaping the words and the look of confusion on Albus’ face. Now she had suddenly stormed from the room so he followed decisively, not leaving so much as a “goodbye” to the young girl who had been talking to him.



Scorpius exited the Common Room quickly and could see Rose rounding a corner ahead, he shouted out to her, halting her progress. She turned back impatiently, waiting whilst Scorpius caught up with her, giving him a questioning look. His face showed embarrassment as he ran worried hands through his hair and ducked his head slightly, not meeting her eyes.



“Did you just ask that Artemis kid to the Ball?” he asked bluntly, finally making eye contact. Rose nodded defiantly.



“Yes, I did. I’m surprised you could see past that blonde draped over your arm.” Scorpius frowned at her sharp tone and emotionless face.



“Excuse me?” he said in confusion.



“That blonde all over you just now. I thought she’d be taking all of your attention.” Rose stood rigidly straight in the corridor as if squaring up for a fight. A fight against what Scorpius had no idea; it was as if she had built up some wall around herself, protecting herself from him. Scorpius shook his head in disbelief as he watched Rose, wide-eyed.



“And since when did it bother you which girls I spend my time with?” he shot back.



“And since when did it bother you who I am going to the Ball with?” Rose replied with equal aggression.



“Oh don’t worry I wasn’t bothered,” Scorpius replied, steely-eyed, “It’s just you seem to have so many men in your life at the moment, I thought I’d check which was number one right now.”



Rose choked over her reply, anger clearly reflected in the swirling depths of her shining eyes. “It’s not my fault if you listen to the pernicious rumours spread about me around here, nor that I’ve had male attention. You’re such a hypocrite; you must have a different girl every day of the week! Let me guess, you’ve had a partner for the Yule Ball for weeks because you’re just so popular with the ladies.”



“And once again Rose Weasley plunges in feet first making accusations with no proof. How about you judge me when you know me, take the advice you gave your parents. Until you do, I’m not wasting my time on you.”



Within seconds Scorpius had moved once again down the corridor and returned to the Common Room, anger coursing through his veins which he felt desperate to release. He just couldn’t get his head around her and he was sick of trying.



She was the only person he wanted to go to this Ball with, because he knew if he went with anyone else he would just spend the night with his mind solely focussed on that fiery redhead. He’d been building up the courage to ask her, afraid she would turn him down and it would ruin the relationship they needed to work together in the Tournament.



The day that one of his Slytherin friends slipped into conversation the revelation that he had heard Alexandre and Rose would be going together his heart clenched a little, panic and fear were his only companions as she tried to act nonchalant. But the brutal, hard truth was there; she already had a partner, a partner who wasn’t him and there was nothing he could do about it.



That was until she had asked Artemis of course and he realised the rumours circulating were exactly that: rumours. He could have kicked himself and started turning the fury he felt at their argument in on himself.



He had his chance, he could have asked her the second she entered the Common Room if only he had known. Not that he would want to go with her now; now that he knew what she really thought of him.



Did she just expect him to ignore every girl who came and spoke to him? Why should he when she’d never really shown the smallest inclination towards him anyway? She didn’t own him; he could do what he wanted.



It was with this thought that he briskly observed the room full of people, searching for someone, anyone, to take to the Ball. He knew it was stupid, some sad attempt at revenge or to create jealously in a girl who couldn’t care less about him.



He did it anyway.



Anger was all that was driving him on as he ran his eyes over every girl in the room, knowing he would find someone eventually who was single and willing. Suddenly he caught a flash of green in the corner, two Slytherin girls wearing their robes emblazoned with the green serpent of their house talked to a dark-haired Gryffindor surreptitiously in the corner, whispering together as if keen to not be overheard.



Although this was the Gryffindor Common Room explicitly, students from any house were allowed to enter, some inter-house unity project from the Headmistress. Scorpius’ eyes settled on the Gryffindor girl and knew the instant he saw her that she was the one.



If anyone would make Rose jealous it would be her; if there was anyone guaranteed not to reject him, it was her.



He swaggered over, a lopsided smile in place, his battered heart holding itself defiantly together.



 


Chapter 12: 12 - Rude Awakenings
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Hey everybody! So here’s Chapter Twelve which all in all I quite like – I hope you all agree. As ever, thank you so much for all the support, praise, advice, feedback and suggestions you have given me through your reviews, it really is invaluable to me :) Just a bit of a heads up – I’m updating every five days but in the meantime I’m doing a bit of editing of the previous chapters (nothing major – just sorting out the punctuation around dialogue which is pretty shoddy!) so if this story shows up in the recently updated page a lot then that’s why. Also, for anybody about the HPFF forum, I’ve just opened a Meet The Author topic! So please do drop by and ask a question or two or just have a chat :) 



Thank you so much for reading, if you get a moment please leave a review but most of all: enjoy.



12 – Rude Awakenings:



“Fail at love, and the other tests don't matter.”



Richard Bach



 



 



There was nothing for it; she would just have to get up at an absurd time because there really was no way she was getting back to sleep now. Rose was entirely awake and all because it was Christmas morning.



Her usual excitement at the feeling that it was Christmas, that family atmosphere, was impossible to ignore and only slightly quashed because this day was shared with the Yule Ball.



 She squinted through the darkness and just made out the outline of a stack of presents lying at the foot of her bed, she grinned and sprang out of her soft cocoon, running to them. She lit her wand, allowing it to cast a dull glow around the room, just enough for her to see by, just little enough to retain that early-morning-on-Christmas-day feeling.



She sat cross legged in her soft cotton pyjamas and reached for the first present, roughly wrapped in striped paper, and read the label; it was from her parents and Hugo. Since the First Task her parents had decided to take a break from their usual lives, especially since both their children would be staying at Durmstrang over the Christmas period; so they had left a day earlier for Paris, intent on spending a calm twenty-fifth of December there.



Rose ripped the paper enjoying the loud crisp sound in the silence and ran her hands over the grainy wood which had been revealed. Now the barrier had been destroyed she observed the large, dark wooden box which lay in her lap and turned it quickly round, finding the catch and lifting the lid. She gasped as she saw the contents.



Everything a Triwizard Champion could need” shimmered on the inside of the lid for a moment before it faded away, illuminating for an instant the numerous items in the chest. Rose slipped her fingers over books which lay at one end, quickly reading the shining spines.



They specialised in healing spells and potions as well as defensive spells – strictly Restricted Section material – which weren’t available to her in her provided library. Boxes of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and Chocolate Frogs were scattered over a shimmering cloak which lay in the bottom.



She pulled the fabric quickly out and gasped as she realised what it was; an invisibility cloak. Her Uncle George and partner Lee Jordan had been marketing these recently in Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, they cost an absolute fortune but you paid for quality because they really were the best around.



The remaining item was a smell velvet pouch on a long string, Rose lifted it delicately from the box, marvelling at how soft it felt and admiring the embroidered silver and gold stars on the otherwise inky black fabric.



A small note was attached to it which read: This is enchanted to hold as many things as you want it to despite its small size and it will never weigh any more than it does empty. Good to keep precious things in.



Rose was overwhelmed by the thought which had gone into her gifts from her parents and younger brother and was reluctant to repack them and move on to the next in her pile of brightly papered presents.



An hour later and Rose sat smugly in a bed of crinkly wrapping paper admiring everything she had received: items from the joke shop of her ever generous Uncle George, Aunt Angelina, and cousins Fred and Roxanne and home-baked goodies and further useful spell books from her Aunt Ginny, Uncle Harry, Albus, Lily and James.



From her Uncle Bill, Aunt Fleur and cousins Victoire, Dominque and Louis she had green satin high heels made and designed by Fleur to beautifully match Rose’s dress for the Yule Ball and a beautiful pair of silver earrings adorned with sparkling green stones and a matching necklace came from her Grandma and Grandad Granger.



Finally, the pile now next to nothing, Rose unwrapped chocolates from Dawn and Hannah and a beautiful scarf she’d seen only days earlier in Hogsmeade and admired alongside a red knitted jumper, a large container of chocolate cake and a photo album full of pictures of the grinning members of the “Wotter” family from Grandma and Grandad Weasley.



Rose smiled at all her gifts, thankful as usual for such a large group of friends and family and was about to look once again over everything when she noticed one last package which had been partially pushed under her bed.



Crawling forward she retrieved it and looked at the label. “Because sometimes they’re better than reality” it read.



Rose sat still for a moment, fingering the fairly sizeable rectangular package in her hands. She un-wrapped it gently as if afraid it would break if handled too roughly; when the paper was peeled back the deep emerald leather binding of a book was revealed.



Harshly cut bright stones were set into the centre of heavily engraved patterns which depicted dragons and all manner of fantastical creatures. Rose turned the hefty book over, her lips instantly forming a sad smile as she eyed the thick silver writing, “Fairy Tales”.



The book was obviously published a long time ago as she could tell from the detail and attention given to the illustrations and writing on the inside, something which had been lost in modern muggle Britain.



Gone were crude cartoonish drawings for children, instead were thrilling watercolours and bright acrylics bringing to life the muggle fairytales Rose had missed since her childhood, which she had only recently relived in telling them to Scorpius as they played an innocent game of Monopoly.



He had been interested in the muggle elements of her upbringing, something he had missed out on, and she’d enjoyed explaining to him how much she loved fairy tales for giving that thrill of muggle magic, a kind of magic so different from that in the wizarding world.



She was amazed that he had remembered and turned the book over and over in her hands, fingers tracing the raised edges of swirling patterns for countless minutes, the sad smile still on her face.



 



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Scorpius always had enjoyed the Christmas season and despite this being a different kind of day – without his family – there was still something about the celebrations and atmosphere which cheered him up.



He’d been pleased with all his presents, especially the two muggle board games and chocolates from Rose. He wasn’t sure whether it was a good idea to get her a present and least of all whether she would accept it after the recent incident between them but he was glad he went ahead with it anyway.



He’d admitted to her the night before the First Task that his mother had managed to slip Monopoly into their family evenings but it was only kept there after countless arguments and persuasion. His father couldn’t shake off his anti-muggle, Pureblood feelings and so would allow nothing else even vaguely muggle into the house.



Consequently when he pulled the wrapping off pristine Cluedo and Scrabble he couldn’t help grinning that she’d remembered. He’d almost run straight round to her room and demanded a game but then realised they hadn’t really been talking and so had sunk back to the floor where he’d been sat eagerly ripping open presents, eight years old again.



The dinner hall had been beautifully decorated with wreaths, small glistening Christmas trees (which rustled alarmingly) and great garlands of different coloured papers hanging from the ceiling.



He’d spent the meal with friends from Slytherin, in particular a close friend of his, Caleb, whilst watching out of the corner of his eye as Rose enjoyed eating with the rest of the Weaseys and Potters.



This was only a matter of hours ago but it felt like a lifetime as he straightened his black dress robes in the mirror, smoothing back his hair and regretting ever being stupid enough to ask a partner who he couldn’t stand. He glanced at the clock through in his bedroom and noticed it was only five minutes before he was due to meet her so hastily grabbed his wand, slipping it into his pocket and left his room behind him.



He finally reached the corridor where her room was situated and was about to knock on her door when the one next to hers swung open, laughter flooding into the corridor. Scorpius stopped completely in his tracks as Rose stepped out of the room in the most beautiful green dress which contrasted stunningly with her hair. The silk fell to her knees and was brought in by a dark green sequinned band at her waist, emphasising her curves perfectly.



Tiny beads were dotted about the hem of the dress and around the neckline which swung in a smooth semi circle beneath her neck, just below a shining silver and green pendant.



Scorpius thought that the word breathtaking had never been so literal.



Rose stopped as she saw Scorpius; he coughed and looked away. The door next to him began to open almost silently as Rose suddenly spoke.



“What are you doing here, Scorpius?”



“He’s here to get his partner, silly,” a simpering voice replied from just beside Scorpius.



Eve wrapped a long fingered hand around his arm, it felt like a claw even through the thick material of his robes and he had to fight the urge to shake it off. Rose, Dawn and Hannah, all of whom had emerged from the room next door stood in stunned silence from the moment Eve had made her presence known.



Scorpius didn’t know what to say, he wanted to explain, to apologise, but he just couldn’t find the words as Eve pulled on his arm to lead him away. Rose’s eyes were clouded in anger and hurt; Scorpius felt a dull ache in his heart knowing he had caused that pain to her.



He opened his mouth to speak, ready to plead with her to understand but Eve tugged impatiently on his arm and his words were lost as he obediently left Rose behind him, walking along with the girl on his arm that wasn’t meant to be there.     



 



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“Are you ok?” Rose heard whispered beside her as she readied herself to enter the Great Hall in Durmstrang where the Yule Ball would take place.



She turned to Dawn and nodded, holding herself together enough to ignore the dark and blonde heads she saw in front of her in the crowd. As Scorpius and Eve had walked away from them on the ship Rose had felt choked by what she had seen, of all people why had he chosen Eve?



Even now she shifted uncomfortably in her dress, tugging at the silk fabric impatiently feeling stupid compared to Eve in her long red dress which hung low at the neck exposing beautifully the tan she’d gotten from her holiday the previous summer.



Rose reluctantly held Artemis’ arm and jumped as the grand doors in front of them swung open and music flowed out into the night air. The crowd parted allowing the Champions to go through first, as tradition dictated.



Rose bid a reluctant goodbye to Hannah and her partner Albus and Dawn and her French partner whom she’d met in the stands during the First Task.



Artemis smiled gently at her as they stood behind Katalena and Dimitri and Rose smiled nervously back, sure the curve of her lips was hardly convincing. She stared fixedly at the back of Katalena’s head, determined not to stare at the ground as she passed by Eve who she could see practically glowing with delight as she smiled maliciously, pulling a reluctant Scorpius closer to her.



Rose gasped at the sight of the unfamiliar hall, garlands made of holly and ivy intertwined hung with black and white Christmas baubles swept majestically from the four corners of the room meeting in the middle where a black crystal chandelier glittered menacingly.



Tall identically strict Christmas trees with dark green foliage stood with uniform correctness against the walls continuing the black and white theme with priceless glass decorations. Thick, chunky oak tables covered one half of the spacious room with the other being given entirely to the dancing couples.



A slow, quiet rhythm started the proceedings and Rose placed one hand on Artemis’ shoulder, the other in his and followed his lead as they began to dance with the other Champions. As Rose was swung around, pirouetting and twirling with the dance she was relieved to see only a blur of watching faces, unable to pick anyone out.



As the song came to an end the surrounding crowd clapped and cheered and began to join the three pairs on the dance floor. Rose and her partner stayed on for the next dance; losing herself in the movement and music meant that she didn’t have time to think about anything else.



She couldn’t hate Artemis, after all it wasn’t his fault she had asked him when really she wanted to go with someone else. Regardless, she found herself enjoying the night more and more as it progressed, appreciating Artemis’ skill as a dancer as he held a firm hand at her waist and led her around the room.



They danced for several hours until neither of them could stand anymore and needed a break, even though the fast numbers had been interspersed with much slower music they were still thoroughly worn out.



“Drink?” Artemis asked as they exited the floor and moved over to the numerous tables set up around the hall. Rose nodded gratefully and Artemis departed.



She soon found a table at which Albus was seated, completely exhausted by Hannah’s energy. His eyes were fixed angrily on somebody in the crowd but Rose couldn’t distinguish who.



“Are you ok?” She asked quickly. Albus snapped his eyes back to hers and they softened.



“Yeah, I’m just...well... I don’t know. Some people are so stupid.” Rose looked questioningly at her cousin, unsure what exactly he was talking about.



“I mean he doesn’t even like her, can’t stand her in fact,” he continued. Rose could see now he was clearly staring at Scorpius whose hand was woodenly placed on Eve’s back as she wrapped her arms possessively around him.



“Scorpius?” Rose asked lightly, trying not to stare at the dancing couple for too long. Albus nodded and frowned, looking back at her.



“He wanted to go with you, he had always wanted to go with you but then we thought you had a partner. After you asked Artemis he was so mad he just went for the person he knew wouldn’t say no.” Rose was stunned by his honesty and the look of anger on her usually calm cousin’s face.



“I shouldn’t even be telling you this,” he said lightly, “but goodness knows Scorpius isn’t doing very well managing this by himself.” He sighed heavily, resting back in his chair slightly, sipping at a drink in his hand and glancing over at where Hannah and Dawn danced outrageously together.



Rose grinned at them as Hannah swung Dawn out impossibly quickly, the latter nearly clattering to the ground, thoroughly out of place in the sombre slow tune which was playing. Artemis returned to the table holding two drinks, handing one to Rose and sipping the contents of the other himself as he took the seat next to her.



The three of them sat in a comfortable silence for a few minutes until Dawn and Hannah stumbled back over laughing hysterically as some stern-faced Durmstrang students glared at them. They joined the circular table and leaned across it conspiratorially towards Rose.



“Have you seen Olivia Smith’s dress?” Hannah whispered, struggling to control laughter which was obviously bubbling up in her throat.



Rose smiled back and shook her head. Hannah and Dawn pointed to the opposite side of the room where a tall, gorgeous blonde was stood laughing with a good looking Beauxbatons boy, wearing the most hideous bright yellow dress. Rose stared in open-mouthed shock before turning back to the two girls, joining their barely stifled giggles.



“When you’re that beautiful, why would you choose such an ugly dress?” Rose said incredulously. Dawn gestured to other side of the room.



“But she’s not the winner of the “Most Horrifically Disgusting Dress” award, oh no. For that we must go to, the one, the only, Samantha Carter!”



Rose picked out the black-haired Slytherin in the crowd and winced as she saw her, taking in the bright red mini-dress she was wearing barely covering half her thighs and somehow also being far too low at the top where it dipped, revealing the – horribly clashing – orange lace of her bra.



“That’s not even funny,” Rose replied, her face serious as she looked at Dawn and Hannah. “That’s a...a...crime to humanity.” The three girls collapsed into bursts of uproarious laughter much to the boys’ confusion, who merely looked at each other and shrugged.



The five of them sat at their table for most of the rest of the night, occasionally partnering off to dance with various people joining them at different points throughout the evening. Rose laughed more than she thought she would and was enjoying the evening, save for the frustration she felt against Eve who insisted on parading Scorpius past their table, smiling at them all as she did so.



Rose knew the evening was coming to an end and was glad she had gotten through it without any arguments, at least, she kept telling herself, Eve had only walked past and not sat with them. As Dawn, Hannah, Albus and Dawn’s partner Henri left the table for a last dance a timid looking Durmstrang girl approached Artemis.



“I’m sorry, I hope you don’t mind. It’s just I saw you weren’t dancing and wondered whether maybe you’d dance with me?” She was almost physically shaking as Artemis looked at Rose questioningly. Rose nodded warmly.



“Of course you can,” she said quietly to Artemis. “Have fun, I think I’ll get going in a minute anyway.” Artemis smiled back at the shy girl and accepted her invitation, rising from the table and taking her hand, leading her to the dance floor.



Rose sat contentedly alone at the table, watching the remaining students dance and talk. However her view of the rest of the room was quickly largely obscured by a couple who had moved closer to her table, dancing slowly to the music; Eve and Scorpius. Rose scowled and tried to ignore them even as Eve’s hands slid over his back directly in her line of sight.



She couldn’t believe the audacity of the girl who was once her friend and couldn’t bear to see the fair-haired Slytherin she’d only recently realised she had feelings for going along with it. Eve had acted with a confident flourish the whole night, a sickly smile in place only betrayed by a piercing look in her eyes when the cruel faced Gryffindor looked at her redheaded friend. Rose couldn’t help but feel Eve had something in store for her; she felt that something bad was going to happen between her and her old friend and there was nothing she could do to avoid it. Suddenly one of Eve’s hands rose to Scorpius’ head as she pulled him towards her, their lips barely far apart as she went to kiss him.



Unable to stand it anymore Rose sprang to her feet and fled the room stumbling on her heels; blindly she reached out for the straps of her shoes attempting to pull them off as she staggered into the entrance hall. She slipped off one shoe and hung it round her wrist as she struggled with the other, barely able to see through the tears flowing freely down her cheeks.



Her breath was shuddering and choking as she pulled at her shoe, eager to remove it but not succeeding.



“Rose,” a voice suddenly said from the archway leading to the Hall. She slumped back against the dark panelling of the wall behind her as Scorpius walked over to her. She hastily tried to brush away her tears but more came as he gently lifted her foot and undid the straps around it, his fingers warm and gentle as they brushed the tender skin of her ankle.



She nodded in thanks as he handed her the shoe, unable to meet his eyes as she tried to control her breathing, her eyes still resolutely wet. A hesitant hand lifted her chin so she was looking directly at him.



“I’m so sorry,” he said, barely loud enough for her to hear, “I only asked her because I knew she would say yes and I was upset when you asked Artemis. I was stupid; I’ve been so stupid but she means nothing to me.”



Rose shook her head incredulously.



“Then why have you danced with her the entire night, barely taking your hands off her? Just now you didn’t look like she was nothing to you,” she said angrily, impatiently wiping the tears off her face.



“Eve’s impossible to turn down. She threatened to make a massive scene in front of everybody and throw accusations against you if I didn’t act as if I wanted to be there with her. She’s gone crazy recently, I don’t know what it is but I didn’t want to tempt fate and test her. I knew you wouldn’t want an argument tonight.”



“You kissed her!” Rose sprang back angrily.



“I didn’t,” Scorpius replied calmly. “I wouldn’t,” he said even quieter. Rose didn’t know what to say or who to blame. Scorpius’ eyes were fixed on hers, their grey swirling depths almost hypnotic to her as he moved closer, resting a hand on the wooden wall on each side of her head.



He moved impossibly close as she closed her eyes, one of his hands moving to her cheek to brush back a strand of hair which had escaped from the bun twisted at the back of her neck. She could feel him shifting towards her until their lips were only millimetres apart, one of his hands now running over her jungle of red hair, the other resting on the smooth skin the green silk exposed at her back. She felt as if all her senses had been heightened to recognise him; only him.



He paused slightly before pressing his lips against hers, kissing her gently and softly. All too soon he pulled away. He held himself still close to her, so close, yet too far away; Rose could feel his breath quickening against her lips. He waited, as if wanting her permission to continue.



She gave it; leaning in quickly she grasped the back of his neck with her hand and pulled his lips against hers, kissing him with urgency and desperation. One of his hands threaded through her hair pulling it free of the hair pins which fell to the ground with small clinking sounds.



The other gripped the curve of her hip, creating warmth clearly felt through the thinness of her dress. He pushed her back against the wall, his body flush against hers whilst their lips continued to move firmly together as he suddenly changed the angle of the kiss, pressing against her like she was his only lifeline.



Rose’s hand squeezed tightly at his shoulder as she gasped into his mouth at the speed and intensity of their kissing; lost in the sensation of his warm lips rubbing against hers with a rough hunger she couldn’t help but respond to. She pulled his body even closer, the smooth contours of his chest pressing against her curves.



They broke apart suddenly as a deafening sound echoed chilling in the cold Entrance Hall.



“Get the hell off my boyfriend.”



 


Chapter 13: 13 - Uninvited Guests
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Author Note: Hello all! :) Well here is Chapter Thirteen, it starts off serious and has a pretty light hearted and fun ending; I wanted the best of both worlds. I can’t say enough times how much I appreciate every single review which I’m left, I am eternally grateful and will never stop grinning like an idiot each time I see a new one. Thank you all of you for being amazing.



On a different note – the opening part of this chapter has been edited and changed. I didn’t feel like Eve’s dialogue was realistic enough and so with the guidance and brilliant feedback of madelgranger I rewrote it. Thank you so much to madelgranger for all her help :)



Enjoy!



 



13 – Uninvited Guests:



“Love is like a rose.


It looks beautiful on the outside...but there is always pain hidden somewhere.”



Anonymous



 



A girl in formal dress stood unmoving in the dark Entrance Hall of Durmstrang Institute, dark eyes focussed on the couple ahead of her shrouded in shadows which did nothing to obscure their activities. 



Their arms were still wrapped possessively around each other in the aftermath of their kissing, their breathing ragged and loud in the otherwise all-consuming quiet. Rose glanced at Scorpius as she slowly pulled away from him; she didn’t see the hurt cross his face as she self-consciously smoothed the creases of her dress and patted insistently at her wild hair, freed by Scorpius’ hands.



Eve’s crimson dress was a bright gash in its gloomy surroundings, tearing her backdrop in two even as she separated the newly joined couple. Rose longed to reach out for Scorpius once again; she needed reassurance, anything to tell her what had just passed hadn’t been a dream. The words Eve had spoken still hung in the air, dripping with malice and venom.



Scorpius spoke first, stepping forward.



“Boyfriend? I’m not your boyfriend,” he said lightly and wearily, as if calming an angry child. Rose could feel his reluctance to fight and hear the downhearted tone to his voice as he obviously wanted Eve to just leave them alone. She couldn’t help but share his feelings; it felt like they had taken so long to get to this point that resistance from a third party was just wasting time.  



“I beg to differ,” Eve firmly replied, her voice laced with confidence and aggression. Scorpius shook his head incredulously.



“Eve, me and you are nothing to each other. We’re neither friends nor are we more than that and I never plan to be. Don’t interfere in this when it really is nothing to do with you.” He reached back and closed gentle fingers over Rose’s arm and started to pull her from the room.



As they approached the door Eve spun around, her voice shattered the peace, its sharp shrill cry like an animal in pain.



“I hate you,” she said quickly, her eyes sparkling with angry tears as they focussed on the back of Rose’s head. Rose turned back, her eyes pleading and sympathetic.



“I’ve done nothing to make you hate me, Eve. You have done all of this to yourself.”



Eve’s hands curled into fists, the scarlet nails cutting into her palms.



“You are the golden child of a famous, wealthy family and you rub it in my face,” she began, her voice filled with hard anger. Rose felt her face fall at her words as she thought of Eve’s own upbringing in her strict Pureblood family.



They still upheld those rigid traditional beliefs from years long passed, that anything but pure blood was dirty and wrong and should be punished. Eve had been torn for the entirety of the time Rose had known her; torn between pandering to her family and having the friends and life she wanted. Rose had never been invited to Eve’s home and nor had Dawn, they never expected to be.



Their blood wasn’t clean enough in Antony Malone’s eyes. It had pained Rose every time she’d seen her dark-haired friend sobbing after a summer with her overbearing father where he’d spent the long weeks criticising her for disrespecting her heritage and betraying the family. Not once had she ever considered the impact her own family must have had on the girl, and felt a flash of worry that she might have caused hurt where it was not meant or intended.



“Starting to remember how lucky you are?” Eve enquired bitterly as she watched Rose’s eyes cloud over with thought. “I always wanted to be you so much. I felt so lucky just to be your friend,” she continued.



“I was so stupid to think like that, because I could never have what you have. Now I can’t help but hate you for it.” She paused for a moment, her eyes were bright with her anger. “I don’t even want Scorpius. I just want what you have and you have him; I hate you.” Her voice was almost a whisper, her tone no longer full of hate but whimpering, like a child in pain.



 “You two are the classic love story; the Romeo and Juliet. The pathetic muggles that always die.” She broke off with a mocking laugh, her mouth forming a cruel grin.



“I’m doing you a favour seeing as nobody in your family will stand for this. I want to ruin this just because I can, just because I want to.” Rose wanted to turn her back on the twisted girl behind her and walk away but she knew she never could, as the quiet voice crawled in through her ears and latched onto her heart which was trembling and stumbling over every beat.



 It ached as she remembered how they’d once been such good friends and wondered what had gone wrong, when had Eve become so bitter? She stared clearly at the girl opposite her, her hazel eyes meeting those deep green and could only see hurt and hate so quickly looked away, not wanting to become any more involved in Eve’s twisted circle of blame.



“I won’t stop until I succeed so let me win this round; I think I’ve earned it,” Eve said softly, her voice was barely above a whisper but Rose could hear it clearly as it thundered in her eardrums.     



Her face shone with hate, her eyes glittering like fragments of shattered glass, piercing the blackened mess that was once her soul. Rose barely recognised the crazed individual who stood before her, only a bad reproduction of her original friend. Scorpius was saying something but Rose couldn’t distinguish the words, they floated away from her eternally out of her grasp.



She couldn’t bring herself to look away from the dark eyes which no longer had any light in them.



“I... I never tried to hurt you. To do...this to you.” Rose whispered.



“You didn’t need to try Rose,” Eve answered maliciously, her ghostly voice whipping around Rose’s ears in a frenzy.



“You just needed to be. You just needed to be you.



Eventually Scorpius managed to haul her from the room into the cold night air which whipped around Rose’s body as a welcome distraction. She closed her eyes, savouring the slam of the large oak doors behind her and letting the wind mark biting maps across her skin.



She felt gentle warmth on her cheek and opened her eyes to see Scorpius’ hand, the palm resting gently against her jaw, his finger stroking calmly over her soft cheek. She stood back, turning her head away from his caress.



“No,” she said, her voice tiny in the howling weather. He wished he hadn’t heard her. He reached for her again but she shook him off.



“I made her,” she whispered, her words marking a cold path in the air as they shook uncontrollably. “Everything I have done has made her how she is. I won’t add any more to her pain, it’ll only make her worse. I’m sorry.” She walked away into the murky darkness, not seeing the hot tears which coursed down Scorpius’ face.



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 Rose lay back on the soft quilt beneath her, enjoying the comfort it offered her tired limbs. Lifting a lazy hand she stifled a yawn and closed her eyes which had been flickering persuasively shut, almost falling asleep, before the sound of eager hands rapping at the door awoke her with a jump.



Groaning grumpily she raised herself from her bed and stumbled towards the door, swinging it open to reveal Dawn and Hannah’s excited faces. Both girls pushed past her and eyed the floor.



“I thought you were tidying?” Dawn asked incredulously, her eyes surveying the messy interior of the room, her foot nudging a pile of books neatly under the bed.



“I’m tired!” Rose said defensively, another yawn creeping up her throat.



It had been almost a week since the Yule Ball and so this evening, New Year’s Eve, after the boys of their party had disappeared the girls had decided on a low key evening together to celebrate.



After an exhausting day of lessons Rose had made her way back to her room, with a full stomach from dinner, with the full intention of clearing up but found herself falling onto her bed and being tempted toward unconsciousness.



Dawn rolled her eyes and flicked her wand at the room, causing everything to begin piling, stacking and arranging itself. The three girls soon made themselves comfortable, settling onto Rose’s four poster bed.



