Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything affiliated with it. It all belongs to the talented J.K. Rowling.
A/N: The first chapter is finally up! And trust me, it only gets more exciting and crazy plot-filled from here...
Lily Potter strode briskly down the corridor, her shoes echoing off stone walls. A tell-tale flush had crept up the side of her neck. Pausing, she examined a nearby suit of armor critically before kicking it as hard as she could. Her ankle screamed in pain.
"Lily!" Albus called, hurrying towards her. "Bloody hell. Wait up."
The dark-haired boy made his way around the fallen suit of armor, nudging the metal aside with his foot. Lily whirled around to face her brother. Her eyes narrowed dangerously.
"Don't bother," she spat, turning to go. Albus threw himself towards her, his hand grabbing firmly onto her shoulder. Lily narrowed her eyes. Her brother offered her an apologetic look.
"I know you're angry," he said quietly. "I am too. But honestly, Lil, Scorpius is like that sometimes. He didn't mean to upset you."
There was a hopeful glint in his eyes. Lily crossed her arms stubbornly, her throat stinging. She leaned into the wall for support. "Really?" she managed tightly. "So I suppose he reads articles about everyone in the Prophet aloud?"
She tossed her flaming hair behind her. Her dark eyes fixed on her brother's. Albus winced. "He was just playing around," he told her softly. "He didn't think."
Albus refused to meet her eyes. Lily felt a hot rush of anger surge through her. Her hand darted out, smacking her brother in the chest. "He didn't think?" she demanded viciously. "Albus, when does he ever think? Even he has the brain capacity to realize that reading the article aloud to the whole Slytherin common room was probably not the best idea."
Albus had a neutral expression. Lily wanted to smack it off his face. Her irritation rose. "It wasn't the whole common room," Albus corrected her calmly. "Just the seventh-year boys in our dorm. I was there, Lily," he reminded her. "If the prophet had said one bad thing about you, I would have been the first to knock it out of his hands."
He regarded her steadily. Lily turned to kick the wall again, feeling a stab of pain register in her toes. The sting helped to focus her. She took a steady breath. "It doesn't matter what the prophet says about me," she told him coolly. "It's the fact that they're writing about me in the first place. About all of us. Harry Potter's children," she said in disgust, shaking her head.
Lily brought her foot back to hit the wall again, harder this time. Albus stepped deftly in front of her. "Stop that," he commanded, gesturing to her foot. "Mum will have kittens if you break your toes."
His green eyes flicked to hers, unwavering as he stood. Lily frowned at him. "So will the prophet," she said pointedly. Albus straightened, his face tightening.
"It's not just you, you know," he told her evenly. "James and I have it easily as bad. Do you know what it's like to have everyone speculate regularly that you're proposing?" He shook his head. "I'm only seventeen! James can't even leave his flat for a stroll without twenty witches asking for a photo."
His voice had remained neutral, but an angry red had begun on his cheeks. Lily made an impatient sound. "Yes," she agreed. "I'm sure he must just hate having girls throw themselves at him. Honestly, Al."
Her brother's face softened. He slumped against the wall, raking a hand through his untidy hair. "I know it's difficult," he said shortly. "I would like nothing better than to be in the prophet for quidditch, or finding an antidote to veritaserum, or for winning WitchWeekly's Most Charming Smile Award." He gave her a dry smile. "But the fact remains that to the press, we are the children of a famous witch and wizard. That's all they see."
He closed his eyes briefly, rubbing at his temples. Lily fell against the opposite wall. Her eyes were burning as she looked down the corridor. "Then why would Scorpius read that article?" she asked hoarsely. "He's your best mate. I doubt you've kept your hatred of the press close to your heart."
She kept her gaze fixed firmly on a nearby portrait. A greasy, sallow faced man stared back at her. His looked at her down his hooked nose before turning to leave through the other frames. Albus gave her a tired look. "He doesn't understand, Lily," he said. "To be frank, I don't understand why the press is after dad either. How can you expect Scorpius to know it bothers us when no one really knows what he did to become The Chosen One anyways?"
He had a point. Lily shifted uncomfortably, staring at a spot a little to his left. "Dad never talks about why they follow him." She shrugged one shoulder uneasily. "Mum sometimes says that he's running from ghosts."
She tilted her head back, letting the evening candlelight flicker over her face. Albus nodded solemnly. Half of his face was hidden in shadows. "No one talks about it," he said. "And it seems foolish to ask about my own father."
Lily felt an unexpected flare of anger. A bitter taste started on her tongue. "Especially in Slytherin," she said quietly. "Where they might murder you in your sleep if you're not careful."
