Parts (1-3)


III

Chapter 1

The World Cup


Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, it belongs to JK Rowling


Author's Note:

This is Book III in my Gray series, if you have not read the others in the series then go back and read Book I Gray: Scorpius Malfoy and the Blood Runes and Book II Gray: Scorpius Malfoy and the Call of the Dark first because otherwise this won't make much sense


Part 1: A Nomal Year


They never had a chance. Never even saw it coming, the Romanian Dragon Reserve was designed from against things getting out not to stop things getting in.

The reserve was an extremely large expanse of land that dwarfed the large buildings used by those who worked there, there was a large old mansion which contained the living quarters of the full-time employees as the nearest town was several miles away - although some worked part-time and traveled by Floo -which was where they ate, slept and relaxed.

There was another building that was essentially a dragon hospital. That was where they dealt with sick or injured dragons or orphaned eggs, it was also sometimes used for studying in a more contained environment. The second floor was the paperwork floor where reports were written and kept, research and writings were written - although that was Charlie Weasley's least favorite part of the reserve - and there was a huge domed cage attached for the injured or sick dragons to get some fresh air. The last building was basically an equipment shed that was also attached to the other side of the hospital. The rest was open land where the dragons roamed with a few outposts to get a better look at them in the air.

To Charlie Weasley, it was home. It had been a good day, they'd successfully released the young Hungarian Horntail who'd finally recovered from its broken wing and Hagrid would be pleased that Norberta had become a mother. He wrote a letter to Hagrid that night to give him the good news as he'd promised, also writing one to his parents to confirm he would be joining them for the Quidditch World Cup, he was looking forward to it. He sent his own off to deliver them before turning in to bed.

It wasn't morning when he awoke though, he was drawn awake by a scream and a growl, he just had time to groggily think it didn't sound like a dragon before a creature burst through the door. Charlie jolted upright in shock as the ferocious four-legged fur-covered wolf - no, it was a bit too big to be a wolf, it was a werewolf. He tried to reach for his wand but the beast pounced on him and bit into the sleeve of his pajama top to haul him forcefully onto the hard wooden floor, he went to move again but the werewolf dug the front claws of its pads into his chest and started dragging him out of his room. He cried out in pain and tried to scramble for something to fight it off with but there was nothing but empty ground and useless splinters of wood from the door, he was tempted to throw them into its eyes but that might simply provoke it into biting him.

"Get up!" a voice snapped when he'd been dragged into the hallway outside, the werewolf leaped off him and Charlie instead found a wand held by a cloaked figure pointed at him, "get up or die!"

Charlie shakily obeyed, his chest searing and bleeding from the claws but at least he hadn't been bitten and turned. Yet. He saw those who shared the floor seemed to be facing a similar predicament, werewolves hung around snarling at his co-workers with the black cloaked figures dotted around with wands aimed at people with bloody gashes on their chests. He was led with the others downstairs and outside, those on the other floors were also being led outside, they lined them up in front of the cage and Charlie was upset to count every last full-time worker was there. No one had got away.

They stood there, shivering, shaking and some were sobbing in the cold night with the moonlight dancing across the pacing werewolves, Charlie lost count of how many. What he did notice was the image on the backs of the attacker's cloaks, the twisted skeletal snake symbol with its forked tongue sticking out, the symbol of the Shadows the magical world was at war with since the obliteration of a muggle town, the Shadow War, they were calling it. Whatever they wanted, Charlie doubted it was good. Another cloaked figure stepped out of the shadows, Charlie would have thought he'd apparated if he'd heard a pop or if the reserve hadn't got anti-apparation wards protecting it. He was dressed slightly differently, the Shadow symbol was in silver lettering on the front of his shirt rather than the back of his cloak as well as the fact he didn't have his hood up revealing his face.

Brutus Ashain. Charlie recognized him from his Hogwarts school days, he'd been a Slytherin Beater, his deformity was quite distinctive. Chestnut brown eyes were too far apart and one was much higher than the other, a bulbousy misshapen nose, a long lopsided mouth that curled slightly up one side of his face and over-sized ears that jutted out, he had six-fingered hands with each finger being a different length and angle, first time Charlie had seen him he'd thought he'd broken his fingers. Ironically he seemed to have aged better than Charlie, his own hair was snaked with gray while Brutus' remained a strong extremely dark auburn. He walked up the line of prisoners, ignoring questions and pleas before pausing before him.

"Charlie Weasley," Brutus acknowledged him and immediately one of the cloaked figures grabbed Charlie and hauled him away from the others although still well within sight and earshot of the others, "as to the rest of you, you have a very simple choice, join us or die."

"We'll never join you!" Charlie spat bravely and Brutus glanced at him neutrally, the nearest cloaked figures kept their wands trained on him to stop him moving forwards.

"The offer doesn't apply to you, Charlie. The rest of you though can chose, life and a place in our new world order or death regardless of blood status. Its your choice so make up your minds right now, bow before me if you wish to join or remain standing to die, I'll count to a hundred and anyone still standing will be killed. No questions, just choose."

"Don't do it!" Charlie cried as Brutus started counting but already people were falling to their knees in desperation, Charlie tried to move forwards and was struck by a paralyzing spell that froze him in place but he could still see, hear and feel the blood oozing from his wounds.

Two thirds of his friends and co-workers were kneeling, including shockingly some he was close to and would never have thought would give in to evil just to spare their own lives. A third literally stood strong although admittedly looked terrified, Charlie willed his body to move, he didn't want to just stand there and watch them die but the spell held him tight.

"Alright, everyone living move into the giant cage dome thing," Brutus commanded and gestured as one of the cloaked figures opened up the outside door, they moved in uncertainty while the others stood standing. They'd just got in when the werewolves started moving in after them, like a herd moving in on their prey except for one before he gestured again and those standing were forced to follow into the cage, "know which ones are which, Greyback?"

The lone werewolf outside, a grizzled gray beast, lowered its head almost as if to nod in understanding before moving into the cage after the others. It howled and the werewolves descended on those who'd agreed to join, there were screamed and tried to flee as they bit into his former friends and colleagues. Charlie tried to help despite the stupidity of their choice but the spell remained, he'd just started to wonder why Brutus had even bothered to give them a choice if he intended to kill them anyway before he noticed that the werewolves were backing away from the bitten and leaving back out the cage entrance with the cloaked figures who'd forced those who'd chosen to not join. The werewolf that Brutus had addressed as Greyback was the only one that remained and quickly bit the bars of the door and slammed it shut, trapping them.

Charlie heard screams and looked back, seeing to his horror that those who had bitten were starting to turn, hair was sprouting up as their bodies contorted and transformed before his eyes, their clothes were ripped off and when they stood they were no longer human. Greyback howled and snapped at those who'd chosen to die, realizing at the same time they did what was planned for them as they ran towards the door screaming and clawing desperately and uselessly through the bars, some screamed they changed their minds but apparently no one cared. The newly turned werewolves and Greyback launched at them, Charlie wished he could help them, he wished he could even cry out but instead he was forced to watch the a two-thirds of the people he'd worked with every day for years, his colleagues, his friends rip the other third apart.

Brutus had looked away awhile ago but waited until it was over before releasing Charlie from the spell, Charlie ran at him furiously, desperately but Brutus saw him coming and decked him with a punch. Charlie was thrown to the ground, rubbing his now aching jaw.

"Please don't do that again," Brutus growled.

"You killed them or turned them into freakin' werewolves! You son of a bitch!" Charlie raged, if he couldn't attack him then he could at least yell at him before he was distracted by someone else stepping out of the shadows but not like apparating. She was the complete opposite of Brutus, beautiful with wavy hair as dark as the night with eyes to match in contrast with flawless and pale skin.

"Charlie Weasley, I presume?" the woman asked, "my name is Sal Riddle."

"Riddle?" Charlie repeated as the memory of Voldemort's true name tugged at his mind, Sal Riddle smiled.

"Yes, Riddle, Lord Voldemort was my father. He wanted an heir of Salazar Slytherin to be another horcrux and so he enlisted my fanatical mother Bellatrix to bear him a child, long story short is my twin and I was born to them in Azkaban and was raised there until being broken out along with Bellatrix. Even more long story short, I'm now the Shadow Master and I'm going to rule the world because quite frankly it sucks."

