Second attempt at uploading ftw.

SO. Um. I've ventured back into the land of fanfic. HP fanfic. EVERY TIME I TRY TO GET OUT, THEY DRAW ME BACK IN.

There really are no words to express how sorry I am for writing and posting this story. No words. Also, desperately, woefully unbeta'd. Constructively criticize me, baby, constructively criticize me hard.

DISCLAIMER: Not mine. None of it. Except the plot, such as it is.


"Al and James are fighting again," Scorpius observed, though there was a hint of worry in the set of his mouth that belied his bored, almost indifferent tone. Al had gone to fetch his broom just a minute before, and—for the eighth time in half as many days—a screaming match erupted between Harry's sons the moment they got within two meters of each other.

"So I hear," Harry muttered, glancing at the ceiling in exasperation. Al and James' snarls and shouts were easily audible even from a floor away, as were Lily's shrill demands that they both shut up, she was trying to read, for Merlin's sake.

"Are you going to stop them?" Scorpius asked, his voice carefully bland, and Harry grinned a bit at how casual Scorpius was with him these days. They'd never been less than civil to one another, but Scorpius had, for a while, treated him with a forced and slightly nervous disdain that screamed 'I'm talking to a man who spent his childhood and adolescence hexing most of my family tree into a family stack-of-kindling. Awkward.'

"I think," Harry said, as the shouts grew louder, and as—judging by the loud slam of a door and the thudding of someone stomping across the hall—Lily emerged from her terrifyingly pink cave to join in, "that this is one of those times when it's best to let them argue it out."

Scorpius heaved a heavy sigh. "I don't see why they have to do this," he grumbled unhappily, and Harry felt a flash of sympathy for the boy. Scorpius was best friends with Al, but he'd gotten along fairly well with James ever since the Howler Debacle of Halloween '17. Having one's friends at each other's throats was, as Harry knew from experience, deeply unpleasant. "They've always gotten along just fine before this summer. Mostly, at least."

They winced in tandem as Lily's voice got more and more shrill, until it was practically a shriek. Lils was generally an easy-going kid, cheerful and frighteningly yet endearingly manipulative, but dealing with her brothers' moodiness had apparently terminally harshed her mellow. That didn't necessarily sound like a bad thing to Harry, who was instinctively distrustful of words like 'mellow', but he'd long since given up on translating his daughter's unique brand of jargon. Lily was a small redheaded melting pot of slang; she was, he sometimes suspected, where bad grammar and inappropriate exclamations went when they died.

"It's hormones," Harry diagnosed gloomily. "And—well, James has always been accustomed to getting his own way, as I'm sure you've noticed." Scorpius nodded approvingly—after all, he was accustomed to quite the same, which tended to be the source of his own occasional passionate fights with James.

"But Al's become much less reserved over the past couple of years, less likely to just follow James' example," Harry continued, not mentioning the undying gratitude he felt towards Scorpius for being the one to draw Al out of his shell. Despite the current consequences. "So…James is hurt that Albus doesn't follow him blindly any more, and Al's annoyed that James still expects him to. At least, that's Ginny's theory, and she'd know better than me."

"I expect she would," Scorpius agreed with a genteel shudder. "I cannot imagine having six siblings. I tried once, but I woke up screaming."

Harry laughed. "I don't know how her parents managed it. I can barely handle three." Though in all honesty, three was an enormous understatement. After all, ever since he was old enough to simultaneously gnaw on Harry's ear and fill it with baby drool, Teddy spent practically every other night with his godfather. And when the Great Ted-And-Andromeda-Conflict-of-2013-Through-2017-With-A-Brief-Break-In-2014-For-A-Nap-And-Peaceable-Chat-About-The-Weather-These-Days hit, he'd spent weeks at a times with Harry and Ginny during his summer breaks, sharing James' room and skulking about the house, muttering darkly about overbearing grandmothers and the howling abyss of his soul, while his hair went from blood-red to deep, shiny black to a shocking but somehow mournful pink.

