Essential Author's Notes: This story was written back in 2007, not long after Deathly Hallows was released and well before JKR gave name, let alone backstory to Astoria (or Asteria) Malfoy. Scorpius Malfoy's middle name was similarly up for grabs in those golden days.

Every chapter in this story corresponds to a 'fact' in Sansa1970's (Now libby-drew's) 20 Random Facts About Scorpius Malfoy, which she wrote and then wished that someone would write into fic for her. She had been so staggeringly lovely to me that I leapt at the offer.

I would link to her original on ffnet, but she left, so I am afraid it's Google or else you can go to my lj (blamebrampton), follow the sidebar link to this story, and then the in-credits link to hers. Sounds like a lot of fash, I know, but it's worth it!

And if you're an American and find people fancying their cousins weird, just write it off as one of those weird British things like queuing.

Optional Author's Notes: This was my second piece of fanfiction, written before I noticed that the title chosen had been used for every third piece of fic in existence. I know better now!

This was also one of the earlier Next-gen fics written in my neck of fandom. Had I known what was to come in fic, I would definitely have had Scorpius and Albus meet anywhere but the train, and made Mrs Malfoy Estonian rather than French, even if it meant damning the running macaron jokes. Alas, seeing into the future only happens in stories and 'reality' TV.

Many thanks to jadzialove and painless_j who went above and beyond the call in spotting my appalling typos and random acts of cruelty to punctuation. And yes, there is an H/D sequel.

Sins of the fathers

I

When Scorpius Malfoy is five years old, it occurs to him that he should have four grandparents, not three. He asks his mother why he only has one grandfather. She answers him in her softly accented voice, "Your father's father died before you were born." She kisses the top of his head and that is the end of the matter to her.

But not to him.

When his father comes home from work that night, Scorpius waits until the day's furrows have left his brow and the smiling face is out to play, and then he asks if he could see a photo of his grandfather. The furrows come back. That has never happened before. "They were all destroyed in the war," his father says. "When the Manor was taken over by the Dark."

Scorpius has heard of the Dark. He has seen the marks of hexes burned into the walls of the cellar. His father says they stay as a reminder. That reminders are essential. He never quite explains what he's remembering.

"What was his name?" Scorpius asks.

His father picks him up and tosses him into the air. Scorpius tries to ask again, but he is too busy giggling.

"You can fly! Oh, no you can't!" his father chants the refrain of their old game to him, tossing and catching him until Scorpius is giggling too hard to call a rest.

When they are sitting, later, about to read a book to each other, Scorpius tries again. "Was your dad like you?"

His father appears to think for a moment before answering. "He was, once. And he loved his little boy very much, too."

"He must have been good, then," Scorpius decides.

There is a funny look on his father's face and then he flips his long fringe in front of his eyes and launches into the tiger game, and the evening dissolves into hunting and roaring.

II

When Scorpius is eleven, he sees Harry Potter in Diagon Alley. He is extremely cool about it, knocking over only one tray of exploding gumballs in Weasleys'. George Weasley is at the counter when it happens, and he makes jokes with Scorpius while they try to catch the balls before they can reach a critical speed.

Scorpius knows who George Weasley is, of course. He saw the Liberation Day special edition of The Quibbler that 3W financed the year before last, and he knows that 3W has put in a tender to provide upgraded equipment to the Aurors, because he saw the Owl that his Dad was poring over last week. When Scorpius's Dad bends down to help them tidy up, it becomes apparent that George Weasley knows who he is, too.

"Here to get your books, Master Malfoy?"

"And robes, and a new cauldron, and Dad says I can have extra books, too, so I can get ahead because it's good to read as much as you can in early years before there's too much homework …" Scorpius becomes aware he's going on, and sees the two grown-ups exchange a look over his head.

"Ye-es," George Weasley agrees in principle.

"And some extendable ears so I can hear if people are planning to play tricks on me," he adds in a very quiet voice.

"We did study in Slytherin," his father is saying to Mr Weasley. "It wasn't all Dark Arts and goat sacrifices."

"Goat sacrifices you say, Malfoy. Right."

When they start laughing he realises that he has missed another grown-up joke, and makes a mental note to work it out later.

"You'll be in Al's year," Mr Weasley is talking to him again. "My nephew, Albus. You make sure that you're nicer to him than your dad was to my brother."

"He started it."