"You're the Shadow Master?" Charlie wondered in shock, both that the Shadow Master was supposedly a woman only in her thirties - Voldemort's alleged daughter or not - and that this information was just being freely given to him.

"Yes, I know you were probably expecting some creepy old man but no. I am the Shadow Master, I think you have a right to know why you're being killed and who your killer is," Sal explained conversationally as she started to pace, "I'm gathering an army, you see, obviously I already have some members, Specters, Dementors and I took a great majority of the Azkaban prisoners. Problem is some of them are quite old, I don't mind old but its a disadvantage physically but Greyback there is a werewolf, werewolves aren't hindered by age during their transformation and are pretty damn ferocious and useful in a fight at the full moon so... I'm gaining a werewolf army on top of simply having regular wizards. Which is why your friends have been converted, the unwilling can die, its good for showing what will happen if I'm betrayed or they even think of betrayal or failure. I was also thinking of other things useful and powerful and well... the word dragon comes to mind, my brother is awfully fond of them as well so he should enjoy this."

"You can't control dragons."

"Is that so?" Sal wondered with a smirk, a second later he heard the roar of the Hungarian Horntail they'd released earlier and saw it speeding towards them, Charlie couldn't help but feel glad its wing was still coping alright even as it landed beside them. Its eyes were pitch black and glowing, Charlie hadn't seen anyone possessed by a Specter before but he'd heard enough descriptions to recognize it in that moment as the beautiful creature he'd spend months helping to recover spending moments destroying the mansion is a blaze of flame, "a bit different than controlling a person admittedly but entirely possible."

"You're insane," Charlie breathed in horror.

"No, my brother's the insane one but anyway, back to the point, I decided to target this reservation because it ties in with attacking other countries first and mostly because of you. Your mother murdered my mother and your brother-in-law murdered my father, throughout the course of my war or after it I intend to kill their families - if possible - before killing them to ensure they suffer the pain of loss before finally being killed themselves. Which is why I'm going to kill you, don't take it personally, its just to get back at your relatives because your death will cause them pain. My parents weren't the best parents and I intend to learn a lot from their errors to be better at it then them but they were still my parents, regardless of how they neglected me and had me tortured, I loved them and so you have to die. Goodbye, Charlie Weasley."

Sal paused in her pacing to look at him, smiling a sad but still beautiful smile as she held out her palm to him which he thought was odd, if she intended to kill him she'd need a wand and he intended to try take it from her, if he was dying then he was dying fighting. He never got the chance though, he never even had the chance to fight back. The last thing Charlie Weasley ever saw was the jet of green light that burst out of her palm. He was dead before his head touched the ground, his eyes remained open though and would gaze up at the Shadow symbol burning in the sky long after they'd stopped seeing.


Scorpius had not been enjoying his summer, despite the amazingly good weather, no one in the wizarding world was and even the muggle world was probably wary. The Shadow War it had been dubbed, ever since the annihilation of a muggle town where the Shadows had declared war on them. The Ministry couldn't deny it then, Kingsley Shacklebolt had announced it he day after along with his retirement because he claimed younger blood was needed to wage a war, it wasn't exactly a secret his health hadn't been so good since the memorial attack.

It had been far from the last attack, every week it was another town being destroyed although not necessarily in England anymore as the Shadows were hitting parts of Europe and most recently Asia. Since the attack on a Romanian Dragon Reserve - where Scorpius' friends' uncle was unfortunate enough to work - there'd been reports of dragons being involved in attacks, there'd also been reports of werewolves on the attacks occurring on full moons as well as the disturbing Specters from terrified survivors. In places where wizards were attacked, there was also an odd ratio of missing remains.

Everyone was terrified, people hadn't been so on edge since the last Wizarding War and with Shacklebolt stepping down they didn't even have a clear face of leadership to look to, people were desperately looking towards the hero of the last two Wizarding Wars to defeat the new threat and protect them but even the great Harry Potter had no answers. The only slight plus to come out of it was they didn't seem to be hunting Varanian with such fervor anymore, Potter had given a statement saying he didn't believe Varanian was the Shadow Master due to being sighted in different locations than where the Shadow Master had been at the same time although he was still wanted for his crimes and suspected of being involved with the Shadows, he'd also put out warnings against listening to people with claims to 'cure' magic. Roland Seraph, Rabastan Lestrange and Brutus Ashain all had been announced as members of the Shadows with descriptions and warnings.

That didn't seem to put people at ease though, people had been so afraid of Voldemort to even say his name while not even knowing the Shadow Master's true name was just as terrifying. Scorpius had met the Shadow Master - twice - and even he didn't know what the man's name or what he really looked like, the first time he'd been possessing Scorpius' grandfather to speak through him - and had later killed him - and the second he'd been polyjuiced into Marius Calderon. It was very hard for Scorpius not to feel guilty when he heard of every attack, he'd had the chance to kill the Shadow Master but hadn't had the guts to do it and he wasn't sure he could forgive himself for that.

Scorpius had been spending as much time as possible with Varanian - which wasn't always easy considering his parents and grandmother's fear for his life - the fugitive framed by the Shadows who was Scorpius' ally in fighting them who he actually felt a lot closer to after the summer. Contrary to being furious at Scorpius as he'd thought, Varanian was oddly understanding as he could relate to making a horrible mistake and feeling guilty about it - although like Michael thought that the Shadow Master would've just stopped him if he had cast the killing curse, he offered that dwelling on it was pointless when you should instead be trying to correct it. When he couldn't away he stayed at home with his family, writing to the surprising amount of friends who'd been writing to him during the summer.

He turned thirteen uneventfully, mostly getting clothes from his family - as he had grown quite a bit taller although not as tall as any of the adults in his family or Varanian - or sweets from his friends. It was the day after that he got his Hogwarts letter, along with the permission slip for Hogsmeade that you needed your parent or guardian to sign. The rest was fairly standard list of books, except for one item of interest.

"Tarot cards?" Scorpius wondered to his parents at breakfast as he looked through the list, his grandmother was having a lie-in, "I need a deck of Tarot cards for Divination?"

"We didn't when I took it," his mother commented taking the letter from him to glance at it, "but then you're having a different teacher to Trelawny so I guess Tarot cards it is... if you still want to that is."

"Want to what? Take Divination? Yeah, I'm looking forward to it."

"That's not what you're mother meant," his father offered and shifted nervously, "what we mean to say is do you want to go back to Hogwarts? You didn't last year."

"That was last year, this year I can't wait to go back."

"We can teach you at home just as well, we've been looking into it and it wouldn't be so bad."

"I want to go to Hogwarts," Scorpius insisted stubbornly feeling suddenly anxious.

"Considering everything that's happened to you there the past two years..."

"I still want to go! My friends are there and I like being taught by Professor Ashain and Professor Longbottom and Professor Koray and others and Calderon's there."

"Alright," his mother muttered running a hand through her long dark hair as she sighed, "you can go but this is going to be a normal year."

"Do you understand?" his father asked him seriously, "a normal year, completely normal with nothing going wrong, stay out of trouble and away from danger. Last chance, we're not trying to mean but this is for your own safety."

"Okay a normal year, definitely," Scorpius agreed, "I don't see why it won't be. Hogwarts is probably safer than the rest of the world right now anyway considering the war."

Scorpius was hoping it would be normal... ish, he still had to find out who the Shadow professor was but apart from that it should be normal, there would be no Aurors and the Shadows weren't even after him anymore. While he still wanted to fight the Shadows he - and Varanian agreed - wanted to focus on his schoolwork, he needed to know more magic and he wasn't even sure how useful he was if he was too much of a coward to kill the Shadow Master anyway. He was also determined to do something about his crush on Molly Weasley.

At least his parents allowed him to go to Diagon Alley with them that time, although they had a strict no straying from the destinations or leaving their sight, his grandmother was coming too and Scorpius was half-sure the only reason they'd changed their minds was for safety in numbers.

Diagon Alley had changed a lot in a year. It was practically deserted. All the usual foot traffic and street vendors were gone, anyone they saw was looking around suspiciously and fearfully, hurrying about their business and keeping to themselves. Walls were filled with wanted posters, shops were boarded up, there was no one sitting outside at any of the tables for cafes or the ice cream parlor. Scorpius had never seen it so empty, even inside the shops there was hardly anyone about and the shopkeepers seemed just as panicky as the people they saw walking around. They got the books quickly but were having trouble finding Tarot cards.

