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Red Champion by Dellacqua
Chapter 22 : 22 - Search and Rescue
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 29


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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.



        



 


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