Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. It all belongs to the talented J.K. Rowling!
A/N: This one took me a little longer to get up. I hope it was worth the wait!
Lily felt her spine stiffen as she locked eyes with the boy. Next to her, Albus cleared his throat.
"You all know Scorpius from school," he said. "He's going to be staying the next little while." He shot his friend a meaningful look. The blonde wrinkled his nose.
"Merlin, who declared this red-head capital?" He eyed Albus's dark hair thoughtfully. "They stare at you as well, then?"
Albus cast his eyes skyward. Lily noticed that next to him, Fred and Roxanne had both tightened their grips on their knives. Hugo's eyes were flickering protectively between Lily and Scorpius. Rose shook her head.
"Scorpius," she said quietly. "Play nice." She touched a meaningful hand to his arm. Lily narrowed her eyes. Dominique was looking at him curiously.
"Tu êtes pas mauvais," she mused, her eyes wide. "A bit too young for me though, I think. Rose never mentioned how fanciable you were." Her gaze flicked across his face. Scorpius raised one eyebrow. Rose rolled her eyes.
"You must be hungry," she said pointedly, ending the discussion effectively. "Al's hungry, I'm hungry, you're hungry. Let's eat!" She sat down between Louis and Fred, removing the knife from the latter's grasp. Scorpius threw himself casually into the one beside Lily.
"'Lo Lily," he said, smirking at her. "Has the pain of missing me overwhelmed you yet?" Lily felt her hand twitch with the urge to slap him. She checked to make sure her cousins were busy interrogating Al and Rose before speaking.
"Look," she said quietly. "I know you don't like me. I actually despise you. But I thought my brother died today with his last memory of me being one where I was yelling at him about you. So you and I are going to be civilized towards each other while you're here. Got it?"
She looked at him darkly beneath her red curls. Something swirled in his blue eyes as he looked at her, but he merely nodded before taking a swig of her pumpkin juice.
"That was never going to be an issue," he said innocently, handing her back her cup. "So long as you can keep your hands off of me."
His eyes were smug. Lily felt a burst of outrage in the pit of her stomach. "Keep my hands off of you?" she demanded in a hushed voice. "You'll be fortunate if I can keep my vomit off of you now-"
"Albus Severus Potter!" Ginny Potter called, striding into the kitchen. "Do you have any idea how worried your father and I have been? What in Merlin's name were you thinking?" Her brown eyes cut into her son like laser beams. Her hands were planted firmly on her hips. Lily noticed many of her cousins duck their heads to hide their smiles. Ginny's temper was legendary. Albus gulped audibly.
"Maybe we could have a private word, Mum?" he asked, his gaze flicking to Scorpius. "There are some things we should probably discus." Ginny's gaze softened slightly as she followed her son's gaze to where Scorpius sat. She nodded stiffly at Albus.
"Garden," she ordered. "You have three minutes while I go and tell your father that you're here. He's about two seconds away from calling the Auror department to send out a search party." She looked at Albus severely. He had the good grace to look embarrassed.
"Sorry mum," he muttered, his eyes glued to the table. "I promise, it will make more sense when we explain." Ginny's eyes strayed to Scorpius once again before she straightened rigidly. She hit Albus lightly over the back of the head.
"It had better, young man," she said, though her tone had calmed some. "As for you Scorpius..." The blonde beside Lily froze as Ginny caught his eye. She smiled. "It's nice to see you again."
"You as well," Scorpius agreed. "Though it's slightly lessened by the cheerful disposition we all seem to be in."
Lily was surprised to see that her mother smiled reluctantly. "All the same," she said, snatching a piece of toast off the table as she left. Albus visibly relaxed as the door shut behind her. James sighed in disappointment.
"I thought she was going to rip your head off," he said, "and then convince the gnomes to turn carnivorous and eat you." He didn't bother to try and hide the glee in his tone. Albus shrugged.
"She wouldn't have had to turn them," he said. "They already eat bacon. Here, I'll show you." He rose swiftly from the table. "Rose and Scorpius as well."
The former stood easily. "I suppose," she agreed smoothly. "I left my broom out there, anyways." Scorpius made a sound of amusement.
"You mean somewhere in the tree?" he asked innocently. Rose sighed exasperatedly.
"Come along, Scorpius," she instructed. "We need to talk. All four of us," she added, clearly noticing James wistful glance towards the porridge. Scorpius met her eyes before nodding, standing as well.
"Oh, alright," James conceded, pushing back his own chair as well. "Let's make this quick. Fred will eat everything while we're gone otherwise."