"Scor!" a voice called and Scorpius turned to see Maurice waving at him as he walked over.

Maurice Rivers was one of Scorpius' friends, a deaf boy a year below him but was very intelligent regardless and much like Scorpius was naturally talented with practical spellwork although unlike Scorpius he'd been in magical schooling since he was two and was highly knowledgeable. He had nearly shoulder-length light brown hair with a slight wave to it and ocean colored eyes ringed with fatigue that nonetheless were sharp and focused, he normally had a neutral expression but had a cold smile in greeting for his friend. He also was wearing his teardrop necklace that he put a hand around, it translated speech to words for him to read to understand those around him and also still wearing the equally ever-present fingerless leather gloves that traveled up his wrist.

The gloves were frustrating as Scorpius desperately desired to see if Maurice bore the same scar he had that marked him as one bound to the Shadow Master. He strongly suspected that Maurice had it and was the twin of another of his friends but he had no proof or way of really knowing, he'd finally gotten around to asking Varanian about it but he also had no way of knowing it as neither Maurice or Orous Knox - his suspected twin - had birth certificates under their names or knew of having a sibling, they'd either not been born in the country or had changed their names - and he knew Orous had at least because Knox was his stepfather's last name. Maurice also had a book bag slung over his shoulder and no sign of his father.

"Hey Maurice," Scorpius greeted him brightly, returning the smile, "these are my parents and grandmother, this is my friend Maurice that I told you about."

"Where are your parents?" his mother asked immediately of Maurice looking concerned.

"My mother abandoned me as an infant, I don't even know her name let alone where she is and my father's at work," Maurice explained as his neutral expression returned, "why do you ask?"

"Its not safe for you to be wandering around by yourself in times like these."

"Nowhere is safe in times of war, ma'am, my father thinks I'm old enough to retrieve schoolbooks from Diagon Alley by myself."

"He isn't concerned about something happening to you?" his father wondered sharing the concerned expression.

"No, why would he be? If I can't protect myself then I don't deserve to be safe, its not his responsibility."

"You poor boy," his grandmother muttered which seemed to puzzle Maurice who seemed oblivious to the fact his father was clearly a terrible father.

"Would you like to walk around with us?" Scorpius offered, he didn't think his family would object and it would be safer - and possibly more enjoyable - for Maurice, "we're looking for Tarot cards."

"Tarot cards?" Maurice repeated curiously, "I know where you can get some."

"Well excellent, you don't have to be alone and we get those Tarot cards, lead the way!" his father said and Maurice nodded as he started leading them into a winding side street leading to a shabby little shop named 'Malderack's Mess', "this um... isn't usually the kind of shop we frequent."

"Then wait outside," Maurice shrugged dismissively as he went in with Scorpius, inside the shop wasn't much better, a jungle of junk that literally was everywhere but then the shopkeeper didn't look like much either. He was a grubby looking man with a weather-beaten face and a tangled mess of curly blond hair that looked like it had faded from being left too long in the sun, he had a half-empty bottle of brandy in his hand.

"Back already, Maur?" the shopkeeper grunted.

"Brought a friend, Mal, looking for those Tarot cards."

"Does yer friend have five Galleons 'cause that's how much it cost," the shopkeeper - presumably Mal - asked and Scorpius nodded, the man grunted again and withdrew his gnarly looking wand, muttering a spell that caused a pack of cards to fly from somewhere in the junk into his hands. Scorpius went over to the counter and was handed the packet, they were larger than playing cards and longer judging from the packet size, the pack looked faded and old but unused, he thought they'd do as he handed over the money, "thanks for yer purchase, please come again soon. Although by soon I don't mean later on in the day, I means at some point in the future. Got it? Good. Goodbye."

With that, Mal swung his muddy boots onto the counter to stretch out his legs and started glugging away at the brandy. Scorpius left quickly with Maurice, disliking the man already but he had the cards so he supposed he couldn't complain as they rejoined his family outside. A woman was walking by with a girl who looked around eleven or twelve when they came out, they had the same slick straight black hair - although the woman's was much longer, the girl's stopped neatly just short of her shoulders - and olive skin, their facial features were also very similar although they had different eyes, the woman's were dark while the girl had violently violet eyes that bulged when she saw Maurice.

"Maurice Rivers!" the girl exclaimed and Maurice looked at her curiously, "is that you?"

"Yes its me, why do you appear so surprised?" Maurice wondered and the girl shrugged.

"I assumed you were dead when you no longer attended classes."

"Father pulled me out for ridiculous reasons beyond my comprehension, sent me to Beauxbatons and now Hogwarts."

"So did mine, insists I attend Hogwarts. If my birthday had been a month sooner we'd be in the same year."

"Viola, are you going to introduce me to this boy?" the rather tall woman demanded glaring down on them.

"Oh right, mother this is Maurice Rivers, we went to school together and I don't know who you others are but greetings. My name is Viola Kayla and this is my mother Jada Kayla."

"This is my friend Scorpius Malfoy, his parents and grandmother," Maurice introduced them.

"Charmed, I'm sure," Jada Kalya offered to his parents, politely offering her hand that his father took while her daughter looked stunned.

"A friend? Maurice, you know that's a weakness that the enemy could use against you not to mention a distraction," Viola complained to him.

"I... disagree," Maurice told her seriously, "the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and its not a distraction, Hogwarts is tediously easy."

"They weren't trained, they're lesser minds."

"Viola, what have I told you about calling people that?!" Jada hissed and Viola rolled her eyes, signing to Maurice with her hands instead, "we'll be leaving now, much to do, nice meeting you."


Part 2: Camping and Cards


Scorpius didn't have much to do after that but wait, looking through the Tarot cards and counting down the days until the Quidditch World Cup weekend that he'd be spending with his friends. He was a tad nervous about being around Potters and Weasleys so much, he got along alright with the majority of the clan but had little to no contact with Lucy, Lily, Hugo or Victoire - although he wasn't sure whether she was going anyway - and James Potter despised him and the feeling was quite mutual. He also hadn't had much contact with the Weasley/Potter adults, he hoped they wouldn't be as judgemental as some people. The pros still outweighed the cons though, he couldn't wait to see his friends.

He'd be spending the weekend with them, leaving Friday afternoon then staying overnight in the tent at the World Cup site to be there for the match then stay the night again and Floo home on Sunday morning. Varanian insisted on going over defensive measures and things to watch out since the last Quidditch World Cup that Varanian had went to was the one in 1994 which had famously had the Dark Mark cast, he didn't think the Shadows would try anything but he still insisted Scorpius be aware. His parents also lectured him on safety and insisted on Flooing him over to the Potter house to make sure he go there alright, Mrs Potter didn't seem offended but rather understanding before his mother decided to hug him to death before leaving.

"Well welcome back Scorpius," Mrs Potter greeted him politely as Scorpius caught a glimpse of James in the doorway, leaning against it and watching him glaringly, at fourteen he looked a lot like his father only younger with a light spattering of freckles and his eyes, he had his mother's eyes, "soon as Michael gets here you'll be Flooing over to my parents house, in the meantime make yourself at home. James, why don't you go tell your brother his friend is here?"

"Al! Malfoy's here!" James yelled to which his mother scowled.

"I said go tell him, I could have yelled myself," Mrs Potter complained but Albus seemed to have heard because footsteps pelted down the stairs.

"Scor!" Albus greeted him beaming brightly in a deeper voice than he'd had two months ago, Scorpius had to do a double take as Albus came over to hug him, Albus had gotten tall, taller than James and was oddly dressed up and from the smell drowning in cologne, "good to see you! How's the summer been?"

"Al, what are you wearing?" James wondered of his brother before Scorpius could reply, "we're going to the Quidditch World Cup not the... Yule Ball."

"Why? Do you think its too much? I'm trying to impress Crystal."

"Al, she's your friend's married mother, nothing you do is going to impress her in the way you want and nor should you want it to," Mrs Potter chastised, "the sooner you get over this silly crush the better."

"Its not a crush! She's the love of my life."

