London bustled with activity. The streets were packed full of people, mostly men, and a few women, carrying briefcases and walking briskly toward unknown destinations. Nobody noticed two families and a young couple vanish into thin air.
Jocelynn Lupin walked cautiously into the Leaky Cauldron, gripping her sister, Ashlynn’s, hand. Her other hand was tightly grasping her six-year-old cousin, Parker Weasley-Malfoy. As Jocelynn glanced around, she thought about last year.
She had started Hogwarts, the only Metamorphmagus in her year, and had been Sorted into Gryffindor. She had faced Theo Nott II, who was supposedly the next Dark Wizard, and had escaped. Barely. Her old robes were still singed at the hem. But otherwise, the year had been as normal as every other young Gryffindor. She loved listening to the wild tales Ashlynn and her favorite cousin, Maddox, told of Hogsmeade. Of course, that was before-“Joss!” Her thoughts were interrupted by her best friend, Oscar Motley, sprinting towards her. Oscar was a tall, lanky, Muggle-born boy with messy brown hair and brown eyes. He and Joss had met in Diagon Alley last year. As Oscar began to tell her about his new- phell cone? Maddox entered, a few strides behind Uncle Scorpius and Auntie Rose. His fun-loving grin had somehow been replaced with a sneer, and his unusually neat hair caught her attention. As his parents greeted Joss’s mother and father, Joss made a move to talk to Maddox, but Ashlynn gripped her tightly. “I was just going to say hello!” Joss retorted. Ashlynn leaned toward her. “I overheard Auntie and Scorpius talking to Great Gramma Weasley about him. Apparently he’s been-” she tossed a nervous glance at Maddox- “-different. He’s been getting into trouble with the Muggle police-” she tucked her long hair behind her ear-“riots and stuff. And then he lied about his age and joined a Summer Apparition Club, forged Auntie’s signature, he’s good with a quill, and he learned to Apparate. He practiced with overage wizards, the Ministry just assumed, you know, he was watching, the Trace isn’t that precise. Anyway, Uncle Scorpius was so mad, he made him swear to never Apparate again until he’s overage, and Maddox almost got expelled,” she threw one last look, a reproachful one, at Maddox. “The point is, I don’t want you hanging out with him, Jocie.”
Maddox was a Malfoy. But Joss had never mistrusted him because... well.. He was also a Granger, and a Weasley! In fact, his mother, Rose, was the eldest child of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger! Sure, he had been sorted into Slytherin, but he had always been like an older brother to Joss. But recently he had been... distant. All he seemed to do was avoid everyone he could. And she could have sworn she heard Maddox hissing at a book several days before. But before Jocelynn could give any more thought to Maddox, she was being yanked towards the brick wall that brought them to Diagon Alley by her mother. Jocelynn’s mother attracted multiple wizards’ attention, and her father had to steer her out of the pub. As Parker excitedly tapped the bricks with the help of her father, Jocelynn’s mother magicked her hair into a neat bun. “Hot today,” she commented. Jocelynn’s mother Victoire was the part veela daughter of Bill and Fleur Weasley. Jocelynn’s father nearly always accompanied her mother outside.
The two families and newly weds (Uncle Albus had recently wed Jocelynn’s mother’s cousin, Adalena) made their way through Diagon Alley, buying robes from Madame Malkin’s and schoolbooks from Flourish and Blotts, only stopping once for some ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s famous ice cream parlor. As Ashlynn and her newly found friend Gianina Fillinhan eagerly discussed the twelve uses of dragon blood, Jocelynn ran into the Hogwarts Headmistress, Professor McGonagall. “Professor! ” Jocelynn called, grinning. She had always been fond of McGonagall, and the professor seemed to like her as well. McGonagall returned her smile, though looking quite grim. “Ms. Lupin,” she acknowledged. “That’s strange,” Jocelynn muttered to Oscar. “Why is she so serious?” Oscar seemed to brush this off. “She’s always serious Jocelynn,” he replied, rolling his eyes. Jocelynn nodded. “Right.” But she could not brush away the feeling that something was very wrong.