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Animal Magnetism by Flavia
Chapter 19 : Jarveys, Howlers and The Quidditch Cup
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 19


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Winter eventually melted away and spring came to Hogwarts once more, bringing with it flowers blooming in a variety of colours; lush, green grass and leaves that rippled in the soft breezes; blue, sunshiny skies, filled with the sounds of birds twittering and chirping away to each other.  Easter came and went, bringing an overdose of chocolate and a few extras days off from classes.  I sent Flitch home with Easter gifts and she returned with a huge parcel of goodies from Mum and Dad which I shared with my friends.   The Black Lake thawed and signs of life were appearing everywhere I looked.  Of course, none of the fifth or seventh year students at Hogwarts had the time to enjoy any of these glorious symbols of spring, because we were all trying desperately not to drown in mountains of homework and revision; it was only a matter of time before someone had a complete break-down.

Ironically, Michael McMillan was the first person to crack.  He completely lost it at the top of the astronomy tower one night while we were supposed to be charting stars and he had to be taken down to the hospital wing where, Pippa later told me, he stayed for three days before they released him.  I couldn’t help but feel a sort of sadistic satisfaction at his suffering. 

I was only just coping myself, because on top of all the regular studying, I was trying to become a Transfiguration expert, keep Rose’s little Scorpius secret, keep Jane’s secret about Louis (which wasn’t so bad because everyone knew they were crazy about each other anyway although he was taking his sweet time asking her out), write to Alice to try and convince her to write to James, and not go completely crazy with lovesickness over Albus. 

Sometime after Easter, I was released from one of these secrets, though if I had expected the truth to make life easier, I was sorely mistaken.  One evening, as Jane, Gwen and I were getting ready for bed, Rose came bounding in to the dormitory, her cheeks flushed and a wide grin on her face.  Even if I hadn’t known she had snuck out to see Scorpius, I would have guessed it in an instant.

“Hello girls,” Rose greeted us in a sickeningly sweet, sing-song voice.  “Having a good night?”

“Well we can see you are,” Jane snorted.  “How’s Malfoy?”

“Sublime!” Rose spun in a little circle, arms outstretched before she collapsed on to her bed.  I raised my eyebrows at the other girls, wondering if I should say something. 

“So it was a good date then?” I asked tentatively.  Rose suddenly sat bolt upright and clasped her hands in her lap. 

“He loves me!” She exclaimed. 

“He what?” Gwen, Jane and I said in unison.

“Loves me…Scorpius,” Rose laughed giddily. 

“He actually said that?” Jane asked, a look of disbelief on her face.  Rose, looking like she was about to burst, nodded her head excitedly.

“He did,” She was almost whispering now.  “We were kissing and he pulled away, brushed my hair behind my ear, looked down at me with these tender eyes and just said ‘I love you Rose.’  It was the most romantic moment of my life.”

There was a moment of stunned silence, while Jane, Gwen and I all stared at Rose, our mouths hanging open in shock, before the sound of four teenage girls squealing filled the room.  The three of us pounced on Rose in a messy sort of group hug, all giggling and screaming with excitement. 

“He loves you!” Gwen squealed from where her head was wedged under my shoulder. 

“He loves you!” I chimed in.

“He loves you!” Jane managed to grasp both of Rose’s shoulders and shook her gently.

“He loves me!” Rose replied before bursting into giggles once more.  After a few more minutes of squeals, hugs and laughter, we calmed down but remained squished on to Rose’s bed, our legs intertwined or half falling off the edge of the mattress.

“This is like a massive milestone in our lives or something,” Jane sighed.  “The first time one of our boyfriends said ‘I love you’.”

“Wait, did you say it back?” I asked.  Rose nodded her head happily with a little squeal as she leaned back against a pillow.

“So romantic,” Gwen said.

“I’ve just realised something,” Rose said, sitting up straight.  She suddenly looked worried, the giddiness gone.

“What?” Gwen looked worried to now as she turned to face her best friend.

“I have to tell my parents about him,” Rose said, to which we all appropriately gasped with shock.  I will admit it was so cliché I nearly started to giggle, but Rose’s expression sobered me.  “I mean, when this was just a crush and we were sneaking off for a snog, well that was ok to keep it a secret.  But now that we’re in love…” Rose put her head in her hands, “Oh Dad’s going to kill me!” She moaned.

“Do you really need to tell him?” Jane asked, patting Rose’s leg, which just happened to be draped over Jane’s lap.

