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I’ve noticed that as time starts to go on that all wounds heal. Eventually the pain goes away. Or at least becomes dull enough that I can ignore it every once in a while.

Somehow, I found the strength to go on.

Maybe it was because I didn’t want to give Anna the satisfaction of knowing that she had won. Maybe it was because I wanted to spite everyone who was determined to knock me down – prove it to them that I was a survivor. Or maybe it was because deep down inside of me I still somehow believed that things would get better.

My mother had always told me that things had to get worse before they could get better. She also had told me that people didn’t know how strong they actually were until put into a situation where they had no other choice but to be strong. I figured I had hit both of those points. I had hit rock bottom. Now the only question in my mind was how I was supposed to pull myself up again. 

“Bye Myrtle,” I called as I heaved my heavy bag onto my shoulder. “I’m going to class.”

“Are you coming back after?” the ghost-girl asked, sticking her translucent, pearly head through the stall door to look at me.

“I’m not sure,” I replied, tucking a piece of my hair behind my ear awkwardly. “It depends upon what happens.”

Myrtle nodded. “Well, good luck.”

I smiled weakly in thanks and watched as her head disappeared again.

I really, really did not want to go to classes today. Heck, I didn’t want to leave the bathroom at all. But I’d missed way too many classes this year. Sooner or later one of my professors was bound to write home to my parents to tell them that I had been skipping. And no one needed that right now.  

So I would go. I would go begrudgingly, but I would go.

I took a deep breath, not bothering to glance in the mirror to see how I looked. I had no one to impress anymore. And honestly, I had no desire to make myself look good. I would look how I felt. And right now, I felt horrible. Maybe it would make Scorpius feel guilty. The thought make me grin a little bit and with that notion and I strode out of the bathroom and down the hallway.

By the time I got to the end of the corridor I wanted nothing more than to turn back around the way I had come and go back and hide with Myrtle. Because there, leaning on a railing while waiting for the stairs to switch again was Al. 

He looked about as bad as I felt. His normally messy black hair was standing straight up, as if he had stuck his finger in an electrical plug and he had deep, dark circles under his eyes. His eyes were closed though, and he wasn’t looking my way.  

I slowed in my steps until it was almost impossible to hear my footsteps on the floor and I tried to creep around him. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to Al. And I really wasn’t in the mood to talk to an exhausted, grumpy Al. 

I stepped forward slowly, trying to get around him so that I could take the longer way to Charms. 

“Hey Rosie,” Al said softly and I felt my back stiffen. Damn.

I turned on my heel and looked at him, noticing that his usually bright green eyes were dull and sad. “Hey Al.”

“I’ve been looking for you,” he said, running his hand through his hair uncomfortably.

“Oh,” I replied, feeling awkward. “Why? Is something wrong?”

“No, not really,” he answered, his green eyes darting everywhere but at me. “It’s just that this came in the mail for you yesterday, and no one was there to take it for you, so I did.” He reached out and handed me a light purple piece of parchment with a sparkly gold ribbon tied around it. He still wasn’t looking at me.

“Oh,” I said, taking the parchment from him and undoing the ribbon. “Thanks.”

Al nodded in return and I unrolled the parchment, staring down at the fancy handwriting.

We are pleased to announce that you are invited to the wedding of: Victoire Weasley and Teddy Lupin.

When: April 4th, 2023

Where: The Burrow, Ottery St. Catchpole, Scotland

Time: 4:00 pm – 12:00 am

We hope to see you there!

Much love,

Teddy and Victoire

I stared down at the parchment for a moment, rereading the text a few times. Teddy and Victoire were getting married. Well, it was about bloody time.

“This is over Easter break, isn’t it?” I asked Al after a few moments.

“Yeah, it is,” he replied. “It’s about time the two of them got married. I was beginning to think that Vicky would go crazy waiting for him to ask her.”

“Yeah,” I nodded, still not able to get over how awkward it was talking to him. It made my stomach squirm just thinking about how close we used to be. Before, I could tell Al anything and I had known that he would be there for me. But now we were reduced to this. Bloody Anna.

“Rose, the real reason I came here wasn’t to give you this,” Al said very suddenly, looking fully at me for the first time.

“I figured as much,” I nodded, leaning against the rail.

Silence hung in the air for a minute as neither one of us wanted to say what we both needed to be said. I was tempted to glance at my watch, sure that I was going to be late, but I resisted the urge, figuring that it would be rude.