Scorpius is astonished, he has never heard his father sound embarrassed before. George Weasley throws back his head and laughs. Then he sobers up for a few moments. He takes Scorpius's father's hand and shakes it.

"It's good to see you again," his voice is sincere. "I'm so sorry about what happened …"

"History isn't what happened, Weasley, it's what gets written. I'm all right." Scorpius's father is shaking the hand in his. Scorpius can't work out why it feels as though this is important.

Later, when they are in Flourish and Blotts, Scorpius is allowed to buy more books than he ever felt possible. His father seems distracted. That night, at the dinner table, his father drinks wine, which he never does, and then he leans over to him and says, in a very serious voice, "Beware the Potters. They steal everything you have and make it their own."

Scorpius is ashamed of his sudden panic, but he cannot help glancing over at his piles of fresh new things.

His mother kisses him on the cheek and adds under her breath, "He doesn't mean your books and parchment, darling."

III

He meets Al on the Hogwarts Express.

The small, black-haired boy barrels into his compartment and declares: "You're Scorpius Malfoy!

Scorpius agrees that he is.

"We need to be friends, or it will look stupid," the boy continues. "And my big brother will think he knows everything, when really he's not that smart."

Scorpius nods slowly. "OK," he begins. "Except I'm not sure who you are."

"I'm Albus Potter," the new boy puts out his hand, which Scorpius shakes politely. "Albus Severus Potter."

Scorpius blinks slowly. "We have the same middle name," he announces.

Al drops into the seat beside him. "Oh, well then we have to be friends," he declares.

"I suppose we do," Scorpius smiles back. "Do you like Quidditch?"

"Oh yeah! My Aunty knows Victor Krum! And I've met him, and he was really nice." The record-holding player has recently signed a contract to coach the English team after a disastrous English World Cup outing, his name is like gold, and even works on Scorpius.

"Is he tall?"

"No, but he's really strong. And he's really fast." Albus stops himself before launching into his Short Essay on the Virtues of Krum, there'll be time for that later. "Do you know what house you want to be Sorted into?" he asks.

"I haven't really thought about it," Scorpius lies. "What about you?"

"If it's not Gryffindor, I may die," Al declares with feeling.

"I hope it's Gryffindor, then, I don't have any other friends." Scorpius is gratified when he makes Al laugh.

"Chocolate frog? I got a stack from my Dad, he says the trolley takes ages to get through the train." Albus offers a handful of the brightly wrapped sweets and Scorpius takes one.

"Thanks, I love these, but Mum says they'll rot my teeth."

"My Mum says everything good is bad for you. She doesn't like me reading comics or watching scary movies, but Dad doesn't mind."

Scorpius is entranced. "Your Dad lets you watch movies?"

Albus smiles, he realises that is a winning shot. "Oh yeah, we go to the cinema all the time. And we have a computer that you can just watch TV and things on." And he knows this is a risk, for while the Ministry is more relaxed about wizards and Muggle technology these days, it is still not the done thing.

Scorpius leans close to him and whispers. "We have a projector and some days my Dad closes all the curtains and we watch old films. I like the Sherlock Holmes ones, with Basil Rathbone. Have you seen them?"

Albus has not. "Have you seen football?"

Scorpius has not. For a moment this stops conversation. Albus restarts it. "I could watch movies with you at your house in the hols, maybe, and you could watch football at my house. It's really good, it's like Quidditch without brooms but with really angry men with whistles."

"In the hols."

"Yeah, cos you have your friends over for hols, right?"

Scorpius is smiling. "Right."

IV

He hears his father's voice. "It was never like that, they feared Slytherin, but many of us worked against the Dark as much as they did. Don't believe what you read in the books. We never wrote any. It is the house where you can achieve greatness, where you can find true friends." Scorpius thinks of Uncle Gregory, and knows that his father was telling the truth.

He hears his mother's voice. "You are my brave little lion, so strong and so steadfast. In Gryffindor you will make friends who will last through your life, you will show everyone your courage, and they will be amazed at your resourcefulness." Scorpius thinks of Harry Potter, and knows that his mother was telling the truth.

He hears Professor Sinistra's voice. "Scorpius Malfoy" she calls. He goes to her, and sits on the stool. She drops the Hat onto his head, and he waits to be Sorted.

"Ravenclaw, Ravenclaw, Ravenclaw!" he thinks desperately.

"Ooh, yes!" the Hat agrees, "You'll do nicely there!"

