Blood of Birds

Note: Hi! The following is a 2nd generation Harry Potter fanfiction, with main characters being Rose Weasley, Scorpius Malfoy, and Albus Potter. It will be comprised of four parts, the first of which will follow Rose. There will also be seven one-shots (or side-alongs) following other characters at points throughout the series, each uploaded separately. I've also taken the liberty to include a few re-quotes, courtesy of JK Rowling and Steve Kloves of course, to pay homage to the original books and films. So without further ado, here is Chapter 1. Happy reading!

~ Lauren

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16. Flight of the Falcon

This day would never end. That's what Scorpius kept thinking to himself, over and over again, as he flew through the night sky. It must be past midnight now, right? It couldn't possibly still be that first, fateful day of summer, the one in which he had simultaneously regained and lost the only real family he'd ever had. That day was gone now, it must be. Today was new and fresh and different, and that meant that he could start over. Today was just beginning.

Keeping that in mind, Scorpius leaned forward on his broom, the Falcon Flyer. He was travelling at speeds Muggles would never be able to see, even if they happened to be looking up at the stars through a telescope. The ability to fly, even on a broom, was something that Scorpius was incredibly grateful for, and it was one of the only reasons he appreciated being a wizard. He could live without the spells, jinxes, and potions; they didn't mean all that much to him. What he wouldn't be able to bear however, if he had been born a Muggle, would be the inability to leave the ground.

Scorpius had spent his childhood held up in Malfoy Manor, so naturally he had always felt somewhat imprisoned. That was why, in his second year at Hogwarts, he had decided to try out for the Slytherin Quidditch team. He never thought he'd actually make it, as he was quite young, and never suspected that he would have made the most sought-after position of Seeker. Things only got better from there though, as he was constantly growing as a player, and eventually earned the title of team captain this past year, and he was able to lead that team to first place in the House Cup.

He had always been determined to succeed, and that attribute of his personality helped him in Quidditch. Still, it was the feeling of flying that really did him in. Scorpius could still remember the first time he had ever ridden a broomstick, and that inexplicable and irreplaceable feeling of freedom that had accompanied it. The wind in his face, blowing his hair back and sending chills down his spine, mixed with the impossible act of defying all laws of gravity, was something that he would cherish forever. When he was on a broom, when he was in the air, he could do anything, feel anything, be anything. It was like having his own personal oasis, where everything was perfect, and where no one else could touch him.

Even on a night like this, one as dark, cold, and humid as a summer night could ever be in rural England, Scorpius was grateful to have that freedom. With barely any possessions, apart from the Falcon Flyer, the rucksack on his back, and Ally, his pet ferret, buried in his sweater, Scorpius didn't have much else to rely on. He couldn't very well return to Malfoy Manor, and he suspected that he wouldn't be back there again all summer, so for now he really just had his freedom.

He wasn't sure yet where that freedom would take him. As soon as he had left the valleys of Wiltshire, he had instinctively headed west, which gave him two options of where he might go: Godric's Hollow or Ottery St. Catchpole. Both located in and around the province of Devon, Scorpius was nearby either one, but couldn't bring himself to choose.

The Potters' was easily the safest bet. He had stayed there many times before, and he knew that Harry and Ginny would welcome him with open arms. Plus, it would be nice to spend the summer with Al, since he hadn't seen all that much of him during the year. Scorpius had been with Rose whenever he had any spare time, and Al had fancied that Chang girl, whom Scorpius couldn't stand. Still, his parents were well aware of Scorpius's newfound safe house, and that included Astoria. If she were to escape Draco's grasp and come looking for her son once again, the Potters' would be the first place she'd go. Harry would be able to hold his own against her if he had to, but Scorpius didn't want things to have to come to that.