“I have to.  We’re in love and I think if I keep it to myself for much longer I’ll burst!”  She disentangled her legs and climbed off the bed.  “I’m going to write them a letter right now and I’ll post it to them in the morning.  I can’t keep this a secret anymore; I know there will be consequences, but we’re in love so we can do anything.”  She began digging through her bag for a quill and parchment.

Even Gwen looked a bit cynical and I was pretty sure the girls agreed with my thoughts that Rose was being a little overdramatic at this point, but far be it from me to judge.  Goodness knows I’d been overdramatic about Albus this year, even if it was only to myself.  As the three of us got up and continued getting ready for bed, Rose sat cross legged on her own and began to write, a look of steely concentration on her face.  She wrote for a long time, well past after we had all called out our goodnights and climbed in to bed, and even past Molly returning from rounds and going to bed.  The next morning, Rose was up early so she could go to the Owlery before breakfast.  She made it down to Great Hall only a few minutes after us and she sat down nervously.

“Well it’s done, I’ve sent the letter,” She whispered.  “Though now I’m wondering if I should have spoken to Scorpius about it first.”  She searched the Slytherin table, but obviously couldn’t find him because the worried expression didn’t leave her face.  “I wonder where he is,” She murmured.

“Maybe he just slept in,” Gwen soothed, brushing Rose’s hair, which was unusually bushy and frizzy, behind her shoulder.  “If not before, you can always talk to him in Ancient Runes this afternoon.”

Rose managed to give Scorpius a heads up about the letter and he admitted that he was considering doing the same thing with his own parents.  Rose was a bit of a wreck that evening as she tried to study, speculating how long it would take for her parents to reply to the letter.

“Knowing my Dad, he’ll be half likely to apparate to Hogsmeade, march up to the school and lecture me in person,” She groaned at one point.  “Oh I hate waiting!”

We didn’t have to wait very long, because Rose received her response the next morning when the owl post arrived at breakfast time.  Two letters were dropped in front of Rose, who hadn’t eaten a bite of breakfast yet.  One letter was encased within a small cream-coloured envelope with neat handwriting.  The other however, was in a large, red envelope that only meant one thing.

“A howler,” Jane gasped as Rose picked it up carefully, as though it would bite her.  Knowing better than to ignore the howler, she looked close to tears as she prised the envelope open and dropped it back on to the table as though she’d been burned.

“ROSE WEASLEY!” An angry male voice filled the Great Hall.  “I CANNOT BEGIN TO SAY HOW DISTURBED I WAS TO RECIEVE YOUR LETTER YOUNG LADY…”  It went on for a few minutes while Rose hung her head in humiliation.  Mr. Weasley seemed quite agitated and kept repeating himself, talking round and round in circles.  “FAMILY HONOUR … SUPPOSED TO BE A RESPONSIBLE YOUNG LADY … AFTER EVERYTHING YOUR MOTHER AND I WERE PUT THROUGH BY THAT FAMILY … CAUGHT UP IN THIS RIDICULOUS ROMANCE…” And on it went.  Eventually, the shouting faded out and the envelope burned up in front of us.  The Great Hall burst into loud whispered conversations around us while Rose stood up and bolted from the room, her cousins all staring at her in shock and outrage.  Jane, Gwen and I didn’t hesitate before taking off after her.  My heart broke for my friend, who had been giddy with the excitement of a first love only a day before and was now in tears at the humiliating and public way her relationship had been revealed to her family and classmates.  We found Rose in the library, hiding in the archive stacks in the back corner, where nobody ever went. 

“I can’t believe he did that,” She sobbed.  “He sounded so angry.  I thought if he realised we were in love that he could accept it…” She hiccoughed as her voice drifted away. We sat with her in silence until I remembered that I was holding something in my hand.  It was Rose’s second letter, I’d grabbed it off the table before leaving the Great Hall.

“Here Rose,” I said.  “You forgot this letter.” 

“It’s from Mum,” she said, turning it over in her hands.  “At least it’s not another howler.”  She opened the envelope, pulled out the parchment and began to read.  As she read, her tears stopped and a smile gradually crossed her face. When she’d finished, she held it out for us to read.

My Dearest Rose,

First of all I apologise that I couldn’t stop your idiot of a father sending that Howler to you, I do hope it didn’t frighten you too much.  I am really very cross with him, after all Grandma Weasley sent him a Howler when he was at Hogwarts once and he was so embarrassed by it.  And his was for doing something completely dangerous and stupid, not something normal like falling in love.