“Look,” Al sighed, dragging his hand through his hair again. “I just wanted to apologize for my behavior over the last few months. I’ve been a complete berk. It’s just – I just-“

He sighed and looked at me pleadingly, as if asking me to understand what he couldn’t say.

“You just didn’t want to believe it,” I replied understandingly, nodding sadly. I knew exactly how he felt.

“Yeah,” he bit his lip and he looked as if he was in pain. “I was so excited that someone like Anna would like me, for me, you know? So when you tried to tell me that she was just using me, I was devastated and I deluded myself into thinking that you were just angry that I had ‘copied’ you by dating a Slytherin. But as time went on, it became obvious that you were right. And then when I found out what happened a few nights ago-“

I winced. I had tried very hard over the past few days not to think about that night, because it always made the place where my heart used to be burn and twinge. It hurt too much to think about him. I’d been doing pretty well in the ‘not thinking about him’ department up until now.

“I know how you feel,” Al said, stepping forward and wrapping his arm around my shoulders. I leaned against him, enjoying the feel of being in his arms again. It had been much too long since I had hugged Al. “It hurts so bad, doesn’t it?”

I nodded, feeling tears spring into my eyes again. It hurt more that so bad. The pain was excruciating. “Yeah, it really does.”

“Did you love him?” Al asked quietly, almost as if he was afraid to ask.

“Yes,” I answered. “I do love him.”

I looked up into Al’s face to see that he had noticed that I said ‘love’ and not ‘loved’. His face was almost contorted with what looked like pain, anger, and understanding.

“Do you love her?” I asked after a minute when neither of us said anything.

“Yes,” he said, his voice laced with bitter regret. “I love her.”  

I wrapped my other arm around my cousin and hugged him tight. His arms wrapped around me and crushed me to him so that I could hear his heartbeat against my ear. I hadn’t noticed it before, but Al had really grown in the time that we had grown apart. It was like hugging a stranger, who at the same time was familiar to me. 

He released me a few moments later. “Well, if we don’t get going we’ll be late to class.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, stepping away from him and shooting him a weak grin. “I’ve missed so much already. I can’t afford to miss much more. Otherwise McGonagall will call my parents.”

Al’s frown grew wider. “I forgot about that.”

I smiled bitterly. “I wish I could.”

He clapped me on the shoulder supportively. “Don’t worry about it, hon. It’ll work itself out.”

I nodded. I knew it was all true. My parents would work out their divorce just fine. And maybe, in the end, it would be better for everyone. Maybe.

“Well, I really have got to go,” I said. “I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, kissing me lightly on the cheek. “Hey, do you want to play some Quidditch with me tonight? I haven’t played in forever, and I feel like flying.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “That would be nice.” 

“Okay, six o’clock then,” he grinned.

“Six o’clock.”

He squeezed my shoulder again and sauntered off down the hallway, shoving his hands into his pockets as he went. I watched him go for a minute and then sighed and turned to grab the staircase before it moved again.

It was nice to have Al back again.

 

 




 

“It’s pathetic really,” I heard a fourth year Ravenclaw whisper as I walked past her in the hall. “Do you really think she thought that Malfoy wanted her for anything more than a quick shag and to mess around with her feelings?”

“I don’t think she’s that stupid,” the girl’s friend whispered back. “Although if what I heard about her getting an abortion over break, then maybe she is.”

The two girls giggled loudly and I clenched my teeth together angrily. Did people really have nothing better to talk about than Scorpius and I? And honestly, what was it with their obsession with me being pregnant and having sex? Honestly! I was still a virgin damnit!

“What a slut,” the first girl chortled. 

That was it.

I spun on my heel and glared at the two girls who were walking a few paces behind me. “I’m right here!” I cried. “I can hear everything you’re saying! And gossip hurts and is untrue. So shut the fuck up!”

The two of them stared at me, their eyes wide with feign innocence and surprise. This just made me glower more. I was so tired of people talking about me. I would have thought that I would have grown used to it by now, but it still hurt to hear people say those things. And I was tired of being hurt.  

“Sorry,” the second girl said, her bottom lip quivering. “We won’t do it again.”

“Yeah right,” I snorted indignantly. I turned around again and continued walking away, mumbling furiously under my breath. I could hear the girls giggle loudly from behind me and I was tempted to turn around and punch them but I resisted. I was just too exhausted. Plus, I was going to be late for Quidditch with Al then.