Rose smiled as she stared at the fabric canopy above her, dimly registering the laughs of Hannah and Dawn as they talked. After everything which had happened at the Yule Ball Rose had fallen back on the one thing Eve couldn’t take away from her. The two people who had accepted her feelings for Scorpius from the start; who had encouraged her in everything she had done; who had accepted her family’s fame and publicity; who had ignored all the gossip about the Weasley family over the years. They were eternally loyal and the one element of her life which Rose knew Eve couldn’t taint. Rose and Scorpius had barely spoken since she’d walked away from him, through the wind and icy rain which mixed with the salty tears decorating her face.



They hadn’t needed to talk, having had no Tournament or Second Task commitments to honour as yet. Rose ignored the painful tug in her stomach as she thought of the blonde-haired Slytherin and pulled herself back to reality. She was determined to enjoy tonight, if just for the reason that it was the chance to throw away all the regrets and pain of the previous year.



 Hannah sat up, bouncing slightly on the bed.



“Well, let’s get this party started! Dare anyone?” Dawn and Rose groaned.



“C’mon, it’s tradition!” Hannah argued, pouting at her two friends, making her eyes well up with fresh tears.



“Fine!” Dawn said, shaking her head at her childish friend. “I’m glad you’ve finally dropped the “truth” bit since all you two ever do is dare.” The two girls in question grinned at each other, Rose stretching her arms leisurely above her head as she leant back against the foot of her bed, angling herself so she could see clearly into the pitch black sky with a smattering of stars outside her window.



She extended her foot towards her blonde friend and prodded her with her big toe, causing a yelp from Hannah.



“So, I can only assume you would like a dare?” Rose asked innocently, her face a picture of competition as her mind whirled with the possibilities. Hannah rolled her eyes.



“You even need to ask? Throw it at me!” She shouted laughingly, feeling completely relaxed as she awaited her task.



Rose laid back for a moment in silent contemplation, her brows furrowed and mouth pursed as she thought. She sat up with a start her lips instantly forming an excited smile as she glanced at Dawn before focussing her gaze on Hannah.



“Got it.” She said quickly. “But a question first, have you got your broom handy?” Hannah laughed encouragingly, flicking her hair back over her shoulder.



“It’s only an accio spell away!” She answered with a laugh.



“Great. You’re going to be paying my dear cousin Albus a visit.” She saw Hannah’s expression fall immediately, her mouth opening as she made her interruption.



“No direct involvement of any other people allowed.” She said defensively. “You know that rule!” Rose continued to smile.



“Don’t worry you won’t be seeing him directly, more his room...from the outside. You’re going to summon your broom and your laciest, raciest underwear and you’re going to fly round to the outside of Albus’ window and attach the underwear in question to it.” Hannah considered it for a moment and nodded.



“Got it.” She said, already reaching for her wand.



“Wait a second!” Rose said quickly. “I’m not finished!”



“You’re not?” Hannah asked, her voice obviously laced with worry.



“You’re going to write on the window.” Rose improvised, glancing at Dawn for some much needed help. Dawn looked panicked for a moment before her expression settled.



“Yes, you’re going to write something. In fact, you’re going to write: From Russia with Love!” She declared passionately, in the spur of the moment. There was a pause as silence filled the air before all three girls burst into spontaneous, hysterical laughter.



As Rose eventually started to still her choking laughter she wiped tears of hilarity from her eyes and turned to Dawn.



“That’s really the first thing that sprang to your mind?” She asked incredulously. Dawn shrugged and clapped her hands together, rubbing her palms against each other.



“So Hannah, do you accept your dare?”



“Blatantly,” Hannah replied, only a slight flicker of uncertainty in her face before she grabbed her wand and said loudly, “Accio broom and underwear!” There was silence for a few moments before something clattered against the window making the three girls start.



Rose jumped up and slid open the window, allowing a new Speed-Snitch 200 and a pair of purple lace knickers and bra to swoop in.



“Sexy,” Rose said with a wink to Hannah, holding up the underwear. Hannah snatched it from her, a slight blush colouring her cheeks.



“At least I have sexy undies,” she replied, sticking her tongue out at Rose.



“How do you know I don’t?” Rose shot back.



“Ladies! Ladies!” Dawn interrupted, “this isn’t the time to argue over your pants, we have a dare to complete!”



 



This got their attention immediately and Rose dropped onto the floor, searching under her bed. She pulled out two brooms.



“Two?” Hannah asked in confusion.



“Never know when a spare might come in handy!” Rose replied with a wink, handing one to Dawn. “Right, Albus is on the second floor, right around the other side of the ship, about six in from the right-hand side,” Hannah commented as she flicked her wand at the window, enlarged it and mounted her broom.



“Do I want to ask how you know that?” Rose enquired, a slight smile on her lips. Hannah narrowed her eyes in reply and leant suddenly forward on her broom, causing her to rocket through the open window into the chilly night air.



Rose and Dawn followed in quick succession, Dawn eyeing her broom with a certain dislike, as they followed Hannah’s melodic laughter floating serenely towards them, giving away her location. As she whipped through the air Rose smiled, the possessive wind grabbing insistently at her hair as she moved, her face no more than an ice mask, but she felt alive.



Adventure danced on the air, that heady feeling of breaking the rules, being somewhere she shouldn’t be, doing something she shouldn’t be doing. They reached the ship’s other side in a matter of minutes, Rose’s eyes trained on the shiny blonde of Hannah’s hair as the only indication of her whereabouts, following her to a standstill outside a black boxy window.



Dawn joined them, out of breath and frowning, desperate hands gripping at the broom handle as she shuddered at every jerk it made. Rose dipped her head slightly staring through the window, the room beyond was empty and strewn with clothing, a photograph on the bedside table of Rose’s Aunt and Uncle being the only clear sign of who lived there.



Rose grinned widely at Hannah and gestured to the window, retreating until she hovered effortlessly next to Dawn. Hannah withdrew the purple underwear from her pocket and hastily pointed her wand at them, exerting full control as they floated to the window, sticking there with no other aid. She glared back at the two girls.



“Done!” she said proudly.



“Seriously, Hannah. You know as well as I do we’re not done.” Hannah sighed and lifted her wand once again, writing in curly gold letters on the window, “From Russia with Love” so they could be read from the inside of the room.



Dawn and Rose let out a great cheer and gave a round of applause before returning back through the bitter air to Rose’s room where the instant warmth was very welcome.



“Dare?” Hannah prepositioned, the moment they were once again seated, her gaze firmly on Rose’s upturned face.



“Dare.” She replied clearly without even a flicker of hesitation. Hannah tapped a finger against her chin as she thought.



“Board up the door to Professor Wendler’s bedroom.” She said quickly, a smile firmly in place on her lips.



“No! I can’t!” Rose said quickly. “That poor woman, she’ll have a heart attack!” Professor Wendler was their temporary Herbology teacher who had previously only worked part-time whilst at Hogwarts.



Their usual teacher – Professor Longbottom – had been one of those left behind at Hogwarts to help teach those students who remained there, predominantly students of First, Fifth and Seventh years, all of which were deemed too important to miss. Of course some students whole-heartedly fought against this ban – namely James Potter and his friends – resulting in some allowances being made. Professor Wendler had never been one to take full control of a class; her generally jumpy, nervous attitude being a constant source of entertainment to her pupils. Her superstitious mind practically encouraged the barrage of pranks played on her, each forcing her to become edgier and more worried than ever before.



Boarding up her door would cause utter chaos; Rose could only imagine the crazed actions of the uptight teacher who would consider it a personal vendetta.



“Hey!” Hannah said. “If I have to leave my underwear for Albus the least you can do is this. After all it isn’t directly involving the Professor is it?” She smiled at Rose, who knew she had been beaten. Hannah had completed her dare successfully and now Rose knew she had to do hers. Armed with her wand she climbed from the bed, ignoring Dawn shaking her head in the corner of her eye as she left the room, the other two girls following directly behind her.



Being that Rose’s quarters were on the third floor – the same as the teachers’ – they hadn’t far to go and soon found the dark oak door with a golden plaque engraved with “Professor Wendler”. Bunches of herbs were tied around the door frame which was – Rose could only imagine – as some kind of evil-deterrent/ good luck charm. She shook her head slightly and muttered a quiet apology before she waved her wand in a figure of eight pattern, the purple strands of colour which appeared weaving wooden planks which fixed themselves firmly across the door. As the final plank covered the remaining space Rose turned back to her friends and smiled broadly.



“Simple as,” she commented.



Hannah turned quickly to Dawn who looked to be waiting in unhappy anticipation.



“I dare you to skinny dip in the lake.” Hannah said lightly, twirling a strand of blonde hair around her finger as she spoke.



“What?!” Dawn stuttered. “Well then, I dare Rose to do the same!” She commented triumphantly. “What!” Rose said indignantly, “you can’t do that.”



“Can too. Joint dare.” Hannah nodded her head in agreement. “



In that case,” Rose added defiantly, “I dare Hannah to also skinny dip in the lake.” The gleeful expression dropped quickly from Hannah’s face as she frowned at the way the dare she had given had backfired painfully on her.



“Well, I for one am not backing out from a dare,” Rose said, leading the way back to her room. She glanced at the clock on her bedroom wall as she approached it seeing it was already eleven fifty.



“You can’t be serious?” Dawn argued. “That lake is dangerous, who knows what horrible creatures are lurking in its depths.” She visibly shuddered as her eyes pleaded with those of her headstrong Gryffindor friends.



“Once a dare’s been made, it can’t be undone,” Hannah replied. “What’s more, it’s nearly midnight. This will be the best way to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.” Dawn’s expression was entirely hopeless as she once again mounted her broom from earlier, following in suit as the other two girls left through the still enlarged window.



As they stood at the lakeside, the doubts set in. Rose let out a quick laugh before she began to speak, pulling her arms around herself in an effort to keep warm.



“Well that idea was fun while it lasted, let’s go back now.” She made to head back towards the brooms the girls had abandoned in a pile behind them, but was stopped by Hannah’s cold hand on her shoulder.



“It’s nearly the New Year,” she said, bringing Rose back to stand on her left, Dawn on her right, “it’s about time we accepted a few things before we move onto another year. Dawn, I love you with all my heart but you worry more than is good for your health, sometimes you need to just let go. “What’s more you spend so much time sorting out other people’s lives you never take time to consider your own. You’ve liked that Ravenclaw boy you sit with in Herbology for the last year now, and don’t tell me you don’t.



“I’ve seen the way you look at him and how he looks at you. It’s about time you did something about that, don’t you think? And Rose,” she continued, turning to her left and staring at a reluctant Rose in the eye, “you are possibly the most selfless person I know and you’ve let this fear that you caused someone to be the way they are completely ruin the things which were making you wake up with a smile on your face every day.



“You don’t have a hurtful, manipulating bone in your body. You said Eve called you and Scorpius the new Romeo and Juliet. That doesn’t mean you’re destined to fail, to end in the worst possible way, which only happened in the play because of other people and their hateful influence. It means that you and Scorpius are destined to be together.” Hannah swept her long blonde hair back over her shoulder as she continued.



“And I, Hannah Felice, am flipping well in love with Albus Potter.” On that dramatic note, she ran forward, her feet slipping through the moist grass at the lakeside, her hands fumbling with the buttons on her shirt.



“It’s now or never.” Rose said quickly to Dawn who sighed in defeat before she too began to run. As the three girls threw off their clothing they also renounced all inhibitions, ready to face a new year without the restrictions, the pain, the missed chances or the regrets of the previous one.



With not a doubt in their minds, and the sounds of loud clanging chimes filling the air, marking the presence of midnight the three naked figures, armed only with their wands, plunged into the icy water.



This was much to the surprise of Albus Potter, Scorpius Malfoy and Sebastian Arkwright who had stood in wide eyed shock, having been exploring the Durmstrang grounds by night; the dense patch of foliage they hid in, out of earshot of Rose and her friends. Sebastian spoke first, whistling softly. “Albus, seriously, your cousin sure has got a fine...” Albus’ elbow connected with his face sharply, Scorpius’ with his stomach, preventing any further speech.



“You even think that again, and they won’t find your body for years.” Albus replied, only half joking. “Fair enough.” Sebastian replied, wiping traces of blood from his nose and still grimacing at the pain in his stomach.



“So... what are you going to do now?” He asked, observing as three heads bobbed on the surface of the water, their loud laughter penetrating the air.



“I’ll do what any good cousin would.” Albus replied with a smile. “Accio clothes.”     



 


Chapter 14: 14 - Baring All
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: Hello all! The 5,500 reads and 200 reviews marks have been entirely conquered so thank you so very much to every single one of you. Whether you have left me one review or one for every chapter I appreciate them all so much. As ever, your feedback is fantastic and it’s a massive help in the writing of the story so don’t hesitate to let me know the things you do and don’t like.


I love writing this so much, it’s incredibly fun and I can still hardly believe I’m at Chapter Fourteen.


Thank you for all your unending, eternal support; it will never stop meaning the world to me <3



 



14 – Baring All:



“If we all did the things we are capable of doing,


We would literally astound ourselves.”


Thomas Alva Edison



 



Rose’s soaked hair clung to her back as she gasped for air above the freezing surface of the lake. Hannah laughed uproariously in the darkness, her blonde hair darkened by the damp but still shimmering brightly in the inky blackness. Dawn bobbed reluctantly as she shivered, her wand grasped tightly in her hand as her only lifeline.



Eager to recover from their moment of madness, Dawn struck out towards shore which was luckily only a few metres away, leaving Rose and Hannah to continue splashing water at each other. Despite being chilled to the bone Rose couldn’t help but laugh and playfully fight with Hannah until she was interrupted by a shout from Dawn.



“No!” she shrieked, her hands visibly clutching at her hair as her head moved rapidly, scanning their surroundings.



“Problem?” Hannah asked, undisturbed by Dawn’s reaction.



“Our clothes! They’re gone!” Dawn shouted back, her eyes flashing in the darkness as her features showed her obvious fear and dismay. 



Rose reacted quickly and joined Dawn on the muddy bank, her feet slipping and sliding through the gloopy mud which sucked on her toes and sought to drag them under its surface. She looked quickly towards the Hogwarts ship, from which sudden light had flooded out as people emerged onto the vast Durmstrang grounds to watch the firework display that had just begun.



Her eyes caught on three running figures, barely perceptible in the dark but Rose would know her cousin anywhere.



“Albus,” she hissed, barely seeing the crumpled dark material hanging limply by his side, swinging with his movement. The group of three boys quickly reached the pool of light and Rose clearly saw Albus’ shadowy figure high-five one of his companions, a tall blonde haired boy whose naturally pale skin shone in the sudden explosion of colour in the sky.



She frowned, eyes fixed angrily ahead of her as slowly the sound of Dawn’s worried voice crept into her ears. She turned back to her and an undaunted Hannah who had finally emerged from the dark velvety water.



Rose gestured to the two girls and the three of them moved into the shadows around the lake, eager to not be seen by the gathering of people who had now crowded not far from them around the side of the lake.



“What are we going to do?” Dawn asked shrilly, edging on hysteria. “We don’t have any clothes and just about every student at Hogwarts is standing outside the only place we could possibly get clothes from!” Rose glanced at Hannah hoping she would calm their friend, but she was stood looking entirely unconcerned, her eyes watching the fireworks with a slight smile playing with her lips.



Rose rolled her eyes and turned back to Dawn.



“We’ll be fine Dawn, seriously. Can’t you just...transfigure a leaf into a jumper or something?” Rose replied hopelessly, wrapping her arms around herself in defence of the cold. Dawn stared at her incredulously; hands desperately trying to decide whether retain her dignity or rest on her hips in anger.



“Do you know how to turn a leaf into a bloody jumper? Well? Because I’m pretty sure I don’t!” Rose coughed in an attempt to disguise the laughs rising in her throat.



“I know how to turn a chair into a kitten,” she replied. Dawn just glared at her.



Hannah grinned widely as one hand combed elegant fingers through her long blonde locks, shaking them back from her face and letting them cascade down her back like a golden waterfall.



“I’m going in, girls,” she said suddenly, walking towards the lakeside and out of the protective darkness. Dawn frowned in confusion at her remark.



“What do you mean?” she asked, her voice beginning low but ending high-pitched and worried as Hannah walked away from them with swift, sure strides.



“Hannah!” Rose said quickly, “Hannah, what are you doing?”



Hannah, by this point, had crossed plenty of distance and was nearing the halfway mark between Rose and Dawn and the crowd of celebrating Hogwarts students, she turned her fair head back towards them, her equally pale skin glowing in the moonlight.



“The only way to get your own back on somebody trying to humiliate you, is to humiliate them more,” she replied, a devilish smile on her face, “so, I’m going to get our clothes back, girls.”



Rose’s voice choked as she watched the champagne haired Gryffindor as her overtly naked body sauntered unwaveringly towards the gaggle of students now mingling together in the aftermath of the bright fireworks.



 Rose and Dawn crept decisively after her, keeping to the edge of the gathering of shadowy trees behind them to continue shrouding their bodies from the eyes of anyone who might glance their way. Finally they were close enough to hear the chattering of the variously clothed people as they laughed and joked together, relishing the thought that a new year had begun.



As Hannah approached them, all noise started to shudder away; the air hung silently with traces of the unsounded laughter people wanted to release but couldn’t in the midst of their shock. Hogwarts pupils jolted back to reality as they saw her, conversations dying away as their eyes fixed on her confident body like a cat watching a plaything swung in front of its nose.



Albus was seemingly oblivious to what was happening behind him and continued staring ahead of him at the dark landscape. Scorpius glanced over Albus’ shoulder, his eyes suddenly growing wide as his mouth flapped uselessly open and closed, shock etched onto his face.



Hannah soon reached Albus and stretched out an arm, lightly touching his shoulder to gain his attention. He turned instantly as his face shot into such disbelief it was almost laughable. His jaw dropped as his eyes visibly struggled to keep on her face.



“I believe you have something of mine?” she asked sharply, her clear voice shimmering through the night. Albus was unable to move, words being shaped by his lips but falling silently on the air as he struggled through his astonishment.



“I...I...” he began, his eyes flickering down for an instance.



“Eyes on the face, Potter,” Hannah replied, her usually angelic face with steely eyes and thin lips. She held out a hand expectantly and without any essence of fight or persuasion Albus dumbly dropped the clothes grasped in a fist onto her outstretched arm.



She shook her head at him in disappointment so reminiscent of a teacher it would have been laughable were it not for the fact she was standing entirely naked with no sense of discomfort or fear in front of an entire schools-worth of people.



She turned and strode back towards the trees outlining the glittering pool of water, not sparing a look for any of her many spectators. Suddenly a stern and authoritative voice echoed through the night air.



“Miss Felice! What in Merlin’s name do you think you’re doing?!” Professor Quila indignantly shouted from across the crowd of students, a wine glass in her hand, the contents bobbing as she made her way purposely towards her. Hannah didn’t stop for a moment or even glance at the angry Headmistress.



“I can’t imagine what was on your mind! In all my days I’ve never seen such a thing! When I was your age young ladies had some sense of propriety. Where are your Morals, for goodness sake!” “They’re in a box, Professor, “Hannah yelled back over her shoulder, “locked away with my Sense of Embarrassment.” 



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



By the time Dawn, Hannah and Rose, now fully clothed, were walking across the mossy stones and approaching the Hogwarts ship only a few people remained. The rest had gradually filtered away, back to their cosy rooms where they could gossip in shocked voices at the audacity of Hannah Felice and how the New Year had got off to an incredible start.



Sebastian, Albus and Scorpius were among those who remained with a tired looking Artemis who had recently joined them. Hannah walked resolutely past Albus not pausing to so much as look at him, Dawn following her example exactly.



Rose hung behind, joining the quiet boys group as they made their way back to the place they were to call home and naturally gravitating towards walking with Scorpius. As they breached the entrance to the ship they all parted; Albus, Sebastian and Artemis following the route Dawn and Hannah had taken leaving Scorpius and Rose alone to pursue their own direction.



As they walked, Scorpius chuckled slightly under his breath.



“Well that was one hell of a night,” he laughed, running a hand over his tired face.



“You can say that again. You’ve had plenty to do, spying on innocent girls, stealing their clothes...” Rose replied shrewdly.



“That was Albus!” Scorpius said defensively.



“So you didn’t see me stripping in the moonlight then?” Rose asked quickly, stifling a laugh with her hand as she saw his cheeks stain with a light blush.



“Er...No. Course not,” he replied quickly, nervously dipping his eyes to the floor as Rose grinned widely at his discomfort.



“You didn’t see me running completely naked into the lake then?” she teased, watching expectantly as his face grew redder by the minute.



“I...I erm...” He stuttered. “I, well I might have seen a bit of that...” His voice trailed off.



“Oh really? Which part would that be? The naked part? Because Scorpius...I thought better of you,” Rose commented, lacing her voice with fake disappointment as they continued to stroll along the endless corridors, heaving a great sigh for dramatic effect.



“I closed my eyes,” Scorpius replied.



“Really?”



“No,” he said honestly, his voice breaking into laughter just as hers did the same, her hand hitting his arm in mock anger. And just like that the tension which had been hanging viciously overhead whenever they were together dissipated like the air from a popped balloon leaving them feeling sincerely happy, and grinning at each other in the artificial light of the ship.



They continued in the same way until they reached their rooms in a comfortable and happy silence, parting ways for the evening both feeling like a great weight had been lifted.



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



 The wind still had a wintry chill as it pulled at Rose’s hair, trying to remove it from the firmly wound hair-band at the base of her neck. She closed her eyes momentarily, obviously enjoying the feeling of the bitter wind grappling at her face, tugging on the flesh and teasing the black fabric of her robes. Scorpius’ eyes settled on her for a moment as he took in her blissful expression and the way her lips turned up in a slow smile which lit up her face. He glanced quickly away as those bright eyes reopened and darted about the landscape, waiting for the triumphant Durmstrang castle to emerge suddenly from the ground before them.



Although prepared, Scorpius still shuddered at the sight of the dark gothic castle but tried to mask his discomfort. He avoided entering it whenever he could, there was something about the atmosphere- the air – which reminded him too much of Malfoy Manor. He had lived there until the age of 9 when his mother had had enough of the ghostly mansion and demanded of his father that they leave.



The move had been good for the family, Draco’s previous despondency and habitual disappearances into dark, damp rooms scattered with dust and ropey cobwebs had ceased as he finally began to see the loving family before his eyes. Scorpius, at his young age, had been only too happy to get his father back and see his mother smiling again and since that day had tried never to look back.



As they reached the threshold of the imposing building Rose stumbled slightly over the raised doorstep and Scorpius quickly pressed his hand against her back to steady her; he snatched it back instantly.



He knew that if it lingered too long and his mind realised who he was touching he would be wrapping his arms around her and pulling her to his chest, holding her the way he’d wanted to for weeks. Rose had noticed his hasty actions and watched him, her eyes swimming with confusion as he led the way up the dimly lit marble staircase doing anything to avoid meeting her gaze.



They had been summoned by Professor Quila to attend a meeting concerning the Second Task and so were hurrying through shadowy corridors to spend as little time as possible in this formidable place which gave off a sinister air. Rose tugged slightly on the fabric concealing Scorpius’ arm.



“Are you ok?” she asked softly, her voice almost pleading. Scorpius nodded slightly and gestured forward to the doorway of their meeting place. He knew he was being rude; he knew he was worrying her but didn’t know how else to act.



 Every time he revealed just a little bit of himself to her she rejected him through one way or another and so, erratic as his actions may be, he needed them to avoid falling apart all together.    



He and Rose took seats around an unlit fireplace, they had learnt since their initial visit to discuss the First Task that fires were rarely lit in the Durmstrang castle and when they were it was only for magical purposes.



Alexandre and his partner Philippe where sitting just across from the two Hogwarts students and greeted them warmly; however their faces seemed strained as they too glanced miserably around them, obviously unhappy in the still unfamiliar environment.



“Congratulations,” Alexandre said after a few minutes, “you did very well in ze First Task.” He gave a slightly rigid smile which Scorpius returned as Rose exchanged niceties and made polite conversation.



Before long they were joined by a sour looking Katalena with Dimitri at her side in their vivid blood red robes followed swiftly by their silent Headmaster. As the headmasters, headmistresses, champions and partners alike all gathered in the unwelcoming room the volume quietened leaving only distant echoes around the castle to flicker through the air.



After a time Professor Volkov stood in front of the large empty fireplace and cleared his throat, his piercing eyes taking time to focus on every person around him; Professor Quila and Professor Arcenau standing to his left and right.



“Firstly, my congratulations to all of you on completing the First Task,” he said to the Champions with a slight smile which didn’t reach his eyes. “Each of you was awarded points out of vun hundred depending on vat position you finished in and vith vat success.



“In third place is the Durmstrang Champion, Katalena,” he spat her name like it was poison on his tongue, “she successfully completed three of the four challenges and finished in third place, she is awarded fifty points.”



 Katalena stared plainly at the ground, her face blank and showing no signs that she had even heard Volkov’s words even as Rose, Scorpius, Alexandre and Philippe applauded.



“In second place is the Beauxbatons Champion, Alexandre. He completed all four challenges and finished second and so has been awarded eighty points.” Applause broke out again although the Durmstrang inhabitants’ hands stayed resolutely still and their faces unconcerned. Professor Volkov heaved a great sigh as if his time was being wasted with these announcements.



“In first place is the Hogwarts Champion, Rose, who successfully completed the entirety of the First Task and before anybody else. She is awarded one hundred points.” Scorpius smiled and clapped as he observed Rose’s modest grin, her eyes shining with triumph.



After the noise has subsided the Durmstrang Headmaster continued.



“The Second Task vill take place on the seventh of March and it is required that you are all assembled in the clearing beside the Durmstrang forest at nine in the morning on that date. You are required to bring vith you the four keys you collected and your wand. If you did not collect the full amount,” he said, angry eyes focussed on the down-turned face of his Champion, “then you vill have to bring that which you did successfully collect.”



“For the Second Task you vill have to fight against the elements. Spend your time until then discovering what this could mean; prepare yourselves well.”



He finished speaking and stepped back slightly so he was in line with the other two Professors whom he had previously been standing slightly ahead of. Professor Quila stepped forward, her dark hair twisted back in a severe bun, her face decorated with a sincere smile.



“Now that the official notices are over with, we have some exciting news for all of you. Obviously the entire reason for the occurrence of the Triwizard Tournament is that we all get the opportunity to work together and build strong relationships between the different schools.



“Since arriving however, due to space issues, you have obviously been unable to live, dine or be educated with the other students from elsewhere and so have had little interaction. To remedy this, we have organised a team building trip.”



 At the words “team building” an audible groan rumbled through the room as the various different students rolled their eyes and frowned, knowing exactly what this would entail. Ignoring the less than enthusiastic sounds from around her, Professor Quila continued.



“We will all be travelling into the mountains at the end of this week; students will be divided into teams of three with a student from each school, those teams will be final. You will remain in that group for the time we are all away and will be working together in activities during the day and night. This should be a great opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise got the chance to,” she finished brightly.



Scorpius couldn’t help but feel even his own Headmistress wasn’t very keen on the idea, hence her almost childish enthusiasm and frozen smile which had been on her face since she had begun to speak.



Her announcement was met by silence and so, coughing slightly, she stepped back again into line with the two Headmasters; one was stern faced and unsmiling, the other animated and joking with his Champion. The latter, Professor Arcenau, stepped forward now and smiled at his less than enthusiastic audience.



“Details on ze trip will be posted in Common Rooms for uzzer students to see and you will be updated as the week progresses. Itinerary lists will be published and distributed. If you ‘ave any problems speak to any of us and we will be only too ‘appy to ‘elp. Do any of you ‘ave any questions?”



The assortment of students in the room shook their heads as Professor Volkov stepped forward once more and dismissed the room full of people.



Rose and Scorpius quickly left the room after only briefly being stopped by Professor Quila who said once again how proud she was of Rose for her result in the First Task. When they were released they quickly made their way from the castle, both loudly sighing when they were in the open, fresh air once more.



“Team building,” Rose said with a laugh, “those teachers sure know how to have fun!” Scorpius laughed along with her as they walked companionably back toward the Hogwarts ship.



“It should be...interesting,” Scorpius commented, trying to sound optimistic but not really succeeding.



“Well non-interesting I can cope with right now,” Rose replied. “I’ve had far too much excitement over the past few weeks.” Scorpius nodded his head silently, thinking about everything from the First Task to the Yule Ball and its aftermath.



 He could hardly believe it had been over two weeks since he and Rose had stood in the dark howling wind as she told him they couldn’t be together. He shook his head to try and remove the memory from his mind. Ever since it had happened he had avoided thinking about it and had told himself that he should be thankful at least that Rose was still his friend.



 He sighed, thinking this trip might well have come at the perfect time. Goodness knows he needed a break from everything, and everyone, familiar to him. A change of scenery might be good for them all.         


Chapter 15: 15 - Unexpected Happenings
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: Hey :) So I’ve had a busy week! Hopefully you’ll see that the story is in the process of being edited but only slightly. At some point tonight – if I’m not too busy – I should be putting up edited chapters 1-5, all that has changed is that Ch 1 has a few more sentences here and there, the punctuation has been un-shoddified and also Chapter Titles and quotes at the beginning are being added purely to jazz them up a bit. So the story is in limbo a bit, don’t worry though I’m still updating with new chapters, that won’t be disrupted just excuse half-editing as I work on it.


I also branched out and wrote a one-shot! So I’m doing some blatant plugging I’m afraid, it’s the first of anything I’ve written outside RC so I was pretty terrified but overall I really am pleased with it. It isn’t very long so if any of you can spare a few minutes and take a look I’d love you forever, it’s on my author page and called “Flawless”. I’d really like your guys’ feedback.


Anyway, enough ranting, here’s Chapter 15. Please enjoy, thank you so much for reading and if you have a second please leave a review because I love to hear what you think. Thank you all for being amazing!



 



15 – Unexpected Happenings:



“When danger approaches, sing to it.”


Arabian Proverb



 



“Rose!” Albus shouted, his voice nearly drowned out by the sound of his clattering footsteps down the hallway as he ran after his red-headed cousin. Rose turned on hearing her name, rolling her eyes as she saw an eager Albus pursuing her.



“Hey Albus, everything ok?” she asked as he drew up beside her and adopted her walking pace. “Party...my birthday...next week,” he panted out, still catching his breath. Rose frowned at him before she replied.