I have to admit that the wounds of the flesh heal faster than the wounds of our heart and mind, and even though many years have passed, the wounds of how your father and I were treated by the Malfoy family still sting somewhat.  You must understand that even before the war, Scorpius’ father was awful to us and bullied myself, your father and Uncle Harry incessantly and without much good reason.  I don’t say this to upset you, but so that you understand where your father’s anger is coming from.  That sort of persecution is something that can leave permanent scars and whilst Mr. Malfoy has atoned for his sins and is a functioning and respectable member of wizarding society now, your father will always see him as the nasty boy who fought for many years on the side of evil.

I want to assure you however my dear, that I trust your judgement.  The way you speak about Scorpius reminds me of the way I felt for your father when I was your age, and it sounds as though your feelings are returned.  You must accept that this relationship might not be so easily accepted by your family members, but if you do love him like you say, then you can persevere through that.  They only have your best interests at heart, please remember that.

I am truly happy for you, my love.

Mum xox

The letter from her mother rallied Rose enough to agree to head to classes.  We kept close by her, glaring at anyone who dared approach Rose or whisper about her as we passed.  The worst seemed to be behind us; that was until it became apparent that Rose’s cousins seemed to agree with her father rather than her mother.  Poor Scorpius was hexed 17 times that first day alone, and in the next three days had to make seven trips to the hospital wing thanks to some of the more ‘creative’ jinxes thrown his way. 

Rose did not take this well.  After Scorpius made his fifth visit to the hospital wing, she seemed to crack and decided that it was all too much.  She took to hiding in the library archives or our dormitory and threw herself into studying even more than usual – which, up until that point, I hadn’t believed was possible.  She was determined that Scorpius would hate her and that the way her family treated her would drive him away.

“He hates me,” She sobbed one night in the dormitory.  “He must, I know he must just hate me.  He declares his love and how is it repaid?  My stupid cousins hex him to high heavens!”  She broke into sobs again, her words indecipherable.  No matter how much we tried, we couldn’t shake Rose from her depression and we couldn’t convince her to talk to Scorpius.  Our once bright, bubbly and exam obsessed friend changed almost overnight; she ignored almost everyone, stopped raising her hand in class and really only spoke when she was in the dormitory; and even then it was usually only in response to a direct question.  Even Molly showed signs of being concerned about her cousin’s condition.

“Do you think we should take her to the hospital wing?”  She asked one evening as Rose curled up on her bed, crying softly to herself.  “Madam Bones is a highly trained healer, I’m sure she could help.”

“Unfortunately I don’t think Madam Bones can provide the sort of healing Rose needs,” Gwen said quietly, her face and voice emanating kindness for our awkward fifth dorm mate.  Seeing the way Molly cared about her cousin when the rest of them were only fuelling her heartbreak gave me a heightened respect for her.  At least one member of Rose’s family respected her feelings enough to give her love for Scorpius a chance.

Surprisingly, I discovered another member of the Weasley/Potter clan who wanted to see Rose happy again.  Wednesday afternoon, about a week after Rose’s depression had started, Albus commandeered me after class.  We had just finished learning about Jarveys in Care of Magical Creatures (although Hagrid wouldn’t bring an actual Jarvey to class because they have a tendency to use rather, shall we say, colourful language), and Pippa and I were ambling across the lawns towards the castle, enjoying the cool breeze as we walked.  I was teasing Pippa about the fact that Will had spoken to her three times during the lesson and had asked to borrow a quill, even though he was working with Louis.

“Well when you’re as gorgeous as me, who can blame the poor guy,” Pippa joked, dramatically tossing her hair across her shoulder.  I was mid-giggle when Albus popped up beside me and touched my arm, causing me to jump about a foot in the air.

“Lucy,” He started.  “Oh sorry, did I scare you?”

“I’m ok,” I said, trying to regulate my breathing once more.  I noticed Pippa hide a snicker and I resisted the urge to elbow her in the ribs.

“Look, could I steal you away for a bit?  I need to talk to you about something.” My heart skipped a beat, but when I realised that the look on his face was one of deep concern rather than nervousness or affection, I figured he wasn’t about to burst forth with a declaration of love.  I looked at Pippa apologetically.

“Oh it’s fine,” She sighed in an over the top way that told me she didn’t really care.  “Oh look, there’s Will…maybe I should go test out my flirting skills!”  It was a sign of how worried Albus was about what he had to tell me that he didn’t react to Pippa’s declaration in the slightest as she jogged across the lawn.

“What’s up?” I said curiously.

“Um, let’s go for a walk down by the lake,” Albus suggested.  “We’ve got a bit of time before dinner.”