Fred did not look the least bit embarrassed by this. "Better hurry back before all the bacon disappears!" he called as James left. "Have fun with your gnomes!"
James gave him a very rude gesture as the four slipped outside, shutting the door behind him. Roxanne immediately began speaking as soon as their footsteps quieted.
"So," she said casually. "I was thinking we could go into Diagon Alley later. Lucy, Lils?" There was a steely look in her eyes that suggested that this was not so much a proposition as an order. Lucy looked torn.
"I don't know," she admitted, biting her lip. "I don't think dad would be too pleased with that. Especially not now." She shot a quick look to Molly, who had looked up from her conversation with Louis to listen in. The older girl shook her head.
"Absolutely not," she agreed. "What if something happened and there was a panic like yesterday? None of you could apparate out. It would be a disaster." Roxanne swept her dark hair behind her impatiently.
"We could floo out," she argued. "Or fly-"
Fred cut her off with a laugh. "Roxie," he said, bemused. "Have you ever seen Lucy try to fly? She's worse than Rose."
"So we'd floo!" Rox pressed. "Besides, they were all panicked over some skull in the sky. It's not like it shot beams of death from its eyes or anything." It was a good point. Molly chewed her lip a little more.
"Yes," she agreed hesitantly. "But-"
"I think they should go," Louis cut in. "They're almost all sixteen now, Mols. Besides, it's going to be a funeral in here once the meeting breaks up. They deserve some fun." Lily watched as an understanding look passed between the two of them.
Lily shot a grateful look at Louis. "Hugo could come, too," she suggested, glancing over at him. "No one's going to attack if there's four of us." She could tell it eased Molly's mind some to know that they would have a boy with them. Hugo was certainly not a presence you could ignore. At 6'2 with broad shoulders toned from quidditch playing, he was the picture of intimidation.
"Yes," Hugo agreed sarcastically. "That way I can fly Lucy out to safety when she falls off her broom." He stopped, seeing the look on Lily's face. "Oh," he said. "You're serious."
Lucy met her sister's eyes. "Please, Mols?" she asked. "I could go and ask Mum and Dad, but I just thought... seeing as you're probably most in charge..." She gave her a pleading look.
Lily ducked her head to hide a smile. Clever, Lucy, she thought. Molly will like thinking she's holding the responsibility. Molly tapped a finger to her chin, looking thoughtful.
"No, it's alright," she said finally. "You can go. Just stay together and don't go anywhere near Knockturn Alley."
"Otherwise," Louis warned, "I won't be able to restrain Molly from coming in after you herself." His eyes sparked with amusement as he looked over at her. Molly shook her head.
"You deserve some fun," she admitted, echoing Louis' words. "Now go, before I change my mind."
She looked at them all so fondly that Lily felt a squirm of guilt go through her stomach. Hugo kept a straight face and nodded. Rox winked out of the corner of her eye. Lucy was the perfect picture of innocence as she cleared her plate, though Lily noticed that her hands shook slightly.
"Thanks, Mols," Lucy said weakly. Roxanne's eyes held a hint of excitement as she stood.
"Come on, you three," she said, her voice giddy. "Let's floo."
Lily coughed as she stumbled from the fireplace into the middle of Diagon Alley. She righted herself hurriedly, narrowly avoiding a witch levitating a stack of cauldrons about eight feet high. The witch shot her a reproachful look before hurrying off. Lily flushed, beginning to move to the side when a person knocked her forward.
She stumbled, twirling around to grab hold of whatever had hit her. Hugo eyed her hand that latched onto his jumper sheepishly. "At least we didn't end up on the ground this time," he offered. They both stepped aside as Lucy flew into view, catching herself more gracefully than the other two. Last to arrive was Roxanne.
"I could do that all day!" she announced, laughing as she caught her balance. "Merlin, I feel bad for muggles. Have you ever tried a water slide? To think some of them are afraid of them!"
There was a mad excitement in her voice that made Lily slightly nervous. She looked at her cousin hesitantly. "You aren't planning to take a trip to Flourish and Blotts, are you Rox?" she asked. The light in Roxanne's eyes grew.
"No," she admitted, carving a path between the shoppers. "Never was."
She sounded as if this were a minor hiccup. Lucy's eyes widened. "What?" she demanded. "Rox. We can't just go galavanting off wherever you'd like, you know."
"She's right," Hugo agreed. "First we go to the quidditch store, then we go galavanting."