"Until Easter Vipera was the love of your life," Scorpius pointed out to which Albus scowled.

"That was completely different."

"Oh dear," Mrs Potter sighed shaking her head, "and you realize Crystal may not even be dropping him off? She mentioned she might have to work so her husband or Merlin forbid, Jack, will have to drop him off."

"I think Jack's okay," Scorpius spoke up defensively and gestured to the leather jacket he wore, "he gave me this."

"Yes, the gift of clothing a few sizes too small is a really great thing," James commented sarcastically and Scorpius had to bite back a protest as Lily and Vern joined them.

Lily Luna Potter was the youngest of the Potter children, Scorpius had only met her briefly before as she was only set to start Hogwarts that year. She bore a strong resemblance to her mother but lacked freckles, her red hair was as unruly as her brothers and fathers and she alone of the Potter children had glasses. Vern Dursley on the other hand was the Potters' cousin, he'd moved in with them that summer as his parents had been murdered earlier in the year by Fenrir Greyback for the Shadows, believed to be an attempt to get back at Harry Potter. His siblings had been taken in by his widowed grandmother but due to his magical ability he'd come to live with the Potters instead, he was the year below Scorpius in Hogwarts and considered him a friend although he didn't know him as well. The Hufflepuff was nice enough, he was skinny with stringy brown hair and green eyes, he too had grown a tad and smiled in greeting.

"Hi Scor, good to see you," Vern offered kindly which earned him a dark look from James before being distracted by a knock at the door.

"Ooh is that Crystal?!" Albus burst out panicked and ran a hand through his hair in an attempt to flatten it which only made it messier while Lily skipped over to the window and peered out.

"No, its Jack," Lily announced and both Albus and his mother wore identical expressions of exasperation as they rolled their eyes.

"Great," Albus and Mrs Potter muttered in unison while she went to get the door with them all traipsing along behind her.

"Well if it isn't the most gorgeous woman in Grimmauld Place," Jack greeted her with a wink, he was tall and muscular with sea-blue eyes and short unruly dark brown hair, "did ya miss me, Gin?"

"No," Mrs Potter informed him stiffly, "not if you were the last man on Earth."

"Ah come on, Gin, I'm not that bad."

"Thanks for the lift, Jack," Michael offered - he had a strange habit of referring to his parents by their first names - anxiously, "I'll see you."

"Bye then Mikey," Jack said somewhat sadly, "and farewell my fiery foxy friend, Scor and the rest of you whose names I forget."

"Good riddance," James muttered under his breath as Jack retreated back to his motorcycle, Scorpius rather liked motorcycles.

"Well come on in then Michael dear, no need to stand outside," Mrs Potter told him gently gesturing for Michael to enter.

Michael seemed oddly hesitant to do so but did obey, unlike the rest of them he hadn't grown over the summer so much so that even Lily was taller than him. He did look different though, his tangled mane of unusually light auburn had been hacked shorter and he looked starved, his mismatched eyes were shadowed with tiredness that only accentuated how gaunt his face now was, he was thin to the point of looking unhealthily underweight. His had a distinctive jagged scar that ran from the right side his forehead through the center his right eyelid and down his right cheek, it looked less livid but still sent a pang of guilt as Scorpius had been the one to give him that after he'd tried to protect James in a duel they were having, James had made it worse and either or the combination of those two things had also cost Michael his eye. He now had a magical prosthetic, it was blue, not just the iris but the pupil was a navy blue and the sclera was a paler blue as apparently it adapted and changed color to match the original but had yet to do that apparently.

"What happened to your hand?" Lily asked curiously nodding to Michael's bandaged left hand that was holding the strap of the rucksack strung over his shoulder.

"Oh, I accidentally burned it cooking," Michael shrugged it off switching hands.

"Sure it wasn't from breathing fire, dragon-breath?"" James taunted with a smirk, "such a clutz, falling down the stairs last summer, burning your hand this one, then again you're so short you must have a brain the size of a walnut."

"James!" Mrs Potter barked angrily and James blanched, apparently seeming to have forgotten his mother was right there, "how dare you speak to a guest in the house like that, how dare you speak to anyone like that?! If you want to see the Quidditch World Cup then you apologize to Michael this instant and if I hear you say anything like that again this weekend then I am taking you right back home! Do you understand?!"

"Yes, Mum," James mumbled and gaze Michael a dark glare, "I'm sorry, dragon-breath."

"James!"

"I mean Michael! I meant Michael. Why does Albus get two friends and I get no friends again? He was in on revenge against Maurice."

"Because Albus didn't also get suspended for blinding a twelve year old, your father and I warned you," Mrs Potter pointed out which made him roll his eyes after she turned back to Michael, "sorry Michael. Anyway, as soon as Albus changes we'll be Flooing over to my parents house. Have you ever traveled by Floo powder before?"

"No, ma'am," Michael told her politely.

It ended up taking just a bit longer than Albus changing, James and Lily both forgot things they wanted to bring last minute then James forgot something again before finally they Flooed over to 'the Burrow' which was apparently what Ginny's parents home was called. Albus went first to show Michael how it was done, it seemed to fascinate the muggle-born Michael immensely - as did a lot of normal magical things - and cheer him up. The Burrow was... different, Scorpius didn't want to sound rude or snobby but it seemed shabby and awfully cramped. It did have a certain charm to it though he supposed, it looked more lively and more lived in than any of the rooms at Malfoy Manor.

"Scor!" a familiar voice greeted him and Scorpius felt his heart skip a beat as his stomach somersaulted at the sound of Molly's voice, he couldn't help the smile that crept on his face as the overpowering scent of cherries engulfed his senses as she pulled him into a hug, "I'm so glad you could make it!"

"So am I," Scorpius said as she pulled away, well that's a stupid thing to say, his mind taunted him. Molly was absolutely beautiful, she had long curly fiery hair, sky blue eyes and flawless skin. She was his friend and as of last year his Quiditch Captain too, he'd had a crush on her since first year though, "how are you?"

"Alright, mostly. You?"

"Same."

"Hey Scor! Did she tell you she made prefect yet?" Rose offered cheerfully and Molly blushed, "I can't wait till I make prefect when I'm a fifth year."

"Its not that great," Molly pointed out and sighed, "even more responsibility and things cutting into my time when I'm trying to plan Quidditch - I have a whole new game plan devised by the way - and not failing my OWLs - sometimes I honestly think I get passes on Arithmancy because the professor is my uncle and is so blatantly biased - and I think my father's going to disown me if I don't get all Os - he is pressuring me so much - and is also determined for me to be Head Girl in a few years too."

"You worry too much. Hey Michael!"

They weren't at the Burrow for too long, Scorpius learned Rose's parents were too busy working at the Ministry to come which was why her and her younger brother were already there along with Molly because her younger squib sister Lucy hadn't wanted to come nor had her father, Molly's mother Audrey had been killed in his first year during the memorial attack so he was a single father. Harry Potter was also too busy to attend and with Charlie Weasley's recent tragic death, it would only be Mrs Potter's brothers Bill and George along with their wives Fleur and Angelina coming with Molly's grandparents and the kids. Victoire Weasley and her long-time boyfriend - who she lived with - Teddy Lupin also wouldn't be coming, they were both starting their second year of Auror training and couldn't get away.

Scorpius was introduced to Arthur Weasley, the Weasley/Potter children's grandfather who was a bald man with glasses that didn't hide the scars around his eyes, like the ones Varanian had from being burned alive, a wound he'd incurred at the memorial attack. He seemed laid back enough but his happiness seemed slightly forced, considering he'd just lost another son, Scorpius didn't blame him. His wife was short and plump with graying red hair, so much so that it looked gray snaked with red, she seemed solemn and kept taking out a letter to read.

"Mrs Weasley?" Michael said politely which made her look up, "I wanted to thank you for the sweater you gave me at Christmas, it was very kind of you."

"You're most welcome my dear... what did you do to your hand?" Mrs Weasley - if he thought of her as Molly as well he'd just be confused - offered kindly as she noticed his bandaged hand, she reached out her hand to look it and Michael flinched violently back.

"Sorry, I accidentally burned it cooking. It doesn't even hurt much - at all, it doesn't hurt at all."