Scorpius's smile beams across the room as his house is shouted to the hall. There are a few startled faces, more in Gryffindor than Slytherin, but the Ravenclaw table cheer and beckon him to them.

When Albus is sent to the Gryffindors, Scorpius cheers louder than anyone. They leave the hall together, and make plans to sneak between tables for alternate meals.

V

Scorpius gets lost on his third day. They have all been warned about the staircases and about rooms that come and go, and he has been prepared for that. No one thinks to mention to him that the castle architects were erratic believers in symmetry, and when he loses count of corners and sets off confidently down a hallway he doesn't know, his firm belief that it has to end up intersecting with familiar territory is proven to be baseless.

Not until he has attempted to find his way for two hours does he start to waver.

After three, he slides down against a wall and considers having a good cry.

"It's not fair!" he protests, having missed his last class and now worrying about dinner.

It rarely is.

Scorpius leaps to his feet and looks about for the voice. He hasn't heard it normally; it seems to have come through his bones. That's never happened before …

But this is hardly the worst fate to befall a student here. There is a bathroom where one student died and another one, who looked like you, nearly made it two.

Now it's coming through his feet. Scorpius has a sudden suspicion, he drops and presses himself along the castle floor.

"I'm lost," he says.

Where are you meant to be?

He's right. The voice comes through the stones. He answers: "Ravenclaw Tower."

Easy. We go to the end of this hall …

Scorpius gets to his feet and follows instructions.

Turn right, now third left …

Before long he is at the spiral staircase that leads to the common room.

Rowena Ravenclaw wanted to look out from a high place so that she could study the stars and the winds, the voice tells him. Yet she ended up looking to see if those she loved would ever return to her. It broke her heart when her daughter did.

Scorpius is too young to understand the sorrow in the voice, but he can hear it for what it is. "I'm sorry. Thank you, it was very good to meet you."

And you, I haven't spoken this freely to anyone for years.

Scorpius does understand loneliness. "I'll talk to you," he offers.

I would enjoy that.

When he goes inside, he finds the prefects have just returned from searching for him, and allows himself to be patted and cleaned up, while they congratulate him for finding his own way back eventually. Instinct tells him that it would be unwise to mention the assistance he had. Voices are not the sort of thing it's best to talk about.

VI

The Harry Potter Rule means that first years are allowed to try out for the Quidditch team. The Second Years Are Bigger Rule means that Al and Scorpius spend the first half of the season sitting out the games; their prayers for plagues of stomach bugs to strike down senior members of the team go unanswered – Scorpius talks Albus out of a special order of 3W regurgitative sweets.

The first time Scorpius is told that he's a better flier than his Dad, he's gratified. His father taught him everything, yet never really understood Scorpius's love for the broom. It is never enough for Scorpius to know how to do something; he needs to see why it works. So when he flies, each time he pushes the limits to see if he can find the point where they will push back.

Scorpius knows Al is impressed, because Al's told him. He's good, too, but it's not in his blood. Al doesn't mind. It means that he can roll his eyes at his brother and his friend when they both start rhapsodising about velocities and angles. Scorpius knows that James Potter is less happy about this shared skill.

He doesn't realise how important it is to James until Emily Craddock, the Ravenclaw Seeker, finally answers months of fervent prayers and comes down with flu two days before the game against Gryffindor. Scorpius is given the nod, and the team are secretly pleased. They mutter that the boy has a certain something, even if Emily is a much better friend and they hope she gets well, soon.

Scorpius does not disappoint them. He flies beautifully, zipping past bludgers and confusing the Gryffindor Seeker with feints high and low. Several times he spots the Snitch, but deliberately avoids it for the first few, flying with great intent in the opposite direction until he is sure he has his opponent trained to chase his every move. He is astonished at how violent the game is in reality; bludgers seem to fly past him every few seconds. Never has he been so grateful that his father could afford the best broom on the market; he uses it to its fullest.

At last, with his trap set, Scorpius allows a look of triumph to cross his face and goes into a dive. The Gryffindor Seeker follows closely; her eyes as dazzled as his by the reflection of sunlight in the corner of the field he is aiming for. He allows her to catch him, then edge past. For added verisimilitude he gives a groan of despair, before kicking his broom upwards to where he knows the Snitch is waiting.

As he reaches out at full stretch he hears swearing behind him, and a sudden thump, as of something heavy being hit. His hand closes, and then the wind is knocked from him, and every direction is strange, and there is remorseless gravity, and then the pain makes itself known.