I hurried away down the corridor, trying to keep my eyelids open. It wasn’t working very well. They seemed to have a mind of their own. All of my joints hurt and I wanted nothing more than to go and take a long hot shower and then go to bed. Today had been horrible. I had had an extremely hard time paying attention in my classes, and of course all of my professors had made a point of asking in front of the entire class where I had been for the past two days. I had told them that I was sick. 

Then there was the fact that everyone in the entire castle was talking about me again. Some idiots had actually had the audacity to ask me what had happened between the two of us. I had started crying in Arithmancy. Professor Vector had been nice enough to let me go to the bathroom to cry in peace.

All in all it had been a bad day. The only thing that kept me going was the prospect of seeing Al at six. That and the idea of flying again. It had been so long since I’d taken out my broomstick. The feel of the cold air whipping against my face and the sting in my lungs would feel so incredibly good.

I approached Gryffindor tower and told the password to the Fat Lady, who swung forward and admitted me to the Common Room. I stepped inside, reveling in the warm feeling that caressed my face.  I never really thought about it, but the castle was freezing at this time of year.  I hurried through the Common Room and up the stairs to my door, doing my best to attract as little attention to myself as possible. As soon as I was in my dorm I shut the door, leaning against it tiredly. 

“Rose!” Ashley cried, jumping off of her bed and running over to me, throwing her arms around me. “There you are! We were so worried! Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I lied, wrapping my arms limply around her. “I’m fine.”

She pulled back a bit and looked up at me, her eyes narrowed with worry. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes,” I snapped, “I’m sure. I’m going to go play some Quidditch with Al.”

“So you and Al are talking again?” she asked, following me as I stepped away from her and over to my wardrobe.

“I guess,” I shrugged. I didn’t know why, but I suddenly had no patience for Ashley. But it wasn’t just Ashley really. It was people in general. I just didn’t want to see any of them, or talk to any of them, or interact with them in any way. I just wanted to be left alone. I just wanted to shut myself up in that bathroom again and never come out.

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t hide from my problems forever. I couldn’t pretend that these things weren’t happening. I had to move on. 

“Well that’s good,” Ashley chirped, bouncing down on my bed. “You two used to be really close, didn’t you?”

“Yeah,” I sighed, tugging off my robes and staring into my wardrobe. Normally I would have felt self-conscious standing there in nothing but my underwear and bra, but I found that I just didn’t care now. Besides, it was just Ashley.

“Rose, when was the last time you ate?” Ashley asked, staring at my ribs, which did look rather like they were sticking out.

“Uh, this morning, I guess,” I answered, pulling a black pair of sweat pants and my ratty old Cannon’s sweatshirt out of there.

“I didn’t see you at breakfast,” she said, her tone suspicious.

“I ate in the kitchen.”

She tutted disbelievingly and I turned to her when I had finished dressing, pulling my hair into a high ponytail as I went.

“I don’t have much of an appetite anymore,” I said quietly, looking down at the floor as I felt the familiar burning behind my eyes. “But I’m trying. This isn’t easy.”

I saw her nod understandingly and she stood and hugged me again, and this time I hugged her back properly. 

“I really should be going,” I told her guiltily after a moment and she let me go. I smiled at her and then turned and shoved my feet into my rattiest pair of trainers.

“Have fun,” she called as I picked up my broom and started towards the door.

“Thanks!”

“Hey Rose?”

I turned around with my hand on the doorknob, trying not to let my agitation show on my face. “Hmm?”

“Are you going to be coming back tonight?” Ashley asked nervously.

I stared at her in shock and confusion for a moment. “Yeah. Yeah I am.”

She smiled and I felt a grin tug at the corner of my own lips. Then I turned and started down the stairs.

 

 




 

When I got down to the Quidditch pitch is was pitch black outside, the only lights coming from the pitch itself, which had been charmed to light up at night, and the distant lights of the castle windows. I was freezing, considering I hadn’t worn a coat so that it would be easier to fly, but I avoided the warmth of the changing rooms all together, not wanting to bring back those memories either.

I loped onto the pitch, holding my broom carefully at my side so that the tip did not drag in the thick layer of snow that coated the ground. I could see a figure standing a few yards away from me under the giant hoops and I started over that way.  

“Hey Rosie,” Al called as I approached him and I felt a grin pull at my lips.

“Hey Al,” I called back, coming to stop a few feet away from him. He was dressed in a crimson Gryffindor sweat shirt and black sweat pants like I was, but his hair was wet and matted to his forehead from standing out in the gently falling snow and he looked freezing. “Sorry I kept you waiting.”