Roxanne pushed ahead purposefully, leading them towards what appeared to be the Leaky Cauldron. Lily reached forward to grab her dorm mate's shoulder. "Rox," she said quietly. "That's a bad idea. Think of who we are. We can't just go for a spin to the Leaky Cauldron. It's a bar, and we're underaged! The press will have a field day."
Roxanne shrugged, looking at her sideways. "Who cares?" she asked. "It's a pub. It's not illegal to stop by for a perfectly non-alcoholic beverage." She put emphasis on the last few words. Lily glanced back at the other two. Hugo appeared to be convincing Lucy that Roxanne really wasn't trying to get them all killed. Lily sometimes wondered if he actually believed that.
"Do you have a particular reason for wanting the prophet to eat us alive?" she asked. "Or do you feel the need to do something reckless every day?"
"It's hourly, actually," Roxanne corrected her, pulling open the door to the pub. "And you're about to see."
Lily let her eyes adjust to the dim light as they entered. She pulled her hood up to hide her flaming hair, keeping her eyes downcast in the hopes nobody would recognize her. Hugo let out a sharp breath through his teeth.
"You better have a mission, Rox," he hissed in her ear. "Because Lucy is going to faint at any minute." His eyes darted pointedly to where Lucy stood, her eyes scanning the pub apprehensively. The bartender was watching her stiff posture with interest.
"Relax," Rox said, completely at ease. "I know what I'm doing." Her eyes lit as she caught sight of something down the hallway to their left. She motioned for them to follow with one hand before turning to leave. Lucy let out a tiny squeak.
"Is she insane?" she breathed. "That's right next to the bar! All the prophet needs to do is snap a photo of me, caption it 'Weasley Gets wasted!', and my future career as a healer is over."
"Yes, well," Hugo said, "shove Rox in front of you if you can. She can take the hit." He looked almost hopeful that a photographer would appear. Lily sighed, starting after her cousin into the hallway. The other two shortly followed.
Roxanne was examining a portrait with interest. Her hands skimmed the frame lightly as she searched the picture, her eyes sharp and probing. She tilted her head, a smug smile coming to her face.
"Take a look," she offered. Lily switched places with her, letting her eyes travel over the scene. There were no figures, which was odd for a wizarding portrait, but instead a large castle that sat overlooking the water. She raised her eyebrows at Roxanne.
"Hogwarts?" she asked her. Roxanne nodded impatiently, waving her hand.
"Keep looking," she instructed. Lily did so, letting her eyes wander over the scene. The sky was the inky black of night, and the only source of light came from torches below. It was almost a panicked sight. Hundreds of figures below ran around in a state of confusion, jets of light occasionally shooting from various wands. Lily raised her hand hesitantly. She brushed it along what appeared to be a hole in the painting.
"Did someone burn it?" she asked, frowning as she looked at the charred edges. Roxanne nodded. Lucy brushed her aside to examine it for herself, her nervousness evaporating in the light of investigation. Intelligent eyes swept over the portrait.
"Here," she said, her fingers touching the edge of the burn. "It's a bit of green in the night sky. Almost as if there was a symbol painted before that someone burned."
Even Hugo seemed curious. He cleared his throat, squinting to make out the title of the picture. It was written in fancy, looping cursive at the bottom. "The Castle Crumbles," he read. "I don't suppose anyone has any idea what that means?"
"I think it's fairly obvious that it's literal," Lucy said, her eyes flicking over the picture. "Hogwarts is literally crumbling. From the style of the picture, I wouldn't say it's more than thirty years old. I imagine it depicts the war."
There was a silence as they all examined it. The burn mark glared sinisterly at Lily. "Real or imagined?" she asked, gesturing to the scene. Roxanne shook her head.
"Real," she said, the light in her eyes burning. "You see the burn mark, there? Someone tried to cover up a symbol."
Understanding shocked Lily to the core. "The green skull," she said numbly. "It must have been part of the war. Our parents," she said, turning to look them all in the eye. "They must know what it is."
A stab of betrayal registered deep in her gut. James and Albus might know as well, for all Lily knew. Maybe she was the only one being kept in the dark. Hugo scratched his chin thoughtfully. "I imagine we probably don't want to know what it is," he pointed out. "If they're keeping it a secret... that's not like them. That skull is bad news."
Lily met his eyes, both of them working out what was happening in their heads. She could see the curiosity warring with his desire to remain uninvolved inside of him. She lay a hand on his arm.
"We'll figure it out," she told him softly. "Don't say anything to Rose yet-"
"Lily Potter?" a voice yelled, surprising her so that she jumped. "My god, it's Lily Potter!" A wizard gazed open mouthed at her. His drink was suspended halfway to his mouth. Lily frantically made shushing noises, her heart rate speeding up.