"Tell me about muggle cooking," Arthur wondered striking up a conversation with Michael instead.

Bill, Fleur, Dominique - or Dom as she preferred - and Louis arrived just after Rose started telling him how awful her summer had been when her parents were barely home, she spent most of her time with her grandparents or an aunt or uncle. Louis would be starting his sixth year, he was a reserve Chaser on the Gryffindor team so Scorpius knew him from practices, he was nice enough and was uncharacteristically Weasley blond. Scorpius saw he got it from his mother, the part-Veela was beautiful despite her age - still had nothing on Molly - in contrast to her husband, his long red hair was snaked with gray and had quite a grizzled appearance from the scars on his face.

"Hello assorted family members, friends and acquaintances," Dom offered cheerfully, she alone of her siblings had Weasley red hair but had gotten a lot more confident over the past year after casting her first Patronus to fend of the Specters attacking them, a talent for Defense Against the Dark Arts was especially useful considering the times.

"Well there's our new Head Girl!" Mrs Weasley greeted her brightly and pulled the teen into a hug, "your grandfather and I are so proud of you, dear."

"Dom made head girl?" Scorpius wondered to no one in particular, "she wasn't even a prefect."

"Sometimes you don't have to be, my grandfather - the Potter one - made Head Boy and he wasn't a prefect either," Albus pointed out, "I think its good, Vic and Louis got prefect so now Dom has something too."

"Thanks," Dom said still happily, "so are we going yet?"

"Not yet, still waiting on George's lot," Mrs Potter offered to which Dom scowled, it was odd because she wasn't much into Quidditch.

"Can't we get there early and start setting up?"

"No."

It did actually take awhile for the others to show up, Bill and Fleur said hello briefly before going off to talk with Mrs Potter and Mrs Weasley after she made tea, Lily and Hugo started chatting to each other as did James and Louis, Dom started penning a letter happily by herself, Michael and Vern were both stuck being quizzed by Arthur on muggle things while Rose, Albus and Molly told him about their summers. Rose was bored and eager to get back to school, Molly was anxious about her sister and Albus had been practicing flying so much that he was sure he'd make the team. Despite the cheerfulness, Scorpius could feel the tension hanging over their heads like a cloud, Charlie's death or the Shadows or both. Scorpius got the feeling he wasn't the only one more alert to things, he tensed upon hearing certain sounds with his hand hovering near his wand - Varanian had had him doing exercises to improve his senses and alertness anyway - and noticed the adults do the same, as did Dom, Louis and Molly, Michael nearly jumped out of his skin at everything.

"We're here!" Freddie announced stepping out of the fireplace after what felt like forever, he was in the same year as Louis - who he was close to - and played Beater on the Gryffindor Quidditch team along with James, his younger sister was the same age as James and also reserve Beater. Freddie was dark-skinned with red dreadlocks, his younger sister Roxy was also dark-skinned although a lighter tone and had dark hair rather than red, Freddie was more outgoing of the two while Roxy was quieter, Scorpius got along well enough with them both though. Roxy and their father, George Weasley came through after.

"Apologies for the delay," George offered running a hand through his red hair nervously, "we all set to go?"

"What about Angelina?" Mrs Potter wondered.

"There's been a change of plan, she err... she has to work."

"Oh, well that's unfortunate."

"Yes, yes. It is. unfortunate. So are we going?"

"Yes are we?" Dom asked hopefully.

"The match isn't even until tomorrow, what's the rush?" Mrs Potter questioned curiously.

"Aurelius is going to be there, I want to be there in case he comes early."

"You're not still on about him, are you?" George complained rolling his eyes.

"He's my friend."

"Wait, Aurelius is going? Isn't he afraid of being attacked and stuff?" Scorpius pointed out, Aurelius was his favorite professor's somewhat estranged father who Dom had befriended.

"He's trying to get over his fear, he's feeling happier and more confident recently. He's been out a couple of times since June, not amongst such heavily populated places but still."

"How is he feeling happier and more confident?!" Albus demanded in exasperation, "with the Shadows and Specters and the Shadow War and everything."

"That's kinda... why," Dom explained awkwardly, "his elder son, Brutus, is a wanted known Shadow member."

"He's glad his son is a maniac Shadow?"

"He's glad his son is alive."

They set off after that, the Portkey was a long stick kept out in the yard so they could all grasp onto it to whoosh them away. Scorpius felt the very familiar sensation of Portkey travel, as if a hook had latched onto him behind the naval and was dragging him through space trying to crush him and then it was over and he was on the ground with everyone barring the adults and Dom. That wasn't very familiar, Varanian had given him a special ring he always wore to communicate that doubled as a Portkey, it was how he could sneak out to see him but Varanian must have done something to give him a smoother landing.

It was already packed of course, Scorpius had heard the... less wealthy needed to arrive early to get their seats, all the games he'd been to before they'd had a spot reserved in one of the better seats and only needed to arrive for the day. They had amazing seats he was told but were just staying anyway because it was easier to be there already, it also meant the arduous task of putting up the tents after finding somewhere to put them up, they were ordered to stay close as they waded through through of tents for the Longbottoms who had arrived their earlier and was saving them a spot. Scorpius never had been through that section before, he'd seen it around but not walked through it, his family didn't like him being around regular people, his family hadn't been very popular since the end of the last wizarding war. Michael and Vern both seemed amazed by some of the tents, he didn't see why as he knew muggles also had tents, were tents with chimneys only reserved for the very wealthy or something?

"Hey!" a voice called and they turned to see Professor Longbottom waving at them with his magical wooden prosthetic arm, his left arm had been cursed off during the attack at the start of second year, "over here!"

"Hi Neville," Mrs Potter greeted him seeming relieved to finally have found him, there was plenty of space saved for them beside the professor's lopsided purple tent, "thanks for saving us a spot."

"Not a problem," a plump woman standing beside the professor offered kindly, Scorpius had never really met her but by sight he knew her to be Professor Longbottom's wife and mother of his children.

There were four Longbottom children, the eldest was Heather - a Hufflepuff - had graduated Hogwarts last year after winning the Triwizard Tournament. The second eldest was Nick - a Slytherin - who also was the Slytherin Keeper and in the same year as Molly, he'd dated her for a lot of the previous year so Scorpius disliked him on principle, the youngest was August who'd be starting Hogwarts that year and whom Scorpius had never really met although he had seen him vaguely from afar picking up his siblings at the platform with their mother. The second youngest was Abby - a Gryffindor like Scorpius - and one of his friends, she stepped out of the tent to stand by her parents and smiled at them in greeting, she had long hair tied back in a braid and also seemed to have grown a bit taller over the summer.

Task one of finding the Longbottoms was complete, the task of putting up the tents remained though. The Longbottoms had their own tent and Rose would also be joining them as Heather had opted not to come, she was more interested in relishing her victory money and working at her new job, she'd been offered it - along with several others - after winning, they weren't sure exactly what it entailed but it was something to do with research, Heather got to travel and rather enjoyed it. Scorpius and the others would be having two tents due to the number of people, after agreeing who was bunking with who it was decided that tent one was with Mrs Weasley and Arthur, Mrs Potter, James, Hugo Louis and Freddie bunking together and the girls, Roxy and Lily bunking together. In tent two it would be Bill and Fleur, George, Albus, Scorpius, Michael and Vern bunking together and the girls, Dom and Molly bunking together. The communal areas of the tents would be connected via tent tunnels though for ease and safety. Setting them up though, proved to be more difficult.

A bird cawed and Scorpius glanced up to see a marvellous golden eagle circling them overhead before it shot to the ground, it dived as a bird but landed as a man. Aurelius Ashain. He was handsome and didn't look close to sixty, he'd easily pass off as his son's brother rather than his father. He had chestnut brown eyes and a full head of wavy shoulder-length hair of an extremely dark auburn color, he was dressed in fine robes in the bizarrest of colors. Deep purple and bright orange with lime green sleeves, all with a large glittering golden trim and brown boots.

"Now that is cool," Michael commented in amazement.

"I rather think so, being an animagus is well worth the effort it takes to become one," Aurelius told him cheerfully, "would you like some help with those tents?"

