So I'm going to start off by fangirling over books. If anyone else stalks Barnes and Noble like I do, you'll know that they have this awesome Collectible edition series of all these classic works. Well, the book I just got is a compilation of seven of Jane Austen's novels. It has Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Lady Susan, and it's beautiful. Just beautiful.

Haha, fangirling done, so on to chapter two.

Between studying for exams and near constant Quidditch training, the last month of term seemed to fly by. Despite the heavy blanket of snow that had fallen upon the castle and its grounds since late November, a great many of people could be seen out at all hours of the day.

"Do they honestly think that they'll make progress in this weather?" Rose scoffed one cold, blustery evening. The sun had just set, but there was still enough light to make out the three pitiful figures by the edge of the lake. Every few seconds, a powerful blast of wind carrying snow and ice roared through the grounds.

"They must be running Seeker drills," said Rose, watching as the figure on the ground tossed something small up into the air. The two figures on broomsticks immediately went streaking after it.

Albus snorted. "Gits."

"Oh, be nice," chided Winnie.

"I'm not being mean," replied Albus. "I'm being realistic."

They were in the study room, clustered around a table by the window. Albus's essay for Professor Sinistra lay forgotten underneath a copy of Quidditch Through the Ages, which he had refused to put down since Professor McGonagall had made her announcement the previous month.

"Well, since we're being realistic, who do you think's going to make it on Tuesday?" Winnie tucked a stray curl behind one ear, only to have it spring free a second later.

Albus exhaled, looking thoughtful. "A week ago, I would've said Garrett and Adrian without a doubt. But after seeing Corner practicing yesterday . . ."

"Wait." Rose frowned. "You mean Isaac?"

"Yeah," said Albus. "He hit a target from the opposite end of the pitch, square in the middle. Don't get me wrong, Garrett and Adrian are good, but they work well as a pair. James is trying the Beaters all separately first."

"But he knows how good they are," said Winnie. "Even if they don't do spectacularly as separates . . ."

Rose was shaking her head. "James can't do that. If he just picks favorites, it'll be a Gryffindor team going to competition."

"Well, a Gryffindor team with a Ravenclaw Seeker," said Winnie, grinning.

Albus laughed. "Tell Lily that, won't you?"

"That's part of my point," said Rose. "James already has a brother, sister, and a cousin who are trying out this week. That's bad enough."

"So? The trials are open, aren't they? If you and Albus go out there and outfly the competition, everyone will see. No one's going to be able to say he played favorites."

"You think that'll stop people from talking?" said Albus. "Of course it won't. Trust me, there's going to be a lot of sore losers by the end of the week."

As it happened, they didn't even have to wait until the end of the week. After dinner the next day, Rose was in the library, waiting for Madam Pince to bring her a book from the Restricted Section. It was just a Potions book, but the way Madam Pince had eyed her, a passerby might have thought that Rose had asked for a book on pureblood supremacy.

She sighed, glancing at her watch. Had the woman gotten lost? It wouldn't have surprised Rose; she and Winnie sometimes called this place the Labyrinth, and Madam Pince the Minotaur.


Speaking of Winnie, there she was, running into the library with Albus on her heels.

"What's wrong?" she asked. They were both completely flushed and breathless.

"Seen—James?" wheezed Albus, collapsing against a shelf.

"No, not since dinner," replied Rose. "But he's probably in the common room. What happened?"

At this question, Albus let out such a string of curses that Rose stepped back in alarm. "Those idiots!" he practically roared, grabbing great fistfuls of his hair, then proceeding with another round of curses. idiot

To Rose's surprise, Winnie nodded vigorously. "James might as well not even bother to hold Beater trials tomorrow. There won't be anyone worthwhile there."

"What are you talking about?" Rose wondered if they'd been drinking. That could explain their bright red faces.

"Your Beaters, Finnegan and Jordan? They thought it was a good idea to try and brew Felix Felicis, so they'd be sure to make the team tomorrow."

"But that's—"

"Completely illegal? Of course it is," said Winnie, looking disgusted. "But who would've known? It's not like James would be screening for that, would he?"

"No, because there wouldn't have been enough time to brew it," said Rose. "It takes six months to mature, and no one knew about the tryouts until a month ago."