The Weasleys', on the other hand, would be a less predictable hideout. As far as Scorpius knew, Astoria had no idea of his relationship with Rose, so she probably wouldn't think of it. Plus, Scorpius would give just about anything to see Rose again, and to spend the entire summer with her would be a gift worth more than any amount of money he could ever conjure. Then again, as he had thought the day before, Astoria seemed to be aiming for a completely pure-blood world, and the Weasleys weren't pure-bloods. In fact, Rose's mother, Hermione, was Muggle-born. That put them all at huge risk if Scorpius were to show up at their doorstep, and the last thing he wanted to do was put Rose, who had helped him through so much that year, or her family in any sort of danger.

Going through the pros and cons of each option, Scorpius's mind continued to run in circles, and so it seemed he had reached an impasse. He was already in Devon, and like his thoughts, he had stopped flying in any clear direction. Perhaps he should just turn around and head back east, or even up north, toward London. There was always the Leaky Cauldron, and maybe they'd let him work to pay off the rent for a while? But no, that wouldn't suffice, since Astoria was supposed to be staying there. Her Aurors would ask him questions, and she could easily come back, so it wouldn't exactly be the best place. And so he was back again – an impasse.

Looking through the darkness that surrounded him, Scorpius searched for some sort of sign. No such thing appeared, but he did have a realization. Here he was, making pro/con lists, something that he would normally never do (clearly, Rose had worn off on him). Logic rarely panned out for him, and though he enjoyed the systematic approach of practice and diligence, he usually followed his instincts in questionable situations such as this one. That being said, all he needed to do now was turn his thoughts off, if only for a split second. If he could do that, then he'd just start flying, in whichever direction the wind blew him.

This was how Scorpius wound up on Rose Weasley's front porch, standing on the welcome mat, his hand in the air and ready to knock on her door. It must have been 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning by now, and Scorpius didn't wish to disturb anybody, but he didn't have much of a choice. It had started raining only moments ago, and now the drops were pummeling down across the Weasleys' front yard, the roof of their porch protecting Scorpius from being drenched in the storm. It would be too difficult to try to fly anymore in this weather, and he needed to find a dry place to rest for a while.

As he took a few good hits at their knocker, Scorpius was reminded of the last time he had been inside this house. Made mostly of wood that looked like it had just been picked up off the beach, with hundreds of tiny, brown shingles that made up the roof atop the various floors, the house looked much more welcoming than Scorpius knew it to be. Inside, it was the complete opposite of Malfoy Manor, and even homier than Godric's Hollow. The ground floor was wide open, a circular enclosure around a crowded kitchen and a patterned living room. The only parts that were closed off from it were Hermione's office, the neatest room in the house, and the downstairs bathroom.

Though Scorpius held a fond memory of a kiss between he and Rose in the office, the living room hadn't been so kind to him. That had been where he and the Potters had spent Christmas morning with the rest of the family, and where Ron, Rose's overprotective father, had nearly kicked him out after finding out about his relationship with Rose.

Wincing at the thought of running into Ron again, Scorpius lowered his fist and nearly turned around to get back on his broom. He stopped himself, however, when a different memory flooded his mind. Recently, just before Draco and Astoria had showed up at King's Cross, Ron had shaken Scorpius's hand, as if to call some sort of truce between the two of them. Perhaps that meant that Ron had forgiven Scorpius, and that he'd be okay with him showing up like this? And even it meant nothing of the sort, what were the chances that Ron would be the one out of the family of four to open the door? After all, Rose had always joked about how her father would sleep through his Auror alarms at night, so he probably wouldn't even hear the doorbell.

Keeping this in mind, Scorpius took the knocker for a second time and banged twice before he could talk himself out of it again. He then took a step back and waited, stuffing his hands in his pocket. Rustling in his sweater, he found Ally and pulled her out to hold her in his hands. The ferret had been named after Alastor Moody, a late Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. Though he had died long before Scorpius was born, Harry had once told him the story of how Moody had turned Draco, Scorpius's father, into a white ferret using a Transfiguration spell. Inspired by the tale, Scorpius had spent the money Draco had given him for an owl before his third year on the ferret instead. Scorpius always suspected that he had done it to get a rise out of Draco, but looking back now, he was certain that he hadn't been hoping for any confrontation, but a laugh instead. To this day, he had never heard his father laugh.