"I'm sorry, sir," she said urgently. "Would you mind keeping it down? I don't really want-"
"I can't believe I'm actually meeting Harry Potter's daughter!" The wizard went on loudly, drawing the pub's attention. "And who have we got here? Oh my Merlin... it can't be..." His eyes went wide as he took in Hugo, Roxanne and Lucy, all of whom stood frozen. "It's the Weasley kids! Well, some of them," he said, scratching his head. "I expect there's too many of them to fit in one bar."
"Alright," Hugo said between gritted teeth. "We all shove Roxanne in front on three."
Lily jumped as a camera flashed, followed by two other clicks. A dull roar had started, everyone climbing over top of themselves to make introductions. Roxanne grabbed her hand.
"And who was the one that suggested illegally learning to apparate?" she asked rhetorically, eyeing the mass descending on them. "Oh, that's right. It was me." Lily elbowed her cousin in the ribs. Lucy looked at them both exasperatedly.
"Can you be still, you two?" she asked shortly. "I'm trying to think."
Lily blinked as another couple cameras flashed. Dots began to appear in front of her eyes. Hugo made an impatient noise.
"I hate to crash the party," he said. "But we need to get out of here. Right now."
Lily's heart sunk as she realized he was right. More people had crashed through the doors to the pub, gaping open mouthed at the four of them. Lucy shook her hands in frustration.
"I can't think," she announced. "Not with all of those cameras in my face. Ideas, anyone?" Her words were almost drowned out by the roar of the crowd. Paper was shoved towards her, autographs demanded. Lily's head began to spin.
"Don't pass out," Roxanne cautioned. "James will kill Molly for letting you go out, and then the prophet will really have something to talk about."
"That's it!" Lucy said, snapping her fingers. "You're brilliant, Rox!"
Roxanne looked confused. "You think James should kill Molly?"
"I think he should kill you," Hugo put in helpfully. "And then kill Molly if he's still angry."
"What we need," Lucy interrupted purposefully, "is to distract the press with something better than us. Then we can slip out and they never need know a thing."
"Alright," Hugo agreed amiably. "Excellent. What's our distraction?"
Lucy shrugged. "I hadn't gotten that far yet," she admitted. Lily held up a hand to shield off a camera thrust in her face. A piece of parchment and a quill were waved in front of her eyes.
She tugged at her hair in frustration, thinking hard. How to distract the reporters? It made sense that one of them should do it while the others snuck out. But that person had to be guaranteed a way out as well. She sighed, turning her head away as another flash went off. The broom on the opposite wall caught her eye.
Something clicked in her head. Her dad had once told her a story of how in his fourth year he had distracted a dragon with his flying for a tournament. While the reporters were certainly no dragon, the concept was the same. And bloody hell, could Lily Potter ever fly.
"Hugo," she muttered in his ear. "I'm about to do something incredibly stupid in about three seconds. Do you think you can get Rox and Lu out of here?"
"Easy," he said immediately. "Meet us back in the Burrow in five or I come back and grab you, alright?" Lily could tell his brain was on autopilot, scanning the room for fireplaces and exits. He had done the same thing when they were younger. She felt her lips curve into a smile.
"Consider me warned," she said. Focusing her attention back on the broom, she flicked her wand minutely. The broom broke away from the wall and landed safely in her hands. Ignoring the astonished looks of her cousins, Lily mounted it and kicked off.
The ceiling was high enough that she could fly safely above the reporter's heads without worrying about them latching onto her ankles. She had to smile at the rush of elation that filled her as she flew. The weightless feeling filled her with happiness. She did a small flip, unable to help a small whoop of excitement from escaping her. The reporters were in an uproar below. Twenty different cameras were trained on her now, clicking madly. Dozens of flashes split the air. The bartender had abandoned washing glasses and was staring at her with his mouth agape. Out of the corner of her eye, Lily watched Hugo drag Rox and Lucy towards the floo. Rox was kicking at his ankles. A stream of curses was barely audible over the crowd.
Lily narrowly dodged the chandelier. She dove about feet five before pulling herself sharply upwards, circling a couple eating at a table. They gaped at her with open mouths. She smiled cheekily before pulling away, beginning her own descent to the floo. Hugo, Rox and Lucy had already gone. Landing, Lily tossed her broom towards the swarm. She could not resist one smug wink before she left, tumbling into the floo and spinning away.
A/N: Please take a moment to leave a review! It would make my week. Favourite characters? Quotes? Predictions?