When he opens his eyes Madame Bones is holding one of his arms firmly while gently spelling the bones back together. He can hear yelling. He looks past her. Albus is yelling at James, and everyone is letting him.

"Beaters are meant to stop the other team, not kill them! You'd already lost! It was just out of spite!"

James mutters something about it not being his normal position, and him just making a mistake.

"You don't make mistakes with other student's lives!" Albus's voice is so loud that Scorpius thinks it can probably be heard in Hogsmeade.

"I know that!" James is yelling back. "It was an accident. I didn't mean it! Our family has had enough problems with bloody Malfoys!"

Scorpius listens more intently. There is something else being said here, something new.

"He is not his dad!" Al is yelling back. "We're not ours! He's my friend, and I will stop being your brother if you ever try to hurt him again!"

Madame Bones has been as distracted as everyone else. Her eyes are wide as she looks back down at Scorpius. "That boy's wrong," she mutters. "He's exactly like his father."

Later that night in the infirmary, James Potter comes up to visit him. He brings a bag of chocolate frogs.

"Al says you like these," he mentions as he hands them over shyly.

"Thank you," Scorpius replies. "I believe you that it was an accident."

James sits on the seat beside Scorpius's bed and looks at his shoes for a long time. "It wasn't entirely an accident," he admits. "I meant to hit you, just not that hard."

"Oh." Scorpius wishes he'd used his extendable ears more, now.

"You're a nice little kid, it's not your fault, but during the War your dad did something bad to my Dad, and I grew up with my Mum telling me to watch out for your family," James attempts to explain.

Scorpius is a little confused, "My Dad told me your dad was brave, and that they won because of him. What does your dad say about my Dad?"

James thinks for a few minutes. "He says he was brave, too. He says that what's been written down is not what happened. He said I should keep an eye out for you, make sure you're all right. I didn't do that very well."

Scorpius is reassuring. "Al keeps an eye out for me, you keep an eye out for Al, it's almost the same."

James Potter smiles at him, then. "You are a nice kid. I told Al I was sorry, but I wanted to tell you, too. I was just jealous, and it was stupid. I think my Mum has it all wrong."

"I think …" Scorpius wants to confess this. "I think my Grandfather was a Death Eater."

"Well, yeah …" James is startled. "Everyone knows that. Your grandfather was Lucius Malfoy."

"Lucius …" Scorpius says it slowly. "No one uses that name in my house."

"My Dad won't say it, either. But my Mum does." James's face clouds over. "What did your dad say when you told him what happened?"

"Oh, nothing. I told Madame Bones that it was all just an accident and she agreed, so she told him I fell in the game, and then I told him I'd caught the Snitch first and he told me I did very well but to pay more attention to holding onto my broom next time. It was just a broken arm, you're not a real kid till you've broken your arm."

James looks at him for a long time. He stands to leave, but first he says: "You can be Al's best friend. I don't mind. And you are better at flying than me. But I'm better looking."

Scorpius laughs, and waves at James as he goes. He feels brilliant; which may be a side-effect of Madame Bones's medicines and three chocolate frogs, or may not.

He puts his good hand onto the castle wall and tells it what has happened that day, a ritual he conducts every night. The castle is glad he is all right.

"What did my Dad do to Al's dad?" he asks the stones.

He chose his family, they reply.

VII

In Second Year, Emeritus Professor McGonagall is taken ill. She is wandering one of the courtyards at the time, and there is no one there to see as she presses her hands to her chest and slumps to the ground.

Scorpius sees it, though. He feels the vision being pushed at him through his feet. He stands up and pushes his chair over in his hurry. Professor Flitwick glares at him, then sees the look on his face. "What is it?" he asks.

"She's terribly ill!" Scorpius replies. "She'll need Madame Bones, she's in the East Yard!"

Flitwick looks at him for a long moment. "Detention if this is a ruse," he declares, then runs with Scorpius to the yard, with other students running for Madame Bones.

Scorpius is astonished at how fast his head of house can move. He only just beats him to Professor McGonagall's side. She is so still and pale, but her breath is still coming in and out.

Professor Flitwick charms the fallen leaves around them into a pillow that he places beneath her head. He holds her hands and waits for Madame Bones. "She won't be long, Minerva. Hold on, old friend," he whispers.

Madame Bones arrives at a sprint, and Scorpius is bundled to one side. He takes his classmates back indoors. He crosses his fingers. He suggests they do, too. He touches the castle wall as he walks through it. "Thank you," he whispers.