Albus, somewhat recovered from his bout of fury, interjected. "Those morons thought they could alter the recipe, make it so it could be brewed quicker."

Rose paled. "Oh, no."

"Oh, yes," said Albus bitterly. "They, along with both Beaters from Ravenclaw and Slytherin, are currently in the Hospital Wing, unable to so much as lift a bat."

"Wait, they gave it to Higgs and Bole?" The Slytherin Beaters were notorious for their habit of smashing Gryffindor Chasers over the head with their bats, and then trying to say they thought it was the Quaffle.

"Of course not," said Winnie scathingly. "Those lackwits caught on to what Finnegan and Jordan were doing, so they stole some."

"What about the Ravenclaws?" Rose wanted to know.

Albus rolled his eyes. "All Boot had to do was bat her eyelashes at Adrian and that was it."

"Ah." Adrian had fancied Beatrice Boot for years.

"So now we're left with the Hufflepuffs," said Albus, looking disgusted.

Winnie wrinkled her nose as well. "I don't have a problem with Finch-Fletchley, but dear lord, Cadwallder."

Winnie and Harvey Cadwallder had been at odds for years. No one knew why. She wouldn't talk about what had happened between them, and Rose and Albus were too afraid to ask.

"They're awful," Albus moaned. "I mean, we'd have been better off with the Slytherins, as terrible as that sounds."

"Especially now that McLaggen's trying out," said Winnie.

"What?" exclaimed Rose.

"Oh, yes," said Winnie. "He fancies himself a Chaser. You and Al have a bit of competition. Honestly, I didn't even know he played Quidditch."

"He does," said Rose, dismayed. "But James has never wanted him on the team."

Albus's laughed darkly. "He's been getting McLaggen thrown in detention during tryouts for the last couple years."

"Kind of makes you wonder if it'd be better to have a Slytherin than him," said Winnie thoughtfully. "Malfoy doesn't seem too terrible."

Rose made a face, but before she could response, James poked his head into the library. He must have just been passing by and heard Winnie. "Have a Slytherin for what?" he asked curiously.

Albus and Winnie exchanged panicked looks. "Uh . . ."

"Here you are, Miss Weasley." So Madam Pince hadn't gotten lost after all. She held the book out to Rose, her fingers looking like claws as they curled around the spine.

"Thank you, Madam Pince," said Rose politely, stowing the book in her bag. "See you later, guys."

Winnie tried to grab the back of her robes, but Rose danced out of reach. She grinned, leaving them to break the news to James.

When Rose saw the number of names on the list for trials, she understood why James had chosen to separate the tryouts. With Beaters on one day, Chasers the next, and then the Seeker, it would be far easier to get an accurate read of each flyer's skills.

There had been a flurry of excitement when the news had gotten around about the Felix Felicis mishap. A lot of people seemed to think that without the regular Beaters competing, they had a better shot of actually making the cut. Although that was probably true, it didn't exactly spell success for the team.

Rose sighed, wondering if she was even going to bother trying out. Although Beaters often didn't get as much attention as the Seeker or Chasers, they were crucial to a well-balanced Quidditch team. There had been many times that Rose would have been knocked off her broom by a Bludger if it hadn't been for the timely intervention by Garrett or Adrian.

Who was she kidding? Of course she was going to try out. It would probably kill her if she didn't. That, or Albus would.

From a perch at a fifth floor window, Rose watched as what looked like the whole school flooded down the front lawn and toward the Quidditch pitch. She could practically feel the castle emptying out, the silence sinking into the walls and floor stones.

She had been dying to have a quiet moment to herself all week. With Albus bugging her for help with exams and Winnie bouncing off the walls about tryouts, she had seriously considered faking an illness so she could get sent to the Hospital Wing.

Someone was sending up a shower of red sparks on the pitch. It was probably James, trying to corral all the flyers into some semblance of an order. Rose snorted, imaging his face getting redder and redder. She and Winnie had a bet going that one of these days, James's head would just explode entirely.

Moving away from the window, Rose drifted down the corridor and toward the Grand Staircase. She had half a mind to go get her broom and squeeze in some last minute training on the back lawn. There wouldn't be time tomorrow. It'd be better than watching the Beater tryouts, anyway.

Ten minutes later, Rose was heading down the stairs with broomstick in hand. The sound of footsteps on marble caught her attention, and she peered down over the railing. A head of white blonde hair was descending several flights below her. Malfoy. And he had a broom as well.

