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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.    



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



“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.                  



 



  

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