That night at dinner the Headmistress tells them that Minerva McGonagall is expected to recover. Professor Trelawney seeks Scorpius out and encourages him to pursue a career in Divination. She is a kind old witch and he doesn't have the heart to tell her that he has no skill, instead he writes up his experience for homework, describing very clearly the effect of the vision without disclosing its source.

With amazed congratulations the order of the day, Scorpius takes a while to realise that one person isn't there. He puts his hand against the wall and looks for him. Al is outside in the hallway. Scorpius goes to him.

"Aren't you hungry?"

Al shrugs, he looks embarrassed. "They say you knew about McGonagall because you can read minds. Is that true?"

Scorpius laughs loudly. "Of course not! It was just one of those odd magic things that happen here, just a vision."

"So you can't tell what other people are thinking?"

Scorpius rolls his eyes. "I can't tell what other people already know other people are thinking half the time. People are illogical."

Albus is grinning. "That's good, because that would be weird."

"No weirder than you. Come on, you'll miss dessert."

That night the castle thanks him for listening. She has been here for so long, I do not want to miss her before I must, it tells him.

VIII

Before he goes home at the end of second year, the castle shares a favourite memory with him. Rowena Ravenclaw is sitting with Godric Gryffindor, leaning against his chest. She has taken off the veil and wimple that she usually wears in the memories the castle shares, and her hair pools in the older wizard's lap. If only I had spent as much time learning about people, she sighs.

We can't live our children's lives for them. We can only do our best for them, and hope it's enough, Gryffindor replies, putting his arm around her.

And when it's not?

They must make their own choices, my friend, he tells her, and kisses her forehead gently.

Scorpius asks the castle why it showed him this moment, but it is quiet.

As the previous year he spends the first week of holidays with the Potters, then Al spends the second week at the Manor. Life in the Potter house is fun and easy. James, Al and he fly obstacle courses through the small forest behind the house, and when Lily follows them, Scorpius lags behind with her, knowing she hasn't regained her confidence since her fall.

Rose and Hugo visit, and their dad is actively nice to Scorpius. This makes all the kids laugh, since they have heard him chanting "Different Malfoy" to himself as he walks up to the house on his visits.

Mrs Potter is kind, but she never once asks after his family. When it is time for them to leave for the Manor, Mr Potter takes them to Diagon Alley where they are met by Scorpius's mum. The night before Scorpius hears Mr Potter complaining to Mrs Potter about the arrangement. "It's stupid," he says. "I see him every single day at work."

"That's work," she answers. And her voice is hard, like Scorpius has never heard it before. "I am not having that man in this house."

Scorpius has done his research. He knows what Lucius Malfoy did to Ginny Weasley. He cannot blame her. The only thing he can do to make it up is be a good friend to her children. He also does the dishes every night of his visit. When he leaves, she kisses the top of his head.

Scorpius's mum kisses the top of Al's head when they meet. She laughs at how he has grown. She shakes Mr Potter's hand and thanks him for taking care of her boy, promises to take good care of his. She looks between Al and Harry Potter, a wry smile playing about her lips.

The next week is a joy. Albus's delight in the Manor's gardens surpasses even Scorpius's. He insists they play outside every day, even when it rains. They explore all the rooms remaining from Al's last visit, except the cellar; Scorpius doesn't think Al needs any lessons he might learn there.

A brief shadow descends when Scorpius's mother suggests the boys should go into town for lunch with their two fathers one day.

"No," says Scorpius's father.

"But that is foolish," his mother cajoles. "You work together, he thinks highly of you, you think highly of him, your children are best friends."

"Mr Potter and I do not socialise. We have an excellent working relationship, that is all."

Scorpius knows that is the no-argument voice.

His mother knows it, too, and gives up. She drinks more wine than she is used to that night. As she sends the boys to bed she smiles very carefully. "Never stop being kind to each other," she tells them. "So long as you can manage that, you will be friends."

On the second-last night Scorpius wakes to find Al shaking his shoulder. "Come and see!" he is exclaiming.

They look out the window and watch a meteorite shower flame out through the atmosphere. The old, thick glass with diamond leading is hard to see through, so they open the windows and wrap a blanket around themselves for warmth. In the still quiet of late night it is as though they are the only humans for miles.

"I don't think your dad likes me very much," Scorpius finds himself saying.

