Like everyone else, Scorpius had been eagerly awaiting summer vacation before it started.
He had not anticipated it being so boring.
Part of the fun of vacation was being able to sleep in. However, because neither of his parents seemed to trust a 12-year old left to his own devices all day, he’d had to get up almost as early as he would have if he’d still been at school so they could drop him off at his grandparents’ manor or at Noah’s on their way to work. Noah’s older brother Andrew, who was going into his fourth year, was apparently considered responsible enough to monitor them.
It had been a relief to visit Albus, where he didn’t have to get up at any particular time and there was always something exciting going on.
Not that his father had been entirely comfortable with the idea. Apparently he and Al’s father hadn’t always gotten along very well at school or something—Scorpius wasn’t quite clear on the details. It had taken almost half the summer to convince him, and according to Albus (who was usually pretty reliable about these things), his father had ended up talking to Scorpius’ father about it all and assuring him that Scorpius really was welcome.
Or something like that.
Even with James being consistently unfriendly and frequent visits from Rose and Roxanne, who were equally nasty, staying with Albus had definitely been the highlight of his summer. His parents were really nice, and his sister Lily was downright fun, especially for a ten-year old. It was all a lot more exciting than Scorpius had ever had staying at his grandparents.
At this point, he could not wait to get back to school.
When he and his parents got to Platform 9¾, he saw Andrew with several of his friends. Noah, however, was nowhere in sight. As Scorpius was scanning the crowd, he backed into someone who gave a loud squeak.
“Sorry!” he said, turning around quickly. “Oh, hi, Lily.”
Albus’s younger sister grinned at him. “Looking for Albus and Noah?” He nodded, and she pointed to the train. “They already got on.”
He darted a look at the clock. “We’ve still got half an hour!” She shrugged. He looked past her to where their parents were exchanging pleasantries. “Hi, Mr. Potter, Mrs. Potter.”
Albus’s parents smiled. “Hello, Scorpius,” Mrs. Potter said. “Have a great year. I’m sure we’ll be seeing you next summer.”
Scorpius looked up at his parents. “It was good of you to have him this summer,” his father said.
“It was a pleasure,” Mr. Potter told him. “He’s welcome back anytime.”
Scorpius’s mother smiled. “Albus is certainly welcome to visit us, if he’d like.”
“That would be lovely,” Mrs. Potter said. “Over the holidays, we really should have you all over for dinner.”
Scorpius and Lily exchanged a look. “Well, Albus and Noah are already on the train,” he said. “So… I’ll see you at Christmas?”
His mother gave him a hug. “Go ahead. Have a good train ride.”
Scorpius nodded. His father made to pick up the other end of his trunk, but Lily got there first. “I’ve got it,” she said cheerfully.
“All right,” his father said, looking a little bemused. He hugged Scorpius. “Give Noah and Albus our best.”
“I will,” he promised. “Bye, Mom and Dad! Bye, Mr. and Mrs. Potter!”
He picked up one end of the trunk, and Lily picked up the other. “That’d be a laugh and a half,” she said as soon as they were out of earshot. He grinned, and let her think that she was helping him hoist his trunk up onto the train.
“One more year, right?” he said bracingly, and her face brightened a little.
“I can’t wait,” she told him.
He grinned. “I’ll see you next summer.”
She waved at him as he entered the train and began searching the compartments for Noah and Albus. He finally found them in an otherwise-empty compartment near the back of the train. They had already stowed their trunks above the seats, and Noah’s book was laying on the seat next to him.
“It’s 10:30,” Scorpius said, feeling confused. “Any reason you’re on the train so early?”
“So we could find an empty compartment,” Albus said cheerfully.
Scorpius sat down. “Am I the only one who had a very boring summer?” he asked.
“No,” Noah said heartily. “You know, you had to stay with me.” Albus cocked his head to the side, and Noah added, “Andrew had his nose in a book for the entire summer and didn’t understand why we wanted to do something other than read. Even I get tired of reading sometimes. Visiting you was definitely the best part of the summer. At least it was interesting.” He sighed. “I wish I could’ve just stayed with you all summer.”
Albus shrugged. “I don’t see how you both think my house is so exciting.”
Scorpius and Noah exchanged incredulous looks.
“You’re in the middle of London,” Noah pointed out.
“Well, yeah, but it’s not like we can just go wander around on our own. I mean, when we’re older, we can just go explore every day, but now it’s only when Mum has the time to take us to do things.”
“Which is still about once or twice a week.”
“And,” Scorpius chimed in, “you can go to your grandparents’ any day you want to play Quidditch any day you want, because they’re in the middle of nowhere.”