“Next week, as in next Thursday, on your actual birthday?”



“Yep,” Albus replied happily.



“When we’re up in the middle of goodness-knows-where climbing mountains?” Rose clarified. Albus nodded hurriedly back at her, a grin commonplace on his lips.



“Me and James reckoned the “team-building” could do with a bit of livening up. So, seeing as it’s my birthday and all, we thought a party was in order.”



“Where?” Rose asked.



“Somewhere close by...” Albus answered, not entirely sure. Rose sighed but smiled at her cousin, knowing when he and James got together and planned something there was no preventing it. “Sounds good,” she said with a laugh, “I’ll be there.” Albus winked.



“I knew you wouldn’t let us down,” he commented with a laugh, slinging an arm around her shoulders and hugging her briefly as they left the warmth of the Hogwarts ship and found themselves walking over the Durmstrang grounds towards the area dedicated to Herbology class.



As they approached yet another area of the seemingly identical rocky, grass covered landscape they both stopped and Rose withdrew her wand. She flicked it at the ground beneath her feet, clearly saying “Recludo”. The moment the words had left her lips a heavy grinding sound was heard as the stony surface began to roll back like a carpet, revealing an earthy, worn staircase down into darkness. Albus sighed.



“Seriously, did they never think that maybe the secrecy thing was going a little too far?” he commented as they descended into the muggy humid air underground. Practically speaking it wasn’t possible to have Herbology lessons on the ship, it was much better in the open air so unknowingly Professor Quila had asked that the students be able to use the Durmstrang Herbology facilities.



As a result, Rose and Albus were only too used to joining their fellow students down in the underground classroom, hidden entirely from view, ready to pursue another lesson taught by the over-nervous Professor Kendler who at present was stood at the front of the “classroom” her eyes scanning the class with worry.



Albus and Rose sat down on one of the long benches which rested down the middle of classroom on either side of large work surfaces covered in soil, leaves and petals which were stained brown with bruises long dead. The walls were bare earth and light came from thin stripes cut into the ceiling of the room which reached the open air, although invisible from outside.



The slants of winter sunshine provided enough light to work by, but too little to be comfortable in and only increased the dark, dankness of the atmosphere.



The room was half empty; Professor Quila had decided after several...incidents... that Professor Kendler could best handle smaller classes and so split the Seventh Year Herbology group in half, leaving two classes of just over ten people each.



 Consequently Rose settled herself happily on the wide expanse of bench she and Albus shared, nobody but a blonde haired Ravenclaw at the end making any claims on their space. Professor Kendler cleared her throat shakily which had no effect on the few people in the class who were talking.



“Class!” she said hesitantly, trying to increase the volume of her high-pitched voice and not succeeding.



“Class, I’m...I’m ready to begin.” Still failing to grasp any sense of control over the persistent students she tapped her wand on the table top before her and sent red sparks into the air. Reluctantly everybody turned to face the front and dropped their conversations until later as they eyed their teacher who looked like she regretted getting their attention now it was all focussed on her. Self-consciously she laughed to herself and coughed nervously.



“Well class. Today we’ll be looking at something new: the Fristleweed plant.” She swished her wand quickly through the air causing numerous plants to fly from low tables shrouded in darkness at the back of the room.



 Two large pots landed thunderously in front of Albus and Rose who eyed its contents suspiciously. The top of the terracotta container was obscured largely by dark green vines which were covered, on closer inspection, by hundreds of miniscule furry hairs. Large yellow umbrella-like flowers bloomed magnificently from the top facing upwards in the vain hope of seeking out some of the illusive sunshine, small leaves decorating the many stems.



Rose smiled at the plant, craning her neck to see the flower more clearly and noticing its bright red centre which shone vividly in its lemon coloured petal bed. Gently she stroked a finger over the outside of the vines which felt soft like velvet, her plant made a slight noise almost as if purring at her touch.



 She took this to be positive and traced the stem of the flower down to its base in a tangled pile of creepers in the midst of which she could see deep midnight blue petals gleaming against the green foliage. As her fingers neared it the vines suddenly whipped up in a frenzy, wrapping possessively around her arm and attempting to drag it down into the pot.



“Professor!” Rose called out, attempting to pull back her arm.



“In a moment, dear,” Professor Kendler answered, busy talking to somebody else in the class. Rose started to panic as the entire plant appeared to change shape before her eyes, the yellow flower flapping flimsily before it fell to the ground as a blue flower rose from the surface of the pot, opening its petals massively to reveal a bright coloured middle with two dots like sinister eyes.



 Albus was laughing uproariously as his cousin struggled to avoid being dragged into the pot by a plant half her size whose ropey creepers seemed to be extending by the minute and covering the entirety of her visible flesh, the flower seemingly watching her.



Professor!” Rose half screamed, throwing a handful of soil she scraped from the pot with a free hand at the back of the older woman’s head.



“Miss Weasley!” she said angrily, turning towards her.



“Oh,” she said, her expression changing instantly as she saw Rose’s predicament, “no need to panic! Just sing to it.” Rose stared incredulously at woman with jet black hair in front of her.



Sing to it?!” she yelled. “It’s a plant!



“Plants have feelings too,” came the insistent reply.



Suddenly the Professor cleared her throat loudly and sang triumphantly to the class; her voice stumbling over notes and screeching throughout the rhythm. Slowly the plant’s grip on Rose ceased and Rose hurriedly sat back on the bench, shifting herself backwards away from the plant which hypnotically, like a snake being charmed, returned to its pot, the blue flower hiding once more and a new yellow one shining brightly.



As the Professor finished her song amidst the Fristleweed’s happy purring Rose glared at her angrily. “So class, Miss Weasley has just demonstrated perfectly the habits of the Fristleweed plant. It is a very demanding plant, loving company and kindness towards it however if provoked it will change instantly, the feelers become much longer, the pot expands and the flower is replaced by that in navy blue.



“When this happens the person responsible for upsetting the plant will be dragged into the pot and suffocated, unless stopped by calming it down again. So you see, Miss Weasley, all you needed to do was act kindly.”



“I was acting kindly!” Rose defensively said. “All I was doing was having a look what was in the creepers.”



“Well then,” the impossible teacher replied, “there you have it, would you like people poking around in your pot without permission? I think not.”



 



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Rose whipped the piece of parchment which had drifted slowly to the floor back up into her outstretched hand and scanned her eyes hurriedly over the list searching for anything she had missed.



 She grabbed a thick blue pen off her desk and ticked beside every item accounted for, scowling at those not yet found. Her case was thankfully small due to yet another new charm learnt by Dawn which allowed Rose to shrink all her belongings before packing them. She threw a pair of socks into the open case, scrawling a number onto her paper as she kept count.



Only that morning, on the tenth of January, had itinerary lists been delivered to every student, telling them exactly what they needed to bring with them on their “venture” for which they were to leave in only a few hours.



 Despite invariably ending up behind, Rose always liked to do things in advance, and the delayed start on packing did nothing to soothe her fraught nerves. She’d finally reached the end of the list, leaving her only with books to decide over.



 Ever since she had entered the Triwizard Tournament she’d been reading up on as much as possible regarding anything which could come up; at the moment she was focussing on the books she had gotten from her parents at Christmas and so tipped them all into the bag she had laid out, twitching her wand to shrink them instantly.



 On an afterthought she rifled through the dark wooden box she had also received from her parents and withdrew the silky smooth fabric of her invisibility cloak, folding it carefully up and adding that to her possessions as well, just in case of emergencies.



She looked through her list once more, making a final check and noticing she had missed something. She lay down on the floor and crawled under her bed, searching through all manner of things which had, over time, accumulated down there. She pulled out a broomstick, her Shooting Star 3000, and quickly decreased its size and weight, causing it to join her already packed things.



She frowned at the list and wondered why she would need a broom for this trip. Shrugging it off, she finally closed her full bag and threw it over the hook on her bedroom door laughing as it crashed loudly in direct contrast to its small size.



She walked over to her open window, she always found packing to be hot work and needed some amount of the cold breeze from outside to keep her sane through the process. She comfortably sat sideways on the wide window-seat, her knees pulled up to her chest as two pale bare feet rested against the soft cushions beneath her, her toes curling against the textured fabric as she rested a cheek against the chilly glass pane.



She listened as the wind whistled through the gap in the window, slightly rattling the frame as it did so; the Durmstrang grounds were otherwise immersed in a deep silence. Rose had never seen wildlife around the formidable institute, not a single bird, rabbit or even thestrals or centaurs like at Hogwarts.



The landscape surrounding the school had remained resolutely quiet since her arrival and she found it unnerving as she sat and found herself constantly expecting to hear the sound of birdsong tumbling over the air sweetly.



Deep hazel eyes sparkling, she watched undisturbed, hearing only the water of the lake lapping gently against its grassy banks. The statuesque trees across the expanse of pale blue rippling liquid barely seemed to be affected by the persuasive wind but still rustled strangely, sounding almost as if each tree were whispering to its neighbour.



Rose sighed heavily as she watched. She undeniably was enjoying the experience of being in a new place and being part of such a historic and monumental Tournament, she wouldn’t change this year for anything.



Yet, she couldn’t help but miss Hogwarts, there was something about the old stone castle which didn’t feel imposing or aggressive like Durmstrang, but comfortable and homey. It was a place she had never felt alone, out of place, worried or scared because there was something inbuilt in the very walls of the place – in the atmosphere – which was just so different from anywhere else she had been.



 It had that uncanny knack of meaning everything to everybody, regardless of who they are or where they are from. It didn’t discriminate, judge, intimidate or attack; it was just there, experiencing the good times and the bad; the births and the deaths; the rises and the falls.



 



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



 



Rose gasped loudly, shocked by the absolutely breathtaking sight in front of her. She had been transported in one of many groups by portkey to their trip destination, where they would be spending the next week. In front of her was a vast mountain range, she and her group stood at the bottom where the ground was still grassy and fresh, interrupted by pale brown muddy patches of chalky thick soil with sat in great lumps, heavy and solid beneath her feet.



Ahead of her was a deep crevasse in the ground forming a rudimentary path leading towards the snow topped mountain peaks ahead of them, the pure white snow startlingly bright against the dull earth.



The wind whipped around them as they stood on the open ground, waiting for the other students to join them. Dawn, Hannah and Rose were sticking together whilst they could, before they were separated for the week in-keeping with the school co-operation plans.



Various pops, thuds and shouts from behind her told Rose that people were quickly arriving at their location, all falling quiet as they observed their incredible surroundings.



“Maybe this won’t be so bad after all,” Hannah commented in awe as she eyed the snowy track ascending into the high altitude. Other people were obviously agreeing with her as they whispered excitedly together, a far cry from the previous less than enthusiastic reception this trip had received.



Soon the barren landscape was scattered with numerous groups and the three school Heads appeared, striding away from everybody to stand on a slightly elevated ridge in front of the beautiful mountainous backdrop; a natural silence fell.



“As you will all be able to see we have arrived at the mountain range where we will all be spending the next week, taking part in activities to bring together our schools,” Professor Arcenau began, his hands clasped together as he spoke.



“Firstly, we will announce the teams.” He took from Professor Volkov a long scroll of parchment and began to read, reciting a person from each house who would form a team. The people called reluctantly left their friends and awkwardly stood with their fellow team-mates.



 It was a substantial amount of time before any of Rose’s immediate friends were called, it was Scorpius first who was joined with the stunning Clarette Laroche from Beauxbatons who look suspiciously like a Veela and a brown haired girl from Durmstrang, Savina Ortoff. Slowly but surely everybody began to be separated, Albus teaming up with two boys from the other houses, Hannah with a boy and girl.



Dawn was called soon after and quickly made her way over to the brooding Tristan Benoit and bubbly Lara Borodin, whose infectious giggles could be heard clearly by everybody. Rose was soon standing alone with the last few people, not paying much attention and picking insistently at her fingernails.



She was suddenly jerked out of her trance by the sound of Professor Arcenau’s soft voice saying, “Rose Weasley from Hogwarts with Jerard Chevalier from Beauxbatons and Ivan Litvak of Durmstrang.” He raised his head, smiling as Rose did the same, scanning around for her two team members.



A tall boy with rich chestnut coloured hair and bright amber eyes gave a smile as he walked confidently over to her, offering his hand as he got nearer.



“Jerard Chevalier,” he said in a thick French accent, a dimple settling into his left cheek as he smiled at her, his hand lingering in hers for a moment. The Durmstrang student, Ivan, sauntered over with his nose high in the air and an expression of distaste on his face.



“Ivan Litvak,” he said sharply as he joined them, not offering a hand or any kind of polite greeting. As soon as he had spoken he turned his back on them, firmly facing the hilly landscape.



The Beauxbatons Headmaster soon finished reeling off the list of names and Professor Quila took over speaking, informing them all that all of the teams would be split into three big groups – each led a different way through the mountains by a Headmaster or Headmistress as space would be limited meaning it would be near impossible to find enough ground to accommodate all the teams, particularly at night.



At this announcement Rose looked quickly across at Dawn and Hannah to see them looking equally worried as the teams began to be grouped together, separating Rose and her team members from all of Rose’s Hogwarts friends. Dawn and Hannah were soon guided off along with Albus’s team and numerous others by Professor Quila walking directly to the left, Hannah sending Rose a sad wave as she went.



Rose saw James across from her with two excited looking girls and Hugo just next to him as they too was taken away by a teacher – this time Professor Volkov along with various other students Rose vaguely recognised. This left her being led by Professor Arcenau, when looking around herself for any sign of a familiar face she groaned slightly in her throat, recognising instantly Eve’s dark hair a few teams away from her.



Professor Arcenau began to walk, leaving them to follow at he took a path directly in front of them which wound curvaceously through the gradual rise and fall of mountains large and small. The ground was hard and rocky and took time to climb over in the near vertical gradient; Rose soon found herself thankful for her small bag but wished she’d worn less winter clothes as she felt sweat slipping down her forehead.



Soon they came to even ground making the walk much easier now having more breath, people – although keeping largely to their groups of three – began talking much more to each other. Jerard was the first to speak in their small group.



“So, you are the ‘ogwarts Champion?” he asked Rose, his soft eyes fixed on hers as they walked.



“I am,” Rose replied, searching desperately in her mind for a question to ask in return before the conversation became awkward and dried up. Luckily for her Jerard proceeded as soon as she had spoken.



“I ‘ave ‘eard about you from my friend Alexandre and of course saw you in ze First Task. You did very well, you must be pleased?” Rose nodded, glad to have a distraction from the walking and the cold which had crept up on her.



“You know Alexandre? He seems very nice, I’ve spoken to him a few times. He did very well in the First Task too.” Jerard nodded his head in agreement. As the terrain became steep once more the conversation dwindled, all focus being on making their way resolutely upwards.



Rose glanced at Ivan to see his eyes fixed ahead, unmoving, as he walked on almost robotically. More snow was scattered across the ground the higher they got and Rose found she needed all her concentration just to carry on moving, her eyes dotting from either side of their path, choosing the safest, driest route.



As Rose heaved herself up onto a lump of rocky mud ahead it crumbled beneath her foot and she found herself stumbling wildly backwards before Jerard’s hand shot out, grabbing hers, and steadying her. She looked round at him as his hand still held hers.



“Thankyou,” she said, the relief obvious in her voice. However Jerard was slightly distracted his eyes looking in front of them and scanning anxiously over the crowd of people.



“Jerard?” Rose said gently. “Is everything ok?” His eyes snapped back to her. “Of course!” he answered, his smile once more in place, his eyes firmly on hers. “Everything is just fine.”       


Chapter 16: 16 - Teamwork
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: I’m afraid this chapter is shorter than usual but I hope you all still enjoy it – the next two should be longer to make up for it! The next update might be a tad later – but literally by a day, two at most. So I absolutely promise that Chapter 17 will be up in no longer than seven days. I’ve had a bit of a dodgy week so I haven’t had the opportunity to write as much as usual. As it is I’m still ahead by two chapters, but I like to be ahead for more so an extra day or two should give me that, I hope none of you mind!


Thank you everybody who reads this story and a particularly massive thank you to everyone who reviews. You guys give me fantastic support and you keep me going. I really do love you all! I hope you enjoy the chapter.



 



16 - Teamwork:



“Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.”
Henry Ford



 



Rose awoke early in the morning, comfortably warm. After several hours hard walking the previous day they had all arrived at a clear muddy platform, high up towards the mountain’s peak. The air was freezing however warming spells cast under their large white shelter meant they slept comfortably. They’d all slept in sleeping bags, sharing the ground under a white canvas roof which shone above them and Rose would have continued in unconsciousness for several hours yet were it not for the sharp paper structure which was impatiently nudging the side of her head.



She got up, taking the enchanted folded parchment in her hand and shaking it to stop it trying to escape her nimble fingers. It soon stilled its movement as she peeled it open, recognising instantly Albus’ scrawled handwriting.



 



Rose, it read.



Sorry we all got separated, I didn’t realise we wouldn’t all go up together. Party is at the moment on hold, can’t celebrate my birthday without my favourite cousin now can I? I’ve spoken to James and he’s trying to make sure that the three groups meet...coincidentally of course, even though we’re all going in different directions. Hopefully see you soon.



Albus.



 



Rose smiled at the note which had obviously been hastily written and couldn’t help but admire the spirit of her two black-haired cousins who never believed in giving up, to them there was always hope.



Yawning, she stretched her arms out high above her head, basking in the early morning light. Climbing to her feet she decided to explore in the tranquillity of the morning before anybody else had the chance to disturb the peace. She left the temporary shelter and suddenly appreciated the effectiveness of the warming charms, feeling the chilling air sinking into her flesh like sharp icicles. She walked away from where the other people of her group slept and climbed down over the frozen ground as her bare feet protested, descending down the far side of a ridge to where she could stand on a platform, raised high above the ground, revealing perilously the vast drop and magnificent view.



Rose sat comfortably, somehow not concerned about the drop in temperature as she stretched out her legs and dangled her feet over the edge into the abyss below. She sat like this for a few minutes enjoying the solitude and the silence which was different to that which Durmstrang offered, the quietness felt peaceful and calming in contrast.



The ground felt rough against the exposed skin of her ankles and she was moving to cover them when a rock hit her back and a shout sounded behind her, causing her to scowl and jump to her feet.



Above her, at the top of the ridge she had climbed down, stood two boys, around her age, wearing identical worried expressions and beginning to clamber towards her.



“Sorry!” they said in unison as they finally reached her level. As they stood directly in front of her Rose realised their expressions weren’t the only thing which the two shared, they were the exact mirror image of each other. She eyed the twins with distaste, her annoyance at being disrupted overriding her interest in who they were.



“You threw a rock at me,” she said sharply, it was a statement rather than a question.



“No, no no!” one of the two boys protested. “We were walking along the top, minding our own business and I tripped...”



“...the rock which hit you was knocked by his foot when he stumbled,” the other boy continued.



“A complete accident,” they concluded together. Rose scowled half-heartedly and sat back down once again, leaving enough space beside her for the two to sit and gestured to it with a pale hand. They were seated immediately, the boy furthest from her offering her his hand.



“Felix Desmarais,” he introduced. His brother followed his lead.



“Fabien Desmarais,” he added, shaking Rose’s hand.



“A firm handshake you’ve got there. I always did want a woman with a firm handshake,” Felix said with grin, winking at her. Rose couldn’t help but laugh at his cheek when she’d only just met him. “I’m Rose Weasley,” she said, eyeing the vast landscape in front of her.



“Well fancy that,” Fabien commented, “we’ve caught ourselves a Triwizard Champion! We thought it was you.”



“We saw you in the First Task,” Felix continued, “the fourth challenge was the best...”



“...we were on the edges of our seats.” The other twin interjected.



“That we were,” his brother persisted. “You were running and running and those plants were chasing and chasing then you were practically there and...”



“...blimey!” they shouted in unison, causing Rose to jump.



“We thought you were a goner,” Fabien finished. Rose laughed again at their enthusiasm until she frowned suddenly, turning quickly to the two.



“Hang on,” she said, “how can you both speak perfect English and yet have French names?” she questioned.



“The parents,” they answered, sighing together. “Our father’s French, hence the surname, and our mother English. We were born in England, grew up there, but when we turned eleven they moved us to France. They thought Beauxbatons could turn us into “nice young gentlemen”” Felix continued.



“I bet you’re the rebels of the school aren’t you?” Rose laughed, her fingers tracing vague patterns on the earthy floor next to her.



“No, no, not us.” Fabien said with conviction. “Beauxbatons doesn’t do rebels. You conform or you leave, it really is as simple as that. We prefer staying in the background, not drawing attention to ourselves. It’s the easiest way to get on.”



They both stared ahead forlornly and Rose felt a pang of sympathy for them. She couldn’t imagine being denied Hogwarts in favour of a stricter, regulated upbringing.           



“What’s it like living in France?” Rose asked the two. “Do you prefer it to England?” The twins thought for a moment, both screwing up their faces in concentration before Fabien began to speak. “I always feel a lot more...” Felix began.



 “...in a box,” Felix finished.



“Exactly,” his brother agreed. “Beauxbatons is France and there’s no doubt about it. At school we’re always stopped from doing exactly as we want, they put each of us in a box, in a category, and we’re expected to stay there. England feels... like freedom. Hogwarts always sounds amazing, like a home rather than a school.”



“It is,” Rose answered wistfully, wishing more than ever that she wasn’t marooned at the top of a mountain but was instead in that familiar castle where magic was a living, breathing thing and not just an education. She sighed and smiled shyly at the two boys, glad she had met them.    



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“Your attention please everyone!” shouted Professor Arcenau amidst the breakfast chattering. Everybody who sat at the hastily transfigured tables turned to face him, full of wonder and excitement at the events of the day ahead. Rose listened but didn’t watch him, instead her eyes fell on the beautiful surroundings. The snow at this level still only thinly swept across the ground, like pale ghosts embracing the stiff mountain face as it rose steadily into the air.



Surprisingly grass still grew, dragging in the moisture and sunlight it was provided with; it was barely enough to survive on but the plant had, over time, adapted to the less than perfect conditions. “Today you will all be flying!” the enthusiastic Frenchman declared to his willing audience. “You will reform your teams, which will be given a colour. Around the entirety of zis mountain range there are flags posted in your colour.



“There are twenty of each colour which must be found and returned to me before this evening; zey are ‘idden everywhere, so don’t be afraid to get off your brooms and search on foot. In exactly five minutes your robes will change to your team colour, the search will zen commence. Good luck!”



 



Rose grinned eagerly at her two team members, Jerard smiling charmingly back and even Ivan looking mildly excited. The three of them joined the rest of their large group in rushing back to where they had slept, searching quickly through their belongings to find their brooms, some with pride as they provided shining new Shooting Star 3000’s, other with distain at their less than equal offerings.



 Ivan pulled out a Shooting Star 1000, only the slightly older model of Rose’s, and Jerard a Timeturner 201 which had far excelled the brilliance of the Shooting Star when it had been released the previous year. Rose saw people around them glancing at the broom in awe as Jerard modestly covered it with a winter cloak in pale blue, his lips smiling as he did so.



All of a sudden their surroundings were absorbed by a burst of bright colours, like different paints thrown onto a canvas with little thought except to cause a shock. Rose glanced down at her own robes and mounted her broom as the three in the team took in their deep magenta clothing and kicked off into the air, Rose taking an unwilling lead.



People all around them were doing the same and the air was soon filled with their hurried bodies nearly colliding with each other in their haste. Rose took off toward the mountains peak where few of the flyers were venturing, keen to shake off as many of her opponents as she could.



The cold, clean air was beautifully refreshing against her skin as she rode shouting back to the others in her trio to make sure they were following; they called back instantly. Her eyes scoured the snow covered mountain, its white blanket obscuring anything beneath it. She heard Jerard’s voice behind her before it was whipped away by the wind.



“I think we should land, search on foot,” he shouted breathlessly. Rose extended her arm and gave a quick thumbs up as she began to descend, eager not to waste her breath which was becoming increasingly ragged at this height where the air felt decidedly thin.



She landed steadily on the ground, her team-mates joining her in seconds, pressing their feet into the cold, deep snow which enveloped Rose’s shoes. The wind was fierce so high up and Rose’s voice kept being quickly carried away before she huddled closer to Ivan and Jerard, blocking out the weather and allowing them to talk more freely.



“So how about Rose and myself go to ze left and Ivan you take the right, we’ll walk around ze circumference of the mountain and meet in ze middle,” Jerard immediately planned, glancing at his fellow male companion. Ivan nodded his confirmation and they broke away from their small circle, Rose’s mouth still slightly open from when she had begun to speak before Jerard had interrupted her. She stood still for a moment, wondering how this could have been so quickly decided until Jerard called out to her from a few metres away and strolled easily back towards her as if the chilling wind were no obstacle.



He held out a hand to her and grinned, she couldn’t help but smile back and accept the gloved hand which pulled her alongside him as they battled through the white blanket, her other hand firmly holding her broom.



After Jerard helped her up several of the steeper parts of the mountain’s rocky side Rose tried to drop her hand from his, seeing no further reason for them to be so connected. Jerard wouldn’t let go, he only gripped her hand more firmly as she loosened her fingers. She frowned, unsure how she felt.



She was soon distracted however by a flicker of dark magenta buried deeply in a patch of bare solid earth which had crept out from under the concealing snowy covering. She pulled Jerard towards it, finally managing to regain her hand as she scratched at the dry, grainy soil in front of her, digging out the scrap of fabric.



She dragged the small flag out of the ground in triumph and grinned up at her team mate who watched her, his eyes catching hers and holding them as he gazed down at her. She pulled herself quickly up and tucked the discovery into her pocket carefully, feeling bolstered by her early success. The continued to walk on, finding nothing for several minutes until Jerard shouted out and pointed up ahead of them where a partly hidden roof could be seen. They headed quickly towards it, the dark slate tiles dull with age and dusted with a scattering of delicate snowflakes.



Crumbling brick work connected to the underneath of the decrepit roofing which sagged under the weight of the years, the single storey building almost glowering at them as they approached, its dark, crudely built exterior feeling unwelcoming. They staggered up towards it, the unstable ground slipping beneath their feet and tumbling far down into the distance; the air was freezing and bitterly scratched at Rose’s cheeks as her breath made smoky clouds in front of her.



Suddenly faced with the menacing hut in close proximity, Rose reached out to push open the door which was curved and mangled, its manipulated, badly shaped form forced into the doorway. It was clearly stuck as she used her weight to push against it, scowling when Jerard move in front of her to try himself.



After a few attempts the ancient wooden door scraped across earthy ground and creaked open revealing the dark and dusty interior of a room which obviously hadn’t been inhabited for years, if ever. Rose tentatively stepped over the uneven flooring, some of the original concrete still obvious but largely destroyed, great chunks removed and filled instead with persistent weeds winding and creeping up the walls and filling every conceivable space.



In its own way, Rose thought it was beautiful as she scanned the strangely bright flowers in the musty dank interior of the room. Placing her feet firmly she made her way over to a large wooden dresser, obviously once beautiful with intricate carvings still visible beneath the thick layer of dust and grime.



She tugged on the handle of a drawer which rested beneath several broken shelves, it resisted her touch but she tugged still harder, pressing her other hand against the whole piece of furniture to avoid the entire object falling on her.



The drawer eventually surrendered and was pulled open, revealing stubs of wax candles and a pack of moth-eaten matches, the cardboard box unreadable under the black dust coating it, its identity only revealed by the scratchy strips on either long side. Rose quickly emptied the box into the palm of her hand, finding a few salvageable matches which took several attempts to light. Eventually a golden flame danced on its wooden perch as Rose smiled, pressing it against the short wick of a red candle.



A bright glow surrounded the cherry-haired girl as she jumped, hearing Jerard stumbling over something behind her; she’d half forgotten he was there. She felt like a child again, exploring a magical world as she ran her fingers tenderly over fragments of furniture which lay haphazardly on the ground, abandoned and unused.



She approached a misted window and smiled as she pulled at a rectangle of material which was wedged under the heavy weight of a slash window. As she did so Jerard called out from behind her, holding aloft another magenta flag and grinning at her.



Rose showed him her own but was interrupted in her smiling reply when a crash echoed from the door of the hut which had been thrown open, Rose dropped the candle in alarm which extinguished itself as it fell through the cold air.



She breathed a sigh of relief as Ivan’s broad shouldered figure was revealed in the light of the now empty doorway. He approached his two team mates with a wide smile on his face, the first Rose had seen.



“Three flags!” he said triumphantly, removing the pink-purple fabric from a deep pocket and showing it to them. Rose grinned back.



“Great work!” she commented, showing him their own flags.



Soon, confident the hut held no more of their precious coloured rectangles of cloth the three left in good spirits. As they were exposed once again to the chilling January breeze Ivan turned to them both.



“I saw some students in the vite team down there,” he said in his deep, growling voice, gesturing a good way below them in a rocky dip, “maybe we should search there as vell?” Rose nodded her agreement and pulled her broom in front of her, the boys following her lead as they all swooped down, Rose catching sight of three students in bright blue robes flying in the opposite direction to them.



 As they landed it was apparent several people had been there before them, their imbedded footprints and finger marks in the soil where they had obviously dug being evidence enough. After minutes of eager searching they had still found only one flag which had been pinned to the ground, on a few metres from where they had landed.



The found themselves flying feverishly through the air constantly as they scoured the desolate landscape, scanning it for any traces of colours. Hours later and they had only recovered a further two flags bringing their grand total to nine.



Rose found herself enjoying the task more than she had imagined she would, Ivan in particular had started opening up a lot more and joining in her and Jerard’s jokes and laughter as they travelled around.



As they stumbled down a particularly steep stretch of grassy land nearer the base of the mountain Rose lost her footing, she regained it quickly but nonetheless Jerard still shot out a steadying arm to hold her up. She shook him off with an impatient expression on her face.



When she had met him she had known his type; the good looking popular Quidditch player. This he undoubtedly was yet his actions and behaviour hardly seemed to match his reputation. He was protective to the point of being clingy over a girl he’d met only the day before.



They hardly knew each other and yet he felt the right to be possessive over her, which Rose hated with a passion. As Jerard had touched her arm yet again Ivan had glanced at his team mate’s eager hand and met Rose’s eyes, raising his eyebrows at her.



She sighed and shrugged at him, trying to keep her distance from the persistent Beauxbatons boy, making up her mind to ask Felix and Fabien about him when she next saw them. The three of them stopped at the very edge of a ridge jutting out above a vast drop.