“It’s not a problem,” he replied. “I don’t really mind the cold.”

“That’s probably a good thing,” I chuckled. “Because it’s going to get ten times colder once we’re up in the air.”

“True,” he grinned back. “Speaking of which, I brought just a Quaffle. I figured we could play one a side.”

“Sounds good,” I said. “You’re going down, Potter.”

“You better watch it, Weasley,” he shot back, shoving me playfully and mounting his broom. 

I followed suit and rocketed into the air, gasping as the cold air stung my cheeks. The freezing air filled my lungs and I coughed slightly, but relished in the feeling. I had missed this. I looked down and felt my head spin slightly. I was so high up. I could see for miles. It was breathtaking.

“It’s gorgeous, huh?” Al asked, pulling up next to me.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “It really is. I’ve missed this.”

“Yeah, me too,” he sighed contentedly.

I looked over at him in surprise. “I thought you were still playing though.”

“No,” he ran his hand through his hair. “I quit shortly after you did.” 

I nodded sadly. I should have figured. 

“I don’t really regret quitting,” he said when I didn’t say anything. “That team was a joke.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, suddenly realizing how right he was. “I don’t miss it either.”

We sat in silence for a few minutes, just taking in the breathtaking views. In the distance I could see the mountains and to my right was what seemed like the never-ending expanse of the Black Forest. The lake was to the right, and I could see the sliver of the moon reflected in its black, glasslike surface. Then I felt Al shift next to me and a mischievous grin broke out across my face. It was time to play some Quidditch.

Before he had time to realize what was going on, I reached out and grabbed the Quaffle from his hands, shooting past him down the pitch towards his goals.

“Hey!” I heard him call and I laughed, winding up and chucking the crimson ball with all of my strength. It soared out of my hands and through the middle hoop with a triumphant ring.

“That’s not fair,” Al whined, coming up behind me. “I wasn’t ready.”

“You should pay better attention, dear cousin,” I chortled.

“Oh, it’s on,” Al growled, grabbing the Quaffle before it could fall to the ground and speeding off towards my goal. I shot off after him, feeling my heart beat excitedly in my chest. I hadn’t felt so alive in a long while.

 

 




 

I don’t know how long we played, but eventually I felt my muscles beginning to burn from so much exertion and I couldn’t feel my face from the cold. 

“Al,” I called, “let’s just call it a draw and go inside. I’m dying.”

“But we’re tied,” he whined. “We have to finish this.”

“Fine,” I huffed playfully. “First person to score wins.”

“Deal,” he agreed. He threw the ball high up into the air and we both watched it, shooting up to grab it before the other. I felt myself become slightly higher than him and I reached out desperately, letting out a triumphant chuckle as my fingertips found the leather of the Quaffle and then I grabbed it outright, shooting off towards his goal. I heard him roar behind me and I urged my broom faster forward. I was so close.

His goals loomed about thirty feet from me and I knew that if I was going to make it, it would be here. Without stopping I wound up and aimed for the left ring, letting the ball fly with all of the power left in me. I shut my eyes, not wanting to see if it had made it in when I heard the ring of it going through.

“YES!” I cried, throwing both of my hands up in triumph. “I WIN!”

“Congratulations,” Al clapped me on the shoulder. I turned to him, my hand extended.

“Good game,” I agreed.

We shook hands and then lowered ourselves to the ground, panting and laughing at nothing really. I felt the first really genuine smile grace my lips as I stepped off of my broom and onto the snowy ground. 

“Well, wasn’t that impressive,” a voice loomed out of the darkness.

I grabbed Al’s shoulder in fright and glanced around quickly, trying to see where the voice had come from. In the distance I saw a group of figures approaching us.

“Who’s there?” Al called angrily and a bit nervously.

“Don’t you recognize your old teammates?” the same voice called. Then James and the rest of our old teammates stepped into the light.

“What do you want?” Al growled, his eyes narrowed in anger.

“You two haven’t gotten rusty in your time off the team,” James observed, not bothering to answer Al’s question.

“What the hell is your point, James?” I spat, feeling anger and almost hatred bubble up in my stomach.

“I heard that you broke up with your scum boyfriend, Rose,” he said, turning to me, a malevolent gleam in his eye. “Such a shame.”

“Go to hell,” I hissed venomously. 

“You know, we never did fill your two positions,” he said leadingly. “We tried out a lot of people, but no one matched your caliber. And from what I’ve seen tonight, you both still have what it takes to be on this team. So I’ll be nice, and give you your positions back.”