“Ok,” I replied, and followed Albus towards the water.  The breeze had picked up slightly and was causing small waves to ripple along the shoreline.  The sound was quite soothing and being with Albus, I would have normally enjoyed the stroll, except for the fact that his face was filled with concern as he stared stoically at the ground.  “Albus, what’s wrong?” I eventually asked.

“I’m worried about Rose,” He responded immediately, almost as though he’d been waiting for me to ask him that very question.

“Welcome to the club,” I replied, relieved that he was finally showing concern, but slightly annoyed that he’d taken so long.  “You know she cries herself to sleep every night and barely talks, even to Gwen?”

“Yeah I get it Lucy, I’m not blind,” Albus snapped, but I heard the guilt dripping from his voice and so I resisted the urge to snap back at him.  “She’s not the only one who’s heartbroken by all of this either,” He continued.

“What?” I was confused.  Who was he talking about?

“Scorpius,” Albus sat down on a large boulder near the water’s edge and stared out across the murky lake.  “He walks around like an inferi and he can’t focus on any of his class work.  And for some reason Rose won’t speak to him, he’s so worried that she’s blaming everything on him but he doesn’t know what to do or how to fix it.”

“He told you this?” The disbelief was obvious in my voice.  I sat down next to Albus on the boulder, it was only just large enough for both of us if our shoulders touched.  I didn’t mind and Albus didn’t seem to either.

“Yup,” Albus nodded, still staring out at the water.  “He came up to me on Sunday afternoon when I was in the library, said he didn’t know who else to go to and he hoped that because I’d kept the secret about them that maybe I’d help him.”

“I think you should,” There was no hesitation in my response.  “They’re both so miserable.”

“I kept quiet for Rose,” Albus said.  “She’s been my best friend my whole life and she said it meant a lot to her if I would keep the secret, but it didn’t mean I suddenly liked the idea.  I said he’d break her heart and now look at her, at this rate she’s not even going to pass her O.W.L’s!”

“Scorpius wasn’t the one who broke her heart,” I said, feeling the frustration rising up inside me.  I tried to remain calm.  “I have never seen Rose happier than the night Scorpius told her that he loved her, and I have never seen her sadder than I have since her family started attacking him.  Rose’s heart is breaking alright, but Malfoy is not the one who’s breaking it.”  I could hear the anger in my voice and I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself.

“You’re right,” Albus said after a long silence.  He turned to look at me.  “We’re being absolutely horrible to her aren’t we?”

“You think?” I snapped sarcastically.  “I understand protecting the family and all that, but giving him a tail…that’s what I’d be calling overkill.”

Albus chuckled.  “You’re cute when you’re angry,” He said, nudging me with his shoulder. 

“Yeah, we’ll you’re stupid when you’re prejudiced,” I snapped, though his comment about me being cute was quickly overriding my anger as a nervous flutter filled my stomach.  “So are you going to help Scorpius?”

“I kinda have to, don’t I?”  Albus shrugged.  “I owe it to Rose, and I guess I kind of owe it to Scorpius.  He’s in love with Rose so maybe he’s not as bad as we all think.”

“Finally, the great Albus Potter starts talking some sense!” I exclaimed, throwing my hands in the air and slapping them down on my knees.

“Well we can’t all be as brilliant as you Bell,” He laughed, wrapping his arm around my shoulder to give me a one-armed, sideways hug.  I felt my pulse quicken but ignored it as best I could.

“So,” I said, hoping I sounded casual.  “How do you propose we get Romeo and Juliet back together?”

 




“I really don’t feel like Quidditch,” Rose moaned on Saturday morning.  Ignoring her protests, I located her Gryffindor scarf and wrapped it around her neck.

“It will do you good, Rose,” Gwen reasoned as she pulled on a yellow jumper.  “It’s a gorgeous day outside, lovely spring weather.  You will feel so much better once you get some fresh air.”

“And anyway, this isn’t about how you feel, it’s about getting out there and supporting Albus and Jane; even Molly’s coming!” I pointed across the room to Molly to demonstrate my point.  Molly was putting on a jumper and poked her head through the head hole as I said this.

“Even I’m coming,” She agreed.  “It’ll be good Rose, house spirit and all that.”

“Well said Molls,” I grinned across the room at her.  I had to admit, Molly had proven herself to be a real ally during this whole Rose/Scorpius debacle.  She smiled back at me nervously.