She tilted her chin up, daring him to argue with her. Albus looked at her coolly. "Slytherin is part of my family," he reminded her. "As are you. You had better learn to put up with them." And Scorpius, his eyes seemed to add. Lily scowled.
"Just because I tolerate your friends, Albus," she said slowly, "does not mean that I like them."
She lifted one eyebrow sharply. Her brother's face was pinched. His nose had been swallowed by shadows. "I think you should take a walk, Lily." His voice was stiff, and his hands had fisted by his sides. "I made an effort to get to know your friends. Think about that for a while."
His teeth were clenched. Lily felt a dark burst of irritation. She spun sharply on her heel, heading out towards the ground. "You're only nice to my mates, Albus," she muttered savagely, shoving open the door with a bang, "because they're your cousins."
A cool night breeze ruffled her hair as hurried out onto the steps. The lake was still in the moonlight, an eerie silver glow rising from it in a mist. Lily shivered. She pulled her robes tighter around her.
A feeling of bitterness rose up in her as she walked towards the edge of the water. With a huff, she collapsed on the misty bank. Lily tilted her head back to look at the stars.
She didn't know how Albus could stand Scorpius, let alone befriend him. He was the same arrogant prick that his father had been. At least, that's what Uncle Ron always insisted whenever Rose mentioned him. Lily imagined her uncle couldn't be too far off, no matter what Rose or Albus said. She closed her eyes, letting the moonlight wash over her face.
"Lil?" a voice asked. "Aren't you cold?"
Lily cracked open one eye. Lucy Weasley looked at her curiously, her intelligent grey eyes sweeping over the cloak Lily wore. Her brown curls looked almost silver in the night. Lily sighed.
"Did Albus send you?" she asked tiredly. "Because you should really just ignore him. He's being a git." She propped herself up on one elbow, scrutinizing Lucy's gaze. Her cousin scrunched up her nose. She lowered herself to sit beside Lily.
"Rox, actually," she corrected her. "She went mad when she came back to the dorm and saw that your bed was empty. There was a lot of cussing."
Lucy turned to look out over the water. A slight twinge of guilt ran through Lily as she noted her cousin's concerned expression. She sat back up, shifting her weight so that she faced Lucy. "It's just Al," she said finally. "And Scorpius."
She refused to meet Lucy's eyes. Lucy patted her arm consolingly. "And the press, too." Her cousin's eyes held a knowing look. "I saw the article. I knew it would bother you."
Her voice was tinged with sadness. Lily turned her head, fixing her gaze determinedly on the tree line of the forest. "Yes, well," she said tightly, "it's not as if I'm unused to it."
She shivered more violently. Lucy sighed, drawing what looked like a cloth of fabric from her pocket. "Here," she offered, enlarging it. "I brought your warmer cloak. You'll catch your death out here."
She clucked disapprovingly. Lily smiled, slipping it on gratefully. "It's only October, Luce," she reminded her, fastening the catch. "We have a little while to go before I need to worry about my death."
Lily drew her wand from her jeans, placing it instead in her coat pocket. Lucy gave her a mournful expression. "You're right," she agreed. "Quidditch season hasn't started yet, so for the time being, you're still in one piece."
Her grey eyes danced with amusement. Lily gave her a shove, shaking her head. "First the cloak, now the witty comments," she mused. "Not to mention the excessive reading. You should have been a Ravenclaw."
She shot a sidelong look at her cousin. Lucy gave her a tiny smile. "That's what Molly and my dad tell me every day," she said. "Yet, there I am, in your dorm room."
Lily nodded thoughtfully. "Yes," she agreed. "I'll have to mention that to Rox sometime. Your bed has become a nuisance. We may need to send you packing."
She looked with grave eyes at her cousin. Lucy raised an eyebrow. "Then I will sic Uncle George on the both of you," she promised. "Loaded with every prank imaginable. And on Hugo too, if he's involved."
She eyed Lily bemusedly. Lily smiled, leaning back to admire the night sky once again. Thousands of twinkling lights stared back at her. "And what about Hugo?" she asked, rolling her head to look at Lucy. "Why didn't they send him to come drag me back to the castle?"
Lily looked at her curiously. Lucy appeared hurt. She put a hand over her heart. "Am I not good enough?" she demanded.
Lily flicked some grass at her. "Not nearly," she said. "I need someone big enough to crush Scorpius in one go. And I'm sorry to say that you do not qualify."
She eyed Lucy's 5'3 frame pointedly. Her cousin scowled, wrapping herself into a ball. "I am plenty menacing when I want to be," she argued.
Even her tone was feeble. Lily let out a laugh. "I've never heard you say one bad word to anyone, Lucy," she said. "I doubt you have the heart to misplace a mandrake."