Rose stared with delight in front of them, the snow capped mountains almost shimmering in the slight wintry sunlight with flashes of colours flickering repeatedly around them, signs of the other teams. She took a deep breath, inhaling the heady cold scent of adventure.                  



 



  


Chapter 17: 17 - Suspicious Circumstances
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: Hello! Well here I am, back from my 7 day absence, happier and jauntier than ever before! I’ve got my Chapter store back up so I’m happy as Larry. Sorry I had the take the extra couple of days, rest assured it’s business as usual and I’m back to my five day updates from now on! Anyway, Chapter 17 is longer than usual and I hope you’ll all like it, there’s definitely some suspicious circumstances afoot! To come in the next few chapters we’ve got a birthday party to remember, danger, assaults, hidden motives, arguments, confrontations, friendships being tested to the limit and just a little bit of love. You guys are quite honestly amazing, you keep me going with your fantastic reviews, I’d be lost without you all! Enjoy.   



17 –Suspicious Circumstances:



Other things may change us, but we start and end with family


Anthony Brandt



 



Rose climbed sure-footedly down the chalky broken surface of the vast mountain, her broomstick in hand and her team mates close behind her. Lying amongst various other miscellaneous items in the battered bottom of her old bag were sixteen flags in a rich magenta colour which had been triumphantly gathered throughout the day.



The light was fading, paving the way for the inky velvet darkness to mask their surroundings and so the three tired students were making their way back to camp, having only been back once already that day for lunch. Rose felt vaguely disappointed that they hadn’t found all their flags but her frustration with Jerard was reaching its limit as she strode alongside Ivan, wanting to keep a separation between her and the Beauxbatons boy.



Even now he was chattering insistently, checking she was ok and chancing repeated glances at her trying desperately to catch her eye even as she kept her steely gaze fixed ahead. He’d given small caresses as they’d walked; a hand at the small of her back supporting her as they climbed, a touch at her shoulder as they spoke. She had shrugged off his advances with frustration and kept as close to Ivan as possible, hoping his presence would deter the clingy student from pursuing her. Her eyes continually fixed on the unfolding landscape ahead hoping against hope that they weren’t far from the rest of Professor Arcenau’s group where she could find some kind of reprieve from the claustrophobic atmosphere.



As they rounded a high ridge of brittle ground they found themselves bearing down upon the camp once more and Rose breathed a great sigh of relief before her eyebrows rose in immediate confusion at the sight ahead of her.



Hundreds of students were gathered over the smooth platform of ground, their robes pale blue, deep crimson and inky black as they swarmed in groups far too large to be just that of the Beauxbatons Headmaster. The three students came to an abrupt stop at their high vantage point as a clipped British accented voice met Rose’s keen ears from several feet away from them.



“I think I know where I am leading my students, Professor Volkov!” Professor Quila argued vehemently. “This was definitely our sleeping area last night!”



“Well there must be some mistake,” Professor Arcenau flustered, “I am entirely sure we were here last night. But well...maybe some of us took a wrong turn...” he trailed off as he observed the thunderous look on the female Professor’s face.



A wrong turn?” Rose’s Headmistress replied angrily. “We were climbing different mountains it is entirely impossible that we could have crossed paths!” As the school Heads continued their heated discussion Rose saw the back of Albus’ dark head partly obscured as he stood behind a tall skeletal tree which seemed to be barely surviving in the harsh mountainous conditions. She clambered hastily down towards him and tapped his shoulder.



“Albus what’s going...” she said before she stopped, registering the height of the boy she was talking to as he turned towards her.



“James! Sorry I thought it was Albus for a minute.” Every time she saw the two brothers she marvelled over how similar they were, were it not for the difference in age and height they could be identical twins. James grinned down at her, his quick smile the mirror of his brother’s.



“Rose! How are you?” he asked quickly, fixing his vivid green gaze on her whilst still flicking the emerald pupils to observe the still unfolding row behind them.



“I’m...fine,” she answered slowly, “but what are you doing here? And what’s everyone else doing here? This is our campsite I didn’t realise the groups were going to meet.”



“Didn’t you get Albus’ letter?” James asked. Rose’s eyes widened in a split second as James’ grin grew exponentially bigger in response to her reaction.



“Tell me you and Albus didn’t do this? Quila’s going to kill you, you’re not exactly her favourite person anyway!” Rose replied, sighing deeply as she shook her head and thought of the adventurous nature of her cousin; no goal was unachievable; no aim pointless in his eyes.



“Quila needs a bit of excitement in her life,” James replied with a laugh as a relaxed hand brushed his shock of dark hair away from his face, “me and Albus were just helping along that school unity thing!” he added defensively. Rose couldn’t help but laugh as she watched her own Headmistress fighting loudly with Professor Volkov who was replying with just as much fervour.



“Where have you been anyway?” Rose asked absentmindedly, her eyes still glancing across at the arguing teachers. “I’ve barely seen you since we’ve been at Durmstrang.”



“Oh, I’ve been busy,” he replied evasively, running fingers nervously through his already messy jet black hair. “You know, a new place to explore and everything.” Rose watched him for a moment before a frown took over her face.



“Which means what exactly?” she questioned as one eyebrow raised itself in pointed dissatisfaction at his statement.



“You look just like Aunt Hermione when you do that,” James commented calmly, “a hand on your hip and you could be twins. Anyway, you’re far too suspicious for your own good! I’ve just been checking out what Durmstrang has to offer to an adventurous student like myself.”



“You’ve been trying to break into Durmstrang haven’t you?” Rose said suddenly, knowing her cousin only too well. James’ eyes quickly focussed on her face as his shocked expression soon turned to admiration.



“You know too much, cousin, you know too much,” he commented, wrapping an arm around her shoulders as he walked her further into the crowds of people and away from the raised voices of the argument behind them.



“Have you managed it yet?” Rose replied, a reluctant glint of excitement in her eyes as she smiled up at her older cousin.



“You even need to ask?” he laughingly replied, the darker evening air casting shadows over his thin face. “It’s a great place though. The anti-intruder protective spells are pretty incredible and the booby traps, seriously, you’ve got to see them,” he continued excitedly, eyes bright with enthusiasm as he spoke. Rose spotted Albus through the various people ahead of her, Hannah and Dawn nearby but Scorpius nowhere in sight.



“Just don’t get in any trouble,” Rose said, trying to sound strict but failing as she couldn’t help but smile, knowing James always found his way out of things with a graceful ease everyone else in the family seemed to lack.



 “As ever, Rose, as ever,” he replied, cheeky grin still firmly in place. “Well as much as I hate to, I’m going to have to love you and leave you,” he said, giving a deep sigh.”Places to go, people to provoke into angry rages – you know the drill.” He gave her a final hug and wink as he walked away leaving her only a few metres away from his physical mirror image, strutting confidently over to his group of friends. As Rose reached Albus he showed the identical grin of his brother.



“Like the new arrangements?” he asked with a laugh.



“You don’t give up when you get an idea in your head do you?” she replied. “I thought you were joking about us all meeting up!”



“And give up my birthday celebrations?” he said with mock sadness, purposely quivering his bottom lip.



“Where’s Scorpius?” Rose asked, trying to sound nonchalant. She’d tried to barely think of him since she’d arrived, busying herself with the new surroundings and people as a means of distracting her mind which always seemed to move back to the fair-haired Slytherin.



 It was only natural, she’d kept trying to tell herself, that she should think about the boy she’d spent months living and working closely with. It was only her heart which betrayed her mind, giving a tiny leap each time she saw a flash on blonde hair in a group of people, hoping it would be him when she knew it couldn’t be.



  “Not back yet,” Albus replied with a frown, “his team have been out searching for hours, they didn’t come back for lunch or anything.” Rose could see a shadow of worry and uncertainty in his eyes as he stared up at the mountainous backdrop. Dawn and Hannah turned to the two having been too immersed in their own conversation to notice their friend’s quiet arrival; they both ran forward and wrapped their arms around her eagerly.



“Rose is here!” Hannah yelled out, causing several nearby groups of students to look at her in confusion. Rose laughed at her friends’ enthusiasm as both girls pulled away from her, smiles firmly on their faces as they looked her up and down.



“Well, you look pretty alive,” Hannah commented. “We were thinking about placing bets on what would happen to you. Wandering out in the mountains alone...”



“I wasn’t alone,” Rose replied, “I had Ivan and Jerard.”



“Ahh yes, but we thought they’d probably hex you or chuck you down a gorge or something. You are the Hogwarts Champion after all,” Dawn said, absentmindedly winding a strand of mousy hair around her index finger.



“No such luck, it would have been a nice change though,” said Rose, thinking of Jerard.



“Are they treating you ok?” Albus suddenly said with concern in his voice, his brows furrowed as he stared at her with a serious expression on his face. “I thought that Durmstrang guy looked pretty suspicious...”



Rose elbowed him as she replied. “Ivan’s actually fine once you get to know him, he didn’t speak for ages but he’s opened up a lot. It’s Jerard that’s the problem!” she shook her head at Albus as he opened his mouth to speak.



“Don’t worry about it,” she said waving a hand dismissively. “It doesn’t matter.” Albus reluctantly let the subject drop as Hannah launched into an explanation of her team mates. The three friends soon found a patch of grassy ground and sat down awaiting the rest of their friends who had yet to join them.



Eventually Sebastian and Artemis both appeared, seemingly worse for wear having been in particularly competitive teams which refused to return until all flags had been found. The five sat contentedly talking for several hours until a disturbance around the curve of the mountain’s exterior could be heard, raised voices echoing starkly through the night air.



“I know it was you!” a male voice angrily shouted, scuffling footsteps almost obscuring the words which were being carried on a cold night breeze.



“I don’t know what you are talking about!” a feminine voice replied in aggressive defence, “I ‘ave done nothing!” From around the corner quickly emerged a beautiful blonde haired girl in Beauxbatons robes followed quickly by Scorpius whose face was shadowed in the lack of natural light. A dark-haired girl followed resolutely behind, not raising her head or taking any notice of her two team-mates.



When they reached the collection of other students the three looked around in confusion for a moment before they quickly went their separate ways, Scorpius heading towards Rose and her friends. As he neared them his face became clearer in the shadowy light; Rose gasped as she saw the bloody grazes stretching from his temple to his chin, marring the skin harshly.



A deep purple bruise dusted the side of his eye and cuts and scratches were clearly visible down his forearm which was revealed beneath the ripped arm of his robes. His face was thunderous as he approached them.



“What happened to you?” Hannah asked, hesitantly laughing. “Did you fall down the mountain or something?”



“You got it in one,” Scorpius angrily replied as he dropped to the ground, sitting between Rose and Albus.



“You fell down the mountain?” Albus asked in confusion.



“Well, I wouldn’t say fell,” Scorpius’ muffled voice replied as he pulled a woollen jumper he had on under his robes over his head, “more I was pushed.” Rose watched him in shock as her mouth fell open in reaction to his words.



“Somebody pushed you down the mountain?” she reiterated quickly, her astonishment clearly shown in her voice.



“That Beauxbatons girl,” Scorpius growled, his eyes focussed on the back of the fair haired girl he had arrived with who stood laughing with her similarly clothed friends. “She swears she didn’t but I know she did. I wouldn’t just slip like that. I was perfectly fine and then I know I felt someone push me and she was right behind me at the time.” His voice was angry as he glanced over the various wounds on his arm, pulling a pack of tissues and a bottle of water out of the bag he had been carrying on his back when he arrived.



As Albus threw questions at his friend, attempting to determine as much as he could about what had happened, Rose took the tissues from Scorpius’ hands which were shaking with anger and pulled a white sheet from the plastic packet, dampening it with water. She washed away the dried blood from the side of his face ignoring Dawn and Hannah’s gleeful faces as they observed, silently stifling smiles which crept onto their faces.



Scorpius winced as Rose discovered fragments of dust and rock which had sunk into the lesions in his skin and gently tried to wash them out, one hand softly holding the other side of his face to keep him still. As she finished attending to his face she moved onto his arms where the skin was torn more severely and blood still oozed persistently from the deep cuts.



 She bit down on her lip as she worked on him, listening dimly as he spoke to Albus but not really registering what he said. Her mind was reeling, why on earth would anybody want to harm Scorpius? She couldn’t come to any conclusion so focused on the task at hand, trying to smooth the worries from her mind. She had soon done as much as she could for his superficial injuries, leaving him to quietly thank her and stretch out painful limbs, running fingers over quickly darkening bruises on his face, hands and arms.



 The excitement surrounding Scorpius’ return soon dissipated and the group of friends sank into easy conversation about the trip so far and Albus’ upcoming birthday celebrations in a few days time. Rose extended her legs out in front of her and leant back on her hands, feeling the sharp rocky mud beneath her palms as it pressed against her flesh. The last splinters of light were quickly disappearing, strands of the pink sunset still settling on Rose’s outstretched figure before they were consumed by darkness.



Rose darted her head to the side when she suddenly saw Albus sitting up in rigid fascination, his eyes trained into the darkness beyond the dully lit camping site. A grin crossed his lips fleetingly as he started to climb to his feet and turned back to his group of friends.



“Anybody up for an adventure?” he said quickly, gesturing with a hand to where, barely perceptible in the poor light, his older brother could be seen disappearing up a stony ridge with several friends in tow.



The boys jumped up in an instant, Scorpius slower than the rest as he was still hampered by the soreness of his injuries. The girls raised eyebrows and looked at each other questioningly before sighing in resignation and climbing to their feet too, Rose ignoring the fatigue creeping up on her. The small group pursued James Potter whilst glancing hurriedly behind them to make sure nobody was watching or intending to follow them. They could see clearly the bright blonde of his friend Steven’s hair and could hear the only slightly muffled footsteps of his other friends. They had been following for a good ten minutes when suddenly they stopped in the midst of the silence up ahead; a sigh was heard.



“Albus, why exactly are you following us?” said James’ deep voice, slightly breathless from the climbing but mostly annoyed. A light shone from the older boy’s wand and pierced cleanly through the darkness, bathing Rose and all her companions in a yellow glow and highlighting the bright silhouettes of James and his friends.



“Couldn’t let you go off exploring by yourself now could I? What kind of brother would I be?” Albus replied in a heartbeat, his voice jovial and his teeth a pure white as he revealed them in a huge smile.



Rose could see James shaking his head as she neared him, struggling over the last few rocks before she was on the same level. James bemusedly eyed the seven newcomers and shook his head. “Thought you’d bring half the school did you?” he enquired with a laugh, his eyes still on his younger brother who had just drawn up beside him.



“Oh well...Since you’re all here now,” he said in a resigned tone and he started to climb again, shaking his wand and extinguishing its yellow light. Plunged into darkness once more Rose shivered, only too aware of the cold seeping through her robes and every noise around her as she hurried on, keen to keep close to her friends.



“There’s a cave up here apparently,” James’ disembodied voice said from up ahead, “we thought we’d check it out.” His speech gave way to the heavy breathing of everyone which had increased in volume since they had begun the uphill climb.



Soon the ground began to even out slightly and provide a reasonable path up the mountain through shelves of snow Rose could see gleaming brightly in their dark night-time shroud. Eventually the voice of one of James’ friends was heard ahead, triumphantly acknowledging they were nearing their goal.



“Look! Up ahead! You can just see a different kind of formation of the rocks,” he said loudly, pointing forward. Rose squinted and sure enough, he was right. A rough archway could be seen in the wall of the mountain, formed by jagged rocks and framing impossibly black darkness; a cave.



Their speed increased exponentially as they all neared the partially hidden doorway and Rose could almost feel Dawn’s displeasure; trampling up mountainous terrain at night in winter wasn’t really her idea of fun. She sidled over to her friend whose figure she could just make out in the light and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, squeezing tightly.



Dawn gave a faint smile and rolled her eyes at her friend, continuing on all the same. As they finally reached the cave James muttered a quiet “Lumos” and light flooded their surroundings, creating a dome of brightness which reached into the deepest recesses of the hollow in front of them and showed it to be quite unremarkable.



As they entered, Rose grimaced at the feeling of water dripping from the ceiling which towered high above her, rivulets of liquid clearly sliding over the solid rock until they left their slippery trails and dropped to the ground below with tiny splashes. Shallow puddles had been formed and swished gently as hesitant footsteps trampled through them, each of the Hogwarts students walking carefully as their eyes examined their surroundings.



“So,” Albus began, “what exactly were you expecting?” he asked his brother, eyebrows raised as his less than enthusiastic face panned round to see the rocky walls surrounding him.



“No idea,” James replied, his voice echoing, “a secret cult maybe; a hermit; an escaped prisoner from Azkaban... the usual.” He trailed off for a moment as he stood intimately close to a wall and trailed a finger down its wet surface, examining his hand afterwards.



“Maybe even a Squib selling Voldemort merchandise.” At his companions’ confused look he elaborated. “You know, t-shirts and the like.” As Hannah noticeably rolled her eyes James hastily defended himself. “Well you never know,” he said quickly.



Despite his comic defence Rose couldn’t help but feel her older cousin had different motives behind this visit, but decided to wait until he revealed them for himself.



Albus pointed his wand at the ground, muttering under his breath and creating a flaming fire on the floor of the cave which provided an instant burst of heat. It also gave substantial light to their surroundings and for the first time since starting this uphill journey all of the friends could clearly see each other.



Rose looked at the fire with relief etched on her features as she moved closer, her teeth chattering as she held out her hands to warm them by the orange and red heat. She shivered still as water continued to drop from the ceiling and slide down the neck of her robes. She heard somebody clear their throat behind her.



“Are you cold?” Scorpius asked quietly, his voice still echoing in ghostly whispers through the icy chamber; Rose gave a small nod. Scorpius turned and shrugged the bag which was still on his back to the floor, unzipping it quickly to reveal a black jacket. He handed it to her without hesitation, despite the fact his chattering teeth betrayed how cold he was himself.



“This might help,” he said quickly before turning back to face the wall of silence behind him, seeing that the cave’s occupants were watching the exchange between the couple. Rose could see Dawn and Hannah with small smiles and even Albus looking quietly pleased.



Only James wore a less than impressed expression as he eyed Scorpius suspiciously, his eyes examining him shrewdly before they focussed on his cousin.



Rose quickly pulled the thick jacket on and closed her eyes in brief relief as the warmth it offered was instantaneous. She looked back at Scorpius to thank him but he’d already moved over to Albus and was talking quietly to him. She cleared her throat loudly and looked across to where James stood.



“So, I think we’ve established there’s nothing worth investigating here. Can we go now?” Her usual sense of adventure had diminished increasingly since the cold had heightened along with the darkness. Dawn’s look of gratitude was evident in the corner of Rose’s eye.



“I guess so. A bit of a dead end this one.” James commented in disappointment, still running his hands over the interior walls as if looking for something. He slowly walked toward the rocky archway which led outside as everyone followed resolutely after him, glad to be able to return to the camp site which was hopefully still consumed by warmth charms.



After initially taking the lead James started to trail towards the back of the group, urging his friends to continue at the front as he retreated to where Rose was walking, slowing their paces so they walked apart from the rest.



“So cousin, you’ve been working with Malfoy on the Tournament?” he asked suddenly, he always was one to cut to the chase.



“I’ve been working with Scorpius, yes,” she answered, taking special care to emphasise his first name.



“Is he...er...bothering you?” James asked, his eyes fixed on the back of the tall Slytherin who walked ahead of them.



“Bothering me? What do you mean?” Rose asked, guessing exactly where this was going but wanting to find out exactly what James meant anyway. He sighed as his gaze moved to her.



“You know what I mean. Is he trying it on with you?” he said directly. Rose looked at him incredulously and shook her head in disbelief.



“James! What are you talking about?!” she asked with a laugh as she saw the seriousness in his eyes. “He’s been great, there’s nothing underhanded going on.” She smiled at her older cousin and his concern for her as his face softened at her answer but still didn’t look entirely convinced.



“Hmm, I’m not so sure. A guy doesn’t look at a girl the way he did earlier to you without it meaning something.” He shrugged. “But then, Albus is happy with it and he’s usually the first to go off the handle at these things,” he said as he threw an arm around her shoulders and rested it there, pulling his young cousin close to his side.



“So if he’s happy, I’m happy,” he finished.



“What do you mean?” Rose asked quickly. “The first to go “off the handle about these things”. What things?” James’ grin was as quick as lightning and just as bright.



“He never told you about Sam Wilkes?”



“No...” Rose replied hesitantly, remembering the cocky boy who Albus had befriended in Fourth Year. They’d stopped being friends suddenly towards the end of their Fifth, something which Rose wasn’t disappointed about having disliked the arrogant boy who thought he was Merlin’s gift to women.



“Well, as you know Sam definitely had a thing for the ladies.” Rose couldn’t help but think that was putting it lightly, Sam could barely breathe without women being within a close radius.



 “Well he got a bit of a thing for you late in yours and Albus’ Fifth Year. Really got pretty obsessed. Albus knew exactly what he was like with girls and so pretty much snapped when Sam kept on talking about trying it on with you.” Rose raised her eyebrows in disbelief, quite repulsed by the idea of this slimy guy having once fancied her even as she felt a small flicker of pride.



“So he stopped being friends with him?” Rose enquired.



“So he hit him,” James corrected with a laugh, his voice holding an air of reminiscence as Rose gasped out loud.



“Albus? Hit somebody?” Rose said quickly as James nodded his head.



“Not exactly the most violent of people, my brother. But boy did he go for Sam. It wasn’t a half bad punch either.” Rose shook her head in disbelief joining in with James’ laughter and feeling a small warmth at Albus’ protection of her.



“So I’m guessing Scorpius must have been approved by Albus then,” James concluded.



“He doesn’t need to approve him!” Rose said indignantly. “And I never even said I liked Scorpius!” “Rose, I’m a Wotter. You don’t need to say it; I just know,” James replied with a wide grin.               



 


Chapter 18: 18 - Sudden Memories
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: Hello! So we’re nearing the posting of what I call the “landmark chapter” Chapter Twenty! I can’t wait. Things are definitely starting to hot up in this chapter and I literally can’t wait until I post the next two – there’s plenty going on which I’m hoping you’ll all enjoy! Plenty of action, some good romantic Rose/Scorpius moments and some arguments and confrontations are to come. However, I must still apologise for the shortness of this chapter – I wanted to keep a nice average of around 4000 words but it’s just not always possible. Also apologies for rogue comma’s and occasional typo’s that might crop up (same with shoddy spacing), I’ve been ill the past few days and had a bit of a fall and hit my head resulting in a visit A&E and some stitches :P so I’m still not feeling great, meaning the re-reading and editing of this may well not be top notch. The support of you guys is fantastic and I honestly couldn’t have continued writing this story without it. Your feedback, comments, suggestions and praise all really do brighten up my day so please do continue to leave your wonderful reviews, I appreciate every one of them. Enjoy the chapter!  



18 – Sudden Memories:



Rose was breathing harshly as she made her way reluctantly up the steep incline ahead of her. Scatterings of snow dusted crudely carved rocks and boulders which marked the way and formed a rudimentary path through the imposing mountain range. Two days had passed since Rose had joined her friends in exploring an empty, dank cave which rested in a rocky wall; those forty-eight hours since had been largely uneventful.



 Due to James and Albus’ clever manipulation the three separate teams headed by Professors’ Arcenau, Quila and Volkov had met and had since stayed resolutely together. The Heads had only reluctantly agreed but knew if the students were separated from their friends once more some kind of revolt would be in order, not to mention the suspicious circumstances of them all meeting in the first place likely to be repeated.



Professor Quila had been furious with the gathering of students, warning she would find out how the routes had changed and the groups had clashed with thin-lipped determination and piercing narrowed eyes. Consequently the three-person teams remained the same but the main groups were disregarded, much to Rose’s relief, who was glad to finally have her friends competing in some of the same challenges as her.



 On this day, only two days before Albus’ birthday, Rose and her team were led with several others towards an area of flat terrain ahead. It was after lunch and Rose was still full from a good meal as she travelled forward, her eyes on Ivan’s deep navy backpack as her feet moved with organised monotony.



Jerard walked continually at her side and seemed to mimic her every move, prompting Rose to increase her pace exponentially every few minutes just to move away from the persistent French student who dogged her every step.



Scorpius was climbing a little way ahead, unhappily alongside his team members; his face was serious and grim as he cast angry looks at the blonde-haired girl beside him. The majority of wounds from his fall had healed quickly; his anger and suspicion however had not and remained at the forefront of his mind.



Rose heard excited gasps as her team joined those which had already reached the expanse of gently sloping land ahead, upon which stood a giant square platform covered in smaller tessellating tiles in a dull grey colour. The land around it was what drew the most attention, as it was covered, unusually, with creeping vines and leafy plants which seemed to thrive in the uncomfortable conditions at the mountains steep side.



Some proudly presented huge petals of soft velvety purple flowers, their middles speckled with flecks of bright orange as they danced in the afternoon light next to pure white neighbours with small trumpet-like flowers and dainty fringed leaves like fragile lace collars. Professor Quila, the group’s leader for the day, drew to a stop just in front of the giant board and cleared her throat, immediately receiving the attention of the eager gaggle of students around her.



“Students! We’ve now arrived at our afternoon activity. As you can see, behind me is a platform of small squares which forms the game you will all be competing in. Three teams shall participate at any one time although each team-member must fend for themselves; this game is about protecting yourself and using quick thinking, observation and determination to defend your team members. “Each individual will choose an initial square to stand on, immediately each of these squares will rotate and reveal, on their underside, a symbol. Once all of the symbols are revealed and facing upwards the challenge shall begin. At this moment, the student in question must search for the symbol on the board identical to that they are standing on and cast a “repulso” spell with their wand.



“This will cause both the tile chosen and that they are standing on to turn back over and remain blank once more. They must then choose another tile and the process repeats. However, if the sister square to that they are on is occupied by another player they must still cast the spell at it, quicker than their opponent on the opposite tile does the same.



“The person on the tile who has the slowest reaction will be eliminated from the game instantly. You must find your partner tile or else you will not be able to move to another; if the other tile is inhabited by a member of your team, you must eliminate them.



“The aim of this game is to keep alert and make sure you try to avoid stepping on the same square as your team members as well as eliminating as many of your adversaries as possible. The last two people in the game will win points for their team or teams.”



Her announcement was met by quiet chatter as the teams started to voice their worries and excitement. Ivan turned to Jerard and Rose, his dark eyes unusually bright.



“This sounds brilliant!” he said enthusiastically, also eyeing the large square platform of rock behind him. “This I think ve can easily vin!” he continued.



Rose’s grin was quick in response to the comments from the dark haired Durmstrang boy as she dumped her heavy bag on the floor mimicking the actions of everyone around her. Professor Quila began walking around the gathering of students to determine which teams would be competing against one another; Rose soon found herself joined with Scorpius’ team and that containing her younger brother, Hugo, who was looking worried and anxious as he observed the game in front of them.



She gave the latter a quick smile which he returned instantly as three other teams were led to the game’s edge and made their way reluctantly to separate squares. Rose watched as Professor Quila flicked her wand and caused all of the tiles to flip over under the participants’ feet, causing them all to scramble onto the correct side lest they should fall off.



As soon as the brightly glowing symbols were revealed the tall Headmistress shot blue sparks into the air; the game began.



It started slowly as very few competitors encountered each other at first due to the plentiful supply of tiles to select, however as time went by open pairs became harder and harder to find and players were soon being hurriedly removed from the game as they were flipped from the blasted square beneath them to the activity’s outskirts.



The students jumped nimbly from symbol to symbol and gathered momentum quickly as their anxious eyes searched for their tile’s mirror image, several seeing it already occupied leaving them with no option but to eliminate their not-quite-as-quick opponents. Soon an entire team had been removed from the fast-paced game as well as a player from each of the two remaining groups.



Those four remaining students were fighting hard as many symbols were still upturned and brightly showing their images; their footsteps becoming far less stable as they staggered from side to side trying to instantly find a means of escape.



A pale faced Beauxbatons girl was obviously panicking as sticky sweat shone on her forehead and her long mousy brown hair hung limp around her face, most of his bundled in a heap on top of her head where frantic hands had pushed it from her eyes. She sprinted across the sea of blank tiles to find that with a resolutely shimmering image, a silver owl, and scanned her eyes with eager precision over those squares across the board.



Rose could see her suddenly recognise the partner to her tile and she raised her wand to send a quick spell at it. Another Beauxbatons student suddenly leapt onto the tile not seeing that its matching image was already occupied, throwing the girl slightly and startling her enough to give her opponent a split second advantage which they used with reluctant efficiency.



The long haired girl was hurled through the air from the board; disappointment and relief etched eclectically onto her features.



Finally one last player, a brooding dark-haired boy, was thrown precariously from the attacking board and the end of the game was announced. The two remaining students, one from Beauxbatons and one from Durmstrang, were from the same team and left the board ecstatic, celebrating with their previously eliminated team-mate who stood looking slightly dishevelled nearby.



Rose frowned having seen three Hogwarts students lose quickly and easily and knew she needed to fight hard when her turn came. She was summoned along with her team-mates several games later, only one Hogwarts student having won for their team so far; she found herself torn between loyalty to her team and that to her brother and Tournament partner on the opposite sides.



At Professor Quila’s indication she walked onto the board and chose a square across on the far side, far from her opponents. Suddenly the ground beneath her feet flipped over, forcing her to jump and allow it to settle, revealing a bright blue design depicting a traditional pointed Wizard’s hat.



She sprang into action, her eyes hurriedly stumbling over every small decorative tile she could, only now realising quite how difficult it was as she noted the squares her team-mates inhabited.



Finally she spotted her sister tile, to Jerard’s right, and just as she heard Hugo blasting a tile nearby with a loud “repulso” spell she did the same; in reaction to her tile becoming resolutely grey once more, she moved onto a golden dragon, beginning to repeat the procedure.



The game began much like those previous had, with slow precision as the different competitors skirted around each other, having not had to encounter each other yet. Suddenly the blood pumped ferociously through Rose’s veins; adrenaline swarmed through her system as she saw the other, allusively shimmering, golden dragon square.



 It was under the feet of Scorpius’ team-mate Savina Ortoff.



The two girls’ eyes met across the sea of colour as they flung their wands out in identical synchronicity and haste, but Rose had the split second advantage. Before she knew it the deep crimson robes of one of her opponents were just a bloody smear through the air as she was expelled to the rocky plant-ridden earth surrounding their competitive task, her face a mask of anger and disappointment.