“Afterwards, your grandmother gives you cookies,” Noah said wistfully. “I love my parents, but neither of them make very good cookies.”
“We went to go see that Quidditch game, too,” Scorpius added. “We had such good seats. I don’t think I’ve ever had seats that good.”
Albus held up his hands. “Okay, okay. I can see how you might think it was more exciting. So come and stay more often. Nobody minds, my family likes you both.”
Scorpius let out an involuntary laugh. “Except your brother.”
“Yeah, well.” Albus rolled his eyes. “That’s James. Don’t take it personally.”
“You’re lucky you didn’t end up in Slytherin,” Scorpius said. “He’d probably hate you, too.”
“Nah.” Albus put his feet up on the seat. “He’d love me even if I wasn’t in Gryffindor. I’m his brother.”
Scorpius thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the morning, but by early afternoon, his stomach was starting to growl.
“I think I’m going to go get some chocolate frogs,” he said, standing up.
“Yeah, I’m in the mood for some, too,” Albus said. “Want anything, Noah?”
Noah glanced up from a book called Good Omens and shook his head.
Albus followed Scorpius out of the compartment. “I don’t understand what it is with him and those Muggle books,” Scorpius muttered.
Albus grinned. “That’s just because you’ve never given them a fair chance. When we have to sign up for new classes, you should take Muggle Studies with me, I bet they make us read some Muggle novels.”
“Why would you take Muggle Studies?” Scorpius asked, feeling confused. “You already understand the muggle world.”
Albus shrugged. “Because,” he said, and Scorpius left it at that. He hadn’t given any thought to the extra classes they’d be signing up for later in the year. He’d probably just sign up for whatever Albus or Noah did. Then at least when they turned out to be boring he’d have someone to play hangman with.
They made their way to the front of the train. On the way, Scorpius couldn’t help but notice Rose sitting in a compartment with what looked like most of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and several members of the Hufflepuff team.
Leave it to them to feel the need to have so many people in the compartment that several were sprawled on the floor.
On their way back, they were hailed by a large group of fourth and fifth year girls. Wondering what they could possibly want, Scorpius and Albus stuck their heads in.
“Hey, Al!” Dominique Weasley called from the center of the cabin. “I feel like I didn’t see you at all this summer.”
“Probably because you were in France for most of it,” Albus countered, grinning.
She grinned back. “Probably,” she agreed. “But I missed you, anyway.”
Somebody pulled on Scorpius’ pant leg. He looked down. His cousin Evelyn Greengrass was sitting on the floor. “Do you think you have enough people crammed in here?” he asked her.
She shrugged. “That’s Dominique for you.”
He shook his head, thinking to himself that he much preferred his sharing his cabin with his two best friends and not a huge crowd of people. “I’ll catch up with you later. I’m hungry. I’ll meet you back there, Al,” he said. Albus and Evelyn waved to him as he left.
It occurred to him that there were about as many people in that compartment as there had been in Rose’s. For some reason, it irritated him much less.
He bumped into someone. Stepping back and rubbing his shoulder, he realized that it was Rose Weasley.
She glared at him. “Do you mind?” she snapped.
“Sorry,” he said sarcastically. “I forgot. We’re all just supposed to get out of your way, because you’re much more important than the rest of us.”
“Pretty much,” Rose said, crossing her arms.
“So tell me,” he said, smirking. He finally saw a chance to get back at her, and he didn’t intend to squander it. “How does it feel to be the only one in that compartment who isn’t on a Quidditch team? What are you, the mascot?”
She laughed. “Oh, but I am,” she said triumphantly. “I’m one of the new Gryffindor Chasers.”
Scorpius groaned inwardly. Of course she was. As if she needed any more reason to think too highly of herself. “I’ll be hoping you fall off your broomstick in the first five minutes,” he said nastily.
“It’s going to hurt when you lose the Cup again, isn’t it?” she asked.
He really wanted to punch her. Or hex her. Or something. He didn’t understand how a person could be quite this insufferable, and he really didn’t understand why someone as good-natured and easy-going as Albus would think so highly of her.
She cocked her head to the side. “Is someone bitter because he’s not good enough to get onto the team?” Scorpius sucked his breath in sharply, and she added, “Or is it because youdidn’t manage to get top marks in almost anything?”
As it happened, Scorpius had absolutely no intention of ever trying out for the Quidditch team. It seemed far too time-consuming for something he liked to occasionally do in his spare time, and he didn’t much fancy getting hit with bludgers. The comment about the marks, on the other hand, rankled. “We’ll see how that goes this year,” he snapped. “And Dorny likes me better than you.”