Distracted, Scorpius barely noticed the porch light turn on in front of him, along with one that could be seen through the door window, inside the entryway. Someone had been banging down the staircase, and now they were about to open the door. Sensing this, Ally jumped out of Scorpius's hands just in time to land on Ron Weasley's shoulder, which she clawed onto for dear life before racing down his right arm and taking a vicious bite off one of his fingers.

"Merlin's beard, I'm so sorry Mr. Weasley!" Scorpius scrambled, reaching over for Ally.

"Bloody hell, get your amazing bouncing ferret off me, will you?" yelped Ron, shaking the hand that Ally was now attached to by her teeth. Eventually, the rodent let go and burrowed back into Scorpius's clothes, but she managed to leave an already distraught Ronald looking irritated and infuriated all at once.

With tousled hair sticking out above his head, bright red ears, and enormous bags under his blue eyes that were the spitting image of Rose's, Ron looked positively dreadful. He was wearing bright orange pajama bottoms, which Scorpius recognized as Chudley Cannons merchandise, and a large, brown t-shirt that was folded in at the bottom, as if he had just now thrown it on and hadn't yet pulled it all the way down his chest. At the moment, he was licking his finger clean while he knelt down to pick up his wand, which had been dropped amongst all of the turmoil Ally had caused.

Ignoring Scorpius and holding the wand to his gnawed-at finger, Ron whispered, "Episkey", and the missing skin suddenly reappeared, good as new.

As Ron inspected his hand for any trace of the wound, Scorpius tried to apologize once again, saying, "I'm really sorry about that sir, she's a little frazzled at the moment. It won't happen again."

"Oh, I'm used to it," Ron mumbled. Scorpius was confused by the comment, but Ron didn't give him a chance to ask for an explanation before he took a step onto the porch, closed the door behind him, and said, "What are you doing here, Scorpius? Do you have any idea what time it is?"

Intimidated, Scorpius nodded feverishly and kept his eyes averted as he answered, "Yes, I know, but-"

"But what?" Ron interrupted. "Decided to take a little midnight stroll, did you? Thought you could come say hello whenever you pleased? Because if you think that I'm about to let you inside to have some alone time with my daughter, you're going to need to straighten out your priorities."

"No, it's not that!" Scorpius practically screamed at him, his hands in the air as if to surrender. "I – I just wanted to talk to her, to Rose. Just for a minute. It's important." He was trying to be honest, but mid-way through his sentence he realized that that might not work out, since Ron's eyes grew wide at the mere mention of Rose's name.

Looking down at Scorpius with rage, Ron asked, "'Talk with Rose' at 4:00 in the morning? You do you realize you're talking to her father right now, don't you? Do you know how easy it would be to push you off a glacier and make it look like an accident?"

At first, Scorpius assumed that Ron was kidding, but at second glance his eyes looked nothing short of serious as they glared directly at Scorpius's rain-soaked face without blinking. "I understand sir," Scorpius said sincerely. He then tried a different route by adding, "But you see, my parents sort of kicked me out. I don't have anywhere else to go." This time, Scorpius was trying to avoid mentioning Rose while gaining some sympathy from Ron, but yet again it seemed as though this was the exact wrong way to go about things.

"And that's my problem why?" Ron asked, refraining from any sarcasm, irony, or joking. When it came to his family, Ron would do anything to make sure that they remained safe at all times. Anyone with the name Malfoy might jeopardize that.

"Look, I have my own family to think of," Ron continued. "I can't just take in another member and expect things to stay the way they are. If you're looking for someone to take in a stray, then you've come to the wrong door."

Scorpius knew that Ron was referring to Harry, who had not only opened his home to Scorpius on numerous occasions, but who had also helped to raise Teddy Lupin like his own son. Still, Scorpius knew all that, and yet something had made him come here instead. It was too late to turn back now.