"Err..." George began but without waiting for a reply, Aurelius whipped out his spiraling wand and cast a nonverbal spell that shot towards the tent they were trying to put up, it magically erected itself and as an added afterthought flicked it at the Longbottom's tent that also corrected itself and no longer looked lopsided, "thank you Mr...?"

"Ashain but you can call me Aurelius," Aurelius introduced himself brightly as Dom rushed over to him, she looked like she wanted to hug him but didn't, instead introducing him to those who hadn't met him. Bill never stopped glaring at him but Aurelius seemed in too good of a mood to notice.

With Aurelius' help they had the tents up and connected in no time, Scorpius thought internally they were actually bigger than the Burrow and less messy. Scorpius' tent had a sitting area while the other one had the kitchen/dining area, Mrs Weasley, Mrs Longbottom and Michael - he volunteered to help - started cooking dinner while the rest of them relaxed. August, Lily and Hugo stayed together chatting eagerly about looking forward to their first year at Hogwarts and hope to get into Gryffindor, George, Fleur, Mrs Potter and Professor Longbottom talked in hushed tones well out of earshot, Dom and Aurelius were talking together along with Bill who seemed determined to get a word in edgewise to their conversation, Freddie and Louis were talking together about starting their NEWTs, James lounged back bored while Scorpius and the others talked about the match tomorrow, Egypt versus China and apparently they were cheering for Egypt because of Bill working there so Scorpius supposed he was too.

"Oh yeah and Molly, did you know I made prefect?" Nick announced proudly as they were called for dinner at the table, Scorpius felt a pang of horror at the thought of him and Molly both being prefects, they'd spend even more time together. If they got back together then Scorpius would never have a chance.

"So did she," Hugo pointed out eagerly, "as was Louis and Vic and Dom made Head Girl and both my parents were prefects and so was Uncle Bill and Uncle Percy and-"

"We get it, Hugo, no need to brag."

"Wasn't that what you were you doing?"

"No, I was just... making conversation."

It was very cramped, in the end they elongated the table down the connecting area so it would fit them all with Aurelius too at Dom's instance especially Aurelius claimed not to mind and had no issue with hunting for his food as an eagle. The conversation remained cheerful although Scorpius still felt the underlying tension, except when it came to Aurelius who was indeed in a good mood and rarely stopped smiling. Michael wasn't speaking much and instead diving into his food as if he'd been starved, he finished his first helping before anyone else was halfway done.

"There's plenty for seconds, dear," Mrs Weasley offered kindly.

"Are you sure?" Michael wondered sounding somewhere between hopeful and doubtful.

"Of course! There's more than enough, eat up, you're all skin and bones as it is," Mrs Weasley told him as she began refilling his plate for him.

"Thank you very much, Mrs Weasley," Michael replied politely.

"Thank you for helping cook it. Do you help with the cooking a lot?"

"Yeah, all the time at home."

"Then why so hungry? You're thinner than a skeleton on a diet!" George exclaimed jokingly.

"Money's just really tight," Michael muttered with a shrug, "I'm just naturally short and skinny anyway."

"Is everything alright at home? You haven't said much about your summer," Mrs Potter commented and Michael shifted uncomfortably.

"Everything's fine, just the usual which isn't very interesting. Not much to say unless you want to hear about boring muggle stuff like my baby brother Bertie taking his first steps or my little sister having hay fever."

"We wouldn't mind hearing about Crystal," Albus spoke up hopefully, "how is she?"

"Crystal still my mother," Michael pointed out with a roll of his eyes, "you're not still this?"

"Of course, we're soul mates torn tragically apart by our age gap."

"And her being my mother."

"And that."

"And her having a husband."

"I get it, Michael, that's why I said tragic."

Scorpius was able to finally draw Michael into a conversation after that and he seemed to cheer up and to be a bit less on edge than before anyway, more like himself. Scorpius actually was rather enjoying himself, it was good to talk to his friends again and the crowded table actually reminded him of Hogwarts and how much he was looking forward to going back. And Molly sat next to him. After dinner the Longbottoms and Rose retreated back to their own tent - it was late by then anyway - and they had the interesting task of doing the dishes, Scorpius was incredibly glad to have volunteered to see the unique way Aurelius washed dishes, his idea of scrubbing was caressing them and spend a good five minutes carefully drying every last speck of dirt with the cloth - and that was just for a saucer - all the while singing under his breath, he washed his hands in between every item he did. They'd finished the lot before he'd finished four.

"We're done Aurelius," Dom pointed out which made him lose his smile as he looked confused.

"What? Already? It takes me a good hour just to my own things at home, I haven't gotten through all my list of dish-washing songs yet."

"Well there is more of us, maybe next time."

They returned back to the sitting area after that, playing exploding snap - except James who continued lounging around bored - and talking more while the adults mostly went to the kitchen area while Aurelius left. Mrs Weasley and Arthur retired to bed early as did Mrs Potter and brought Lily with her, Freddie and Louis also went to get settled in or possibly to talk privately as Freddie seemed oddly quiet, Roxy also went to bed claiming she was tired.

"Why'd you bring Tarot cards, Malfoy?" James questioned curiously and Scorpius looked away from the game to see James holding up his pack of Tarot cards that had been with his things.

"You went through my stuff?!" Scorpius burst out furiously jumping up and snatching them back, "what is wrong with you!?"

"What is wrong with me? What's wrong with you? Oh wait, everything! Was making sure you didn't bring anything dark and evil with you. Someone had to."

"James! That is ridiculous and way out of line, you can't go through people's stuff!" Molly snapped backing him up, James shrugged uncaring as Scorpius put down the cards and went to check through his things to make sure James hadn't stolen anything. He hadn't unless you included the cards, when he got back Molly was looking through them and handed them back, "none missing, I checked myself. Cool cards by the way. Glad to see you're taking Divination, not meaning to speak ill of Trelawny but the new professor is really good."

"How do they work?" Vern asked curiously.

"Well the cards have different meanings you interpret, I'm pretty good at it."

"Really?" Dom wondered also sounding interested, "can you show us?"

"Err... sure, if Scor doesn't mind."

"Go ahead," Scorpius agreed handing her back the deck that Molly popped out of the pack and started shuffling as she sat down, spreading the cards out on the floor in front of Dom.

"Well just for a quick demonstration, pick a card, the first one you choose is the one most defining to you at this moment in time or the near future," Molly explained as Dom picked a card, "what is it?"

"The Emperor," Dom told her as she handed Molly back the card.

"Well... you're falling for an older man."

"No I'm not, I broke up with my boyfriend and he was two months younger than me anyway."

"I said present or near future."

"Well I say its not likely, I'm the oldest in my year and a seventh year this year so who exactly am I supposed to fall for?"

"I don't know, it doesn't say."

"Well do it again," Dom prompted and Molly repeated the process, Dom drew another card but scowled, "I got the Emperor again. Is this deck only full of Emperors?"

"No, its just you picking the card most relevant to you," Molly explained and gestured to Hugo who was closed to her line of sight as she reset the cards, "you pick one, show Dom they're not all Emperors."

"Well my parents say... well alright," Hugo agreed and picked up a card but it must have been upside down because he turned it around to read it, "I got Wheel of Fortune. What does that mean?"

"It means change is coming, change is good but you may be reluctant to accept it."

"Change like what? Going to Hogwarts."

"I don't know, it doesn't specify."

"Cool do me! Do me!" Albus exclaimed excitedly jumping in between Dom and Hugo, clapping his hands together brightly as Molly reset the cards once more and Albus grabbed one but his face fell, "the Hanged Man?"

"Oh that's a rather interesting choice," Molly explained with a somewhat satisfied smirk - she was cute when she smirked like that - as she took the card back, "it means you need to let go of an unattainable 'love' if you want the chance to be with someone you can truly be happy with it."

"Well that's clearly wrong," Albus scoffed while James came over and snatched one.

"I got Judgement, what does that mean?" James said to Molly as she flashed him a dark look and took back the card.

"It means you jump to conclusions and judgements too hastily," Molly told him stiffly, "how apt."

"I disagree. You suck at this."

"Just because you don't like what you hear doesn't mean she's bad at reading Tarot," Scorpius insisted defensively and truthfully which earned him a glare from James that he was happy to return before looking back to Molly, "let me try."

"Alright," Molly agreed resetting the cards again and Scorpius took one.