Grumbling, Rose finally conceded and allowed us to drag her down to the Quidditch pitch, where we settled ourselves in for the final Quidditch match of the year – Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff.  Most people were already convinced that Hufflepuff, whilst having a much stronger team this year, were no match for Gryffindor.  The main issue was the points.  Gryffindor were currently second in the standings, just behind Slytherin.  Everyone in our house knew that to win the Quidditch cup, we would need at least 180 points.  We would get 150 points if Albus caught the golden snitch (and I was sure he would), but he would have to make sure he didn’t catch it until Gryffindor were 30 points up.  It was definitely possible, and I was relying on a victory party to ensure the success of the plan Albus and I had come up with to get Rose and Scorpius back together.

The two teams flew out on to the pitch amidst cheers from their supporters.  I shouted and clapped as Jane was announced, and then Albus.  I had always enjoyed Quidditch, but I had never remembered it being quite this exciting.  Then again, the stakes had never been quite so high.  Rose watched the match in silence as the balls were released and the match began.  It was a good match, Gryffindor being slightly better skilled, yet having to work to keep ahead of Hufflepuff who had obviously decided they weren’t going down without a fight.

Half an hour into the game and Tyler Jordan was getting very excited with his commentating.

“And that’s James Potter there, Gryffindor team captain, who has just taken possession of the quaffle.  He’s on fire today people, moving very fast, obviously determined to make the most of his final Quidditch match at Hogwarts…” Tyler was right, James had been playing brilliantly, in fact the entire Gryffindor team seemed incredibly focussed.  “And he scores!  Gryffindor widen their lead on Hufflepuff, 70 to 40!”  A cheer went up around the pitch from the Gryffindor fans who realised that all we needed now was the snitch to win the match.

I was having a hard time of it, my focus jumping from Jane in front of the golden hoops, to Albus, circling the pitch high above everyone else, to Rose next to me, who was requiring a lot of encouragement to enjoy herself.  Gwen, who was sitting on Rose’s other side, was doing an amazing job, never seeming to tire of making cheerful comments or jokes about the match to Rose, and dragging her to her feet every time Gryffindor scored another goal.  Rose was coming out of her shell ever so slightly, but she still didn’t resemble her usual bubbly self.

Come on Albus, you have got to find that snitch, I thought to myself over and over again.  We have to win!  I knew that we needed to sneak Rose out without her cousins knowing, to go and talk to Scorpius.  The only way we were going to do that without the dozen of Weasley eyes noticing was while everyone was distracted by a party in the common room.  I was also hoping that if Gryffindor beat Slytherin out for the cup, it might soften Rose’s family up a bit to her planned reconciliation with her boyfriend.  Of course, there was the possibility of Scorpius being upset at losing the Quidditch cup or Rose refusing to talk to him or… well let’s just say a lot could go wrong but I’m choosing to be optimistic. 

The cheers of my house mates broke me from my thoughts about our little plan, and I realised with excitement that Albus had indeed spotted the snitch.  He was a long way away from it though and the Hufflepuff seeker was closer.  Albus leaned forward on his broom as though edging it forward, his eyes never leaving the tiny golden sphere, glittering in the sunlight as it flitted through the air.  My heart sunk as I realised he still wasn’t close enough though, he wasn’t going to get there first; it wasn’t a case of his skill or being the best, it was purely bad luck.

Just then, when all our hopes of winning seemed lost, Fred came out of nowhere and hit a bludger with so much force that the crack resounded through the entire Quidditch pitch and I was pretty sure they would have heard it all the way down in Hogsmeade.  Bludger was now rocketing directly towards the space that the Hufflepuff seeker was about to fill, leaving the poor girl no other option than to swerve suddenly out of the path of the bludger, but also meaning she became unbalanced and needed a few seconds to regain control of her broom.  It was just enough time; Albus, who had not taken his focus off the snitch, covered the space in record time, reached out a hand and grasped the golden ball tightly. 

Unable to control my emotions, I leapt to my feet, screaming at the top of my lungs and punching the air with excitement.  Albus had caught the snitch, Gryffindor had won the Quidditch cup and our plan was ready to be put in to action.  I pulled Rose to her feet and hugged her tightly as the Gryffindor team began their lap of honour around the pitch.  Rose giggled and when I pulled away she was actually smiling. 

“Hark, did I actually hear laughter escape your lips?” I gasped dramatically.

“Don’t get used to it,” She said, the tiniest of smiles fading from her lips already.

“We just like to see you happy Rose,” Gwen wrapped an arm around her shoulder while I leaned over to high five Molly, which just happened to be the oddest and most awkward thing I had ever done; in fact I began to wonder if Molly had ever actually given a high five before.