Al hugs him. "He does like you," he insists. "He just finds it strange. I think your dad might have been good friends with mine once, and I think maybe they had a fight. Maybe it was about my Mum. I don't know. But you look so much like him that sometimes I think it makes my Dad feel sad."

"My dad looks at us that way, too," Scorpius says. He is looking at the new pieces of information that Al has offered, trying to make them fit. They make a pattern, but he's not sure if it's wholly right. "I think he misses your dad sometimes."

Al agrees. The lights have finished, and they are frozen. They bundle back into Scorpius's bed and plan to stay awake till dawn telling ghost stories. In ten minutes, they are both asleep.

The next morning Scorpius's Grandmother Malfoy is there. She demands that both the boys call her Narcissa, though she allows Ma'am from Scorpius. She is enchanted by their story of the morning's skywatching. Astronomy was her favourite subject, she confides. She is secretly very happy that Scorpius is a Ravenclaw.

This is the first time she has spoken like this in front of Scorpius. He knows it's thanks to Al. He is sorry his friend will be leaving tomorrow.

Narcissa promises to sit up with them that night and show them some new constellations. When Al asks if she believes in fates being written in the stars, she laughs, and although it starts off with a bitter edge, her laugh becomes free and happy. "We make our own fates," she tells them. "If you learn nothing else in this life, you learn that."

After a moment she adds: "Eventually."

That night Narcissa takes Scorpius and Al up onto the roof of the Manor. Scorpius's parents come, too. She shows them Mars and Mercury, who are still close from that afternoon's conjunction. Then she talks to them about the mathematics that govern the stars' movements. All four are entranced, she is erudite and passionate, and sounds like a keen schoolgirl.

"Did you want to study Astronomy when you were our age?" Al asks.

"Yes, but then I met my husband, and I wanted to be a mother," she answers. Her voice is gentle, but it is clear that is the whole of the answer she will give.

"I'm glad you did," Al smiles at her. "Because if you hadn't, then Scorp's dad would never have been born, and then he wouldn't have been born, and I'd have had no one to be friends with at school except my brother, who is awful."

Scorpius is mortified that his best friend is buttering up his grandmother.

Narcissa is busy laughing, and questioning just how awful James Potter could possibly be.

Scorpius's father is looking horrified. "Scorp?" he manages.

Scorpius blushes even more. "Worst nickname ever," he moans. "I was all for M, or even Score, or they could just call me Malfoy, but no one does."

His father just looks at him, slightly stricken.

"It's all Scorp, could you help me with my homework? Scorp, do you know where I left my shoes? Scorp, make sure you win today I've got a galleon on the game …"

"I tried to get Scoop going, but it didn't catch on," Al tells Narcissa.

"Scoop?" she is intrigued.

"Yeah, because of how Scorpius is a really good Seeker, but also how he can spot things."

"What 'things'?"

"Like the time he found Professor McGonagall when she was sick, and the time he found Lucy Bell when she was locked in a cupboard by two third years, and the time he found Miss Lovegood's little boy when she came to visit Professor Longbottom and he toddled off, and he's always finding things people lose …" even Albus notices the silence now.

"And yet he's never found the time to mention any of this," says Scorpius's dad, with one eyebrow raised at his young son.

"Surprise!" Scorpius grins wildly. "Ooh, look, galaxy!" he points upwards at random, then moves his finger to the left in response to his grandmother's subtle head gestures.

"And?" his father waits.

"I just know where things are at Hogwarts," he says, shrugging his shoulders. "Professor Trelawney keeps pouncing on me, but I can't tell the future, I can only tell you what's happening at Hogwarts."

"All the time?"

"Just when I'm there. I just know. Is that all right?"

His father looks at him gently. "Of course it is. You're just talented. We knew that."

Scorpius smiles. A little later, he and Al are sent to bed, they walk of with arms casually tossed over each other's shoulders, heads close, plotting ways to stay in touch until school goes back.

Narcissa smiles at them as they go past. "They remind me of you and him at their age," she tells her son.

"I believe we hated each other with passionate intensity at their age," he corrects her.

Scorpius can only just hear her reply. "Oh, that's right, it was later …"

Late that night Scorpius wakes up suddenly. Al and he are sharing the big bed so they can maximise gossiping time, but it's not Al muttering in his sleep that's woken him. It's his mother, yelling angrily. He can't hear what she's saying, although he can hear when she switches from English to French. He hears his father's reply, though: "Leave Harry out of this!"

It is hard to go back to sleep.