"Its the World."

"Ah, you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Its not an easy burden to bear," Molly told him seriously meeting his eyes, "you should remember you don't have to do it alone."

"Can I try?" Michael wondered and Molly reset the cards again, just as he took one the other adults returned.

"C'mon guys, bed time," George announced clapping his hands together, "break it up, break it up, we got a game to watch tomorrow."

There was a consensus of grumblings of agreement as they started to disperse, James and Hugo headed back to their own tent while the others except Scorpius, Michael and Molly also headed off. Scorpius Molly started packing up the cards though and Michael hastily shoved his chosen one back in with the other ones. Scorpius still saw it though, Michael's card was Death.


Part 3: Weasleys at the World Cup


Scorpius went with Albus, Vern and Michael to the room they'd be sharing, predictably it was small with two sets of bunks against each wall and section of floor space in between them. There was a wide chest of drawers in between for them to use, after a few minutes of debate Scorpius and Michael took the top bunks with Albus and Vern having the bottom bunks that they settled into. It lacked the drapes of Hogwarts or the privacy of his own room though, Scorpius got changed in the bathroom after Michael had done the same for some reason.

"So how's things for you, Vern?" Michael was asking the younger boy when Scorpius returned and Albus had gone in to brush his teeth and actually use the bathroom, both were already in their bunks.

"Different," Vern answered as Scorpius climbed into his own bed, "I guess its not that bad, Aunt Ginny is really nice and so is Uncle Harry the rare occasions we see him. James mostly avoids me as does Lily although she doesn't look at me like I'm dirt like he does, Albus is a bit nicer and he even let me practice flying but he seemed upset that I kept doing better than him so I thought it'd be best if I didn't fly anymore. My grandma actually wrote to me but said she didn't think it would be a good idea if we met up over the summer. Mostly I've just been reading, I like keeping busy, keeps my mind off things."

"You have to make the best of things."

"Yes. And I... I err... Orous and I were thinking about maybe trying out for the Hufflepuff team this year," Vern told them sounding suddenly extremely anxious, "what... what do you think?"

"If you want to then go for it."

"You two wouldn't mind?"

"Why would we mind?" Scorpius wondered in confusion.

"You know... because we're Hufflepuffs and if we did make the team or the reserve team then we might probably possibly have to play against you. Being friends with you is more important than Quidditch so if it bothers you we won't do it."

"Of we course we don't mind! Its a game, its not like you're joining the dark side of the force," Michael pointed out and Scorpius spied a glimpse of the relief on Vern's face, "its all in good fun, right Scorpius?"

"Of course its fine, knock yourself out," Scorpius agreed as Albus rejoined them, "not literally. Avoid those Bludgers. What positions did you guys want?"

"What are we talking about?" Albus asked climbing into the bunk below Scorpius.

"Vern and Orous trying out for the Hufflepuff team."

"Ah right, well good luck but don't get your hopes up too because the tryouts are unbelievably difficult."

"I'll bear that in mind," Vern offered.

"I'm looking forward to this year, firstly I'm finally going to make the team and secondly we get to go to Hogsmeade," Albus said brightly, "well not you Vern, you can't until next year but for the rest of us, awesome. And hey, do you two still like Molly and Rose?"

"Yes," Scorpius and Michael answered in unison.

"Perfect opportunity to get together with them according to James its great for dates."

"I'm not going on a date with Rose," Michael announced sounding deflated.

"You like her but you don't want to go out with her? Are you completely insane?"

"No, Rose just would never be interested in me so there's no point trying."

"She broke up with Copper because of you," Scorpius pointed out.

"She broke up with Copper because she finally realized he was an ass he was, she'd have done the same if he'd said that about either of you."

"Its something."

"You heard what she said last year," Michael insisted, "she liked Copper because he's good-looking and smart, she likes guys who are good-looking and smart, Maurice would have more of a shot with her than I would. I'm stupid and ugly. And really short."

"You're not stupid and ugly. And you're not that short."

"Albus' little sister is taller than me!"

"I'm with Scorpius," Albus agreed cheerfully, "if you ignore the dystextia and that awfully hideous scar across your eye then you're smart and good-looking. You are pretty short though."

"Thanks, Al, that makes me feel so much better," Michael commented sarcastically, "and its dyslexia not dystextia."

"You're forgetting that none of that matters," Vern spoke up, "Rose is your friend, she already likes you for who you are which is the most important thing. You could at least try, you'll never know if you never try."

"Fair enough," Michael admitted cautiously, "but you're forgetting that if I do try and fail then not only could I lose her as a potential girlfriend but as a friend as well."

"I never thought of that," Scorpius realized aloud as he thought of himself and Molly, if he did do something wrong then he could not just make a fool out of himself bu lose her friendship and that would be worse than just never dating her. Did the gain weigh out the risk?

They settled down into sleep soon after, or most of the did anyway, Vern and Albus fell asleep relatively quickly while Scorpius lay awake thinking about the situation with Molly. He heard Michael tossing and turning, occasionally sighing, clearly having trouble sleeping too.

"Sickle for your thoughts?" Scorpius asked him quietly as to not wake the others.

"Death," Michael answered simply and Scorpius recall the Tarot card Michael had drawn.

"I'm sure you're not going to die, the cards aren't exactly as they are. Albus got the Hanged Man and Molly didn't say he was predicted to be hanged, ask her tomorrow what it means."

"Maybe. But then everyone has to die at some point, maybe my time is just sooner, that I'm marked for death."

"Its just a card, random chance. You're not marked for death."

"Sometimes I feel marked for death with everything that happens."

"Well I won't let you die," Scorpius insisted and Michael sighed as he rubbed his bandaged hand.

"Its not important," Michael muttered as he rolled onto his side away from him, "goodnight."

Scorpius fell into an uneasy sleep on that note until he was awoken by either George or Bill yelling for them to get up for breakfast, glancing over he saw Michael wasn't there and was about to ask as he went out with Vern and Albus through the connecting area to the other tent to see Michael was helping set the table. Michael was one of the few already dressed along with Mrs Weasley, Mrs Potter, Bill and Dom while the rest - Scorpius included - shuffled in in pajamas or bathrobes although the Longbottoms and Rose would be having their own breakfast without them which was easier on the space. Molly had red pajama bottoms with white polka dots and a long sleeved blue top with a Gryffindor lion on it, her fiery curly hair was unkempt but she still looked beautiful as she sat down beside him. It was a cheerful atmosphere, except for James who also seemed in a bad mood.

"Cheer up grumpy gus," the one eared George offered, also seeming to notice this, "we got a Quidditch game to watch."

"I just wish Carver could be watching the Quidditch match too," James grumbled.

"James, we've been over this a thousand times!" Mrs Potter protested and James rolled his eyes.

"I know but its still not fair, bloody Maurice Rivers, he's a psychopath! He should be the one not allowed to have friends at the Quidditch World Cup."

"Actually, Maurice doesn't care for Quidditch," Michael pointed out.

"Maurice is Roman's kid, isn't he?" George wondered to which Michael nodded and the adults seemed to go a bit quieter, "surprised he sent the boy to Hogwarts considering how much he hated it."

"Did you really know him that well?" James asked curiously.

"Roman was your Aunt Audrey's little brother, after their parents were killed and their brother left she became his sole guardian as she was an adult and him still a child. Your Uncle Percy started seeing her when Roman was ten so we knew him since then, when they moved and got married he lived with them - they practically raised him - until taking off after he graduated from Hogwarts and never bothered to stay in touch or even say where he was going," Mrs Potter explained, "he was a very introverted boy, shy, quiet and withdrawn. I think he took his parents death very hard."

"Why did he hate Hogwarts?"

"His parents had homeschooled his siblings and homeschooled him up until their deaths, they were a very isolated family, I don't think the idea of a crowded place of strangers appealed to him. Audrey thought it was a good idea though, she hadn't the time or money to stay home and school him and it would give him a chance to talk to kids his own age and make friends, she thought to send him at least to see how it went. But it didn't go so well, Roman was very prejudiced-"

"Big surprise," James interrupted to which several people shot him irritated looks as they - Scorpius included - were interested in the tale, Mrs Potter paused to give him a strange look before continuing.