Shaking his head, Scorpius refuted, "If this is still about my father, then please, try to understand that I'm not him. I barely even know him, but what I do know isn't all bad. And if you'd give me the chance, maybe you'd be able to see the same in me."

When he looked back up, Scorpius was surprised to see that Ron was more relaxed now, and was sighing to himself, almost as if Scorpius had gotten through to him in some way. As he rubbed his forehead and pushed some of his hair back, the color yet again reminding Scorpius of Rose, Ron said, "This isn't about Malfoy. Or Draco, I mean. In some ways, yes, you remind me of him, and that's a hard thing for me to ignore. But Malfoy was never capable of doing any real harm. I was never afraid of him. I think we both know that he's not the person in your family who's really worth fearing."

Of course, Scorpius thought, he should've known. Rose had mentioned in her letter that she had asked Ron about Astoria. He had probably thought that his troubles with her were over, but Rose's questioning would have been sure to send Ron's thoughts for a loop.

Not knowing what else to say, while at the same time not wanting to admit to too much of Ron's speculation, Scorpius said, "Look, Astoria doesn't know anything about Rose and me, I promise. You have to know that I would never let my mother anywhere near her. Rose is much more important to me." Before today, Scorpius may not have been so sure about what he had just admitted to. Now, however, he felt like his mother had disappeared a long time ago. Rose, on the other hand, was more present than ever.

"I'm sorry," Ron began, "But you can't protect her now, not while you still have the Trace on you. And if I let you in this house, Astoria will be here in no time. I know the lengths that Rose would go to protect you, and I'm not about to let my only daughter sacrifice her future for you."

He was right. It seemed selfish to think such things, but Scorpius knew Rose only too well. For the most part, her decisions were rational and planned, but when it came to Scorpius, she always acted more impulsively, following her emotions rather than her logic. This is what had happened during Scorpius's trial, and Ron himself had seen a glimpse of it during his row with Rose at Christmas. The best thing for Scorpius to do may in fact be to stay away from Rose, so that Astoria wouldn't come looking.

"I made a promise to Rose," Ron continued. "I told her that I would let her make her own decisions, that I wouldn't step in or try to control her in any way. I like to keep my promises, so I'm not going to tell her that I don't want her seeing you anymore. But until I or another Auror find Astoria, I am going to ask you to stay away from Rose. Whether you can handle a relationship where you don't ever see each other, or if you end up having to break things off between the two of you is your decision. But I can see that you want to protect her, and I think you can agree that this may be the best way."

In that moment, Scorpius could tell that this was in no way personal anymore. It was much bigger than that. Though he may not have trusted Scorpius before, Ron's reasoning for refusing to let him inside had nothing to do with him, but rather everything to do with Rose. Of all reasons to leave, this seemed like a pretty good one to Scorpius. He could at least respect Ron, and could easily see where he was coming from.

Now that they had reached some sort of common ground, a compromise if you will, Scorpius nodded and said, "Fine. I'll go then." He then turned around, adjusted the rucksack on his back and looked out at the stormy night in front of him. As he wondered where he may go next, he couldn't help but notice that Ron's heavy yet steady breathing could still be heard from behind him. He hadn't gone back inside yet, and so Scorpius waited for him to speak.

"Er, hold a minute," Ron said to Scorpius, nearly shouting in order to project his voice above the thunder that had just commenced.

Stepping back underneath the roof, Scorpius stayed on the porch, but peaked through the crack that Ron had left between the half-closed door and the outside of the house. He couldn't hear anybody else, so they must have all been asleep. Just past the entryway however, the living room was illuminated by a floating flame of blue fire, enclosed by a small glass jar sitting on the coffee table. The Bluebell charm had always been one of Rose's favorite spells, and Scorpius remembered how she had liked to conjure them back in their first year at Hogwarts. He would hate to never see those flames again, but he also knew that at least for now, Ron was right… it may be for the best.