Muttering curses under her breath, she hurried down after him. Other than the Quidditch pitch, the back lawn was the only that lent itself well to training. Did he have to budge his way into everything?

"Where do you think you're going, Malfoy?" asked Rose, falling into step beside him. Deftly, she slid her wand out of her pocket and hid it in the sleeve of her robe.

Scorpius's incredulous gaze shifted into a glare as his eyes fell on her broom. "None of your business, Weasley."

"Oh, really?" Rose smiled primly and gave the tip of her wand a little flick. Scorpius's cursed as his broom shot upward and smacked him square on the nose.

"What was that for?" he yelled, holding his face.

Rose ignored his question. "You really should keep a better hold of your broom," she replied snidely. "Otherwise, I wouldn't even bother trying out tomorrow." Although she didn't want to admit it to herself, their last encounter was still needling her.

Scorpius's face darkened, and he looked away. "You're a right piece of work. You know as well as everyone else in this damn school that I'm not flying tomorrow."

Rose's eyes widened in genuine surprise. "Why the hell not?"

"Oh, that's right, play dumb," he sneered.

"If you're not trying out tomorrow, then what are you doing right now?" Rose asked, gesturing toward Scorpius's broomstick.

"Sometimes I fly just to fly. Is that a crime now, Weasley?"

She glared at him. "You still haven't answered my question."

"What question?" He was being deliberately frustrating.

"Why aren't you going out for the team?" Rose spoke slowly, through gritted teeth. She wanted nothing more than to smash the handle of her broomstick right down over his smug little head.

Scorpius stared at her for a moment. "You're being serious."

"Of course I'm being serious!"

"Do you honestly think," said Scorpius severely, "that your cousin would even think of putting me on that team? Even if we took you and his brother out of the equation, Potter would rather field a team of Hufflepuffs than let me play Chaser."

Scorpius's words hung in the silence, and he looked so bitter, so absolutely dejected, that Rose felt a pang of sympathy for him. It wasn't an unreasonable assumption. James detested the Slytherins. Not that it wasn't warranted, of course, but even as absolutely infuriating as Scorpius was, Rose had to admit that he was nowhere near as nasty as some of his Housemates.

"I don't believe that," she said finally. Seeing the look on his face, she continued hastily, "I won't deny that he doesn't particularly . . . like Slytherins." Scorpius snorted. "But if there's one thing James hates more than anything else, even Slytherins, it's losing."

"You're so naïve," said Scorpius, shaking his head. "The only person on that team who isn't going to be in Gryffindor is that Muggleborn you're always hanging out with. Roberts, or whatever her name is."

"Rogers," Rose corrected automatically. "And that's not true."

Scorpius looked at her scathingly. "Sure, Weasley. Whatever you say. But if you think Potter's going to cut his own brother, or cousin—"

"Well, by saying he'd pick Winnie as Seeker, you just insinuated that he'd cut his own sister," said Rose hotly.

"Only because there's no way Robbins isn't making the team. Not with the way she flies," retorted Scorpius.

"Funny you'd think that, considering she's Muggleborn," Rose said icily.

Scorpius's face hardened. The conversation might have gone ugly if Peeves hadn't chosen that moment to come zooming into the stairwell, cackling manically as he tossing a barrel of what looked suspiciously like Stinksap onto the landing above Rose and Scorpius.

Forgetting their argument for the time being, they both yelped and flew toward the ground level, taking the steps two at a time. Rose cried out as her leg sank into a false step, and she felt her ankle wrench violently. There was a sickening crack that she felt all the way in her stomach, and white hot pain shot up her leg.

Rose was dimly aware of her broomstick clattering noisily to the landing below, and Cursing, she grabbed the railing and pulled herself into a sitting position. Tentatively, she tried to tug her leg free, but even that small movement sent another wave of sickening pain up her calf.

"I just broke my ankle," she gasped, disbelieving. "Are you fucking kidding me?"

Even if Madam Pomfrey was able to mend the bone tonight, Rose knew from experience that it would still be weak tomorrow. The last thing she needed was any sort of disadvantage going into the tryouts. She had to show everyone that she deserved to be on that team, regardless of who was the captain. Angry tears stung at her eyes, and Rose brushed them away furiously.