Lucy promptly ignored this. "Rox," she continued pointedly, "couldn't find Hugo. She scoured all of Gryffindor tower."
Lucy looked faintly concerned by this. Lily wasn't worried. She raised one eyebrow. "Did she check the quidditch pitch?" she asked dryly.
Lucy shook her head, worrying her bottom lip. "No," she admitted. "But you know Hugo. I'm sure he'll wind up in the middle of the Forbidden Forest with no idea how he got there in the first place."
She sounded more as if she was trying to convince herself than Lily. The red-head rolled back to face the inky sky. The full moon shone brightly out at her. She wondered idly how grumpy Teddy was tonight.
She frowned. Something wasn't quite right. The night air was almost too silent, an emptiness that expanded through-out the grounds. Try as she might, she couldn't make out even the hooves of the unicorns. Lily turned to relay her thoughts to Lucy.
A burst of green shot across the sky. Lily sat upright, scrambling to her feet. A sharp crack split the night, echoing off the distant hills. A scream split the air. Lucy stood as well.
"Lily?" Lucy began, her voice worried. Lily held up a hand, throwing her head back to examine the cloud of green condensing in the air. It had begun to take form. The banners of mist had twined together, wrapping and weaving until they formed a single shape.
It was a skull with a snake.
"Lily?" Lucy repeated. "What is that?" She sounded truly afraid. Lily turned to look at her blankly. She tried to quash the fear growing inside of her.
"I don't know," she admitted. "But I don't like it." She examined the symbol again, feeling a chill go down her back. Her palms had grown sweaty. Another shriek arose from the castle. Lucy grabbed her wrist.
"Come on," she instructed, tugging on her arm. "Let's go find the others." Her tone was calm with an undertone of panic. She had pulled out her wand.
Lily allowed herself to be towed along, gaping openly at the skull. A feeling of recognition niggled at the back of her head. She had seen it before, but where? More screams joined the first. Lucy sped up, sharply pulling at Lily's wrist. Lily drew it back reproachfully
"I take back what I said," she announced, jogging to keep up with her cousin. "If you were a Ravenclaw, you would be running away from the screams. Not toward them."
Lucy tossed her a glance as they shifted to a sprint. A few more shrill noises were heard from inside the walls. "Are you hearing this?" she asked, cupping a hand to her ear. "Neither of us could turn around, and you know it."
They threw open the doors hurriedly. A mess of students rushed through the halls, all of them in a blind panic. A couple had taken to their brooms to fly overtop the confusion. Prefects called directions uselessly over the noise, their voices strained and unsure. Lily caught sight of Lysander hurriedly reassuring a couple first years.
"What is going on?" she demanded, turning to face Lucy. "This is insane! Surely it's not all because of green smoke in the sky?" She raised her eyebrows at her cousin. Lucy shrugged.
"Draw your wand just in case," she cautioned, hurrying into the crowd. "If you find Rox and them, send up red sparks."
Lily nodded, turning in the opposite direction. She darted quickly through the crowd. The students pushed aimlessly, a lot of them wearing similar confused expressions. Most sported pajamas. To her relief, Lily caught sight of a familiar brown-haired girl carving a path through the mass. Her mocha-skin was spotted with grime and ash.
"Rox!" she yelled, pushing her way in her direction. "Roxanne Weasley! For Merlin's sake, stop for a moment." Her heart was racing as she knocked aside students. Her cousin whipped around, craning her tall neck to peer over the crowd. Her brown eyes narrowed as she caught sight of Lily.
"Took you long enough!" she complained, threading her way towards her. "Did Lucy lose you in the lake somewhere?"
Her tone had an undercurrent of relief. Lily slapped a hand to her head, raising her wand. "Luce made me promise to shoot up red sparks when I found you," she explained. Roxanne shook her head.
"Don't bother," she said. "She won't be able to see them in this crowd. I couldn't, and I've got five inches on her." She frowned, twirling her wand as she stood on her toes. Lily lowered her wand.
"Do you have any idea what's happening?" she asked. "All of Hogwarts is in a panic." She bit her lip as she watched Lorcan try to put out a fire. Roxanne fell flat to her feet again. She had to look down to meet Lily's eyes.
"No idea," she said. "One moment I'm about to storm out after you and Lucy, and the next Professor Longbottom is being trampled by a horde of panicked students. I don't think most of them know what they're yelling about anyways," she said, shrugging. "But I've heard a couple things about a green snake."
Her voice sounded as if she could care less about the reason behind the throng, but rather how they could stop it. Lily had to admit she had a point. She cleared her throat. "Have you seen Al?" she asked. "Or Rose and Hugo?"