When Ron returned, he opened the door, but this time didn't step past the threshold. Instead, he stayed inside and extended his arm out to Scorpius, an enormous roll of brown fabric in his hand. "It's a tent," Ron said. "It's, er, bigger than it looks, and it'll at least keep out the rain." It seemed as though Ron had answered Scorpius's question for him. He wouldn't be going to Godric's Hollow, as it would be much too easy to see Rose there. Instead, he'd be on his own, camped out somewhere, hiding.

"Thanks, Mr. Weasley," Scorpius said in earnest as he took the tent and stuffed it into his bag.

"Yeah well, I'll have to come up with some excuse for losing it once Hermione notices it's gone, but I doubt I'll ever need it again," Ron answered. "Oh and, you can call me Ron, if you like."

As Ron held out his hand to shake, Scorpius took it, gave him one firm swing, and said, "Well then, thanks, Ron." He then turned around and walked off the front porch and onto the grass.

Scorpius was just about to mount his broom when Ron called from behind, "I'll tell Rose to send an owl tomorrow morning. You can reply however you like, but I know how lonely it can get out there."

Scorpius gave a wave in gratitude before he flew off, all while thinking that at least the owl would give him something to look forward to.

Scorpius ended up making camp in the woods near Godric's Hollow, just behind the Potters' house. He remembered it to be a rather good spot from when he had been lured into the forest while playing Quidditch with the Potters last summer. The rain had calmed down by now, and Scorpius had found a small, relatively dry enclave amongst a group of maple trees. It didn't look too much like the clearing he had made for Rose in the Room of Requirement, lacking the color of the leaves, the lightly flowing creak, and the sporadic rays of sunlight, but it would do for now.

He was quick to set up the tent Ron had given him, as he desperately needed to get dry again. Scorpius was surprised to see how small it was, looking like not much more than a piece of tarp held up by a few metal rods. However, as soon as he took a step inside, the space was transformed into a multi-room shelter, complete with furniture and other living essentials.

"I love magic," Scorpius whispered to himself as he explored his new home, walking through the bare entryway and up a few steps to a small dining table, which led to a large enough kitchen along with one of two bedroom spaces, where a tiny cot was sitting, already equipped with sheets and a pillow. On the other side of the entryway was the second bedroom, with a bunk bed and a few chairs. The place was clearly big enough for just him, and Scorpius wondered what the Weasleys had ever used it for.

Searching through the cupboards in the kitchen for a match, Scorpius was able to light a small candle that sat on the main table. Once he could see a little better, he set down his bag, released Ally to roam as she pleased, and laid down on the lone cot.

It was then that Scorpius was met yet again with the unbearable condition of insomnia. Nowadays it seemed as if it had taken control of his life. With only a few hours of night left to sleep through, Scorpius begged anyone that might listen to grant him the one small pleasure of a moment's rest. He was tired, exhausted really, and he had been for nearly a year now.

Trying to take his mind off of things, Scorpius turned onto his side and faced the wall of the tent. He then stayed very still, closed his eyes, and thought only of Rose. Her arms were wrapped around him, her wild hair blowing past his cheek, and her soft breathing in his ear. She was here with him, and in the morning she would still be there, through the chirping cardinals that would wake him up, and the letter that would be waiting for him. Think of only Rose, Scorpius thought. Dream of only Rose. Wake to only Rose.

Scorpius woke as soon as the sun came up over the meadow, and he was immediately met with a growling stomach, which reminded him that he hadn't eaten much in a long while. After pulling on the only set of spare clothes he had, he wandered out of the tent that had recently become his home and into the forest he was hiding in.

He had been lucky enough to find quite a perfect spot for his camp, as the night before he could barely see anything. This morning, however, the sun was shining brightly through the canopy of leaves above him, illuminating the soft, green ground Scorpius was standing on. He had pitched the tent at the top of a small hillside, where there were fewer trees than down below, and as he descended toward the main floor he could already hear the sound of flowing water.