“Hey, there’s Jane,” Gwen commented and we all waved excitedly as she flew past the stand.  She was closely followed by Albus, who still held the snitch tightly in his hand.  He waved it in the air as he cruised by on his broom.  When he caught my eye, I gave him a quick thumbs up and he winked conspiratorially at me, causing my heart to flutter ever so slightly.

The cup was awarded and James held it aloft to more cheers before the teams posed for photos while everyone else made their way back towards the castle.  The lawns were full of cheerful students and the occasional cheer of ‘Go Go Gryffindor!’ could be heard.  It wasn’t long after we arrived back at the common room that the victory party began, with music blaring from the radio and butterbeer being passed around from some untraceable and seemingly inexhaustible source.  Rose had been making noises to indicate she wanted to head back up to the dormitory but Gwen and I managed to settle her in a chair tucked away in a corner not far from the portrait hole where she could keep away from talking to other people. 

Eventually, the Quidditch team returned to ridiculously loud cheers and everybody seemed to converge on them at once, many people trying to touch the gleaming trophy that James still held proudly.  I noticed more than one girl sidling up next to Albus to gush over him, no doubt telling him how brilliant he was for winning the match…and the cup.  I wondered if one of them was his mystery girl, the one who he had fallen so hard for.  I took a deep breath, forcing my jealousy to remain in check as he was swallowed by the crowd. 

“You alright Lucy?” Rose asked, watching me curiously.

“Hmm?” I looked across at her, trying to focus once more.  “Yeah, I’m fine.  Actually I might go get another drink, you girls want anything?”  Rose and Gwen both shook their heads, indicating to their half-filled bottles.  Ignoring the fact that I actually hadn’t finished my own butterbeer either, I skirted around the crowd to where I’d seen Louis handing out drinks earlier.

“Lucy!” Jane broke from the crowd to give me a hug, which I returned happily.

“Well done out there today!” I beamed.  “This is definitely one to write home about!”

“Bell!”  Fred bounced over to give me a hug, catching me off guard as he practically squeezed all of the air out of my lungs.

“Hi Fred, congratulations,” I gasped as he released me from his embrace.

“Aw thanks Luce, it was nothing, you know I just saved the entire match and Quidditch cup for Gryffindor, no problems whatsoever.” He said casually, throwing an arm over my shoulders.

“And of course I had nothing to do with it,” Albus said, appearing from his throng of admirers.  He had a broad grin on his face, though his eyes, which were directed at Fred, seemed a little darker than usual, almost annoyed.  It seemed a bit out of place that Albus would be that annoyed at his cousin over something as trivial as who was responsible for the winning of a Quidditch match.

“Well I think you guys made a good team,” I offered, hoping to still the tension.  It seemed to work because when Albus turned towards me, his eyes were a clear, sparkling green once more.

“Thank you Bell,” He smiled at me, reaching out for a hug.  He smelt amazing after a fresh shower and his hair was still slightly damp.  “Are we all good to go?” He whispered in my ear.

“Ready when you are,” I whispered back.

“Ok, ten minutes then?”

“Ten minutes,” I confirmed before breaking what was already becoming a rather long hug.

“And you say I flirt with all the girls mate,” Fred teased as I slipped out of Albus’s arms, mumbling some excuse about getting a drink as I darted back through the crowd to Rose.

“I thought you were getting a drink,” Gwen said as I sat back down.

“Too many people, I might try later,” I said with a smile, hoping I sounded convincing.

“Oh ok,” Gwen replied, obviously buying my excuse.  “Oh I see Justin, do you guys mind if I go and talk to him?”

“No, that’s fine,” I said.  Rose seemed to be staring at the wall and didn’t respond.  Gwen gave me a sad smile and shrugged her shoulders before crossing the room.

“Hey Rose, there’s a lot of people in here, do you want to come for a walk with me?  Maybe we could go up to the Owlery to see Flitch?” It was a pre-arranged lie that Albus and I have come up with so I wouldn’t need to think on my feet too much and panic.

“Actually, that sounds really nice Luce,” She gave me a small smile and I quickly ushered her out the portrait hole, unnoticed by all the party-goers.  We walked silently in the general direction of the Owlery, my heart beating rapidly as we neared our destination.  Finally, we rounded a corner, to see Albus standing there, leaning against the wall, waiting for us.

“Al, what are you doing here?” Rose stopped dead and looked between Albus and myself, obviously confused.

“Rosie, we want to talk to you about something,” He said, placing a hand on her elbow and leading her into a nearby classroom. 