 Not wasting a second Rose moved on, glancing across to see her brother and Scorpius still fighting on valiantly. The emerald unicorn beneath her feet seemed to glitter with mocking brilliance as Rose fought desperately to thread through the bright weave of colours ahead of her, her eyes barely pausing in the progression to their goal.



Jerard was gasping for breath a few squares to her right, he’d been persistently following her tracks and suddenly Rose found herself watching in frozen protest as Jerard unknowingly jumped to the overtly identical twin of her tile, their green inhabitants matching perfectly. Rose and Jerard’s eyes met, Jerard already had his wand drawn and so Rose stood still, waiting for the spell which didn’t come.



“We are on ze same team,” he said quietly from his short distance away. A gentle smile, thoroughly out of place in the competitive game they were absorbed in, shone on his face. “I don’t want to eliminate you.” Rose growled under her breath at his stupidity.



“It’s a competition!” she hissed back. “You don’t need to protect me!” Still he did nothing, so with her movement fuelled by annoyance which had built up for days she swung her wand with hasty reluctance at her French team-mate and removed him from the game.



 



She stopped in a moment of guilt which was only interrupted by a shout behind her as she turned in time to see Hugo being propelled through the air by the force of his tile, Clarette Laroche with her wand drawn and aimed at him; wispy strands of her spell dusting the air around her as she stood watching in triumph, her hair shining brightly like freshly spun gold in the broken strands of midday sunlight.



Rose jumped to the next available square and ran her eyes over its silver symbol, a bright star motif. As she moved, a body flew through the air to her right, followed quickly by another as Ivan and another Durmstrang student from Hugo’s team made a hasty exit from the game.



 Rose looked at her two opponents as their gaze moved to her; Scorpius, Clarette and Rose; Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Hogwarts were finally all that remained. Scorpius nodded slightly at her and glanced at her symbol before he moved to his own which shone in a vivid blue; she smiled, realising he didn’t want either of them to be eliminated.



As quick as a flash Rose twisted her body to view Clarette who had jumped onto the identical twin to her own tile. Time seemed to slow immeasurably as they two girls faced each other; even Scorpius had seemingly stopped his movement to watch the outcome of this fight.



Neither drew their wands for a minute until suddenly, in identical motions they brandished their magical weapons and fired bright scarlet strobes of light at each others’ tiles. Rose watched open mouthed as the spells seemed to take forever to reach their mark, glancing through the air as if only carried by a wintry breeze and not raw determination.



With an explosion of small glittering stars Rose’s spell hit her mark as she punched a fist into the air and let out a burst of laughing celebration as she beat her female opponent when it mattered most.



The French student was thrown reluctantly from the board leaving Professor Quila to announce the triumphant success of her two Hogwarts students; the Champion and her Partner. Scorpius grinned at her as they crossed the patterned board towards each other meeting in the middle in an awkwardly ecstatic moment where neither knew how to celebrate together. Scorpius smiled wryly at her.



“Well done, Red,” he said quickly, his eyes on hers, “is it possible to beat you at anything?” he continued with a laugh.



She ran a hand through her hair as she began to reply, fingers threading through the vivid ruby strands and catching a rogue hair pin which fell abruptly to the ground and made the smallest clinking sound. It seemed to reverberate through the air as both students watched it where it lay on the ground, their minds suddenly filled with the last time it had happened, removed not by Rose’s hand but Scorpius’ as they kissed in a dark entrance hall.



Rose’s original words died on her lips even as new ones arose and her mouth opened as she started to say something, anything, to fill the sudden silent contemplation between them. Scorpius shook his head, his eyes clouding over as memories plagued his mind and he walked off the board.



 Even as Rose’s heart shuddered a little at the sight of his retreating back she breathed a sigh of relief having not known what to say to him anyway; nothing, as yet, could truly heal the night of the Yule Ball.



She followed in his wake and forced a fake smile onto her face as she rejoined Jerard and Ivan. They sat together on a large rock which had broken through the dusty hard earth beneath it, a coarse lime green lichen clinging possessively over its dull underside.



They both congratulated her immediately as she seated herself next to them. As another team took to the game the three fell silent until Ivan leaned across and whispered in Rose’s exposed ear.



“Is everything ok? You and the blonde boy, you looked unhappy as you spoke to him?” His eyebrows creased in confusion as he watched her when she shook her head slightly and sighed deeply in her throat.



 “It isn’t ok. But there’s nothing I can do,” she whispered quietly to him, painfully aware that Jerard was attempting to listen in on Ivan’s other side.



“There is always something, Miss Veasley,” he replied, “there’s always a vay if you vant there to be.” His eyes turned back to the game as he left Rose with her own thoughts which swirled and fought in her mind, entwined in a limitless battle. The rest of the games passed by almost impatient haste and soon Rose’s stomach was groaning loudly as they descended down the rocky terrain back to where they had slept since they had arrived, the platform of earth now laden with tables already full of talking and laughing students from other groups, their chatter loud in the dark evening air.



 Rose took a seat beside Dawn and a sour-faced Hannah, leaving a brief goodbye for Jerard and Ivan who went off to join students from their own Schools. She looked at Hannah’s expression in confusion before following the line of her narrowed eyes to where Albus sat on the opposite side of the long table, several seats along, talking to two girls on either side of him.



As Rose watched, one of the girls rested a hand on her laughing cousin’s shoulder and giggled with him, her body as close beside his as her friend’s was on his other side. Rose looked across at Dawn who met her eyes and shrugged, not knowing what to do.



Hannah had confronted her feelings for Albus so suddenly that neither girl knew how to treat her now or whether to bring up the subject at all.



“Ah,” Rose commented, having searched desperately for a good enough way to broach the subject. Hannah glanced at her.



“Ah indeed,” she said, sighing. There was an awkward silence for a few minutes before the three girls watched identically the boy in Hogwarts robes opposite them as he laughed and joked, pushing fingers through already scruffy black hair as he brushed rogue strands from his face.



 Hannah sat up suddenly and pulled the hair band out of her messy ponytail, smoothing back her fair hair and retying it swiftly as she circled her shoulders and breathed deeply.



“I walked up to him naked, in a crowd of people and that idiot of a boy still fails to notice me at all,” she commented angrily. “Well, I’ll just have to make sure he knows how I feel,” she finished with a broad smile. Dawn’s eyebrows shot up as she observed her friend with worry.



“You’re not going to do anything stupid, Hannah? Professor Quila will kill you if you do anything like last time!” she said quickly, a note of desperation quivering through her voice.



“I won’t do anything yet and nothing too bad anyway,” Hannah answered, observing Dawn’s wide eyed expression. “But Albus Potter needs a bit of a wake-up call. I just need to...tell him exactly how I feel.” She smiled confidently at her decision, a tooth emerging as she bit gently down on her lower lip.



 Rose knew Hannah was never one to be dissuaded from her opinion so left the anxious Dawn to question her motives and instead smiled at her cousin across the table, wondering if he knew quite how much he’d attracted a girl who really was one in a million.



“Just promise me it won’t involve taking your clothes off!” Dawn said desperately.



“I don’t think it will...” Hannah replied thoughtfully. “I was pretty chilly last time.” Hannah returned to the now cold pudding which had lain undisturbed in front of her for several minutes. Rose reached out for the large quiche next to her and took a modest slice along with a spoonful of buttery potatoes, their thin skins decorated with green flecks of parsley.



 The three girls ate amidst short bursts of conversation for the remainder of their dinner, Hannah occasionally glancing over at Albus who still spoke with the two female members of his team and threw comments to Scorpius who sat rigidly opposite.



 Rose had watched as the fair-haired Slytherin ate half-heartedly, mainly dragging food about his place with an idly held fork between two fingers, his thoughts obviously elsewhere. She too could barely focus and was only shaken out of her frozen reverie when Hannah nudged her.



“Earth to Rose!” she said laughingly, her bright eyes dancing with humour as she pointed across the table.



Rose smiled as she saw Felix and Fabien making their way across the uneven ground but her grin quickly dropped from her face as she saw their serious expressions and they raised a hand identically in greeting as they approached.



“Could we have a word?” Felix asked quietly, leaning close to Rose as he spoke, his eyes darting nervously across the surrounding dinner tables. Rose nodded in confirmation and followed them away from the bustling atmosphere and around a rocky ridge where they were hidden from view. She stood in front of them, her eyebrows creased in confusion.



“What’s going on?” she asked quickly. “Is everything ok?”



“You’re in Jerard Chevalier’s group for the challenges this week aren’t you?” Fabien asked as soon as Rose had spoken. Rose’s eyes widened in worry.



“Yes...” she said hesitantly, trailing off. “Is this going to explain why he’s been so clingy and over-protective since I arrived?” she asked with obvious reluctance, half not wanting to hear their response and determine, at last, the reason for her team-mate’s bizarre behaviour.



“It may well,” Felix answered instantly; “from what we have gathered...” he began.



 “...his motives might not be quite what they seem...” Fabien finished in a rushed burst, his lips in a thin line, his eyes worried.  



 



 


Chapter 19: 19 - Pride
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: Chapter 19! Wow! Well I’m really proud of this chapter, you really wouldn’t believe how hard it was to write; it’s been rewritten 15 times (no joke). So as you can probably imagine a fair amount of work has gone into it. I’m only disappointed to now be having a break! I assume you’ve all seen that submissions are closed to everyone from the 24th August so the staff can keep the site all cleaned up and jazzy; hopefully it should only be happening for a week at which point I will be ready and waiting with a chapter to knock your (metaphorical) socks off! Thank you for the support you’ve all given me, I value your fantastic reviews above all else and would love to get your feedback on this chapter.



On a different note: Rose, Eve and Scorpius’ confrontation scene in Chapter 13 has been rewritten because it just didn’t seem realistic enough and didn’t sit well with me. So if you have the time, please check it out, see what you think (it’s just that first section which has been edited). I have to give a massive thank you to madelgranger for her fantastic help with that editing; I couldn’t have done it without her, she is truly amazing.



I hope you all enjoy the chapter. Thank you for reading!



 



19 – Pride:



 



Rose was stood in stunned disbelief as her deep hazel eyes fixed on the two boys who nervously awaited her reply, their hands identically shoved in deep pockets.



“What do you mean?” she asked quickly. “I have a feeling there’s more to Jerard than meets the eye isn’t there?” Her head twitched insistently from side to side with jerky motions as she glanced repeatedly between their matching faces.



“We’ve heard people talking,” Fabien began to explain, “people from Beauxbatons. Jerard’s always been a close friend of Alexandre’s, they go back a long way; their fathers are in business together and their mothers regularly exchange recipes, that kind of thing.



“But recently Jerard’s stepped it up a gear. All this year he’s been following Alexandre about like some lost puppy, he’s practically stalking the guy.”



“We think he wants some publicity for being good friends with the Champion,” Felix interjected, Fabien nodded his agreement.



“So you knew Jerard had a girlfriend?” Fabien asked, his head cocked to the side. Rose shook her head, her brows creasing in confusion at the sudden change in subject.



“A girlfriend? I wonder how she’d react if she knew how touchy-feely her boyfriend was with me. Seriously, he takes overprotective and clingy to a whole new level.”



“She does know,” Fabien replied, his face dark with subdued anger. “Her name is Clarette Laroche, you might know her.” Rose gasped audibly and Fabien nodded his head in acknowledgment of shocked reaction.



“Thought you might. Well we heard that...”



“...distasteful...” Felix added.



“...girl boasting to her friends about some plans she and Jerard had thought up to remove Beauxbatons’ opposition,” Fabien finished, but before he could continue his brother interrupted. “You have to understand that everybody thought that Jerard would be the Beauxbatons Champion, it was such a shock to everyone – especially him – when he wasn’t. So ever since he’s thrown himself into being as involved as he can and even if he can’t win, he’s determined that the School will.” Fabien gave a grim smile in reaction to his brother’s worried, rushed interjection. Their eyes met for a moment as if they were silently communicating with each other.



“So you see,” Fabien continued, “this “team-building” trip gave the perfect opportunity for him to mix things up a bit.” Between him and his brother barely a moment of silence had passed, so now he paused, letting the onslaught of information be absorbed by a shocked Rose.



“Jerard planned to get close to you, charm his way into your heart; he obviously thought treating you like some fragile piece of glass was the right way to do that. He and Clarette had even discussed staging a fake break-up in case the news they were together ever reached your ears.



“Once he’d gained your confidence he intended to not only extract any information on the Tournament that he could, but also find out your weaknesses and play on them; try to break the Hogwarts Champion. You are, after all, Alexandre’s strongest opponent.”



“What about Clarette?” Rose asked in stunned amazement, breaking her silent vigil even as she barely dared to speak above the whisper which had issued from her lips. “What part did she play in all this?” the redhead questioned.



“Well she was going to work on Scorpius, after all the whole reason for Partners in the Tournament was so that they could act as some kind of support system for the Champions. She wanted to take that away from you but she couldn’t approach Scorpius in the same way Jerard was you; the two of them treating you that way would have seemed far too coincidental. So she wanted to scare Scorpius, try and make sure he couldn’t help you with the Second Task to the best of his ability.” Rose slumped back against a boulder as her mind struggled to cope with everything she’d been told; to further avoid truly confronting the naked truth, she asked questions which has plagued her mind since the boys has started to speak.



“So how were Jerard and I put together in a team for this trip? And the same with Clarette and Scorpius...that can’t have just been coincidence,” she enquired.



“Professor Arcenau is a great man, but a terrible headmaster. He likes to believe in the good in everyone too much. A few well placed flattering words and his naive mind is instantly swayed. It would have taken very little coercion from Jerard to get what he wanted.”



Rose was, quite literally, lost for words. She shook her head repeatedly as unspoken questions rose to her lips before retreating back to the depths of her mind once more. The situation was almost beyond comprehension.



“All of this so Beauxbatons could win the Triwizard Tournament?” she asked, the shadow of a mocking laugh haunting her mouth.



“Some people will let pride overcome all else. I think it was just Jerard’s desperation to be remembered somewhere in Beauxbatons history. It’s pathetic I know.” Fabien hung his head in displeased dejection, anger clear on his usually soft features. The shock was subsiding, sliding its seeping way from Rose’s system as raw anger cannoned through her taut veins; she stood bolt upright in a split second, causing the twins in front of her to jerk to attention.



“Well he picked on the wrong person,” she declared in shocking defiance.



“Rose,” Fabien said strictly, “don’t go after him or Clarette; they’re not worth it. I know they’re only pathetic attention seekers but that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous, their manipulation and lies could have left you and Scorpius seriously hurt!”



“They did leave Scorpius seriously hurt! Clarette could have killed him, I won’t let them get away with that.” She instantly broke into a lengthy stride, her legs leading her back to the crowded camp of people, their cheerful voices stark in the frigid air.



The world seemed to go silent for a moment, all noises fading out of Rose’s ears like she’d been submerged suddenly in water; Felix and Fabien’s protestations from behind her distorted almost comically as only the pounding shudder of her heart thundered through her body when she approached Jerard where he sat laughing at a long dinner table.



He noticed her as she walked closer, instantly setting a fake smile on his face as he climbed to his feet. Rose continued her furious pace as she stretched out her hand and pressed the tip of an angry finger into his chest.



“Who the hell do you think you are?” she snarled as she stood close to him, her voice powered by livid determination.



“I...I..what are you talking about?” Jerard stuttered his eyes flickering to behind Rose where she was sure people were staring, her voice was loud enough to echo through the night air.



“You and your scheming,” Rose replied, eyes flashing dangerously.



“Ahh...Maybe we should talk about zis in private?” Jerard replied hesitantly as she took her arm in a few strong fingers and led her further away from the rest of the Schools’ students. She shook his hand off her arm and strode defiantly ahead, stopping so they were partly obscured from the eyes of their watching audience behind a skeletal tree, its trunk thick enough to provide some form of cover. “Now what is ze matter?” Jerard asked gently, leaning closely with a soft voice as if speaking to a frightened child.



“You! You are what is the matter! You’ve been planning all this time, trying to get closer to me and hurt Scorpius so you could try and harm Hogwarts’ chances in the Tournament!”



“What are you talking about?” he said. “I would never do such a thing to you! I zink very ‘ighly of you. You can trust me.” Rose snorted in incredulity.



“You are a liar!” she said furiously, attempting to keep her voice low so not to alert the other students just beyond their natural screen but failing miserably. “I know what you and your girlfriend have been plotting and I think it’s pathetic. This is just a competition between schools; it’s not worth sabotaging just to help you injured pride.”



“Really you must ‘ave got your information wrong,” the struggling boy replied. “I...I ‘ave no girlfriend, there eez no plotting! We are a good team, I would not try and ‘arm that.” Rose shook her head, red curls freeing themselves from her hair band as they waved around her face making a fiery halo which shone wickedly in moonlight creeping over the mountain.



“Stop lying!” she yelled. “Why are you still lying? You’ve been found out!” A stray hand was tugging insistently at her hair as she tried to control her anger; Jerard’s eyes dropped to the ground slightly, showing he was starting to relent.



“I would never ‘ave hurt you!” he replied anxiously, reaching out a hand to grasp her wrist as she attempted to turn away from him. “I zink a lot of you, really I do. My so called girlfriend, she is nothing compared to you. You are just misunderstanding everything! Just give me a chance!”



In chaotic desperation he used another hand to tug her closer to him, his fingers digging painfully into her arms as he attempted to hold onto the last shreds he had of earning the confidence of a Triwizard Champion.



His grip was too strong as she tried to shake him off, crying out at the biting feel of his sharp fingernails pressing sharp crescents into the soft skin of her exposed arms. Her voice choked, her eyes watering with insistent tears as he shook her hastily back and forth. “Believe me, believe me!” he chanted unresistingly.



Shocked as she was by his sudden violent change of heart she was frozen, unable to say anything. “Let go,” she would have shouted, but the clattering, chattering of her teeth as they rattled against each other stopped her barely begun speech. But the words were spoken anyway, carried on a chilly breeze, quietly commanding with a quivering underlying fury as Scorpius’ grey eyes blackened in reaction to what he saw.



“I swear if you don’t take your hands off her, I can’t be held responsible for my actions,” he said, his teeth gritted as he spat every word at Jerard.



“Zis is nothing to do with you!” Jerard commented, his hands still firmly gripped the now tender flesh of Rose’s arms which were rigidly at her sides, her bottom lips shaking as she bit down on it, attempting to stem the flow of tears already clouding her eyes previously bright with anger but now dull with worry.



“I’m sorry,” Scorpius said, his voice level. “I don’t think you heard me. Take your hands off her,” he growled, his hands visibly forming tight fists as he stepped towards the slight, tall French student. “Or what?” Jerard snarled back, his face close to Scorpius’ over Rose shoulder, held as she was between the two of them.



“Or we’ll break your pretty face,” said a loud voice from behind Scorpius, Rose glanced back over her shoulder, still struggling to be released from Jerard’s tight grip as she saw James’ angry face appear as he positioned himself shoulder to shoulder with Scorpius.



“Several times,” continued a further voice as Albus’ equally black head joined Scorpius’ other side in perfect symmetry to his brother.



Slowly, Jerard’s hands loosened and dropped to his sides; he knew when he was beaten. But still he stood unresistingly before the united front of boys; two Potters and a Malfoy in strong solidarity never before seen. Rose turned quickly back to face the boy who had been hurting her only a few moments before, wanting to remedy her previously frozen actions, determined not to seem weak. Scorpius pulled her gently back against his body, both arms wrapping tightly around her waist, his chin grazing the top of her head.



“So,” James began, stepping defiantly towards the still present Beauxbatons student. “I’m pretty sure my brother and I owe you a bit of a beating for manhandling our cousin like that.”



“You’re not the only ones,” Scorpius added as he gently moved away from Rose, keeping her behind him as he joined the two near identical boys.



“What’re you waiting for?” Jerard whispered, leaning slightly forward with a twisted smirk on his lips as he glanced quickly over Albus’ shoulder before returning his gaze to his adversaries. In a split second Scorpius and James punched him, two fists acting as one as they met at his face in near synchronised motions and forced their victims body to be sent sprawling back onto the hard ground, crimson blood pouring from his nose even as he smiled smugly.



A piercing sound cut through the air as swiftly and cleanly as a newly sharpened knife, causing the group of fighting students to look back towards the camp behind them.



“What on earth is going on!” Professor Quila screeched in a passionate rage as she moved at an incredible speed towards the gathering. “Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy, explain yourselves this minute.” She eyed the two with hawk-like fierceness as long nailed hands rested on her robe covered hips. Meeting only a wall of shocked silence from her own students she reached out for Jerard, pulling him to his feet just as the Beauxbatons Headmaster approached, his usually calm features showing confusion at the sight of his pupil with blood making thick rivers down his face and the front of his pale robes.



“That idiot was hurting Rose,” James finally admitted, angrily running a hand through his messy black hair, strands of which stuck to his forehead in sweaty worry. “He was hurting her,” he repeated, his voice straining over the syllables with barely contained fury.



Rose was shaking slightly as she pulled up the sleeves of her robes to reveal the red raised patches of skin where the sharp edges of Jerard’s nails had pressed painfully through the fabric and into the soft flesh beneath. Professor Quila’s face contorted with a mixture of emotions before she dropped her hand from Jerard’s shoulder where it had rested since she’d helped him up; she turned swiftly to him, like a predator eyeing its prey.



“Well?” she said with a quiet, level voice; the calm before the storm.



“Did you inflict those hideous marks on Miss Weasley?” she continued, her head high as she gazed down on the now worried looking student. He had obviously assumed his adversaries wouldn’t share the goings-on and having now realised he was wrong, couldn’t see an easy way out.



Since the arrival of the Hogwarts Headmistress a small crowd had gathered nearby Rose and her fellow students, all attempting to listen in to what was happening; Felix and Fabien stood at the front with looks of worry etched deeply on their faces. Jerard’s face formed a mask of frozen innocence, a smile settling unnervingly.



“It was all just a misunderstanding, Professor,” he replied charmingly, his bright white teeth glinting in the evening light.



“There is nothing to misunderstand about physical violence Mr Chevalier,” the older woman stated evenly. “I suggest you make up a better excuse than that. Follow me.” Jerard’s smile fell comically quickly from his face as she began walking away with a stunned Professor Arcenau in tow. She turned back speaking directly to Rose.



“This will be dealt with, Miss Weasley. I assure you no crime goes unpunished around here. Speaking of which...” she continued, eyeing Scorpius and James’ broad grins as they watched Jerard’s dejected figure, “I will be speaking to the two of you later and regardless of how chivalrous your motives may have been you nonetheless did assault a student.” Scorpius and James groaned but their attempted arguments were silenced when Professor Quila continued on with her walk, leading Jerard away.



After the drama faded away, milling students began to move away with Albus and James hastily checking Rose was ok and warning her they’d never let her be near anyone male again, yet strangely then leaving her alone with Scorpius.



Rose could still see flickering remnants of anger piercing Scorpius’ eyes as he led them away from their suddenly public position to a more secluded spot just around a curve of the mountain’s rocky exterior.



“What were you playing at, Rose?” Scorpius questioned tiredly; he ran his hand through his hair as a sigh was expelled from deep within his throat. Rose turned to look at him in confusion.



“Felix and Fabien, those two Beauxbatons guys? They gave us a rundown of why you were going off to speak to Jerard just as you and him started walking away together,” he explained in reply to her questioning look, his eyes were becoming brighter with restrained anger. “Why do you think you’re invincible? You just followed him! He could have taken you anywhere; he could have really hurt you!”



Scorpius’ voice was steadily rising in volume as swarming rivers of anger pumped tightly through his veins.



“But I was fine, I can look after myself you know!” Rose replied defiantly as her eyes narrowed in response to the blonde-haired Slytherin’s harsh words.



“But you can’t!” Scorpius shouted as his self-restraint began to falter and fade. “His girlfriend pushed me down a mountain, what was to stop him doing the same to you? Could you really have fought him off; because from where I was standing you looked scared,” he reported scathingly.



“I could have handled him fine if you hadn’t of interfered!” Rose yelled passionately back, her previously tiring eyes now shining with fury.



“Oh grow-up Rose. Can’t you see where your stupid decisions are getting you? You could have been badly hurt if things got out of hand today; you still could because people are out to get you in this Tournament. For goodness sake stop acting like an indestructible idiot.” Rose immediately bristled at his accusing words.



“What the hell’s gotten into you?” Rose shot back in response to Scorpius’ shouted criticism. “And here was me thinking you were a nice, genuine guy. Well I had you wrong didn’t I? You’re acting just like your father, thinking you’re better than everyone else.” Even as the words spilled over her lips Rose clapped her hand to her mouth; she knew she’d let anger cloud her mind as she saw the shocked hurt in Scorpius’ eyes, obscured as they suddenly hardened.



“I didn’t mean that,” she quickly defended as something knotted tightly in her stomach at the realisation she had gone too far.



“Is that what you think of me, Rose?” Scorpius asked quietly, his eyes determinedly settled on the floor as his whole figure physically showed his dejection, “that I’m just my father’s face and my father’s temper and my father’s attitudes? I stupidly thought you were better than that; I though you knew me better than that. But you don’t really know me at all do you?”



Scorpius turned his back on Rose as he started to leave her, trapped as she was in her own poisoned words before she was startled back into reality. She grabbed his arm like it was her only lifeline and pulled him back; he turned to her abruptly.



“Let go of me, Rose.”



“No, just let me explain...just let me...” she babbled loudly even as his eyes still burnt with anger.



“Is there really any explaining to be done? There’s nothing you can say, Rose. You’ve made yourself perfectly clear. Now leave me alone.” Still she wouldn’t let go of him, her small fingers strongly gripping the fabric of his clothed arm.



“I didn’t...” she pleaded as he interrupted her.



“Didn’t you hear me? Get off me. I don’t want you.” Scorpius yelled, the words echoed chillingly through the air, ringing in their ears as Rose dropped her hands from him and stumbled back. “Right...I...right,” she stuttered, even as the tables turned again.



“I didn’t mean that,” Scorpius replied quietly, “I didn’t.” Rose’s eyes met his and she saw his raw honesty consumed in the grey orbs; she sighed deeply and shook her head.



“This is stupid, and getting us absolutely nowhere. Tonight just seems to be bringing out the worst in both of us,” she commented slowly, “I don’t think you’re like your father, Scorpius. I don’t know what I was saying. I’m sorry,” Rose apologised.



“And I do want you,” Scorpius whispered into the silence just as it was harshly broken by the starkly happy conversation of two students rounding the corner.



“Oh er...sorry,” the dark-haired boy of the two said, seeing he was interrupting a private conversation as he swiftly led the girl he was with away from them. Silent once more, Rose and Scorpius stood in contemplative shock, mulling over the events of the night.



“What the hell are we doing?” Rose whispered, even as tears trickled from her eyes, “what are we doing, Scorpius? Why are we fighting like this?” With worry in his eyes Scorpius stepped forward, placing two thumbs on her fact he smoothed away her tears.



“Don’t cry,” he replied gently. She closed the gap between them and in the same moment they wrapped their arms around each other and she rested her head against his chest, releasing the tied up, tense breath she’d been caging inside herself.



“I can’t do this Tournament without you,” she said quietly even as her hot tears soaked through the thin fabric of his clothing.



“You won’t have to,” he replied, his lips pressed against her hair as his chin rested on the top of her head and he surveyed the landscape around them, shrouded in darkness.



“I promise you won’t.”



               



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



Rose stood in full sunshine, a rarity as it was still early in the year, after a difficult day. A slight breeze tickled her skin with its cold embrace as it twirled around her in a swirling pirouette, pulling her hair over her face.



 Professor Quila had willingly reorganised the groups so that although Ivan and Rose were separated, they had teams which didn’t involve Jerard whom Rose hadn’t seen since the incident with him the previous day.



The day’s activities had been far more fun when Rose hadn’t had to worry about seeing Jerard and she threw herself into every challenge with open, excited enthusiasm. The shy blonde-haired Hogwarts girl Rose was teamed with she had barely spoken to before and although quiet, was witty and quick with her comments which made the time pass quickly.



Excitement had been mounting throughout the day amongst the body of students, many of whom were aware that Albus’ party was happening that night. The majority of the Hogwarts student population had been invited, with a few exceptions, and selected Beauxbatons and Durmstrang pupils – mainly team mates of Albus’ close circle of friends.



The preparations had been made and James and Albus had, apparently, found the perfect spot to hide a celebration from the teachers. It was to run from that evening, luckily the students generally disappeared off to different points on the mountain at that time anyway so the absence of many wouldn’t seem strange to the eternally watchful Professors.



Rose was brimming with enthusiasm as she continued walking along a rocky path to meet Scorpius, whom Albus had sent to bring her to the party. The last dregs of sunlight were flickering from a pink and orange sunset which illuminated the sky beautifully above the natural browns and greens of the landscape.



Rose had been kept back once more to speak to Professor Quila who had assured her all measures were being taken to avoid any school rivalries which edged on the dangerous. Rose had constantly nodded in agreement, eager to escape and follow the path created by her friends who had left before her, Albus pushing a note into her pocket which told her how Scorpius was to bring her to his birthday celebrations.



Rose was smiling in the fading light as she continued, feeling like some kind of weight had been lifted as she suddenly saw Scorpius standing ahead and leaning nonchalantly against a rocky boulder. He rolled his eyes as she approached.



“You took your time!” he commented laughingly as Rose stuck her tongue out and fell into stride beside him as he led her further down a barely visible path. They continued on for several minutes as the ground became gradually more and more unstable.



“We need to climb over these rocks,” Scorpius commented, gesturing to the rubble covered ground ahead. “Take my hand?” he said. Rose smiled at the fact he’d asked and not just assumed he could. “Yes,” she whispered back and closed her fingers around those which were presented in front of her, hurrying after Scorpius as they steadily climbed a pile of rocky ground.



His hand was surprisingly warm in the coldness of the season and wrapped around hers like a comforting blanket, strong and firm. Soon they were on much smoother, flatter ground; their hands were still clasped together. With uncertainty Rose spoke aloud after a few minutes.



“We’re over the rocks,” she said softly, “so... you don’t need to hold my hand anymore.”



“I know,” he replied, but he didn’t let go.     



They eventually reached, bizarrely in Rose’s opinion, apparently a dead end; the path stopped abruptly as it formed a ledge on the cliff edge, hanging over an immense drop of jagged rocks beneath it.