Less than a kilometer north, Scorpius discovered the stream. It was relatively small and narrow, but would surely be big enough to provide him with fresh drinking water and a good place to wash his clothes. After splashing a handful of the water on his tired face, Scorpius headed back the way he had came in order to mark a trail. Once this was settled, Scorpius checked his watch: it was still only 7:00, but at this point he was starving. He'd need to find something to eat as soon as possible.

"If only I could use magic," Scorpius whispered to himself. He wasn't willing to risk his place at Hogwarts, but he also didn't have any sort of hunting supplies with him, nor had he ever gone hunting before. Being a Malfoy may have had its downfalls, but the family had never been short of food.

Determined, Scorpius rummaged through the tent, searching for anything that he could use to catch a small animal. He didn't much fancy killing an innocent rabbit, but he knew that he'd need the protein. Eventually, he found a relatively sharp knife and decided to give it a go. Exploring the forest in any direction that seemed logical, trying to get deeper and deeper into the woods, Scorpius spent a good hour quietly following a rustling sound that turned out to be a mere squirrel.

Scorpius headed back to his tent highly disappointed. Trying to ignore his hunger, he sat defeated underneath an enormous oak tree, fiddling with Rose's ring out of pure boredom. If the entire summer was going to be like this, with a constant feeling of loneliness mixed with extreme hunger, Scorpius wasn't sure that he'd be able to bear it. He felt the same way he had felt a few days earlier, back when he had been locked up in a cell at the top of a Hogwarts tower after being falsely accused, except this was almost worse. At least the pending trial and that stupid little bird had given him some hope. Now, he didn't feel as if he had any left at all.

It was then that Scorpius decided to take a walk. He needed to gain some perspective, plus it was clear that he had nothing better to do. This led him to the edge of the forest, which he remembered flying over the night before. Now that he was on the ground however, he had a much different view of the small wizard town he had camped near.

Godric's Hollow, looking as quaint and homey as always, was only about a Quidditch pitch away from where Scorpius stood now. At the corner of the neighborhood, which was closest to Scorpius, sat a decrepit old house that he had walked past many times before. It was in the style of a Tudor, with a base structure of dark wooden beams holding thick white clay in place. That style was barely visible from this house however, since the entire top floor looked as if it had been blown apart, and its remains had been covered with vines and weeds. It was the old Potter house, once home to Harry's parents, and Harry had been adamant about keeping it exactly the way it was rather than restoring it.

For himself, Harry had built a slightly larger house just next to the one he had nearly died in. It had the same style and layout as the other house, and the two next to each other looked a little like a before and after shot, a reminder of just how easy it would be for a person's life to be turned into ruin. This was exactly why Scorpius hadn't gone to the Potters', and why he had agreed to stay away from Rose as Ron had suggested. Voldemort had been desperate and threatened when he had attacked the Potters, but Scorpius could sense those same feelings every time he looked at Astoria's eyes. If she wanted to ruin a life, she'd have to come find Scorpius's hideout in the woods. Of course, this made Scorpius slightly thankful that he really had very little for Astoria to tear apart.

After a few more moments of Scorpius staring at the backs of various houses in the neighborhood, he was surprised to see a familiar-looking man of medium height come out the back door of the Potter house and jog out onto the yard. It was much too easy to recognize Harry once his black hair, large spectacles, and trailing golden snitch came into view, and at first Scorpius thought he had been spotted, since Harry was headed in his direction. As Harry slowed, however, and as Scorpius ducked behind a tree, he noticed that Harry was holding his broom, a Firebolt, in his right hand, and looked like he was calling out toward the house.

"COME ON!" Scorpius heard him shout. "Let's show James what he's got himself into!"

At that, four more bodies made their way out of the house and onto the field which Harry was standing right in the middle of. It was still early in the morning, but unlike the Weasleys, the Potters were all early risers. Plus, it was never too soon in the day to play a good game of Quidditch in this family.

