Rose looked around her bedroom one last time. Her trunk was resting against her hip and she could feel its dead weight against her. The embossed emblem on the top glared up at her expectantly, but for the first time that summer she was not staring back at it.
Her bed was made, and her bedside table was bare. The shelves that had held her books were forlorn and lonely. The wardrobe next to the window was locked shut, but Rose could picture the empty hangers within it. Her room looked odd without her stuff in it, and the tidiness freaked her out even more- as it did every year when she left it.
‘Rose! Are you ready, honey?’ Her mother called from the bottom of the stairs and Rose turned towards her voice.
‘Yeah, I’ll be down in a minute!’ Rose rested the trunk against the doorframe and quickly pulled back the duvet on her bed. She at least wanted to leave one indication behind that she had slept there. Her mum called again, and Rose looked at her watch. As usual, they were late. Her mother was so organised usually, but the first of September was the one exception of the year when they were always late.
Hugo rushed down the hall in a flash of red, Rose laughed at her younger brother’s eagerness to get to school. She remembered being as excited at the beginning of her first year, desperate to learn more about the subjects she had been researching over the summer. Now in her fourth year, the novelty had worn off and she regarded her return to Hogwarts as an exciting but familiar event.
Rose pulled her trunk out into the hall and closed the door to her bedroom. She cursed under her breath when the ‘O’ of her nameplate fell off. It did this every time someone even sneezed in its vicinity. Opening her bedroom door, she hastily threw it onto her bed, making a mental note to ask her dad to fix it while she was away. She walked across the hall and left her trunk at the top the stairs. She pressed herself against the wall as her mother wordlessly summoned the trunk to the downstairs hall with her wand. Rose pretended to act uninterested, but could never fail to be impressed by her mother’s magical ability. Her father didn’t show the same prowess; in fact his hapless attempts at spells were often the punch line of the family’s jokes. Rose wondered however, whether her father really was as bad at magic as he seemed; all of the stories Uncle Harry told seemed to suggest he wasn’t.
Rose ran down the stairs and into the kitchen, where she picked up an apple from the fruit bowl on the table. She took a bite, and held it in her mouth as she put on her coat. She pulled out her fiery red hair from under the collar and buttoned it up. It fell down past her shoulders in auburn waves, and she tucked it behind one ear carelessly.
She could see her parents opening the front door and hurrying out, Hugo first, then Hermione, and Ron behind as he struggled with the trunks. Rose smiled as she watched him, his red hair so like her own. She had not only inherited his hair colour, but her eyes were also strikingly blue; in fact they were so bright that if she was angry they seemed to emit laser beams.
Her mother reappeared in the hall and sighed when she saw Rose standing calmly in the kitchen.
‘Come on, you’re going to miss the train.’ Rose rolled her eyes and grabbed her shoes in the hall before hurrying out of the front door and into the car in the driveway. Her mother produced a bunch of keys and closed the door. She locked it swiftly and ran to the passenger side. As she jumped in Ron turned the key in the ignition and pulled the gearstick across to a seventh notch. As the car rose into the air, he flicked a switch next to the ignition. The lights inside the car flickered (as it became invisible) and they drove over the chimneys into the sky beyond.
Scorpius threw his trunk onto the train and hopped on after it, shutting the door behind him. His mother appeared at the window and he pulled it down with considerable force.
‘Bye, honey, we’ll see you at Christmas. Be good this year, and stay away from that Potter boy.’ His mother blew him a kiss and smiled; unaware that what she had just said made her son want to escape even more.
‘Sorry, what was that? Oh yes, I’m coming.’ Scorpius turned away from the window and looked down the corridor, pretending to nod to someone. A tiny girl in second year giggled and blushed, clearly convinced he was looking at her. He sighed and turned back to the window. ‘Sorry, mum, got to go, I can see someone from my house down there.’ He pulled his trunk down the corridor, leaving his mother peering through the window, her smile evaporating.