"He despised Death Eaters for killing his parents, due to the fact Slytherin housed many relatives of Death Eaters and had been the house many had been to, he also despised Slytherin which made it incredibly unfortunate that Slytherin was the house he was placed in. He hated his house and his housemates."

"Why didn't he just make friends with people in other houses?" Molly inquired looking on with interest and Mrs Potter looked almost ashamed.

"A lot of people shared Roman's prejudice against Slytherin, the other houses didn't want to associate with the house of cowards and Slytherins were bullied a lot, hating Slytherin didn't make Roman an exception. He cried himself to sleep every night for the first month and wrote a letter every other day begging to go home, he was lonely and miserable and picked on by most everyone."

"What a pathetic loser," James muttered under his breath but his mother didn't seem to hear.

"Why didn't mum let him?" Molly wondered looking upset.

"She wanted to give him time to settle in before he made up his mind," Bill offered, "said to wait until Christmas."

"So why didn't he come home at Christmas?"

"Well just before Christmas two things happened," George spoke up, "the first is that Percy and Audrey moved in together and the second is that Roman decided to stand up to his bullies. Problem is he got caught, the bullies twisted the tale to that Roman had simply attacked them and Audrey was furious. Roman was too proud to admit he was being picked on and that his actions were in self defense, in all the letters begging to go home he never once mentioned how bad things were for him, so she believed the false version of events and forced him to stay in Hogwarts over the holiday as punishment. And he never forgave her for it or us because he blamed Percy for 'turning his sister against him' apparently."

"I guess Roman decided if his sister didn't want him then she wouldn't get him at all because he never wrote another letter home to her, never complained about Hogwarts again - although if you asked he'd say he hated it but insisted on wanting to attend - and chose to stay for every holiday. He became even more withdrawn then," Mrs Potter explained, "put himself into self isolation out of bitterness, if he'd asked for help or not kept everything to himself than Audrey could've done something, could've helped. Roman, of course, only divulged all this after graduating Hogwarts when it was too late to do anything about it. You should never be ashamed of asking for help if you need it and I hope everyone at this table knows that any of us would help you if you needed it with something."

"You only mean family and Vern right?" James wondered.

"I mean everyone at this table. Especially in times like these, we need to band together not fall apart."

"Scorpius and Michael are friends of Albus which makes them friends of the Weasleys," Bill offered and there were nods of agreement from around the table that brought a smile to Scorpius' face despite himself as it did to Michael.

"To friends and family!" Freddie called raising his goblet of pumpkin juice that they all followed suite with in the mock toast.

"Not friends of Potters," James said under his breath so that his mother didn't hear but Scorpius still caught it before speaking louder, "so back to what we were talking about, if Roman hated Hogwarts why did he send his psychotic son there?"

"Maurice isn't psychotic, just a bit different," Vern insisted which earned him a dark look from James, "and I get the impression that Roman doesn't like him very much anyway, like he's cold and distant and only cares how Maurice's grades are. And his mum left, I feel bad for him."

"He let Maurice go to Diagon Alley to get all his school stuff by himself too," Scorpius added.

"He thinks his mum left?" Mrs Potter wondered sounding puzzled.

"Isn't that what happened?"

"It really isn't my place to say."

"Please, Mum," Albus begged desperately, "he's our friend and maybe if we know then we can help him."

"He tried to murder me!" James protested furiously.

"In revenge for you beating him."

"In revenge for him attacking me and you helped!"

"To stop you from picking on his friend and I actually feel bad about it, do you?!"

"Of course I don't! Maurice deserved to be beaten."

"No one deserves to be beaten," Michael spat unexpectedly in a darker and more venomous tone than Scorpius had ever heard him use, he hadn't shouted but his words nonetheless had impact and even James seemed too taken aback to argue.

"Consider yourself grounded once we get home until Hogwarts," Mrs Potter commented to James who pouted sulkily, "Michael's right. What Maurice did was wrong but what you did was equally wrong, if I was responsible for Maurice I would punish him as well as you but I'm not. And I'm not having this conversation with you, again."

"So will you tell us about Maurice's mother?" Albus asked after a moment of them returning to their nearly gone breakfast, Mrs Potter sighed.

"Alright, the short version is that she didn't leave. Roman and her had a very unhappy relationship, he left and took the newborn Maurice with him and changed the name to Maurice Rivers. About a year later when it became apparent that Maurice was deaf, he changed his mind and no longer wanted his son so he went back and attempted to return Maurice but she also prefered... prefered to not have a deaf son so Roman had to keep him."

"What's the long version?"

"That's all I'm saying now eat your breakfast."

The conversation drifted back to cheery things and Quidditch, pretty soon the information about Roman was shoved to the backs of everyone's minds for the game. They had skybox seats as did Aurelius who they met up with there after going through a security check, walking through a blue magic barrier that detected certain dangerous or illegal magic - but apparently didn't pick up on his illegal Portkey ring - and get sniffed by strange pig-like creatures only with repulsive wards, a hairy hanging tail and snout that was more like a short elephant trunk, apparently they sniffed for illegal substances or potions and everyone passed.

Aurelius and Dom immediately started a conversation behind him on the barbaric nature of Quidditch and Aurelius' opinion that it was unfair that one team lost because it must hurt the losers feelings which was bad but he did admit to enjoying flying without the brutality of Quidditch, despite the fact he was completely alright with hunting prey as an eagle which he also claimed to be how he had breakfast and where he slept. At the thought of the eagle Scorpius' mind resurfaced to Dom's Patronus, it was a golden eagle which was Aurelius animagus form and then to Molly's prediction about her falling for an older man, it couldn't be Aurelius could it? He was Professor Ashain's father. It could just be a coincidence, maybe them being similar animals was just a sign they had enough things in common to just be friends.

Further thoughts on the matter were expelled from his mind as the game began, he may not have cheered the loudest or the most but nonetheless he was engrossed in the game. Molly had a habit of pretty much commentating on the match in an excited rant beside him, the Weasleys and Potter mostly seemed determined to deafen him with their cheers, Michael, Vern and the Longbottoms joined Scorpius in being less vocal but intent on the game nonetheless while Dom and Aurelius continued their conversation behind as if there wasn't even a match happening. It was a good game, Scorpius hadn't truly been following Quidditch for awhile but the teams were good. He felt incredibly stupid to think of how he'd wanted to be a Seeker for England after seeing those matches, aside from not wanting that anymore those Seekers could fly circles around him he was sure.

It was rather a long game, very intense as whenever Egypt got a lead then China would quickly equalize it and whenever China got a lead Egypt would quickly equalize it. In the end it came down to the Seekers and in a move that put his victory over Ravenclaw to shame, Egypt pulled into a spectacular dived and leaped off his broom to catch it before landing back on the still moving broom a few feet down. Scorpius thought the cheers did actually deafen him for a moment.

The celebratory mood carried over and Scorpius heard parties and noise from back in their tent, they were having a party of their own although Scorpius wasn't taking part much, he didn't really like parties. Dom and Aurleius weren't either, still sitting off to one side talking, Scorpius wondered if they'd even realized the match was over. Michael was sitting with him, also not very interested in dancing although Scorpius rather liked watching Molly dance and be cheerful, her smile was dazzling. It was very... un-Malfoy-like the celebration, they didn't dance especially not so badly they looked hyperactive monkeys trying to get an itch, they didn't sing especially not using volume to try make up for being off-key and the wrong lyrics, they didn't do any of that crazy stuff. It was one extreme to the other, despite thinking he prefered the quieter celebrations, he did like how close they seemed, how happy, how they didn't care what people thought to just have fun.

"C'mon Scor!" Molly laughed coming over to him, "you can't sit there doing nothing, at least once dance."

"No thanks, I'm good here," Scorpius insisted before Molly grabbed his hands to pull him up.

"Just one dance," Molly pleaded but Scorpius thought all coherent thoughts drained out of his mind as soon as she touched his hands and hadn't let go, her skin was soft but he could feel the few spots calloused from Quidditch, very like Molly. He was taller although still not quite as tall as her, tall enough to be just barely on eye line though, she was still smiling, "just one, I'll do it with if you want."

"Okay," Scorpius' mouth cleverly agreed while his mind tried to catch up. He made up his mind though in that moment, trying to date her was definitely was worth the risk.