Lily was the first to arrive by Harry's side, and she too was holding a broomstick that looked very similar to Harry's. Scorpius assumed that it must have been new, probably a birthday present for the recently turned fourteen year-old. She had gotten very interested in Quidditch this past year and was on the Gryffindor team. Plus, Scorpius remembered her birthday celebration from last year, as it had been his very first day at the Potters, in early June.

Albus was next, and Scorpius was met with a strong urge to run up and hug his best friend, but refrained himself from doing so. Al looked slightly less enthusiastic about the morning events than his father and sister, but looked ready to play nonetheless, a large red quaffle tucked under his arm.

Next was Ginny, and she had on some of her old Quidditch robes, from way back when she had been captain of the Holyhead Harpies. Now, Ginny was the head Quidditch correspondent for the Daily Prophet, so the game had always been a big part of her life. Every time that Scorpius had seen her play, she'd take things very seriously and get extremely competitive, especially when against Harry.

"I want James," Ginny announced as she came closer to the rest of her family. To Harry, she added, "You're way too out of practice."

"Oh yeah?" Harry challenged his wife. "Then I get Al and Lily." He then crossed his arms against his chest, and Lily soon followed suit, standing by her father and staring Ginny down as best she could.

Shrugging, Ginny said, "Fine, but you'll need more luck than that." She then knocked the quaffle out from under Al's arm with incredible speed and ran away, Harry and Lily in her wake. As Harry yelled out directions for Lily to help him corner her, Scorpius turned his attention back to Al, who was now alone in the middle of the field, unmoving.

Al had his head down, and now that his hands were free, he had acquired his wand from his pant pocket. Staring down at it, Scorpius caught Al glance over at Harry every now and again with a questioning expression. It looked as if he hadn't yet asked his father about the Elder Wand, but Scorpius could tell that his friend was planning what he would say at that very moment.

James came out of the house then, carrying a long, stable stick with a hoop attached to the end of it in each hand, his own Firebolt trailing behind him by about a foot, floating in mid-air. He seemed to have some enchantment over it, and Scorpius remembered that James must be seventeen by now, thus over age and finally allowed to use magic outside of school. Scorpius had always envied James, for his Quidditch skills and his family, but now he was only jealous of the fact that he happened to be a year older.

After setting up a hoop at each end of the yard, James ran over to Al while calling out to the other three, all of whom were now rolling on the ground laughing after Harry had used a hex to trip Ginny, and then Lily had tripped on her. Upon hearing that James was ready, they pulled themselves up and headed back to centerfield.

As each of them noticed James's outfit, a brand new Montrose Magpies training uniform, they cheered proudly for their boy, who was well on his way to becoming a professional Quidditch player before he even graduated from Hogwarts.

"Alright, alright," James calmed them down. "Thanks for the support, but I could actually use some real practice, since McLeod wants me there first thing tomorrow morning."

"Which is why you're on my team," Ginny boasted, a hand on her son's shoulders.

With a raise of his eyebrows and a look at the clearly less professional team opposite him, lacking in both uniform and ultimately skill, James laughed and said, "Oh, you guys really don't stand a chance."

Before Lily could lunge back at her older brother, both James and Ginny were on their brooms and were flying off, Ginny already very near to a goal post. As Lily chased after her and Al headed to the ring to block her shot, James had accelerated in the other direction, having spotted Harry's snitch. Harry followed close behind, trying his best to make James struggle, but he was no longer anywhere near a match for James, so the two ended up dueling mid-air as tried to maintain balance on their Firebolts.

The game continued on like so for some time, until James and Ginny had all but obliterated the rest of the family, James having caught the snitch multiple times, and Ginny scoring twice as many goals as Al and Lily combined. Once they were all too tired to carry on any longer, they flew back down to the ground and Harry checked his watch, only to be surprised to find that it was nearing midday.

"We're supposed to be at Ron and Hermione's in twenty minutes," Harry said, sounding flustered. He then corralled the rest of the Potters back inside the house, where Scorpius assumed they'd be traveling to the Weasleys' by Floo Powder.