"Crying, Weasley? What'd you do, skin your knee?" asked Scorpius mockingly. She hadn't even realized he was still there. He was standing on the same level as her broomstick, and didn't seem to realize how badly hurt she was. Good. Rose wanted to keep it that way.

"Go away, Malfoy. I can't deal with you anymore."

"Whatever," scoffed Scorpius, jogging down the last flight of steps. Rose watched him glance cautiously up the stairwell, where Peeves was still hovering somewhere around the fourth floor. If Scorpius would just leave, Rose might be able to get Peeves to go for help. He had a fondness for the Weasleys, mostly because they infuriated Filch almost as much as he did.

Not that that meant he'd actually help her. The more probably outcome was that Peeves would find another barrel of Stinksap to dump on her.

"What are you doing, Weasley?" Malfoy was standing on the bottom level, eyeing her warily.

"I told you to go away," snapped Rose. But just then her grip slid a little on the railing, and the movement jostled her ankle. She couldn't keep herself from crying out in pain. If it was only her ankle that she'd broken, then why on earth was her whole leg on fire?

"I wish I had a mirror, Weasley," said Scorpius, appearing next to her. "I mean, I know you're a ginger, but your face is so white, the ghosts are probably jealous."

Rose tried to curse at him, but she didn't have the breath. Which was probably a good thing, because in the next instant, Scorpius had yanked her ankle free. Oh, she found the breath for curses then.

"This is all your fault, you know," Rose informed Scorpius. She had been confined to a bed in the Hospital Wing for the night; it was the only way that Madam Pomfrey would agree to clear her for the Chaser trials tomorrow.

"How is this my fault?" Scorpius asked indignantly. "You're the ninny who forgot to jump the trip stair."

Rose glared at him. "At least I'm not a coward," she said viciously.

"Excuse me?" His eyes bugged out, and for once, he seemed to be off guard.

"That's right. You're scared. Scared that Al and I'll are going to outfly you tomorrow," she said defiantly. "And you're using the fact that James is the captain as a crutch."

"Watch it, Weasley," said Scorpius, his eyes glinting dangerously. "You're treading on thin ice."

"Oh, please," Rose scoffed. "What are you going to do, hex me in front of Madam Pomfrey?"

"I don't need to," he snapped. "You'll do enough damage to yourself when you try and fly on that ankle tomorrow."

"At least I know I'll have the guts to fly," Rose fired back.

"Guts have nothing to do with it," said Scorpius through gritted teeth. "What's the point in humiliating myself in front of the entire school? There's no way in hell Potter will pick me."

"I guess you'll never find out," said Rose smirking.

There was a vein throbbing quite violently in Scorpius's temple, and for a moment, she wondered if he really might throttle her right in front of Madam Pomfrey. But then he seemed to regain control of himself and said, "What are you playing at, Weasley? Why do you care if I fly or not tomorrow?"

Now there was a question. Up until this point, Rose had thought she was just having a bit of fun at his expense. But Scorpius's question nagged at her. Why did she care if he tried out or not?

"I don't, really," she said slowly. "Or I wouldn't, if McLaggen wasn't flying, and if I didn't know Natalie gets nervous. And if she chokes . . ." Rose fell silent, heat creeping up her neck. Merlin, she hated him.

Before he could answer, Madam Pomfrey came bustling out of her office, calling for lights out. As he was ushered out the door, Scorpius managed one last hard look at Rose. Then he was gone, and she was more than happy to take the Sleeping Draught Madam Pomfrey gave her and bury her face in the pillow. Sometimes Quidditch seemed more trouble than it was worth.

So, let me just say, I've been sick on and off for about a week, so if there are any mistakes in this chapter, or it doesn't seem quite up to fluff, it's the germs fault. And the fact that my cat really doesn't like it when I'm on the computer. She keeps putting herself in between me and the keyboard, then looking at me like, "How dare you pay attention to something other than my adorableness?"

Yep, I used the word "adorableness".

Anyway, reviews are quite lovely, especially because, as much as I hate to admit it, they really do increase my motivation for a story. I've said before I'll never hold a story hostage for reviews, but even if it's just a quick, "Loved it!" or "Hated it!" Preferably the former, hehe. Comments, questions, concerns, all are welcome.