Harry had tried to cheer him up, but Teddy hadn't wanted cheering-up or understanding. After all, he'd snarled one afternoon when the crushing agony of his existence became unbearable, who could understand his totally unique and original pain? When had there ever been another teenager orphaned at a young age and raised by overbearing, unfair relatives, a teenager with too many expectations heaped upon him at too young an age, a teenager with unreasonable and uncontrollable hair, a teenager who on top of all this had an enormously awkward crush on a Ravenclaw for most of his fourth and fifth years at Hogwarts… (These days, now that Teddy was mostly grown and angst-free, Harry thought bringing up that particular conversation at every possible opportunity was just revenge for what his godson had put him through.)

And of course Rose and Hugo were over all the time, to the point where Harry and Ginny had begun making a couple extra servings of each meal, just in case. Plus, whenever Teddy visited recently, Victoire came with him, her younger brother in tow—Louis and James were becoming quite fast friends, now that James and Al didn't pal around so exclusively.

Not to mention, if Freddie and Roxie and Molly sneaked in one more time to avoid their respective parents after pranks gone horribly wrong (or, in the kids' and George's opinion, horribly right), Harry was going to lose the last tattered shreds of his sanity. And that wasn't even getting into Lorcan and Lysander's bi-monthly sleepover (Luna and Rolf weren't likely to ever settle down, but both thought it would be good for their twins to have at least one place in the wizarding world that felt like a real home), and the occasional Potter-Dursley child-foisting (supposedly meant to broaden respective horizons, but really just to let one set of parents have a few days in a semi-quiet house). Or, for that matter, Scorpius' near-constant presence the past two summers.

"Father grumbles about how he can hardly handle one," Scorpius said, and Harry twitched a little at the blissful, impossible dream of a single teenager in the house. "At least, he used to before Hogwarts. Now he grumbles about handling four. He got rather worked up when James and Al went at it in our parlor the other day, you know, particularly when Lils got involved. Wanted me to tell you that if you don't get them under control, he'll take matters into his own hands and hex their tongues out."

"Oh, if only," Harry said wistfully, just as the yelling reached a fever pitch, then abruptly stopped. And then—"DAD!" from his boys, and a higher-pitched "Yo, Daddyo" from his unique and irreplaceable Lily.

"Remind me why I didn't just stay at work Friday," Harry groaned, and Scorpius grinned with more than a little malicious enjoyment of his pain. "I could've slept at my desk. Stayed until Monday afternoon. Or September 2nd."

"As I recall, you wanted to. And then Mrs. Potter said she'd kill you and your children without hesitation or remorse if she didn't get away from the shouting for a solid forty-eight hours, and that no fair trial would end in her conviction 'cause you'd all deserve it, you bastards, and how can you expect her to work in this noise, she's got a deadline in three days and if she misses it she won't be held accountable for the grisly and terrible things she will do to you," Scorpius recited with an innocent smile that wouldn't have fooled a Confunded Hufflepuff firstie.

"Right," Harry said, and let loose a sigh the likes of which had he'd not exhaled since his own turbulent teenaged years. "I've had enough of this, now, and it's going to end," he added with the same sort of determination that had tripped up Voldemort's plans year after year and yet, Harry already knew, would falter in the face of petulant teenaged whining.

"If all else fails, bribe them," Scorpius offered helpfully, and Harry entertained briefly the possibility of offering Draco a three-for-one child exchange, one-time-only, come on, it's a great deal with low, low interest and an offspring-back guarantee if your eardrums aren't completely ruptured within a fortnight, plus we'll throw in this free toaster oven and it really, really works.

"I don't suppose," he started, but Scorpius was already shaking his head.

"Not a chance," the boy said apologetically, or as apologetically as a Malfoy could get (which wasn't very), and Harry nodded.

"Probably not," he agreed regretfully, and headed for the stairs.

"There goes a brave, brave man," Scorpius narrated dramatically, clasping his hands over his heart, "to confront a fate far worse than death. Will he survive? Will the world? Who can say, in the face of such evil, what the future might bring?"

Harry barely remembered in time to wipe the grin off his face before confronting his three brain-addled bratlings. Amused smiles were not particularly conducive to effective parental discipline. He'd figured that one out all on his own. Ginny had been proud.

So I may have more written. MAYBE. Not sure if I should post, though, as this is The Most Pointless thing I've ever written, no lie. I feel guilty to even ask for reviews for this, but I am a shameless review h0r, so I will beat my integrity into submission and ask: reviews plz?