Once Scorpius was sure that the Potters had left the house, he was struck with an idea. After all, he didn't want to put any of Al's family in danger, but if they weren't actually in the house, than theoretically Scorpius wouldn't be causing any trouble at all. Keeping this in mind, he set off for the back porch of the Potter house, where he took a minute to search for the spare key that Harry had hid behind a faulty wooden beam, and used it to open the door to the house.

The back door opened into the living room, which was rather messy but still semi-presentable. It had a large couch and a few extra chairs centered around the fireplace, which a small bowl of bright green Floo Powder was sitting next to. Above the fireplace was an old Holyhead Harpies banner, and below it was a freshly hung banner for the Montrose Magpies. The family's broomsticks had been put away on their respective hooks on the wall, each of which had a small label above them, signaling the name of the person whose broomstick it was. They were in order of age, and the middle one, which belonged to James, held a broom that looked to be about a half a foot longer than the others.

There was a large pile of various reading material and other items slathered atop the coffee table, making the actual table almost impossible to see. Scorpius noted that today's Daily Prophet was at the top of the pile, just above this week's Quibbler, Luna Scamander's magazine. As Scorpius approached the table, he looked down at the front page of the Daily Prophet, only to find a rather large photo of his mother staring back at him.

"'Astoria Malfoy: Dismissed or Missed?'" Scorpius read from the headline, which was written atop the photo that looked similar to a mug shot. Scorpius recognized it as the same picture they had put in the paper when she had been admitted to St. Mungo's last summer. Of course, that hadn't been quite this large, nor had it been granted the front page slot.

Skimming through the article, Scorpius smiled to see that Draco had sent in the tip, and that he had finally told the Ministry everything about Astoria, with the exception of Filch's murder. Unfortunately, as Scorpius read further, the description of his mother's recent history was followed by the latest update on her whereabouts: 'unknown'.

"Brilliant," Scorpius sighed with sarcasm. "I should've known." Draco hadn't been able to hold her off for long, and she had already escaped Malfoy Manor. Now, she could be anywhere, and the Aurors would have no idea where to start. Of course, Ron Weasley knew exactly where to start… with Scorpius himself.

"I'd better get out of here," Scorpius mumbled. Ron would be telling Harry everything at this very moment, and then Harry would probably go looking for Scorpius, as he'd want to protect him. Scorpius would need to be long gone by the time Harry got back to the house.

At that, Scorpius raced into the kitchen, failing to notice the unusual clock on the wall that separated this room from the living room. It had been there for a long while, as Molly Weasley had given it to Harry and Ginny as a Christmas present soon after Lily was born. This clock was not like a normal Muggle one, however. Instead, it was rather special, and had various hands, each of which represented a member of the Potter family, that could all point toward a different location: home, work, school, Quidditch, the Weasley house, lost, or, worst of all, mortal peril. What was new to the clock, however, was that while five hands were pointed at the Weasley house, a sixth had been added. Scorpius was now included in the device, and was already headed in the direction of mortal peril.

After rummaging through all the cupboards and collecting all sorts of food, along with a couple of pans, water bottles, matches, and utensils (including an enormous steak knife that might be useful for hunting), Scorpius ran back out of the house the same way he had came and headed back into the forest.

Once he put everything he had gathered away and had taken a bite of bread to eat, Scorpius stepped outside the tent once more and took a seat on the grassy hillside. Just like the one before, he felt as if this day might never end. He was beginning to get the feeling that he'd be in for a very long and difficult summer, unlike any that he'd lived through before. With that same feeling of loneliness that haunted his sleep, Scorpius told himself once again to think of Rose.

Luckily, he didn't have to work too hard. Just as Scorpius lowered his back onto the ground, he looked up at the sky to see a tiny, spotted owl headed his way. In its beak was a white letter, the envelope much bigger than the bird itself, and Scorpius knew immediately that it was Pigwidgeon, carrying a much anticipated letter from Rose. Finally, something to look forward to.

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