Rose stood at the edge, turning away from it to face Scorpius as she raised a questioning eyebrow. He placed two firm hands on her shoulders as he met her eyes and quickly leaned towards her, his breath making whispering trails over her ear as he spoke, his cheek softly grazing hers.



“Do you trust me?” he asked. Rose sighed contentedly at the feeling of his closeness.



“I...yes, I trust you,” she whispered back as he moved to face her, his lips millimetres from hers.



“I just wanted to...check,” he said softly, his breath ghosting over her mouth. As he leaned close to her he increased his pressure on her shoulders and her eyes melted closed. He took a deep shuddering breath and pushed her over the edge of the cliff.                



 



 



      


Chapter 20: 20 - A Night to Remember
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: So, we’re here, the landmark chapter! It probably seems mad to you all but I am really excited to be at this point. I’ve estimated that the story will be around 40 chapters (although subject to change) so this is basically the halfway point! It’s also a chapter I put a lot of work into, consequently meaning I’ve hit several landmarks at this point in the fic: this pushing me over 70,000 words/ just a smidgeon under 300 reviews/ 11,000 reads as well as this being my longest ever chapter at 5,015 words. Phew. Good times :)



As I said, there’s a lot going on which I hope you all enjoy and as always I really do love to hear your thoughts so please take the time to leave a review if you can. You guys have made this story what it is with your fantastic support and kindness; I merely do the manual labour. Thank you very much to everyone who has helped me along the writing process, I am entirely indebted to you. Enjoy, as this is dedicated to every single one of you.



 



20 – A Night to Remember:



Rose’s body, shocked into passivity, catapulted from the crumbling cliff edge at the hands of her Triwizard Tournament partner; she could still feel the warmth of his breath on her cheek and the pressure of his hands on her shoulders as she fell. The air stormed past her, dragging her staggered breath from her lips as she squeezed brightly shocked eyes tightly closed in frightened anticipation of the landing she knew was to come on the jagged rocks below.



Her hair flamed upwards as her momentum only seemed to increase and she was propelled ever downwards and away from the safety above. She curled herself into a ball, tucking her arms and legs tightly against her chest as her body tensed up and she felt an instinctive need to cover her ears which rattled in the howling wind rushing past them, deafening her to anything else.



With a sudden jolt - as shocking as it was relieving - her entire body slowed with gentle grace, gliding softly downwards. Hesitantly she dragged up her fringed eyelids and saw around her a broad patch of land, stretching around the curving mountain’s exterior and out of sight, in front of the colossal opening to a cave.



Unwrapping her frightened body Rose reacted in time to have her feet settle smoothly on the ground as she reached it, her eyes lighting up in surprise and wonder as she took in her surroundings. The air swarmed with countless winged fairies, bright lanterns hanging from their tiny, delicate hands; their high-pitched angry voices bounced to and fro in the frigid night air as they flew in swirling, curling circles, obviously under some form of restrictive enchantment.



The darkened landscape shone with a myriad of beautiful colours; reds, yellows and oranges glittered like a thousand fires as they flickered through the air on the arms of their living, breathing carriers. Rose ducked, laughing out loud as one of the beautiful creatures flew effortlessly through the air over her head, her lantern gleaming in rich ochre as it swung precariously left and right causing the flame held within to flicker hypnotically.



Rose’s eyes moved to the gigantic cave before her, bordered by its plateau of bare earthy ground. From within she could hear the sounds of numerous voices battling against the subtle background music that played melodically. She heard an indication of movement just behind her as Scorpius followed her previous route and glided down to the dusty ground. She narrowed her eyes and placed both hands on her hips in angry indignation.



“What!” Scorpius said, laughing in mock confusion.



“You pushed me off a mountain!” Rose replied only half angrily as she tried to retain her stern position.



“How else was I going to get you here without spoiling the surprise? Albus needed an entrance with a twist,” Scorpius explained with an annoyingly bright voice.



“You couldn’t have explained all this before the whole pushing-me-off-a-cliff thing, could you?” Rose asked, lips pursed as she observed the boy before her.



“You weren’t scared were you, Red?” Scorpius said, winking at her as he used a hand at the small of her back to guide her towards the hollow ahead where the celebrations, uninterrupted by their arrival, could be heard. Rose elbowed him playfully in the ribs, still smiling as they entered the party and she found herself, once again, stunned.



The room they stood in was cavernous with smaller tunnels branching off into the deepest recesses of the mountain’s internal network, lit brightly with flickering indigo and turquoise flames contained in glassy orbs hanging unfettered from the ceiling.



Glittering golden tubular spirals spanned from wall to wall, parallel to silver streamers below which bobbed pale blue balloons, coloured by the Cornish pixies glowing dazedly in the hollow interiors. Worn wooden tables huddled in the far end of the crowded cave, covered in mugs, glasses, jugs and bottles of various drinks, surrounded by haphazardly placed chairs and illuminated by pale stubs of melted candles, glowing with persistent flames at their centres.



“Wow,” Rose said quietly as her eyes scanned around the packed room and admired its decorative flair. 



“Rose!” a voice shouted loudly across the sea of people, preceding the tall figure of Albus Potter as he struggled through the crowd to his red-headed cousin.



“Thanks for the presents!” he said as he embraced her; Rose smiled, having known he would like the broom maintenance manual and cleaning equipment her parents had owled to him from the family. Hannah joined the group, grinning madly as she hugged Rose with a fervour which frightened her no end.



Seeing as he was being summoned left, right and centre Albus had to leave quickly, taking Scorpius with him and leaving Rose to cross to the full-to-bursting drinks table and select a bottle of amber butterbeer which she sipped gently. Her eyes scanned the room as she spoke to her blonde friend. “Where’s Dawn?” she asked hesitantly, noticing the absence of their other friend. Hannah nodded to a slightly shadowed wall of the cave where Dawn stood chatting with a Ravenclaw with dark hair she’d known for years and sat with in Herbology. Rose grinned at the two.



“About time!” she commented to Hannah whose smile hadn’t faltered. “What’re you so happy about?” she added with instant suspicion.



“I got Albus a birthday gift,” she answered with a happy laugh as she glanced to where a pile of brightly wrapped presents stood on a lopsided table.



“The one in green paper,” she continued, motioning to the small box at the front of the stack wrapped in its glittering emerald decoration.



“Oh...what exactly did you get him?” Rose asked tentatively as she eyed the small gift which seemed entirely unremarkable.



“You’ll see when he opens it,” Hannah replied with confidence, practically bouncing with her every footstep as the two girls meandered around the room with relaxed ease. Several hours passed with little interest as the Rose mingled amongst friends and was introduced to various people from the other two schools.



She’d spotted in a quick moment the petite frame and red hair – so much like her own – of her younger cousin Lily. Having barely seen the young Potter since being at Durmstrang, a feat easily managed amongst the numerous students and demands of the Tournament, Rose had headed over, only to find her gone in a split second and absorbed into a group of giggling girls.



With a smile Rose left her to it, knowing that during the summer she would be inundated with members of the Wotter family and would wish for some remnant of the freedom and privacy she had now. With mounting trepidation she had watched Albus anytime he had headed close to his towering pile of presents but to her evident relief he’d been too preoccupied to pay them much attention as yet.



The two girls he was grouped with for the team-building trip hung on him like cheap jewellery throughout the night; a group of giggling girls crowding both Albus and Scorpius like a hazy swarm of wasps which never faltered as Hannah’s face continued to fall with the slow progression of time. Rose had found her eyes unerringly drawn to Scorpius like he was casting out some impossibly strong magnetic pull; with strange ease and precise timing he’d met her eyes every time her gaze moved to him, causing her to turn quickly to Hannah and make quick conversation, pretending she had been all along.



When she dared to look back his soft grey eyes would still be on hers, glowing with a strange intensity and carving an almost solid path through the chaotic throng of students between them, a small smile etched permanently on his face.



Whilst Dawn continued to be entertained by the delights of her Ravenclaw friend, Hannah and Rose had toured the party room with excitement, seeking out old friends and new acquaintances and greeting them with equal enthusiasm.



Several times they wandered close to Albus and Scorpius who still had their female barrier surrounding them. With a regularity fuelled by false intentions the girls continued a stilted conversation as they passed; neither of their minds on their words but busy watching the actions of the Gryffindor and Slytherin; neither of them ready to discuss how they actually felt about them.     



Rose couldn’t help but feel inadequate in the room of beautifully dressed students, eyeing her own jeans and smart t-shirt with distaste and annoyance as Scorpius moved effortlessly through the sea of people in his shirt, the rounded neck of a plain t-shirt beneath it starkly visible, and dark jeans. She and Hannah had resigned themselves to having a moderate time, neither with the person they really wanted to spend the evening with, and so laughed and joked wherever possible, masking their mounting worry by ridiculing the dress sense of eager girls flocking the boys.



They soon found rickety seats and sank into them with a view of the entirety of the party, Dawn joining them as she reluctantly returned from her new friend, Steven, with a broad smile stretching from ear to ear.



The air was stifling in the enclosed space, the cave’s open mouth having no refreshing effect as Rose found herself once against wiping sweaty hair back from her forehead and leaving her friends so she could approach the drinks table.    



With a glass in hand Rose turned back to the room full of people as cheers erupted deafeningly from the crowd immediately surrounding Albus. His buzzing fans had thinned slightly leaving the view unhindered of her black-haired cousin with his lips pressed against those of a tall willowy girl with hair dark enough to rival his own, falling in soft waves around a thinly carved face.



 The noise in reaction to this scene was enough that it masked the unnoticeable clattering of a chair hitting the ground as the occupant stood instantly and knocked it backwards to the cold ground. Hannah stood with a frozen smile on her face, Rose could see her mouthing “it’s fine, I’m fine” as Dawn tugged on her arm; the blonde’s eyes were fixed in unmovable shock on the kissing couple. Rose could see her bite harshly on her lip as she watched, her mouth barely perceptibly quivering as she quickly, with rushed actions, grabbed her cardigan from the fallen chair and rushed from the brightly lit cave.



Rose made to follow her but Dawn passed her motioning that she would cope with their hurt friend; Rose nodded slightly with a sad smile in place. In the midst of the excitement surrounding the birthday boy nobody had noticed Hannah’s shock exit except for Scorpius who had shaken his head at his friend’s actions and retreated from the gathering of students around him. He spotted Rose standing alone and, with a frown etched on his features, he walked towards her.



“Is Hannah ok?” he asked, his brow creased as he rolled his eyes at Albus.



“Not really,” Rose answered vaguely as she fixed an angry stare on her cousin who had removed his mouth from that it had been latched on, and held a possessive arm around his female companion’s waist.



“If it’s any consolation I’m not sure Albus has a clue what he’s doing,” Scorpius commented as he saw the direction of Rose’s eyes.



“I don’t think it’ll matter to Hannah,” Rose answered as several people moved to the drinks table, giggling with alcohol-infused hysteria. One boy with bright orange hair and a small stature bumped into her as he retreated, spilling a full glass of deep brown liquid over her t-shirt and jeans. Ignoring the boy’s muddled apologies through clouded eyes she grimaced as she looked down at her ruined clothes.



“I’m getting some air,” she said quickly to Scorpius who nodded and followed her as she left the busy noisy atmosphere into the cool air outside. As Rose walked with Scorpius in tow she felt cold, wet fingers of liquid as the spillage to her clothing made sticky contact with the skin below; she grimaced at the sensation.



They continued swiftly onwards, away from the few straggling students milling around and into the charcoal air which smothered more and more of their bodies as they walked, stopping where their figures were only slightly visible.



Moonlight shimmered on the rocky ledge skirting the cave’s front, creating intricate silver patterns which hopped and skipped over their marred backdrop. Rose glanced down at the dark brown stain on the light coloured fabric of her top and sighed deeply.



“I blame Albus for this,” she commented.



“How so?” Scorpius replied with a laugh.



“Well he made me come here! Now I’ve got to go around the rest of the evening looking like this.” “No-one will notice,” Scorpius said unconvincingly as his eyes picked out the mark in question even in the dense darkness.



Rose looked at him with her eyebrows raised as he sighed in defeat.



“It was worth a try,” he answered with a smile. Rose turned slightly so she could see their beautiful surroundings even in the cloudy dark, the landscape undisturbed ahead of them by anything man-made. Her fingers picked insistently at her soiled top as Scorpius groaned.



“Does it really bother you that much?” he asked with a deep sigh. Rose nodded slightly.



“It’s a nice top, I like it,” she commented with a small smile. Scorpius’ fingers moved noticeably in the lack of light to start to unbutton the dark shirt he had on over a white t-shirt.



“Scorpius, what are you...?” Rose trailed off as Scorpius shrugged off his long sleeved shirt and then the plain t-shirt beneath leaving him bare-chested as he handed the white material to her. The paleness of his skin caught the fragments of light still in the air as she took several moments to raise her eyes to his face having still not accepted his offering.



“It’s better than nothing,” Scorpius said. Rose accepted his t-shirt with a smile and waited for a moment, watching him and expecting him to turn his back on her.



“Well turn around!” she said indignantly.



“You didn’t when I took off my top!” Scorpius said in defence, a broad smile on his face. Rose narrowed her eyes and swatted his arm with an open palmed hand as he turned away from her and she pulled off her dirty top and pulled on his.



Still with his bare chest exposed to the night coldness, Scorpius turned back to Rose at her signal just as the soft light around them was largely extinguished, a very dim glow stemming from around the corner where the party continued.



“What the –,” Rose said, reaching out into the near impossible darkness; Scorpius caught hold of her outstretched hand.



“I can’t even find the sleeves on this thing!” Scorpius muttered. Rose could hear him suddenly fumbling from where he stood in front of her and dimly saw him eventually succeed in pulling the thin fabric over his arms where it rested open on his torso for a minute, before he attempted to button it from the top.



“Scorpius...you’re doing it all wrong!” Rose declared, her laugh dancing through the night air and casting smoky clouds in front of her eyes.



“You need to sort out your collar first,” she commented as he wrongly aligned the buttons in keeping with the erratically sticking out collar of the garment.



“It’s dark!” Scorpius replied defensively. Rose reached out, taking several steps forward so they were intimately close to each other as her hands reached up to his tangled shirt. She flipped the buttons out of their fabric slits, her fingers brushing against his cold skin as she felt him shiver involuntarily and heard his breath hitch in his throat.



His shirt now undone, she leant forward to stretch her arms up and over his broad shoulders to adjust the troublesome collar; her motions were quick and jerky as her breath puffed hotly on the exposed skin of his neck.



Rose stilled her feverish movements and took a deep breath. She withdrew her hands hastily and moved to step away from him, his collar silhouetted starkly in the moonlight.    



Scorpius moved his head to face her with obvious deliberation, outstretching a hand to pull her towards him so their mouths were now a whisker apart.



His fingers traced the soft skin of her jaw line as his hot breath marked her lips, her eyes closing involuntarily as she rested her forehead gently against his. Rose could feel the heat emanating from his body as she stood, so closely, before him; she longed to wrap her arms around him but held back. She felt as Scorpius tilted his head slightly to the side before pressing his lips firmly against hers, a cold hand moving to cup her neck in stark contrast to the warmth of his mouth.



Their flesh barely grazed before shocking crashes ricocheted through the darkness from the party celebrations as screams deafened the couple and destroyed their intimacy in one foul swoop.   



They broke apart instantly, startled by the noisy shouts coming from behind them; Rose’s stained shirt dropped unnoticed from her frozen hand as the two students turned and Scorpius slipped a hand into Rose’s, tugging her back towards the party and through the darkness which obscured their vision considerably.



They staggered to a shocked stop at the entrance to the cave, blinded by the sight before them. The space was now comically quiet and the party’s guests crowded down one long rocky wall, opposite a line of cloaked, masked attackers with their wands outstretched.



They stood in uniform correctness, not a sleeve; a hand; a foot out of place in their aggressive stance. Rose glanced at Scorpius’ face to see his brows furrowed in quiet disbelief as his eyes ran hurriedly over the obscured faces of the uninvited guests who had so suddenly interrupted the proceedings of the evening.



Not a spell had been uttered as everyone waited in a painful state of anticipation, trying to gage the next movement of their many adversaries. A furious wind suddenly whipped into the cave and dragged the floating fairies far from their positions where the enchantments around them broke suddenly, causing them fly off in irritation as their chirping voices echoed in the night.



A loud popping noise sounded chillingly as a flash seemed to climb through the night air and disappear in an instant, leaving the air significantly colder, windier and harsher.



The only source of light was now extinguished and the space only glowed with the sinister chalky masks on the robed individuals; the crudely made, half skulls of blunt angles strapped onto their faces in hideous mimicry of a dangerous Wizarding force so many years ago.



Now violently obvious in the lesser light, Rose’s eyes were drawn instantly to their previously disregarded disguises even as Scorpius’ hand squeezed hers hard in anger and rigid worry.



Nothing added up; nothing made sense about this unreal situation. The jet black robes fluttered around the ankles of the silent, still invaders revealing flashes of normal boots and shoes underneath in stark contrast to their outward appearance.



 The masks were inexpertly fashioned and hung crooked in some cases, on top of thinner shimmering charcoal fabric consuming the heads of the people beneath the surprising costumes. Before logic had time to persuade Rose’s mind the cloaked attackers took an identical step forward and twisted their wands through the air in a silver shimmering figure of eight which dissipated into dusty smoke clouds.



 It hovered undisturbed in the air for long, tense seconds as every other person in the room held their breath. A loud crashing sound echoed deafeningly through the chamber, a hollow thunderous noise which scarred the ears of its receivers painfully, causing them all to cry out as they clutched desperately at the sides of their heads, trying to shake out the din which crept into their eardrums and reverberated with poisoned intensity.



 Before their confused expressions the smoky cloud merged into separate orbs of pale white in a sudden movement and formed into numerous misty skulls in the air, disturbed only by the emerald green serpent which flickered from its mouth hypnotically.



The sound had only increased in intensity as the ghostly images grew brighter in the dark air causing the previously frozen students to break into screams of terror. The cloaked intruders now started to flee behind their obscuring screen of noise and deathly motifs, largely unnoticed by their victims who scattered in chaotic desperation.



Only Scorpius and Rose stood unmoving at the cave’s entrance and whipped out their wands identically, sparing a quick look at each other before sending disarming spells at the individuals trying to escape before them.



The spells found their mark as several robed bodies grasped ineffectually at the air in front of them as their wands flew far from their bodies, leaving them vulnerable. Hidden heads turned towards each other in obvious confusion as they readied themselves to fight, clearly stunned by the turn of events they hadn’t anticipated; Rose could only assume they had hoped to, under the cover of the party-goers frenzied movements, exit unnoticed by any.



 Other students followed the example of Rose and Scorpius and soon the air was rife with bright strobes of coloured light which flew from person to person in a magnificent display of magical attack and defence.



Rose was thrown backwards, her footsteps staggering on the rocky ground, as a blood red spell catapulted towards her at the hand of a cloaked and masked attacker who stood directly in front of her.



Luckily it only grazed the edge of her arm but where it made contact it burnt through the sleeve of Scorpius’ t-shirt to blacken her skin beneath, the edges of the wound raised and blistered raw; it was the stark mirror image, if drastically smaller, of a previous injury, obtained at the hand of an unnamed, anonymous foe weeks long gone.



Before any retort was possible the smoky sinister images were struck from the air, and the noise subsided into sudden silence as the entirety of the air around them shone with a bright golden light; it pierced painfully through lowered eyelids as the fighters groaned and ceased their angry spell-casting, cowering under the force of the illumination.



Rose reluctantly dragged open an eye to see the silhouette of a tall, willowy individual who stood at the mouth of the cave alongside, yet a few metres from, herself and Scorpius. The figure swiped their wand fiercely through the air as the sound of other wands clattering to the ground hit Rose’s ears, every occupant of the chamber unable to defend themselves against the strength of the disarming spell cast at them.



The all consuming light started to fade gradually, leaving people around the room rubbing at their eyes as they looked blearily ahead, settling on the newcomer. The bright obstruction cleared and the rigid figure of Violet Quila was revealed, her long pointed wand clenched in a fist, her body perceptibly shaking with rage.



Her wand cut through the air as she whipped it in the direction of the masked and cloaked individuals, still on one side of the cave but significantly separated.



Their masks were ripped from their faces and fell to the floor, the inky cloaks following quickly after and showing starkly the crimson robes of several male and female students, their heads hung in embarrassment; the pale blue of, some clearly recognisable, members of the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic; the resolute black still fluttering menacing as it clothed some, the colourful stitching of the Hogwarts crest shining on their chests.



If it hadn’t already lain on the floor Rose would have dropped her wand in shock as she eyed the now revealed student who had attacked her only moments before, with a starkly recognisable spell. Eve’s dark hair hung in a lank, straight line down her back, her eyes as piercingly angry as when Rose had seen them last, on a cold Christmas night in a breezy Entrance Hall. For a moment she ducked her eyes down, misery etched on her features as she was unable to meet her victim’s fixed gaze.



 In that moment Rose couldn’t help but see, with a harsh impact, the girl she’d known months and years before, overshadowed by pureblood siblings who acted respectfully in her parent’s eyes and constantly undermined by a cruel family. Eve seemed suddenly, shockingly and painfully human once again.



Until almost instantly the façade returned and her mouth formed a twisted smirk. Rose dragged her eyes away, unable to watch any longer as sickness churned in her stomach and her hand clutched at her injured arm.



To her right the Hogwarts Headmistress still stood, her eyes scanning those with previously disguised identities as she brandished her wand a final time, causing bright red “X” symbols to appear on the cheeks of each of those revealed students.



“None of you will be escaping punishment for this,” she commented, her voice low and controlled yet clearly heard by all. She conducted a silvery tiger patronus into the air which fled quickly, obviously carrying an unspoken message.



“Students who wore those disrespectful masks and cast the images; line up to my left. Those involved in the organisation and execution of this party, to my right,” she commanded. The school pupils followed her instruction exactly and stood in stunned silence as she dismissed the rest of the people who were merely guests to the drama which had unfolded. Rose stood behind Albus and James’ tall figures and slightly in front of Scorpius, his chest close behind her and his hand resting on her arm. Professor Quila first turned to Eve and her fellow students.



“I am sickened by your behaviour,” she said, lips twisted in disgust as she eyed those in front of her. “To calculate, plan and carry out such a co-ordinated and cruel attack is beyond anything I could have considered you capable of.”



“It vasn’t an attack!” a girl in Durmstrang robes replied, her voice thick with her accent and muffled as her head was lowered and ducked towards the floor.



“Then what exactly was it?” The angry Professor snarled back.



“A joke,” Eve said clearly, raising her head and meeting the gaze of the Headmistress defiantly. “It was all just a big joke; dress up, scare some people and ruin the party. It was them who attacked us,” she defended. The older woman flicked her wand at the floor and summoned a mask to where she hung it limply from her outstretched hand.



“Do any of you comprehend in the slightest what this is? What this mask used to represent? Those who used to wear these weren’t a joke, or something to laugh at; they were murderers, cold-hearted murderers who destroyed countless families without a second thought.” The air had gone chillingly cold; not a sound disturbed it except for the level tones of Professor Quila’s voice.        



“To use it in this manner...I can hardly understand. Regardless of your intentions not to physically harm anybody, the fear you intended was just as scarring.” Two cloaked Professors fought through the swirling wind as they approached the crowded front of the cave.



“We ‘ave been updated on ze situation,” Professor Arcenau commented gravely, Professor Volkov resolutely at his side.



“Ve think it is best for all students to be returned to Durmstrang immediately,” Professor Volkov continued, his assertions receiving a nodded agreement from the Hogwarts Headmistress.



“Could you please remove the perpetrators whilst I speak to my own students involved in the party and make the necessary arrangements for our return?” she replied quietly as the two men heeded her directions, instantly leading away the shamed, branded students.



“I hardly need to lecture you all on the dangers of holding unsupervised, hidden parties,” Professor Quila began, “after tonight’s events. I am ashamed of you all for going behind the backs of the staff here in this way, however I think what you all endured was punishment enough.” They all breathed an audible sigh of relief.



“Two months detention should suffice,” she finished amidst disappointed groans. “Be grateful it isn’t more. You are only lucky the inexperienced spell-casting of your fellow students broke the magical barrier shielding the party, or else a much worse outcome may have been reached.” She sighed and ran a tired hand over her tightly tied back hair.



“There is a lot to be explained as I’m not aware of all the details leading up to the events tonight so I will no doubt have to speak to all of you at some stage, until then, for goodness sake stay out of trouble or I’ll suspend you all without a second thought.”



She began to walk away from the group, her posture slightly hunched; her face seemed far more lined and wrinkled than Rose had ever seen it before.



“Clear up everything here and rejoin your fellow students at the camp site as quickly as is possible,” she said before, in an instant, apparating on the spot.  Silence consumed the air after her exit as the Hogwarts group faced each other. Rose sighed tiredly, about to speak when she was interrupted by James.



“So,” he said pointedly, eyes firmly on Scorpius, “do you want to explain to me why you went off alone with my cousin and came back half undressed with her wearing your t-shirt?” Rose could only too clearly imagine the picture they made, Scorpius with his shirt hanging open and fluttering in the persuasive wind revealing his overtly bare chest, and her with messy hair, flushed cheeks and wearing a hastily pulled on t-shirt which obviously did not belong to her.



She lifted her hand in a sudden moment of relief to offer up her stained t-shirt as evidence of their activities only to find her fisted fingers empty, the shirt obviously dropped during the chaos which had unfolded. Scorpius and Rose glanced quickly at each other, eyes meeting instantly.



“Oh...” they commented in unison.        



 



 


Chapter 21: 21 - Giving In To Temptation
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: Well blimey, this turned out longer than I imagined, not to mention it really did write itself. It’s so different from my original plan but I just couldn’t help but follow instincts with this one. As ever there’s so much coming up in the next few chapters: the aftermath of what happens here for example, good honest romance, school lessons, arduous spell practice not to mention...the Second Task. Can’t wait to see what you all think of this. Thank you absolutely millions for the wonderful feedback on the last chapter and your awesome support thus far in the story. Your reviews really do mean the world and always brighten my day so continue to leave them as much as you can! Thank you very much for reading; enjoy!



21- Giving In To Temptation:



Rose had her eyes closed tightly as she spun wickedly through the air, her body seemingly squeezing through a hole which was ten times too small as the wind whipped around her in a whirling frenzy. She landed on hard ground with a thump, stumbling slightly but retaining her footing as a rusted silver fork clattered to the ground ahead of her, shirking off its previous portkey duties and becoming an inanimate object once more.



James stood to her left, having been transported back to Durmstrang Institute at the same time as her and still had a slight scowl darkening his face as a hand brushed through his hair roughly. Rose watched him in concern, knowing there was little she could do to convince his stubborn mind that nothing was going on between her and Scorpius.



 He’d interrogated the two with a rushed, worried voice and dark, accusing eyes only an hour previously and despite the couple’s explanations he’d found himself unable to believe them. Rose couldn’t blame him, after all her stained t-shirt had disappeared in the chaos that ensued after she and Scorpius had spent their time alone so she could hardly prove what had happened; all her cousin could do was take her sincere word for it.



He’d tried to gain support from his younger brother but Albus had remained passive with an awkward air about him, seemingly torn between thumping Scorpius for what potentially had happened between him and Rose, and patting him on the back. So the issue had been dropped, settling slightly in the backs of all their minds, for how long before it erupted once more Rose did not know.



The wind was still chilling her to the bone so she wrapped the thin, black cloak clutching at her shoulders tightly around her body and winced at the slight shoulder injury she had received earlier. Cooling salve had since been offered and gladly received, thankfully left from her last bout with this illness, soothing the still sore skin.



She threaded her gaze through the sea of students who had portkeyed back to the Host School both before and after her group, searching for familiar faces. She spied the back of Scorpius’ head through the crowd but looked elsewhere, not wanting him to glance back and catch her staring. With all the persuading she’d had to do, all the convincing that there was nothing going on between her and the Slytherin, she’d almost convinced herself that nothing had happened and that near kiss was merely a figment of her overactive imagination.



 But then she’d see him. She’d catch just a flash of those gray eyes; the tall rangy frame; the messy blonde hair and remember the feeling of his touch on her skin and his lips grazing against hers. It was haunting her mind like an invited guest and she knew, finally, that she needed to do something, anything, to stop this constant numbing ache in her heart when she saw him.



Her eyes were still picking through the various coloured robes, jumpers and t-shirts as she searched for Dawn and Hannah whom she hadn’t seen since Hannah’s sudden exit from the earlier party but was distracted as her Headmistress strode confidently to front of the moving gathering of students, separating them into their respective school groups.



Soon Professor Volkov was leading his grumbling followers back into the imposing castle they called home for most of the year whilst Professor Arcenau followed in tired suit, directing his own pupils back to their ship which bobbed gently on another lake.



Rose was tired, unbelievably, immeasurably tired, and desired nothing more than to go to bed and just forget about everything which had happened since the school trip to the mountains had begun. She closed her eyes briefly, letting a cold breeze wash over her face with a biting edge as it picked at stray strands of her hair and roped them across her face in an intricate labyrinth of constricting lines. Professor Quila was beginning to encourage people back to their floating accommodation and as the rush surged forward Rose fell back and soon felt a gentle hand on her arm. She turned to see Dawn’s tired face, a sad smile on her lips as her other hand swiped nervously over the ponytail hanging at her pale neck.



“Are you ok?” Dawn asked quickly, “I heard about what happened at the party after Hannah and me left.” Rose nodded reassuringly, her open lips making a smoky cloud on the night air.



“We’re all ok. How’s Hannah?”



“She’ll be fine; at the moment she’s just trying to decide whether to be upset or angry,” Dawn said, testing a smile on her lips.



“And how’re you?” Rose asked in concern, seeing the look of exhaustion on her brown-haired friend’s face.



“I’m fine, I’d better get back to Hannah though, get her back to her room before she gets upset again just at the sight of Albus.” Dawn sighed deeply as she attempted a positive facial expression.



“Meet me out here later,” Rose offered, “we can talk; you can relax and take off some of the strain.”



“Because security won’t be impossibly tight tonight of all nights will it?” Dawn laughed in response. “Thank you but really I’ll be fine. I just need a good night’s sleep, as do you. You aren’t half a magnet for trouble, Rose Weasley.”