“What do you…?” Rose’s voice drifted off as she noticed Scorpius standing in the middle of the room.  He looked exhausted, like he hadn’t slept in weeks, but his eyes seemed to light up when he saw Rose staring at him.  “What’s going on?” She whispered.

“Just listen to him Rosie,” Albus said gently.  He then nodded to Scorpius, “The floor is yours, mate.”

Scorpius didn’t waste a second.  “Rose, I know you’re upset about everything that’s happened with your family, and maybe that’s made you rethink our relationship, but I still love you so much, and you need to know that no amount of hexes or jinxes is going to change that.  Please Rose, I’m going out of my mind without you.  I love you.”

There was a silence as Scorpius finished his speech and we all waited for Rose’s response.  I held my breath as a tear rolled down her cheek; then suddenly she spoke, her voice think with emotion.

“I love you too,” She said, and then threw herself into Scorpius’ waiting arms.  I felt Albus’s hand on my shoulder.

“I think this is our cue to leave,” He whispered to me, and nodding, I followed him out in to the corridor and back in the direction of Gryffindor tower.  “Hey, I don’t really feel like going back in to the party and facing the crowds right now.  Would you fancy a stroll up to the Owlery after all?” Albus said, indicating towards a staircase that would take us away from the common room.

“Sure,” I smiled, happy for the extra alone time with him.  We climbed the stairs to the round, open room with its many glassless windows and sleeping birds.  Flitch zoomed down and settled on my shoulder immediately, whilst Kenrick made a slower, more dignified descent to Albus as if to show the younger owl how it was done.  After giving the birds a few owl treats (“Do you always carrying them around with you?” Albus had asked) and a decent scratch behind the ears, we let them return to their perch while we sat down on the floor, our backs against the cool stone wall.

“Butterbeer?” Albus offered, pulling two bottles out of his pocket.

“How on earth did you fit those in your pocket?” I asked, laughing as I accepted the drink.

“Undetectable extension charm,” Albus explained.  “They’re my Auntie Hermione’s specialty, she puts them on everything and she taught mum how to put them on our clothes so we can carry more stuff around.  It’s dead useful.”

“Apparently so,” I grinned.  We both took a sip and sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes.

“Do you think they’ll be ok now?” I eventually asked.  “Rose and Scorpius I mean.”

“I think they’ll be fine.  I’m guessing all Rose needed to hear was exactly what Malfoy said.  He’s not such a bad bloke after all I guess.” Albus replied. 

“I could have told you that,” I teased, slapping his arm playfully.  Albus smiled down at me curiously for a moment, and I felt myself blush.

“People seem to be falling in love all around us, don’t they?” He said pensively.  “First it was Justin and Gwen, now Rose and Malfoy, Louis and Hawthorn.  Even James and Alice have whatever it is that they have.”

“Maybe it’s the spring weather … supposed to make people fall in love or something,” I focussed on keeping my voice calm and casual.

“Or perhaps someone’s spiking everyone’s morning pumpkin juice with love potions,” Albus suggested.

“Cupid took a holiday on Valentine’s Day and is making up for it by working overtime now?” I offered.

“Mass infatuation spells cast by an evil wizard who plans to distract everyone by making them fall in love so he can steal all of the Fizzing Whizzbees in the world,” Albus joked, making me laugh.

“Or maybe they’re all just falling in love,” I said before taking another swig of butterbeer.

“Maybe,” Albus said quietly before we fell in to silence again for a few minutes while we watched the dozing owls above us.  “I guess I can see the appeal,” He suddenly said, breaking the quiet.

“Sorry?” I had been watching Flitch and was a bit confused by the statement.  I half wondered if he’d been talking to me for a while and I hadn’t noticed.

“Falling in love,” Albus explained.  “I can see why people make such a big deal out of it.  Falling for someone can be pretty incredible.”

“I guess so,” I replied, my voice barely louder than a whisper.  My pulse seemed to be pounding in my head. 

“Like the way that one person can make your whole day better just by smiling at you, and how when you touch them it feels like there’s a spark running between you,” Albus smiled to the wall opposite us and I felt a flutter in my stomach.

“Yeah, that’s a pretty incredible feeling,” I replied.  I smiled because I knew those exact emotions Albus was describing, though it made me want to cry that he was talking about some other girl making him feel these things.  “Though it doesn’t always work out that way,” the words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop myself.  “Love has the potential to be the worst thing in the world.”

“That’s a bit harsh,” Albus turned his head to look at me but I kept my focus on the stone wall across the room.