She couldn't help but sound a little worried. Roxanne waved impatiently at her, using her height to see over the crowd again. "Do you think I'm doing this for toe exercise?" she asked pointedly. Seeing Lily's expression, she gently added, "I saw Al and Rose with Scorpius and some Slytherins earlier. They looked fine."
"And Hugo?" Lily asked hopefully. She stood on her toes as well. Roxanne bit her lip.
"Well," she said optimistically, "two out of three isn't bad."
A loud crash came from somewhere on their left. A flyer had broken through the window. Roxanne was off without so much as a good-bye, charging towards the broken glass. Lily hesitated before turning in the opposite direction. She sped towards the stairs, following the path Lucy had took.
A hand shot out and grabbed her arm. Lily screamed, immediately pulling her wand.
"Expelliarmus!" she yelled, pointing it firmly at her attacker. Her hands shook as the blast left it. The figure was thrown five feet back. A startled yell rose as they hit the ground. Lily raised her wand again.
"It's me!" the figure called, raising their hands to block their face. "Bloody hell, Lilsy, it's me!" The person sounded indignant. Lily's heart began to hammer as she lowered her wand in shock. No one called her that except for one person.
"Hugo?" she asked disbelievingly. Her cousin picked himself up crossly, dusting his robes off.
"Who else were you expecting?" he asked irritably. "The press, perhaps?" He looked around him pointedly. Lily bit her lip.
"I couldn't help it!" she protested. "You were grabbing at me. It was a reaction." She crossed her arms defensively. Hugo's eyebrows disappeared under his shock of red-brown hair.
"Where do you live that you need reactions like that?" he asked incredulously. "In the middle of a war zone?"
His brown eyes scanned her face for an answer. Lily shrugged. "Living with James is a constant war zone," she said. "Do you have any idea where Lucy is?"
"Right here," Lucy announced, appearing beside her. "Honestly, Lily. As soon as one of us finds you, you're asking for the other one."
Lily was glad Lucy had the sense not to sneak up on her. One accidental assault was enough for the day. She frowned. "Oi," she protested. "I love you both equally, alright? Now let's figure out how to get out of this mess."
A feeling of anxiousness came over her as the crowd pressed closer. She still had not caught sight of either Rose or Albus. Hugo tapped his wand impatiently.
"That's what I was trying to find you for," he said exasperatedly. "Professor Longbottom says that we should clear out. He's creating portkeys." Hugo's eyes were steady beneath the grime as he looked at them. "And if you can apparate, even better. Something about that green mist really spooked him."
He lifted one shoulder carelessly. Lucy shook her head, her brown hair falling in her face. "But we can't apparate," she pointed out logically. "And if we do a portkey, we need to find everyone. It'll be impossible in this crowd." She shot a despairing look at the stampede of students. Lily could easily see her point. They would need to gather all the Weasleys if they wanted to portkey to the Burrow. Hugo gave them both a smug look.
"Ah, but you forget that Rose passed her apparating test last week. So did Albus. All we need," he continued sagely, "is Rox."
Lucy looked even more hopeless. Lily sighed. "Bugger," she said. "That girl is harder to find than all of our family put together. Well," she added, her eyes sweeping over Hugo, "maybe not you when we're in a quidditch supply store."
"Oi!" a voice shouted, causing all three of them to jump. "You lot! Weasley clan! Red-heads-united!" Lily turned as Roxanne pushed towards them, waving what looked like a head ripped off a suit of armor at them. "Where have you all been?"
She looked out of breath as she reached them. Her cheeks were tinted red. Hugo frowned. "You weren't exactly around yourself," he noted. Roxanne scowled.
"Because I was getting the portkey," she stressed, waving the statue head accusingly. "It goes in ten seconds. Let's move!"
She shoved the object towards them. Lucy looked hesitant, biting her lip. "What about Al and Rose?" she asked worriedly. "And the first years? Oh Merlin, we can't just leave them!"
Her eyes had widened in alarm. Lily looked down to where her, Roxanne and Hugo's hands all lay on the head. It had begun to glow blue in warning. "Lucy Weasley," she ground out. "If you don't touch the portkey this instant, I will tell Uncle Percy about the D in potions."
Her cousin looked scandalized. "Lily!" she reprimanded her. She gave her a reproachful look. Hugo looked like her was trying hard not to laugh.
Lily shrugged. "Sorry," she said. She let out a sigh of relief as Lucy lay her hand on the portkey right as it flashed. Lily felt her feet dragged from the ground. Lucy let out a scream as they lifted off, accompanied by a laugh of elation from Roxanne.
Lily caught one last sight of the green skull out the window before she was pulled through to the Burrow.
A/N: Please leave me a review and make my day! Favourite characters? Anyone you'd like to see more of? Let me know!