Rose’s smile was reluctant but she let her friend go, feeling like she should be doing more but knowing Dawn was the best person to help Hannah in her current state. She watched as the dark-haired Gryffindor crossed back towards a dishevelled and bedraggled looking Hannah whose eyes were ringed with a thick red layer.



 Dawn was already giving calm reassurances as she threw a comforting arm around the blonde’s petite shoulders and started leading her back onto the Hogwarts ship and out of view of Rose’s watching eyes. She worried about Dawn and couldn’t help but feel that her friend wouldn’t ever say if she had a problem, concerned as she was with solving everybody else’s issues.



Rose had known Dawn since a few weeks into her first year when both girls were still shyly treading through new experiences and hesitantly meeting people they’d never seen before. They’d been paired together in a particularly bland Potions lesson where they had instantly formed a bond in the midst of intense boredom; they hadn’t looked back since.



Dawn always had an aura of seriousness and strictness about her, but it had grown out of a life of responsibility having had to almost single-handedly bring up her younger brother and sister, Michael and Freya. Her father had died when she was young; her mother wasn’t an alcoholic, she didn’t take drugs, smoke heavily or follow any kind of lifestyle which might hint at the later neglect of her children she demonstrated.



She just wasn’t cut out for motherhood. She’d struggled coping with caring for three young children and so the oldest of the group had been forced unwillingly into taking a motherly role over the young boy and girl who had little idea of what was happening. So even whilst at school Dawn was always seen owling her muggle family repeatedly in a frenzied worry that something might go wrong, and it might be her fault because she wasn’t there to help.



 Rose knew her guilt at being away for so much of the year, particularly this year when getting home was nearly impossible, was grating away at Dawn and would never quite lie dormant.



She’d consequently grown into a young woman who cared very much for the people close to her with boundless patience. Rose knew she was always there to listen, whenever there was a person in need of it, and the altruistic nature of the brown-haired Gryffindor never ceased to amaze her. So she watched her disappearing into the depths of the floating wooden ship with a sense of both pride and worry before her view was obscured by other people following their route away from the bitter night air.



Rose was reluctant to move, cold as it was the wind was refreshing and started to tease away the worries of the evening. Soon she caught a flash of movement in the corner of her eye as Scorpius started walking over to her, scuffing his shoes as he went and only glancing up in small, jerky movements.



Rose watched him with a controlled, emotionless expression until he was only a matter of metres away, at which point she gave a small smile which he returned, breaking some of the ice resting over their awkward relationship. As they met they immediately started walking across the uneven ground to the Hogwarts ship, being some of the last people who still remained in the cold outdoors.



“Happy to be back?” Scorpius enquired, his eyes gazing down at her.



“I am,” she replied, “I honestly thought I’d never be happy to see Durmstrang, yet it’s good to be back, it just feels...more comfortable I guess, more secure.”



“I know what you mean,” Scorpius said. “Although being back here does mean we’re back to the Tournament, it’s creeping up on us horribly quickly.” Rose had jolted slightly at the mention of the upcoming Second Task. Being away from it all, up in the desolate mountain, it was easy to ignore it, pushing it to the back of her mind because she felt a million miles away from her problems; now being back at the centre of this competition meant it became, once again, a living, breathing thing which took over all aspects of her life.



She and Scorpius hadn’t even attempted to, or as yet found the time to, explore any aspect of what the Second Task could be or how they should prepare for it; Rose couldn’t help but feel that what with working on “battling the elements”, two long months of detention and her usual lessons, the following weeks were going to be sensationally busy.



Her feet padded almost silently over the carpeted floors she now crossed with Scorpius in tow, the sounds of life elsewhere on the ship quickly fading as they made their way further and further from their fellow students and towards their own quarters, on the Professors’ level.



They had lapsed into slightly awkward silence as they rounded onto their own corridor and Rose smiled at the sight of her handle-less dark wooden door which gleamed in its newly polished glory; she was more than ready to sleep in a comfortable bed once again. Scorpius had paused at his own door as the two turned to look at each other, opening their mouths identically to speak. Rose snapped her lips shut as Scorpius began in rushed, quiet tones.



“About earlier...” he said softly, “before all the chaos at the party.” He didn’t look at her and she was glad, it was an obstacle they needed to discuss but now that the moment had come she felt strangely tongue-tied and worried about revealing any of her feelings, just in case it was all mistake in Scorpius’ eyes. In the lack of voiced agreement or disagreement from Rose, Scorpius continued. “Well we....I mean, when we...we almost...” he trailed off with agitation. “It doesn’t matter,” he said swiftly as he pressed an angry palm against the smooth grain of his door and spoke his name to seek sanctuary from the stilted unspoken words hanging in the air.



Rose bit down hard on her lip and screamed at herself to speak out and stop him from walking away from a conversation which could have so many endings; the second it took for him to swing open the creaking ancient wood stretched through the air almost visibly, giving her time to act. Her heart was crying out for her to do something, finally take the opportunity which had leapt up at her, to question what had passed between them earlier, for better or for worse.



She remained silent. Her voice was choking in her throat as she watched him slam his door behind him without looking back, she gritted her teeth, creasing her forehead with a maze of lines showing her disappointment and frustration. She was motionless for several moments, watching with blank eyes as she willed the door in front of her to open and the familiar face of Scorpius to appear once more. Her eyes dropped lower, her heartbeat pumping slowly with every second that passed.



She was furious with herself as she entered her own room and threw the bag she’d been carrying onto the floor with a loud crash that echoed thunderously.



So few words were needed, a couple of trembling syllables and tenuous tones as she finally voiced her feelings against the onslaught of the strangling prevention which had crept up in her throat. How painfully easy it now seemed and how childishly embarrassed she now felt.  



With an unusual lack of care she soon dragged herself back to her feet and opened her case, dropping the contents unceremoniously on the floor, flicking her wand at them to change them back to their larger sizes which had been previously lessened for more effective packing. She attempted to unpack but soon found herself sitting on the floor, amongst her many belongings, with her back against the foot of her bed as she went over and over in her head everything she could have said to Scorpius.



 Kicking the items on her messy floor aside as she arose, she collapsed onto her bed once more and wrapped herself in a cosy duvet cocoon which was all too soon thrown off as she twisted and turned in bed, half dozing and half awake as she padded through vague dreams for countless hours. She awoke suddenly, her mind fearful from a bright nightmare she knew she’d had but had no knowledge of, only the lingering dark feelings creeping over her goose-pimpled skin.



She lay back, examining the fabric canopy above her whilst moving agitatedly trying to find some of the comfort she knew was possible. With a frustrated groan she swung her legs out of the quickly stifling bed, curling her toes in enjoyment of the breath of cold playing over the pale skin of her feet. Slowly, she pushed herself into a sitting position and left the now useless bed to cross to the window darkened by the night sky. She swept the cushions from the vast sill with a jerk of her impatient hands and settled herself comfortably on its solid wooden platform, leaning against the pane of glass which chilled her warm skin.



Rose sighed deeply as she leant her head back against the window frame, tilting slightly to see into the darkness beyond which remained resolutely black as far as the eye could see. Her fingers trailed smudged cloudy patterns down the see-through surface before her as she traced the journeys of stray raindrops thundering down with heightening intensity as time progressed on the other side of the glass.



She pushed the window open, gasping at the influx of icy fingers of air which whipped over her skin and bit chillingly whilst dragging her clothing around her body with dizzying intensity. She breathed it in; the cold breeze seeping down her throat and drying it as much as a winter cold, filling her nose with its pungent freshness as she released the breath again, expelling it to where it once again flew off to rejoin the landscape.



Dark navy water lapped a few metres below her window, disturbed as it was by the night-time rain. It was beautiful, and a lifetime away from the English countryside of Hogwarts with the rustling hedgerows and beautiful smooth lush hills of jade blades of grass which wafted in the soft summer breezes.



Here everything was hard, angled and bitter. It resonated in the hearts of its observers like a painting completed in anger; like a moment of cruel revenge; like a crude, harsh word in the ear of young child. It was a complete and unbroken world; a circle of unstoppable nature which fought against itself, the remains of rocky mountains from yesteryear now clothed in thick moss, bright lichens and determined tufts of dark grass but still fighting to see the light and dominate once more with their marred grey surfaces.



A constant wind grabbed and tugged at the resistant trees in their statuesque stances, their whispering leaves like sordid secrets being passed from person to person on a crowded street – each bending to its willing neighbour, its thick boughs and branches moving to cover its leafy mouth and forbidden words.



An unbelievable amount seemed to have happened in such a short space of time and Rose hardly knew how to stop the torrent of new emotions, situations and experiences which were bombarding her life this year. There was a strange new warmth in her, which only hummed with contentment when Scorpius was around; she couldn’t help but look forward to every minute they had together, furiously cataloguing in her mind what he said, the way he looked, the way he spoke.



There was just something in his very nature which drew her to him like an inevitable magnetic pull which thrilled her as much as it worried her. She was only a teenager and always aware that she didn’t yet live in a world of forevers, and I love you’s and marriage.



 Instead it was emotions, and attraction, and need; it was a raw passionate craving for him which had rooted itself in the pit of her stomach, for how long she couldn’t remember, which had manifested into an addiction, a need to be with him.



Everything she’d thought of him before the Tournament began was a million miles away from what she knew of him now, but then if she really admitted it to herself; she felt she had created that image of him, a negative persona so she could dislike him with reason. As any person would, she fought against liking what people wanted her to like; for years her mother pushed her to befriend Scorpius any time their paths crossed and the constant pressure on them as a physical, innocent symbol of changing times and ending feuds wasn’t bearable for children.



It was easier for her to dislike him, to let certain aspects of his life or personality be twisted into deep flaws in his character which she could use against him. She was afraid; she was very afraid that all along she’d judged him with a false view she’d created herself, branded him with a reputation that wasn’t his and in some way contributed to the stubborn negative image her parents had of him now.



 It had been so easy, when they were forced to be alone to work on the Tournament, to see what a good person he was if only she had of taken the time to see it and not played on the stereotypes and prejudices against the Malfoy family, commonplace in the conversations of Ex-Order members who had consumed Rose’s childhood.



And yet Albus realised; it was a cold, stark fact which made her crimes feel even worse that her cousin had so quickly and easily taken to Scorpius and never questioned his motives or upbringing. She could remember the infrequent shy conversations between the two boys before Hogwarts, but even then it wasn’t really anything at all, it was when they started their First year that the friendship bloomed; why, Rose didn’t know. There had just been a natural and innate connection between the two which even the most determined and brutal of Slytherin and Gryffindor rivalry couldn’t diffuse.



Another pang of guilt resonated through Rose’s chest as she realised yet another glaring hole in her relationship with Scorpius, that she could know about his friendship with Albus, if only she’d asked. Yet she never had, she’d always made assumptions and assertions but never taken the time to consider the truth of the matter. She knew his upbringing must have been hard with the discrimination against the name of Malfoy, but the story had always been from the Wotter family perspective, never Scorpius’.



To this day she still acted as if she knew, really knew how he felt, but never did she ask or find out more, learn about his true character and how those early years of his life really mattered. It was only now, sitting on a chilly window seat late at night and closing with a thud a heavy window, that she realised the mistakes she’d made and that, desire Scorpius as she might, she rarely considered how he felt.



Her mind swarmed with persistent conflicting thoughts as her cheek pressed against the cold window pane, her breath ghosting against its surface; completely unaware of the blonde-haired boy who sat identically next door at his window, his arms wrapped around knees drawn up to his chin as he thought about the girl with fiery red hair and a temper to match who had a hold on his heart, and wouldn’t let go.



 



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



 



Scorpius awoke lazily, yawning widely as he rubbed at eyes which blinked in the midst of morning light streaming in through the window, heralding a clear, bright day to come. His limbs were numb and awkwardly positioned as he unfolded himself from the window seat where he had, somehow, slept fitfully after an uncomfortably awake night.



He glanced up at the clock in his room to see it was already eleven, the chaos of the evening before had obviously taken its toll, so he wasted no time in showering and pulling on clean clothes. He knew his previous inability to sleep was his own fault; he’d had powerful throngs of noisy, questioning thoughts bombarding his mind which refused to rest until he confronted the issues he’d been pleasantly ignoring.



So instead of slipping peacefully into a relaxing state of sleep he knew his tired body needed, he’d been plagued by the insistent thoughts which fought within his mind as they swirled around the central issue: Rose Weasley. He could still smell her scent on the air when he thought of her, no brash, overpowering perfume or bright floral aroma, but a simple citrusy kick which caught on the breeze and reminded him starkly of her whenever he smelt it.



She was always there, resting in the back of his mind as he muddled his way through how to approach any tiny facet of the feelings he had for her, wondering whether their set-backs and interruptions thus far were a sign...and a bad one at that. He’d had girlfriends before and he had liked them each for their individual merits.



 But like was as far as it went, the attraction he felt to Rose was an overwhelming, pounding, thundering of his blood through his veins like a runaway train, rushing just fast enough every now and then to give Scorpius a jolt, a moment of shock, in case it suddenly derailed and he lost complete control.



He needed her, deeply, passionately and wholly, and he feared nothing could sate that addiction until he finally revealed how he felt. She took his breath away, quite literally, and made his heart beat just that little bit faster, his palms sweat that little bit more, and his confidence falter just slightly when she was near.



With those thoughts being carefully considered in his mind all the while he made his way across the short hallway outside his bedroom and into the shared room where a sight bombarded his eyes with hideous shock.



 The room was largely consumed by a massive glass tank, entirely translucent, and obviously filled to the brim with clear, sparking water. Its transparency was starkly interrupted by the tendrils of rich red floating hypnotically, bobbling with the gentle natural rhythm of the water.



She was face down in the brutal liquid, her body floating motionless, her exposed skin deathly white and that shock of bright hair gliding effortlessly through the liquid with limitless freedom as Rose’s floating figure remained unmoving.



Scorpius didn’t move, he was frozen, his heart quite literally stopped beating in his chest as he waited for fatal moments, urging with a desperate mind for her to jump up and declare it all a big joke. His breath choked in his throat as he hurriedly found the wand tucked in his waistband and swept it forward with shaking hands, yelling a spell his mind soon forgot to disappear the glass.



He sprinted forward as the water, now released, smelt the freedom and bolted from its now removed restraints; he caught her cold body before it hit the floor, laying her carefully on the ground before him as he tested her pulse with rigid fingers. After several heartbreaking seconds he finally felt the dull thumping under his fingers and she suddenly burst back into life, coughing and spluttering as water was expelled from her open mouth.



Scorpius smoothed her wet hair back from her face, laying her across his knees as he made sure she maintained her steady breathing.



“What did you do?!” Rose accused as she took in her surroundings and Scorpius’ worried face staring down at her. “Why did you take me out of the water?” Scorpius looked at her with incredulity bright on his face.



“You were drowning! What the hell did you expect me to do? Just leave you there?!” he questioned with rising volume and broad shock, blood pumping with astonishment as it only just recovered from the previous jolt to his system. Immediate defensive anger started to flood out of his mouth to hide his now embarrassing fear of only a few moments ago.



 “Well, yes!” Rose shot back as she climbed quickly up to her feet; he followed in suit. “I was trying out some Slatherweed, it’s meant to make you breathe underwater,” she explained, her voice clearly patronising. “My parents got hold of some for me after I told them about the “elements” aspect of the Second Task. What did you think I was doing?!”



“Well drowning, obviously,” Scorpius said with barely repressed mocking sarcasm. “You didn’t think a note might be good? Some indication to anybody passing by that your lifeless body wasn’t drowned in a tank of water but actually just trying out a bit of an experiment?” He was shouting now, his voice loud in the quiet room as the fear and anxiety he’d felt and the cold blood coursing through his veins when he saw her floating body, shot to the surface of his feelings and blinded him to anything else.



“Maybe normal people wouldn’t have jumped to conclusions like you! Honestly, why would I actively try to drown myself?” she asked with impatience.



“You tell me!” he shot back, eyes bright with fury. “Who the hell goes around trying out some newly classified plant by themself in a potentially life-threatening situation? Talk about stupid.” “Rose’s lips drew into a thin line and her eyes narrowed dangerously as anger bubbled up from the depths of her stomach.



“Maybe if you weren’t such a pathetic partner and actually helped me once in a while! There are meant to be the two of us in this Tournament!” she screeched in a high-pitched, aggressive reply.



Scorpius’ eyes hardened drastically at the accusation.



“How am I meant to help you when you don’t tell me what you’re doing? You are utterly impossible.”



“And you’re completely useless,” she snarled back.



“You’re beyond infuriating,” he commented before he pulled her body hard against his and met her lips in a kiss of anger, desperation and impossible passion. Their lips duelled together as much as their previous words had, fighting with each press, stroke and pull at the mouth of the other.



They moved together with harsh speed and rough movements in the aftermath of their furious argument, still mindlessly channelling their frustrations from the past few days through the intimate moment.



 A tiny whimper sounded in Rose’s throat as he continued to kiss her deeply, his hot lips speeding furiously across hers as one of his hands cupped her neck tightly, stroking the sensitive skin behind her ear as the other grasped at the small of her back, keeping her body flush against his.



They surrendered to each other their body and soul as the rawness of their feelings was finally thrown into the open, and starkly confronted by both. She threaded eager fingers through his messy blonde hair, fisting and grasping the fine fair strands it as if to keep herself anchored; anchored to him.



The other hand pressed firmly at his back, soaked by the previous water, leaving it to rest coldly against his warm skin as if there were no fabric barrier. His lips left hers as shockingly quickly as they had arrived, leaving her gasping for breath.



“I thought I infuriated you?” she asked, breathless. 



“You do,” he shot back, his voice rough, “you really, really do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want you so much that it’s driving me crazy.”


Chapter 22: 22 - Search and Rescue
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author Note: Sorry all, that this chapter is a day late – my computer got a virus a couple of days ago and although I had everything backed up from three weeks ago it sadly meant I lost this chapter so had to rewrite it, right in the middle of a hideous bout of writer’s block! However all is now well, and here it is. I’m pretty pleased with it overall – nothing happened that I expected to but hey, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Also – another apology, updates will be every 7 days, rather than 5, for the following few weeks. This week I’m packing, moving back to Uni at the weekend, then Fresher’s week where I’m helping on moving in day and doing tours, and the following weekend is my brother’s wedding! It’s all go and the Second Task chapter is very soon and there’s no way I want to compromise on that because I don’t have enough time to write it properly. After the beginning rush everything should go right back to normal. For any news – go to my Author Page, I’ll put there if I have any difficulties posting.


Also – you may well notice an awesome new banner for the story, it really is absolutely beautiful and I love it to bits! Credit goes entirely to MissyPadfoot for such a beautiful banner.


Epic AN – sorry about that. Thank you everybody for your lovely reviews, please keep them coming because I absolutely love to hear your thoughts on the story and appreciate every comment no matter how long or short; your opinions are after all what keeps this story alive. Thank you all very much for reading. Enjoy!



 



22 – Search and Rescue:



Rose hurried down the winding passages of the Hogwarts Ship, following after Dawn’s quickly moving figure ahead of her, only half listening to the gasping words shuddering out between her friend’s sharp intakes of breath.



She was too busy smiling; she just couldn’t stop. The curve of her lips wasn’t in reminiscence, reflection or amusement. It was a pure, raw reaction to the blood pumping through her veins which physically forced her smiling mouth into submission as she moved, unable to forget Scorpius who only a few minutes earlier had been so closely connected to her. 

The grin was both unstoppable and inevitable; its energy swam through her body, making her feel effortless, like she was walking on air. It felt so entirely unbelievable to at last be able to enjoy what she had shared with Scorpius and not doubt, hide or ignore it. She was drawn from her thoughts however when she collided with Dawn’s suddenly stationery figure which had stopped immediately in front of her; the brown-haired girl had a deep frown on her face as she observed her red-headed friend.



“Rose, are you even listening?” she asked half in amusement, half in annoyance. Rose just smiled and laughed quietly, trying to remember what Dawn had been talking about as they rushed along the narrow halls. She covered her mouth with her hand, stifling her happiness in some attempt to answer the question put to her sensibly.



“What’s gotten into you?” Dawn asked, hand on hip as she stayed resolutely still in the corridor, blocking the route and preventing any further movement.



“I’m just...happy,” Rose replied evasively. “Come on we need to get to Hannah, I thought this was urgent?”



Dawn observed Rose shrewdly, torn between heeding to her instructions and defying her.



“Hannah can wait a couple of minutes,” Dawn replied with a smirk, crossing her arms over her chest. “Explain?”



Rose sighed but found that nothing could dampen her high spirits, after all she had been dying to tell somebody.



 “Me and Scorpius, we kissed,” a bubbling cauldron of laughter swept out of her throat and trickled through the air as Rose resisted the temptation to pirouette and laugh in loud happiness.



“About time!” said Dawn, her face lighting up with instant excitement. “Are you actually going to make a go of it this time?”



“I think so,” Rose replied quietly, thinking over the short conversation punctuated by small, quick kisses she and Scorpius had shared before they’d been interrupted. She’d heard Dawn’s voice as she called out to her and banged heavily on her bedroom door across the hallway, not realising what her friend was doing in the room opposite.



“We’re going to talk about it properly later, but I think we’re finally getting our act together.” Rose’s voice broke off when Dawn threw her arms around her and the two girls hugged tightly with mutual enthusiasm.



 “I really am happy for you,” Dawn said, her mouth stretched in a wide smile.



“Anyway,” Rose said quickly, “shouldn’t we be getting to Hannah and sorting out this issue?” Dawn nodded lightly and led the way once again towards Hannah’s room, several floors away.



When Dawn had arrived at Rose and Scorpius’ corridor only a few minutes earlier she’d banged on Rose’s bedroom door in a hurried frenzy to eventually sweep Rose away and explain to her out of earshot that they had a problem, a big one.



Hannah had never had a gift for subtlety and it seemed this was clearly reflected in her birthday present to Albus, which was currently residing the Gryffindor boy’s bedroom. With hysterical worry Hannah had begged Dawn to help her retrieve the gift from Albus’ room whilst he was at lunch that day and Dawn could think of nothing to do except recruit Rose and agree to assist.



They ran light-footedly through the soft carpeted corridors which were largely empty, most people obviously still recovering from the exciting events of the night before or lunching once again on the fabulous meals provided on their floating accommodation.



 “So,” Rose shouted out to Dawn as she ran, “what exactly did Hannah buy Albus for his birthday?”



“I don’t know,” Dawn shouted back over her shoulder,” she still won’t tell me!” Soon enough the two sprinting Sixth Years rounded on the corridor Rose knew well as it was also host to both Dawn and Eve’s living quarters.



Dawn stopped in front of the door at the narrow corridor’s far end and rapped sharply on the wood with her knuckles; the sound echoed through the quiet corridor before it was interrupted by Hannah emerging from her room. Her head was ducked as she looked slyly this way and that down the hallway, checking for anybody else passing nearby.



 “Where have you two been?” she hissed conspiratorially, “it’s already quarter past twelve! We need to get moving before Albus has finished his lunch.” The three made their way quietly through the labyrinth of closed doors, empty rooms and rich brown coloured corridors and eventually found themselves approaching the cabin they knew to be Albus’, thankfully not far from Hannah’s.



“Rose, why don’t you knock? We should probably check he’s not sleeping in or something,” Hannah said with a quick smile before she pulled Dawn back to hide around the corner from Albus’ room, lest it turn out that he wasn’t at dinner at all and wondered what they were all doing, crowding around his room.



Rose shook her head and sighed at their spy-like secrecy, confused as to what she would do if he was still there and she needed an instant explanation. Possible excuses ran through her mind as she went ahead anyway and knocked loudly on the door, leaning close to hear any remnants of movement or life within.



 After several silent moments she rapped her fist against the hard wood once again, calling out Albus’ name to be sure he wasn’t in and seemingly establishing the room was empty, she beckoned Hannah and Dawn out of their hiding place.



“How exactly are we going to get in anyway?” Rose asked, eyeing the door which, unlike her own, had a very solid handle. She was shocked as the door suddenly rocketed backwards into the room it guarded, only barely staying on its unexpectedly frightened hinges which wailed in creaking anger as the last flickers of Hannah’s abrupt spell shone in the air.



Rose looked at the blonde girl, her eyebrows raised and mouth pursed in firm disapproval.



“Simple as that,” Hannah said with a broad smile, instantly back to her normal and not moping self as she strode confidently into the messy bedroom. The three entered into the unique darkness of Albus’ retreat, stepping carefully to avoid the numerous belongings which littered the ground and obscured almost entirely the deep red carpet.



Hannah’s shoulders dropped as she lost her previous enthusiasm.



“It’s not here! None of his presents are!” she moaned in instant disappointment, glancing sideways at Rose and frowning at what she saw.



“This is bad! Why are you smiling?” she accused.



“They kissed,” Dawn quickly answered as she stepped forward and dragged her foot through a pile of very dirty laundry which lay sprawled in front of her, reaching the window where she pulled back the closed curtain slightly to let in some of the light outside.



Finally,” Hannah said happily. “We thought you’d never get round to it!”



“You’re a fine one to talk!” Rose replied, sticking out her tongue in playful provocation of her friend. “And anyway, you gave up a bit easily. Chances are if Albus hasn’t opened his presents already it’s for a reason. He probably put them away somewhere, in a cupboard or something when he got back last night then completely forgot about them when he got up today.” Rose smiled, pleased with her logical explanation as Hannah’s face lit up once more and she began to examine the room.



The three searched only for a few tense minutes before the wardrobe door was flung open by Dawn and brightly wrapped presents in shining paper and elaborate ribbons tumbled out, decorating the floor. She reached in, grabbing that enveloped by shimmering green wrappings before dropping it suddenly as a piercing shriek echoed chillingly through the air and deafened them, causing them all to cry out and cover their ears.



The second the present left the clutching hands of Dawn the hideous noise ceased and Hannah’s face coloured.



“Anti-intruder device,” she said sheepishly, “didn’t want anybody else opening it did I?” Dawn sighed with obvious tiredness as she pushed her long fringe out of her eyes and focussed her gaze on the embarrassed Gryffindor.



“And how exactly are we going to take the present then?” Dawn asked, lips thin and eyebrows raised in question.



“I actually have no clue,” Hannah said with a quiet laugh in reaction to Dawn’s less than impressed expression. “I never really...expected us to get this far.”



Rose thought for a few moments, her eyes scanning around the room as she twirled her wand through her fingers.



“Got it!” she said suddenly, “I can just...” She pointed her wand at the offending present and blasted it with a piercingly blue spell that catapulted through the air even as Hannah shouted “no!” in loud protest.



The spell appeared to hit the emerald gift agonisingly slowly, tearing first through the beautifully completed wrapping and destroying the dark coloured bow which hung on the very top. What followed can only be described as an explosion.



 Scraps of the green paper were scattered in limitless directions as the box beneath was suddenly destroyed in a radiant beam of blindingly bright light. From the original gift shot streams of red, yellow and orange fireworks, propelling themselves around the bedroom and rebounding off the closely gathered walls as they hissed and banged in the previously deafening silence.



Ducking and diving the three girls avoided them as best they could and in a moment of sense Rose directed her wand behind her shouting “Silencio” to avoid too much of the goings on being heard elsewhere on the large ship.



 Fiery outlines of cunning dragons now emerged and danced about the walls with hissing intensity, shining in luminous blue as they collided with each other to only assume larger more fearsome shapes which continued in their endless, hysterical journey around the small room. After what felt like hours, but was in reality mere minutes, the fireworks began to lessen their assault and as the last few squealed to a simpering silence Rose started to relax...far too soon.



From the tattered remains of the misleadingly optimistic wrappings small spirals of purple smoke began a swirling journey upwards as they continued to grow and filled more of the claustrophobically small room.



Rose cried out as a piercingly sharp screech grew in intensity and bright sapphire letters rose into the air, spelling out with stunning clarity, “Albus Potter, you prat. How long will it take you to realise Hannah Felice is absolutely crazy about you?”



The words beamed joyfully for a moment, shining with unimaginable radiance before they dispersed quickly and shot glittering trails of cobalt brightness which scattered about the room. A loud pop echoed behind Rose as she looked quickly round to see a shell-shocked Albus standing alongside James, who had his wand held out as it broke the previous silencing spell Rose had cast.



“What are you doing here?” Hannah squeaked out, uncharacteristically flustered.



What am I...” Albus trailed off with an incredulous tone. “More like what are you doing here! You broke into my room! What are you doing?”



Rose was, for perhaps the first time, entirely flabbergasted and completely without words to remedy the situation as she stood guiltily in the green strewn wreckage of her cousin’s room.



“We didn’t break in,” Dawn attempted, “we...er... we found it like this when we were passing by,” she finished lamely.



“I don’t think we need explanations,” James said with a loud and amused laugh, a grin stretching from ear to ear as he flung an arm around his brother’s shoulders. “From what we just saw, looks like someone has a bit of a crush.” He smirked knowingly as he squeezed Albus closer to his side and watched Hannah with mocking playfulness as her cheeks coloured.



“I...I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Hannah replied with transparent incredulity as she struggled to stand up to the tall Gryffindor. Albus looked to be in a frozen state of trauma, eyes wide with a sudden flash of comprehension as he stared shamelessly at Hannah, as if seeing an entirely new person.



His lips were quivering as if urging themselves to spill the words locked up in his rigid throat but to no avail.



“Sure, sure,” James laughed.



“I mean it!” Hannah continued, stumbling over her words as she improvised on the spot. “I don’t like Albus because...well because I...I have a boyfriend!” she finished triumphantly. “I already have a boyfriend so why on earth would I be interested in Albus?” She breathed an obvious sigh of relief as she smiled, suddenly with the upper hand.



“A boyfriend?” Albus croaked out, rapidly becoming lifelike once more. “You’ve got a boyfriend?” Hannah bristled at what she perceived to be an accusation, an insult, and immediately defended herself without thinking.



“Rose has got a boyfriend now, and Dawn practically has; why shouldn’t I?” she snapped with a hand on her hip as her heated words hung in the air. Seeing a full blown argument about to erupt Dawn and Rose looked to each other and nodded, grabbing Hannah’s arms on either side and marching her from the room.



“We really have to be going!” Rose cried out over her shoulder as they hurried away. “I hope they find whoever broke into your room!” The three girls, now overcome by laughter began to run with a quickening pace to escape the two Potter boys even as Albus stuttered behind them in complete shock and confusion.