“Try falling in love with someone who doesn’t love you back,” I said.  Inside my head I could hear a voice shouting at me, shut up Lucy!  Shut up, shut up, shut up! But I couldn’t stop myself.  It was like trying to shove the plug back into the plughole while the water is draining from the bath.  I tried to stop myself but the force of everything I was feeling was too overpowering and I couldn’t stop that hole up properly.  “You convince yourself that you’re happy just being friends with them and any time you get to spend with them is enough, but then every time you realise they don’t love you back it’s like a knife twisting in your heart.  Sometimes love just doesn’t seem worth it.”  I finally managed to clamp my mouth shut, but the damage had been done.  I’d said far too much and if Albus had an ounce of sense in him, he’d put two and two together and work out what I was talking about.

“Who is he?” He asked, his voice sounding a little tense. 

“Who is who?” I said, pretending to have no idea what he was talking about and failing miserably.

“The guy who broke your heart,” He said.

“Nothing…I mean no-one,” I stammered, staring with all my might at a grey stone at the bottom of the wall, one hand holding my almost-empty bottle of butterbeer and the other one resting on my propped-up knee.  My mouth had gone dry and my heart was racing so fast I felt like there were horses galloping through my veins.  There was a silence while I waited to see if Albus would accept my answer or if he would pepper me with more questions.

“If it helps, I know how you feel,” He eventually offered, reaching over to hold my hand.

It doesn’t help Albus.  It really doesn’t help because whoever she is, whoever makes you feel like this, she isn’t me.  And I hate her for hurting you and I hate you for hurting me!

“We should probably get back to the party,” I said, draining the last of my butterbeer and jumping to my feet, pulling my hand free.  Albus was standing next to me in a matter of seconds.

“Lucy, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to upset you,” Albus reached out for my hand again, but I shoved it in the pocket of my jeans, unable to bear the feeling of his touch.

“It’s fine.  Really…it’s fine,” I whispered, before turning and almost running from the Owlery.  I fought the tears as I headed downstairs towards the entrance hall.  I needed to get outside, to feel the fresh air and see the sky; anything to escape the thoughts crashing through my mind.

I’d almost confessed my feelings to Albus.

Albus loved someone.

That someone wasn’t me.

Falling in love was the worst thing that had ever happened to me in my life…ever.

 




AN:  Whoah!  Crazy updates...what's it been, like 3 days?  Buuuut...I recently had this massive burst of inspiration, sat down and just wrote and wrote and wrote and guess what?  I finished the story!!!  *Gasp* I'm amazed!  So I decicded to celebrate by posting the next chapter.  And it's a ridiculously long chapter too but I hope you still liked it.  Anyway, there was some confusion last time about how many chapters there are left, so I will tell you know (since I've written them) that there are 4 chapters remaining in this story.  But do not fear for 2 very good reasons: 1. I've recently had some inspiration for my other novel 'Matters of the Hart' so I should be updating that very soon, and 2. I've got something new in the works, related to this story, but I'll tell you more about that later.  I just want to say again, because I cannot say it engouh, how much I love you guys.  I've been really unwell lately and writing has been one of the things that has kept my spirits up, and hearing from you gys in your reviews and seeing how much people enjoy my writing is just the most wonderful thing, so many giant hugs for you all!

Now I know that this chapter was a bit heavy on the ScoRose but I can promise that in the next chapter there is Lucy/Al, Alice/James AND Jane/Louis!!!  It's madness I tell ya! 

And here's your little preview!

“James?”  I said gently, pulling up an ottoman and touching him lightly on the arm.  He gave a little start, and looked at me, as though surprised other people would be there.

“Lucy,” He said groggily.  “What are you doing down here in the middle of the night?”

“James, it’s seven-thirty in the morning,” I said.  James looked over to the window and seemed genuinely confused by the light streaming through the glass.

“I came down in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep,” He explained.  “I guess I was sitting here longer than I thought.”

“Are you ok James?  You really don’t look well,” I wondered if I should take him up to the hospital wing.  He looked at me for a moment, and then back to the wall.  Just when I thought he’d gone back into his daze, he spoke.

“What did I do wrong Lucy?  Why won’t she write back to me?” I didn’t have to be a genius to work out who he was talking about.  “I can’t eat, I haven’t slept properly in weeks and I can barely focus on my studies.  I’m starting to worry that I’m not going to pass my N.E.W.T’s and yet all I can think about is Alice!” He looked so sad and pathetic that I wanted to hug him but I settled for placing my hand over his in what I hoped was a comforting manner.

“I don’t think she meant to hurt you James, she’s just really confused,” I said, already knowing that my words wouldn’t be enough to make him feel better.

 
 


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