“Congratulations,” she said dryly. “Your Head of House likes you better. There’s a real accomplishment.” She glanced out the window. “Sorry. It’s been such a pleasure to talk to you. But I have better people to talk to.” She frowned for a moment. “For example, pretty much everyone.” She waved and walked away.
She was such an infuriating person.
He couldn’t put his finger on why she bothered him so much more than anyone else. When he reached his compartment, however, he put Rose Weasley out of his mind.
She wasn’t worth thinking about.
Not matter how irritating she was.
Scorpius had spent the last month of his second year dreading summer break, but it had turned out to be much more enjoyable that the one after first year. His parents had deemed him responsible enough to take care of himself, so he was able to sleep in any day he wanted, and the three of them had gone to Greece for two weeks at the end of July. He and Noah had also visited Albus, and one day Andrew had taken his nose out of his books for long enough to meet them and take them around London.
He was happy to be going back, of course, but there was a certain regret in leaving the summer behind that he had certainly not had the year before.
He knew that Noah was already on the train, and as he was hauling his trunk down the corridor trying to find the compartment he was in, a door opened and a girl fell over his trunk. She looked up, clearly annoyed, and he groaned inwardly. Of course it had to be her.
“Sorry,” he said. He knew his tone was conveying that he was really not sorry at all.
Rose smiled. It was clearly just as fake as his apology. “Oh, it’s no problem. I like bruising my shins.”
“I hope it doesn’t affect your playing,” Scorpius said with mock concern. “I know how much you need to win Quidditch games to feel good about yourself.”
“I do.” She was still smiling. “But I wouldn’t expect you to understand. You don’t have the skill to even make it onto your team. Not that they can beat us, anyway.”
Scorpius still didn’t care at all about making it onto the Slytherin Quidditch team, but he’d learned not to correct her. She only took it as him being in denial, and anyway, the more she mocked him about Quidditch, the less room she had to mock him about something that would have actually bothered him.
“We’ll see about that,” he said.
“Oh, will we?”
Scorpius had a deep desire to wipe that smug little smile off her face. “You lost half your team,” he reminded her. “And your captain won’t know what he’s doing. We’re going to clean the floor with you this year.”
“I’m sure we’ll find suitable replacements,” she said in a tone that implied that they’d already found at least one of them. “And while I’m sure that James would appreciate your concern, he’s well up for the job.”
So James was the new captain. Scorpius supposed that it wasn’t surprising, but he was very sure that this would only make them all even more irritating and full of themselves. He hadn’t especially liked Fred, but he actively disliked James. “If you say so,” he said doubtfully.
“I know a bit more than you do. Being a player and all.”
He took hold of his trunk again. “Well, as much as I love talking to you, I have better people to spend my time with.”
“So do I.” Rose stepped over his trunk and continued on down the hall.
She seemed a little different, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on how. Whatever it was, it hadn’t improved her attitude at all, so he supposed it didn’t much matter.
When he found the compartment that Noah had claimed, he slammed the door behind him. Noah looked up from his book. “What’s wrong with you?”
Scorpius flung himself back into his seat, scowling. “Are you going to spend the entire train ride reading?” He squinted at the cover. “What’s a Sabriel?”
Noah marked his place and set the book aside. “Who, not what, but you don’t actually care. What happened?”
“I bumped into Rose Weasley,” Scorpius muttered.
Noah sighed. “I don’t understand how you can spend so much time fighting with her.”
“I don’t like her, either,” Noah said. “But I never talk to her. Usually, I forget she exists.”
Scorpius stared out the window morosely. “I don’t see how you manage that. We have classes with them, and she’s so always such a know-it-all.”
“Look who’s talking,” Noah said mildly. “You’re a horrible know-it-all in Potions, and Albus is just as bad as she is in Defense Against the Dark Arts.”
“Yes, but she’s more annoying about it.” Scorpius stared out the window for a minute, and then said in what he hoped was an offhand voice, “Did she get prettier over the summer?”
When Noah didn’t answer, Scorpius looked over at him. He was raising his eyebrows. “She’s always been pretty. I thought you’d noticed. You’ve complained about it before.”
“Well, more than before.”
Noah shrugged. “I saw her for about five seconds when we were getting on the train, I don’t know. And we both saw her less than a month ago. I doubt she’s changed much. Not that I’d notice if she had,” he added. “She’s just not that important to me. We mostly just ignore each other. I don’t know why you can’t do the same.”