“Wait a second!” Rose heard James shout in sudden comprehension. “What do you mean Rose has got a boyfriend now?!”



“Quicken the pace, ladies, quicken the pace!” Rose said in sudden alarm as she sprinted down the corridor and away from James’ accusing voice, only slowing to a stop when they were several hallways away.



“So what now?” Dawn asked. “Mine and Hannah’s rooms are pretty off limits now since they’re so close to Albus’; I guess we’re going to yours for the time being, Rose,” she deduced.



“No,” Hannah suddenly protested, her eyes still bright with a confident anger, plans of revenge formulating in her mind. “We need to go to the Gryffindor Common Room,” she finished. Rose looked at her in confusion.



“Why?” she asked quickly.



I need to find a boyfriend!” Hannah said, a sly smile creeping onto her lips as she lifted her head high and started to stride back the way they had come, to rejoin a staircase which led to the shared room of the red and gold house.



Rose and Dawn followed in resignation as they dragged their steps, Dawn looking increasingly worried. She slowed her pace, separating her and Rose from their friend who continued a furious rhythm ahead.



“She wouldn’t actually just ask out a guy in the Gryffindor Common Room like that, would she?” she asked Rose quietly, wanting and needing reassurance.



“Of course not,” Rose replied as Dawn heaved a huge sigh of relief. “Since when would Hannah be so mainstream and ordinary?” she continued. “She just let the guy she actually likes know by giving him a present which contained live fireworks that proclaimed her love in brightly coloured, noisy glory. I can’t imagine her taking the easy route now.”



Rose grinned, she couldn’t help but regard what was to follow with happy anticipation as it was better, after all, than focussing on the pessimism of the situation. It wasn’t long before the trio had reached the dark oak door of the Gryffindor Common Room with its shining plaque.



Rose could see Dawn quickly open her mouth, obviously to offer some kind of warning or beg Hannah to reconsider her rash decision. But it would have fallen on deaf ears as Hannah didn’t even hesitate in her confident approach but swung open the door with vigour so it hit the wall with a resounding bang, drawing the attention of every one of the room’s occupants to her.



She stepped over the threshold and stood with her hands on her hips, her eyes scanning the room. “So, is anybody interested in being my boyfriend?” she said with no preamble and a crystal clear voice even as Dawn groaned behind her and even Rose shook her head in trepidation. A short, young boy, below Hannah’s shoulder stepped forward with a hesitant smile.



Hannah raised her eyebrow at him and, suitably put down, the Second Year retreated back to his seat no longer meeting her gaze. The room swam with silence after this as Hannah’s expression started to fall.



“All right,” said a sneering voice from the corner where a boy with shaggy blonde hair sat in his tipped back chair.



“No, Hannah...” Rose began but trailed off as Hannah talked loudly over her, taking Sam Wilkes up on his offer and arranging to meet him later in the day even as he leered at her, trailing slimy eyes over her petite frame.



 



*             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *             *



      



Rose approached Scorpius’ bedroom door with unfaltering speed and knocked loudly on the wooden panelling exposed to her eager hands.



“Come in!” Scorpius replied from within even as the door clicked and opened itself unaided, allowing Rose entrance. Scorpius sat with his back against the headboard of his bed, settled firmly on silver and green pillows with a small leather bound book resting on his knees which were brought up to his chest.



He looked up questioningly as he saw his red-headed neighbour and smiled at her even as she trampled over to him and threw herself across the bottom of his bed where she laid on her back, sighing with contentment.



“Rough day?” he enquired as she groaned and kicked off her shoes.



“You have no idea,” she began, stretching her arms out above her head as she yawned. “Me, Dawn and Hannah broke into Albus’ room to steal one of his birthday presents; Hannah declared her passionate love for him with the aid of fireworks; she then denied it and claimed she had a boyfriend causing her to march to the Common Room and get a boyfriend who is, the one, the only, Sam Wilkes.” Scorpius noticeably winced.



“Why would anybody choose Wilkes? He’s a complete git.”



“I think it’s more he chose her.” Rose sighed deeply as she massaged her closed eyelids and yawned widely once again. Although it was only early evening, it had been a horribly long day after she’d left the blonde-haired Slytherin that morning.



After Hannah had obtained her new man the trio found themselves at a loss over where they could go to avoid Albus and James, eventually deciding to leave the ship altogether and walk through the grounds for the following few hours. Now, feet aching, skin very cold and her whole body protesting from tiredness, Rose was happy just to be able to rest once again.



“Oh,” she began once again, remembering more of the earlier happenings, “and I’m pretty sure Albus and James now know we’re together; James for one didn’t seem too happy about it.” Scorpius furrowed his brow as Rose tilted her head to the side, pulling her eyes from the fabric canopy ahead, and meeting his gaze.



“Why don’t you think he’s happy about it?” Scorpius enquired.



“Well I can’t remember exactly what he said...he was shouting at me...as I ran away,” Rose replied hesitantly.



“Ah...that probably didn’t give the right impression,” Scorpius commented with a laugh. His laughter soon petered out and they sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes whilst they considered all that had gone on in just one day.



“So...does that mean we are together then?” Scorpius asked suddenly, brushing his fingers through his short, blonde hair as his question hung tensely in the air for a moment. Rose froze, realising she’d made assumptions too soon.



“I well...I mean I...well...do you want to be?” she asked after her words stumbled slightly as she grasped at different replies.



“There are a hundred reasons why we shouldn’t get together,” Scorpius commented sadly.



“And probably a hundred reasons why we should,” Rose replied with a smile.



He met her eyes with complete clarity as they smiled together and his lips spoke the words she’d been longing to here.



“I want to; I want us to be together,” Scorpius answered as he released a pent up breath and laughed slightly. He dropped the book he had been holding as he moved across the bed, leaning over her to press a hot kiss against her waiting lips. It was quick, soft, simple; but no less filled with passion.



All of the previous set-backs and interruptions the two had experienced started to mean nothing and melt away, leaving room only for the happiness which stemmed from finally being together.



“This may well not work,” Scorpius said quietly, “we could be terrible together and in the worst relationship known to humanity. It could ruin our friendships and our chances in the Tournament if we suddenly can’t bear to be near each other. It could pretty much tear our families apart and turn them against each other, even more than they are already.”



“Wow, you really know how to charm a girl, Scorpius,” Rose commented dryly.



“On the other hand,” Scorpius continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted, “this could be the best decision we ever have, or ever will, make.”



“I’m hoping for the latter,” Rose said with a laugh even as Scorpius stretched out beside her, also laying firmly on his back with his feet dangling over the bed’s edge, entwining his fingers with hers. “What about your parents?” Scorpius asked, reluctance and worry already present in his voice as he less than enthusiastically anticipated the answer.



“I need to tell them myself,” Rose replied firmly. “They’re coming to watch the Second Task, so I can speak to them then.” She sighed deeply and frowned even as Scorpius traced his fingers over her lips and looked at her questioningly.



“What’s the matter?” he asked.



“We can tell our friends which is great, just about everyone at Hogwarts will know but...we’re still keeping this a secret from some people. It spoils it.” Rose’s voice was quiet as she spoke, her eyes remaining lowered as if afraid to meet those of Scorpius who, after such a seemingly long path, she had finally admitted her feelings for only to have them quashed by her own family.



The idea of a secret romance didn’t fill her with excitement or eager anticipation; it made her feel like her own life was an encumbrance on the relationship they were going to pursue. She didn’t want the so-called thrill of secrecy and going behind people’s backs, she wanted to celebrate and tell everybody, stop the pessimistic voices in their tracks as they spoke their frenzied arguments. Something about the whole situation dampened her spirits.



“I know it’s not ideal,” Scorpius said after several long minutes thinking, “but it’s the only solution at the moment. It won’t be for long and we won’t really be lying, just...holding back the truth for a while. For now we can just see how it goes, see how we are together. Then you can tell your parents when you’re ready.” Rose turned her head to the side and smiled at Scorpius’ pensive expression, admiring his sense of support and resolution.



“You’re far too good for me, you know,” she laughed.



They lay together in silence for several minutes, neither needing to talk or wanting to, but just enjoying finally being together.



“Sorry for disturbing you,” Rose eventually said, remembering how she had burst in on him whilst he read. “What were you reading anyway?”



Scorpius reached across the bed, pulling the small volume out from where it had slipped between his pillows and handed it to Rose who examined the spine, reading faded gold lettering saying “Battling Nature”.



“It’s got some defensive spells against water and fire,” Scorpius commented as he released Rose’s hand and began to leaf through the book, “pages and pages of them.” Rose groaned as she observed the miniscule writing and intricate list of spells, but knew they needed to start work on the Second Task sooner rather than later.



“Shared room?” Scorpius enquired as he started to rise from the bed.



“Sounds good,” Rose replied. “With my spell casting I’d probably end up burning down your room or something.” Scorpius smiled at her as he reached out and took her hand in his, leading her across the corridor where they practiced well into the night; starting, once again, to prepare for the challenges they still had to face.



        



 


Chapter 23: 23 - Final Days of Freedom
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Wow, so – where to start. I hardly know what to say. Apologies can’t cover my absence which is nearly 2 years now – I can hardly believe it. Beginning my second year of Uni brought her far more work than I imagined and I couldn’t juggle everything, I then got in a relationship and spare time was pretty much nonexistent. By the start of this year I’d had my heart phenomenally broken and had third year of Uni to contend with at the same time.

It was only recently that I started thinking about HPFF again and I came on here to see whether Red Champion still had any readers, and I was shocked, surprised and amazed. Thank you so much for the ongoing support everybody has offered. Re-reading all reviews on previous chapters and new reviews since I have been gone offered me inspiration I didn’t think possible; I really had forgotten everything I enjoyed so much about writing this novel.

So I am back and here, amazingly, is a new chapter! Bear with me as I’m getting to grips with it all again, however the next chapter is the Second Task which is fully planned and hopefully will be with you all soon. I hope so much my old readers are still in the HPFF sphere after all this time and that new readers will be willing to give me a chance. Thank you so much everybody for giving me the confidence to continue this novel, without you all I would be entirely lost. Over the next few days I will be answering every single review I have yet to respond to as they mean the absolute world to me.

Any reviews you can offer on this chapter, ideas of what you’d like to see in the future of the novel and expectations of the second task would be, as ever, incredibly appreciated.
One last time –Thank You and Sorry.



23 – Final Days of Freedom:

Damp hung in the air like clothes on a washing line during a cold day, not sopping wet as they had once been but chilled with water droplets which still refused to leave, clinging to the fine fibres possessively.

It cast a thick blanket over Rose’s face as she moved her head back into the comfort of her room, slamming shut the ancient window she’d just been leaning out of to taste gulps of frozen air and scare away the ghosts of sleep which had been haunting her eyes for the past hour.

There was a small knock at her door. He didn’t need to, they both knew it, since the resolute wooden guard had stood open for several hours, but she knew he’d never want to impose. She smiled at Scorpius as he walked over to her.

“Ready?” he asked and she nodded, immediately grabbing her wand and pushing it into the pocket of her worn denim jeans. They’d been together, officially, for several days but it felt like they’d grown up together and had always had that pure, raw, innate connection which you can’t learn or create.


When they were in their rooms the doors stayed propped open, a decision which was never actively made but more a gesture which just grew from the moment they knew what they could share.


They didn’t live in each other’s pockets, or spend every waking moment together just because they could; their always open rooms were more a symbol of trust; of comfort; of a sense of honesty that they never needed to hide anything from the other. Rose was overtly aware of how good it felt.

Whether by luck or coincidence Rose hadn’t seen James since a few days earlier when he had suddenly found out she had gotten a boyfriend. It wasn’t a strange phenomenon, at the beginning of her time at Durmstrang she’d barely seen him at all and so avoiding him wasn’t difficult.


But she hadn’t hidden; she’d been in her room; to see her friends; to walk in the Durmstrang grounds as was expected but she’d never seen her tall, raven-haired cousin; for that reason, she knew he was avoiding her too.


Albus in comparison hadn’t made any attempt to broach the issue with either Scorpius or Rose but had acted as if nothing had happened, which was easy enough to believe when, not yet secure in their new relationship, the couple retained their friendships and usual routines.

Some small breath of fire in Rose made her want to confront it, to ask Albus, to approach James and find out what they thought because there was an ever twisting, twirling flame inside her, never extinguishable, which only burned brighter when Scorpius was near, and which carved the happy laughing smile on her face continually.


They walked hurriedly through the identical corridors on the Hogwarts Ship, late in the evening; despite the changing seasons it still remained chilled yet Rose felt like she was glowing even as Scorpius shook his head and laughed at her constant happiness. A note was still folded tightly in her pocket from days previous when hers and Scorpius’ detentions had begun for their role in Albus’ party.


Luckily the two had been segregated from the rest of their friends, Rose suspected so Professor Quila could feel as if they still had the opportunity to work on the Tournament. She grimaced at that thought, a dull ache starting at her temples as she sighed at the realisation of just how close the Second Task was. When it had been weeks away it had still felt reassuringly distant, but now it was in a mere two days time.


It was a foolish, childish thought but it occurred to her often: surely it was meant to be easier than this? She had one constant advantage over her fellow Champions, that her Uncle had been a Champion himself and yet his Tournament felt like an entirely different world to hers where hints and cheats and lucky guesses had roamed free through the weeks leading up to the terrifying challenges.


Rose couldn’t help but feel that any sense of good fortune had resolutely abandoned her in favour of her competitors, none of whom, when she spotted glimpses of them, appeared stressed, worried or tired from limitless practicing.


Providence was on their side. Today hers and Scorpius’ detention spot had been moved, for days they’d been helping with boring, menial tasks such as cleaning, washing, scrubbing and tidying the vast quantity of classrooms the Ship had to offer, without the luxuries of magical assistance, but today they’d been summoned somewhere different entirely: the Library.


Both had sought directions since neither had had any need to approach that living, breathing collection of ideas, memories, loves and hates which fluttered about the cavernous room, apparently hidden deep at the heart of the Ship in its very foundations.

Rose felt a strange burst of excited anticipation as if her body knew something she didn’t, that something interesting was about to arise. So she padded along the carpeted floors, her fingers tangled comfortingly with Scorpius’ with a sense of calm and subdued excitement.


“The sooner these detentions finish, the better,” Scorpius commented tiredly as they travelled through the soft silence.


“I can’t say they’re the highlight of my life,” Rose replied dryly, “and we’re not even halfway through yet!”


”We hardly have the time to spare,” Scorpius continued, brushing his fingers through his short blonde hair. Rose looked up at his worried face and squeezed his hand reassuringly.


“We just need to keep working at it. We got through the First Task having had no clue what it was about; this one will just have to be the same.”

“We’ll get there in the end,” Scorpius eventually said, brightening up slightly. “And then I’m going to sleep.” Rose raised an enquiring eyebrow.

“For absolutely ages, just catch up on all the nights I’ve lost since the Tournament.”

“We’ll still have another Task you know!” Rose reminded, elbowing him playfully in the ribs as she chuckled.


“Yes well, you might just be on your own for that one. Real men need sleep,” he yawned. Rose broke into bubbling strands of musical laughter, her mouth grinning wickedly as she looked up at the blonde-haired boy who walked alongside her.


“How do you know real men need sleep? Have you asked one?” she joked as he pretended to be offended, his bottom lip quivering as his eyebrows lowered and he perfected his sulky expression.


A retort, already perched on his lips, was stopped before it fled, distracted as both students became by the large dark oak doors which had revealed themselves ahead of the two, a single word carved in the rich chocolate surface; Library.


With rising trepidation and perfect symmetry they stepped forward and pushed open the barrier which creaked menacingly. They strode into the intimately lit space beyond; floating lanterns glowing with a myriad of different coloured light to illuminate the otherwise darkened space.


Tall bookshelves laden with heavy leather bound volumes and small torn paperbacks towered over the worn wooden floorboards and carved a maze through the room. Scorpius and Rose proceeded, continuing through the sea of books to eventually find small clearings filled by rickety tables and the stern face of their Headmistress as she whispered quickly to the short grey-haired woman who stood before her.


As Rose and Scorpius approached, their feet etched scraping, shuffling sounds into the near silence which had consumed the room previously, alerting the Library’s occupants to their presence.


“Mr Malfoy and Miss Weasley!” Professor Quila quickly replied, clapping her hands together as she attempted to disguise how startled she was by their sudden arrival.

The tall Headmistress had bright spots of red on the harshest angle of her cheeks, a usual sign she was angry which the two students knew well, although Rose couldn’t think why she would be quarrelling with her small companion.


“I don’t believe either of you have met our temporary Librarian here at Durmstrang? Madam Thompson kindly took on the job in the absence of Professor Mink, who remains at Hogwarts.”

 

Thewoman was babbling slightly as she continued, something unheard of from the usually cool and calm Professor.



Rose glanced at Scorpius but his eyes were focussed ahead, she too turned and smiled at the kind-faced woman, Madam Thompson, who ran a flustered hand through her hair and nodded back at the couple.


“If you could follow me.” Professor Quila motioned to them to follow her, Rose recognising the barely perceptible pursing of Madam Thompson’s lips as they left, her head shaking slightly from side to side as she retreated into the shadows of the book lined walls.


They were guided towards several tall book shelves, seemingly in disarray, with no clearly defined topics as was usually the method of organisation at Hogwarts. Rose picked out the thick gold text on the spines of some, from the Dark Arts, Herbology, Spell Casting and more; they appeared as if they had been hastily thrown onto the willing shelf and left there for somebody else to sort out. That, Rose supposed, was probably her and Scorpius’ job.


“The books here,” Professor Quila began, a long painted fingernail pointing to the chaotic collection, “need to be reorganised by subject and then arranged in alphabetical order; each spine then needs to be very well dusted as many of the titles have become almost completely obscured over time.


“You will also need to remove items hidden in any volumes to mark pages. Hogwarts pupils have an annoying habit of leaving traces of themselves in books.” She sighed suddenly, her eyes piercing as they focussed on the two blank faced students who responded with understanding nods.

“Finally, check through the books to make sure no passages have been highlighted or otherwise differentiated from the rest by a reader, if so you are allowed to remove this by magic, to ensure the books stay well kept in their original condition.” She smiled grimly at the two before nodding her head abruptly and starting to move away.


“You may both begin; detention ends when all of the books have been dealt with and organised correctly. You may call Madam Thompson at this time who will evaluate your work.” The tall woman strutted uniformly away without giving a backward glance, although Rose did note a slight expression of hesitation in her features before she had turned her back.



“Right,” Scorpius said, his mouth in a firm line as he raised an eyebrow in slight confusion at the strange actions of their Headmistress.


“That was...odd,” he finished. Rose nodded in agreement but with neither of them having the time or energy to consider it at that moment they threw themselves into their task and began pulling books off the shelves; Scorpius started at the top and Rose at the bottom, both keen for this detention to be over with as soon as possible.


Each gathered a tottering pile and carried their heavy loads to a nearby table where they were dumped unceremoniously on the shining brown surface. Rose picked up a book from the top of the heap, dark emerald in colour but cloaked by years of thick dust it was obviously rarely read, the lettering on the spine no longer visible.


From an adjacent table she picked up a dusting cloth and ran it quickly over the once brightly coloured bindings to reveal small silver text which read, Mysteries of the Dark and Intricacies of the Light. Rose raised an eyebrow with a less than enthusiastic approach as she provided the small cramped writing for Scorpius to see.


He grinned and pointed to his own leather-bound offering, entitled Spell Casting in the Middle Ages. Finding the enjoyment in pointing out the dullness of each other’s books the two soon found themselves enjoying the detention more; the task was repetitive and menial but at least interrupted by the slight interest over what the next book would hold.


It was a least thirty minutes later before Rose found a book in which several passages had been crudely outlined with thick pen and marked by a scrap of yellowing parchment. In interest she stopped her previously hurried activities to look, once again, at the large curling letters of the heading she had originally uncovered: The Complete Guide to Herbology by Augustus Liberton.


Complete she could easily believe it was, heavy and thick in her hands it rested resolutely on the table where it had previously landed with a thud. Several sections of text had been separated from the rest and Rose scanned through with precision, eyes picking out descriptions of rare herbs found abroad; healing properties of Bubotuber Pus; effects of the dangerous Belladonna plant; shrinking sensations caused by the Abyssinian Shrivelfig.


The words flew through her mind as she carefully removed the clear thick ink surrounding them with the tip of her wand, the black seeping back into her wand as it was drawn cleanly from the crisp page. Once finished she placed the book to the side, forming a Herbology pile beside those already forged from the previous titles.


Her tiredness began to return as they both reached their second hour, having cleared at least six shelves each they still had a further six between them as Rose’s eyelids started to fall and she swept a dirtied cloth over the thin book in her hand with little excitement.

The title, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, now glowed slightly in a piercing blue pressed as it was onto the dark sapphire surface. Once again numerous parts of the book had been underlined in a slim blue pen which Rose removed with the magical aid of her wand, only reluctantly running her eyes over what had been previously read by the reader before her.


Minutes later, after skating her eyes over the properties of Armadillo bile and the bad luck of the legendary Mackled Malaclaw the book was thrown hastily to the side to join other books of its subject, now with blissfully clean pages.


The most interesting part of the evening, Rose found, was coming across old texts from their first year. Scorpius had mainly found them in his collection and both had enjoyed the reminiscence over “Magical Theory” by Adalbert Waffling which they’d had to tirelessly study at the time, but which had now become a distant memory.


Eventually, after a further hour of tireless dusting, reading and cleaning, Scorpius and Rose came to a finish, Rose removing the last traces of pencil which outlined the geographical origins of creatures including Abraxans and Acromantulas.


With a sigh the two sat back into patched armchairs and stretched their arms above their heads as they yawned, both finally glad to have finished the monotonous task they had been set. Yet in moments they were on their feet again, rearranging the books onto the original shelf by subject in eager anticipation to finally be able to go to bed and rest for the next day of lessons and preparations for the Second Task.


Scorpius called out for Madam Thompson on completion who soon rounded the corner of the tall bookshelves behind them and approached their detention area, eyeing quickly the task they had been set before dismissing them without so much as checking their work, with a slight hint of disapproval in her eye.


The young couple left the darkness of the library to journey through the corridors outside and back to their luxurious quarters; as dull and passionless as their task had been they had worked long into the night. Scorpius smiled slightly before he leaned forward and touched his lips gently against Rose’s, his hand cupped the back of her neck as gently as his mouth caressed hers.


All too soon they broke away, almost feeling wide awake again with need running through their veins. But they separated, saying goodnight and returning to their rooms where they both fell quickly into deep, undisturbed sleep.



* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Rose jerked suddenly upright, startled as she was by the sound of books clattering into bags and pens and pencils being packed safely away. Her eyes met those of Dawn who grinned at her knowingly, gesturing to the front of the class where the harried Professor was magically wiping clean the board having obviously just finished the lesson.


“Tired?” Dawn asked her red-headed friend who even now had heavy eyes from her previous fits of sleep during the long class.


“Detention...” Rose yawned widely, “...last night.” Dawn smiled grimly in reply as the two girls packed away their things and started walking from the room with its dark panelled walls and thick wooden desks. They soon parted ways as Dawn went on to her next class and Rose returned to her room to enjoy her free hour.


Swinging open the door to her and Scorpius’ shared room she flung her bag on the floor and settled comfortably on a squishy sofa by the room’s prominent fireplace. Seemingly as soon as her eyelids descended she was once again awoken abruptly by loud crude knocking on the open door of her sanctuary, reluctantly she observed who had interrupted her with glaring slits for eyes and a croaky yawn, smiling as she saw Hannah’s blonde framed face.


However the welcoming expression soon fell drastically as shaggy blonde hair preceded the tall, lanky figure of Sam Wilkes, still Hannah’s boyfriend, who had the fair haired girl’s small palm gripped tightly in his own, his large hand.


Rose frowned as she climbed to her feet, perfecting a sulky expression as she raised an eyebrow at a crestfallen Hannah.


“Wow this place is...awesome,” Sam began, dropping Hannah’s hand quickly as he crossed the room and began examining its various belongings. Rose stalked across to Hannah.


“Why did you bring him here?” she hissed, even as Hannah’s head dropped and her eyes examined the floor.


“I can’t get rid of him!” she unsuccessfully defended. “I don’t know what to do, Rose. I figured this would help me feel better about Albus but it hasn’t. He follows me everywhere, he practically invented “public displays of affection” and he’s...”


“...not Albus?” Rose finished slightly sharply, her frustration starting to grow as Hannah nodded.


“How do I get rid of him?” Hannah asked glumly as her eyes fixed on the boy who was unaware of the two girls’ conversation as he thoroughly examined the objects scattered about the large room.


Rose watched with distaste as his greasy, pale fingers stroked over spines of the books on a ramshackle bookcase, just grazing the button which opened the passage into the secret Library; thankfully the doorway stayed resolutely shut. She wracked her brains for the hint of an idea of how to get rid of Hannah’s new suitor with the least impact on herself or her friend.


“Come to my room,” Rose said quickly, beginning to lead Hannah through the open doorway. Sam didn’t even notice their exit, engrossed as he was in exploring the room full of exciting possessions. Rose pulled her bedroom door closed behind them with a snap. She sighed and looked at her blonde friend who’d started to settle herself on her bed.


“Why on earth did you get together with him in the first place?!” the redhead questioned, exasperated.

“You knew what a complete git he was. It was such a stupid thing to do.” Rose could feel her anger growing, she knew Hannah’s mind wasn’t in the right place at the moment, that she was confused and hurt and had just needed someone, anyone, to make her feel better.


But it didn’t excuse her actions. She’d made a stupid decision that Rose had to sort out, when she had a million and one other things she should be occupying her time with.

 

She was tired, fed-up and scared to death of the quickly approaching Second Task and Hannah’s lax attitude and ability to create difficult situations and then leave somebody else to clear them up had pushed Rose to the limit. The Second Task was tomorrow! Did Hannah now even realise?


“Do you know how much I’ve got on my mind at the moment? How many other things I have to deal with?” Rose argued, her voice starting to rise with indignation and stress. It wasn’t Hannah’s fault; she kept trying to tell herself it wasn’t Hannah’s fault but sheer exhaustion had crept up on her and she needed somebody to expel all her pent up frustration onto.


“I can’t be dealing with you as well!” she continued, eyes bright. “You got yourself into this stupid mess so you’ll just have to get yourself out of it. You didn’t need to go and get a boyfriend, especially not like that I mean what did you expect?


“You thought you could just pick up an average boy who didn’t ask questions, pretend to be interested in him for a week or so to make Albus jealous and then dump him? I can’t help you Hannah, I just can’t. I’ve got enough to be dealing with right now.”


Her anger was carrying her all the way through her speech. The sharp-edged words were spiralling out as the sleep deprived Rose barely even registered what she was saying. She could feel her heart’s harsh beat and the heavy painful lump which was starting in her throat as she started to realise what she’d said, what she was doing.

But she couldn’t have stopped it. She felt so anxious; life felt so unfair. So many responsibilities lay upon her young shoulders and she just wanted them gone. She wanted to go far away from here and just give up on the tournament. She just wanted Scorpius to herself, really to herself, with no obligations to fulfil or tests to study for.


She stumbled over to the window. Her fingers splayed out and threaded through her hair, squeezing on her skull, trying to push away the painful ache. She just couldn’t face it anymore.

 

Sometimes she’d convince herself the Second Task wasn’t coming, that she wasn’t the Hogwarts champion and she’d spend free, blissful hours with Dawn and Hannah or with Scorpius just being a teenager again.


Massaging her scalp she heaved a deep breath, pulling herself back to reality and edging away from the bright painful hysteria she was slipping towards. Pull yourself together, she told herself, just don’t think about it.


A click interrupted her thoughts and she turned around; her room was empty. She crossed to her door and opened it just in time to see that at the far end of the corridor swinging hastily shut, betraying the sharp, fast exit of the person who had just passed through it. At the sound of movement Sam had emerged from his reverie and walked out of common room.


“Where’s Hannah gone?” he asked, a sneer twisting his thin lips.


“Go ask her yourself,” Rose answered, gesturing to the door at the end of the corridor and turning her back on the tall Gryffindor, ready to return to bed and just sleep away this wasted day. A hand landed on her shoulder.


“You always were such a pretty one,” Sam’s greasy voice whispered in her ear. She could feel his hot breath playing over the skin of her neck. She shuddered and twisted her shoulder from his grip, a snarl curling her lips as she turned to face him. He was close; he was too close.


She was panicking, but not because she was afraid of him; on a normal day she could have taken care of him easily, but today she was a wreck. She felt like she was working on autopilot, her body was heavy and weighted as her head throbbed and her eyes watered. The overpowering smell of his cheap aftershave made her feel dizzy as she struggled to organise her thoughts and get her mind and body to work together.


The door at the end of the corridor swung open before she had a chance to do anything but stand there numbly. Scorpius stumbled through, his awkward gait betraying his tiredness.

 

He stopped instantly when he saw them; the image of that slimy womanising Gryffindor with his girlfriend pressed up against the wall; his girlfriend who wasn’t pushing Sam Wilkes away but who stood there with a guilty look on her face. His heart squeezed painfully tightly.


Sam smoothly pulled himself back and seeing Scorpius’ piercing stare was fixed on Rose he patted her shoulder even as she flinched backwards.


“See you again some time,” he drawled and exited the corridor, a shocked Scorpius letting him walk past.


“What’s going on?” he asked quietly, brushing his fingers through his hair. His hand shook.

“What do you mean?” said Rose sharply, feeling the accusation in his words. “You saw what happened, that...creep had me pushed up against the wall.” She shuddered.


“What was he even doing here, with you, alone,” he replied. He sounded tired and his words staggered into each other making his speech barely coherent.


“He came with Hannah but we had an argument so she left and he didn’t. I told him to go after her and turned to go back into my room and he grabbed me.” Rose’s eyes were pleading, her voice was trembling. Scorpius watched her carefully and slowly walked towards her.


“You promise me that’s the truth?” he asked simply.


“Of course! I wouldn’t lie to you.” He felt the sincerity in her words and let out a deep breath. His arms wrapped gently around her.


“I’m sorry,” he said, “it was just a long night last night and a long day today. I’m exhausted. I didn’t mean to take it out on you.” They sank into the warmth of their shared embrace as they both realised that this small incident must be disregarded for now. The Second Task lingered in the air and time was precious. They broke apart and linked hands, Scorpius leading her through to the shared room where they began their final evening of preparation.

 


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