Scorpius continued down the corridor, pretending not to notice the gazes he received. He finally found an empty compartment and wrenched open the door. He slid inside it and sealed himself away from the hormonal girls who wouldn’t leave him alone. After several attempts, he finally lifted his trunk onto the luggage rack above the seat and sat down. After a group of girls passed his compartment six times, he pulled the compartment shutters down. He heard them groan from behind the door.
Eventually the train pulled away, and Scorpius turned his head towards the platform. As they gathered speed, Scorpius spotted his mother waving. He turned away again.
Scorpius didn’t hate his mother (anyone who put up with his father deserved enduring respect) but sometimes she infuriated him to such an extent that he considered never talking to her again. Ever since he had come to Hogwarts and struck up a friendship with Albus Potter, his mother had been resolutely lukewarm towards him. His father, Draco Malfoy, either didn’t care or didn’t know about his friendship with Albus. He was at work so often that Scorpius hadn’t seen him all summer and, if he was honest, hadn’t wanted to. Scorpius decided that the fact Hogwarts was a boarding school was the best part.
The compartment door slid open, and Albus Potter walked in. His messy dark hair flew in different directions as the air from the closing door blew it. He sat across from his friend and nodded at him before taking out a Chocolate Frog and ripping the packaging.
‘I figured you would be in this compartment; it was the one with the biggest crowd around it.’ Albus chucked a Liquorice Wand at Scorpius, who bit into it viciously.
‘Don’t even go there. I’m sick of being followed around.’
‘Hey, who said the crowd was for you, Scorpio. I’m the son of the Boy Who Lived after all.’ Scorpius laughed and turned to look at Albus for the first time. He was getting ill anyway from watching all of the fields pass by.
‘Good summer?’ Albus snorted, which Scorpius assumed meant ‘no’.
‘My mum was on my back all summer to do something useful. Dad kept saying that him and Ron never did anything useful and they turned out all right, but she was having any of it. I seriously thought she was going to hex him several times.’
‘Parents: I’ve been looking forward to the moment I can ignore my mum’s letters and only reply once a month for six weeks…’ Scorpius shoved the rest of his Liquorice Wand into his mouth as the compartment door opened again.
‘For the love of...’ Scorpius groaned at the thought of another nervous girl pestering him for a lock of hair. He stopped as soon as he saw who was in the doorway.
‘Don’t worry, lover boy, I came in to talk to Al, not you.’ Rose gave him a reproachful look before turning to her cousin. Scorpius looked out the window again and imagined Rose Weasley’s violent death. ‘Have you seen Hugo? I can’t find him anywhere and Mum will kill me if I lose him on his first day.’ Scorpius saw Rose’s best friend Tabitha staring at his reflection in the window and switched his gaze to the ceiling.
‘No, I haven’t seen him sorry, but I think he went off to find Lily. She should be near the Prefects’ carriage because James is meant to be keeping an eye on her. We can help look if you want.’ Scorpius turned to glare at Albus, who seemed to be avoiding his eyes.
‘No, that’s fine, thanks’, Rose glanced quickly at Scorpius with the same contempt as before, ‘I’ll try the Prefect carriage. See you later. Scorpius.’ She nodded curtly before leaving the compartment, Tabitha following behind.
‘Why the hell did you offer to help her look?’ Scorpius looked indignantly at Albus, who looked thoroughly amused.
‘Sorry, ‘lover boy’, it won’t happen again.’ Albus suppressed a laugh and pretended to concentrate on tying his shoelaces. Scorpius had turned very red, so he looked back at the window to compose himself. Hatred for Rose Weasley boiled through him, as well as another feeling that he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
As Albus finished tying a double knot, he looked back at Scorpius. He was incredibly comical with his furious expression and clenched fists. Albus wondered whether Scorpius had even realised yet the effect Rose Weasley had on him. Albus shook his head at Scorpius’ obtuseness. He knew Scorpius, and he knew Rose. He knew it could not end well.