“I’m not coming back,” I insisted fiercely.

“Me either,” Al agreed. “Quitting the team was one of the best things I ever did.”

James stepped back from the two of us as if he had been slapped. What had he expected? That the two of us just come back with our tails between our legs? That was never going to happen.

“Fine,” Reagan said, stepping up next to James. “We don’t need two traitors like you on our team anyway.”

“What the hell is going on here?” A new voice asked.

All seven of us turned to see green clad figures coming out of the changing rooms on the opposite end of the pitch.

“Slytherins,” James hissed angrily.

“We booked he pitch tonight,” the captain, who I recognized as Flint, growled, leading the way across the pitch. They stopped a yards away from us, and I felt my breath hitch in my throat. Because there, standing to the right of Flint was Scorpius. I looked quickly away from him, crossing my arms uncomfortably across my chest.

“You don’t own the pitch, Flint,” James spat, his voice laced with venom.

“Tonight, we do,” the Slytherin captain insisted. “So get off of here before I report you to McGonagall.”

“Make us,” James growled, stepping forward, his hands balled into fists.

“Stop it,” I said, glaring at my cousin. “Don’t be stupid James.”

“Don’t you tell me what to do, “ James rounded on me.

“I’d listen to your cousin, Potter,” Flint jeered. “You wouldn’t want to do something you’d regret.”

I saw James wind up, and before anyone could do anything to stop him, he punched Flint straight across the face. I watched Marcus stagger back a few steps and then he growled and launched himself at James.

There were a few shrieks from what sounded like Kat and Samantha, and then the two boys were rolling around on the grass, punching and kicking and generally hurting any part of the other that they could reach.

Al, Reagan, and I rushed forward, pulling at the flailing limbs that was James and dragged him up and away from Flint, while a few members of the Slytherin team, including Scorpius did the same for their captain. 

“That’s enough,” I growled, holding James by his hair. “Both of you.”

I glared over at Marcus, who was panting heavily and glaring at James, and at me. I could feel Scorpius’s eyes on me, but I tried to ignore it, but my heart sped up despite my efforts. I bit my lip to keep from gasping as my chest ached.

“Fine,” James acquiesced. We let him go and he shrugged slightly, trying to regain his pompous posture. “Gryffindor, let’s go.”

The team followed James off of the pitch while Al, the Slytherin team, and I stood and watched.

“Why didn’t you leave with them?” I heard Scorpius ask.

Hearing his voice made my insides ache even more, as if a hole was eating me alive from the inside out. I whimpered slightly and crossed my arms over my chest to protect my heart from breaking further.

“We’re not part of the team,” Al replied for both of us, wrapping arm around my shoulders protectively. I could hear the malice and suppressed anger in his voice. “We were just playing a quick game of one-a-side after dinner. We’ll leave now.”

I nodded in agreement, grabbing my broom quickly from where I had discarded it in the snow when I’d rushed to stop James. I didn’t look at anyone as I did this, doing my best to focus on the white snow in front of me, even though I could tell Scorpius was watching me as I did all this. I straightened up, and almost unwillingly my eyes found his. His normally bright blue eyes looked dull, sad, and concerned.

I felt a jolt of electricity run through me and I winced, looking away instantly. I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. He didn’t love me like I loved him.

I felt Al tug at my sleeve, urging me to hurry up and I turned around quickly, not looking at him either as he wrapped his arm around my waist. I let him lead me off the pitch, not really conscious of where I was going either, but extremely conscious of the pair of eyes that I could feel still lingering on my back.

I was relieved when we stepped off of the pitch and into the darkness for two reasons – one, because then Scorpius couldn’t see me anymore; and two, because then Al couldn’t see the tears that were silently rolling down my cheeks.  






 A/N: Yay! I finally finished this chapter. I don't know why, but I struggled with this one a bit. But it's finally out! 

What did you think? Like it? Dislike it? Please leave me a review and tell me what you thought. :) 

As for the one-shot, a lot of you told me that you would rather have this one first, so it's not quite done yet. It should be done sometime over the week though so look out for it soon.  

Oh, and I thought I'd tell you lot in case anyone was wondering - I'm thinking that there are only 10-15 chapters left in this story. I know, sad! But don't worry, theres still plenty of plot tricks and twists left. 

Okay, I'm gonna end this extremely long author's note now. Thanks for reading everyone! Please, please review!

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