So, new co-write with Shadowno. He concocts the bones I make sure it has some form of movement. Enjoy
Albus felt the train lurch under him as it began its journey; his heart beating a mile a minute alongside it, the rush of looking forward to his first year at Hogwarts. Maybe not complete excitement, however, as his mind remembered James's words.
He was the son of Harry Potter, the boy who lived that finally put an end to Lord Voldemort, the greatest evil wizard of all time. James had warned his younger brother that he would most likely catch crap for being his father's son, at least until he made a name for himself in his own right. It wouldn't be all bad, it was just that there were still a lot of pure blood wizarding families that still believed they were superior to half blooded ones, despite the Ministry's new focus on eradicating the prejudice against half blooded and muggle born wizards. The family of the man who brought all that crashing around their ears would be especially singled out in spite of blood lines.
Speaking of family, where had his gone? James had told him it was traditional for first years to sit together, a bonding session for potential friends and classmates if you would. Like hell. One cousin with her mother's inelegance levels, make that prissy level, and her two sidekicks whose mommy was daddy's girlfriend for a year? Awkward. Plus they were girls, that was so not doing anything for his social status.
Coming to a decision he raced down the cars after his brother's retreating back. James could bitch all he wanted about the little brother tag along, Uncle George had told him about some incriminating evidence should he ever be in need of a little leverage. Besides, the worst that could happen was his brother's friends were reading off the same hormonal page and he got the newbie jokes treatment. His babysitter was the wizarding world's most popular prank master, what could they possibly put out he hadn't already seen? He managed to catch up to James who was searching compartments for his friends.
"No, you may not sit with me." James responded to his brother's appearance. Albus scowled, how is it his brother could so intimately tell what he was thinking at times like these and be a complete twit the other ninety-five-percent? "Run along and find yourself some nice new playmates to whine to."
"Everywhere else is full."
"Then you'd better get busy on those friends to save you a seat for next year. If you manage to make it to the end of the ride without crying for mum that is." Albus was saved having to think up a passable witty remark as James appeared to find what he was looking for.
The compartment was near the end of the train and empty sans one figure slouched by the window with a book that had slipped from limp fingers to partial obscure the face. The sight seemed to have caused a new set of wheels to start creaking in James's demented mind because he promptly forgot about his limpet as a small smirk tugged the corners of his mouth. Albus silently sighed, knowing what 'that' smile meant.
Sure enough, James quietly slipped the handle and began tiptoeing across the small room; though why he found this necessary Albus would never know since the sound of the train wheels rattling on the tracks muffled pretty much anything shy of yelling 'BOO'. Albus rolled his eyes as James reached out a hand and waved it back and forth in front of the person. Would it kill his brother to act his age for five minutes? When no reaction was provoked, James turned to throw his little brother his signature 'watch and learn' grin… and promptly found himself on the floor.
"Potter, Potter, Potter," the book came away to reveal a very pretty girl wearing an expression of mixed mild annoyance and disappointment, "have you still yet to learn what passes as a good, or rather bad, idea when attempting to prank me?"
James chuckled and picked himself off the floor with a slight wince. "A man can hope can't he?"
"And who would this man be?" Albus choked on a snort and decided his chances here were as good as any.
"What the... No, no no no no NO!" James said, before his brother could enter the compartment. "Not gonna happen Al."
"Boyfriend trouble Jamie?" The girl asked, flicking one sarcastic eyebrow with a cruel undertone.
"Ha, very funny." James said, looking back at her. "He's my little brother."
"Well, don't be a jerk." She said, turning her attention to Albus. "Come on in sweetie."
James momentarily froze then shot a subtle and meaningful glare at his younger brother. "He should be sitting with other first years." He said, obviously just wanting to avoid having to deal with his brother now that they were on their way back to the school.
"Don't be so stringent my dear boy. People might start thinking you contagious the way you ward them off with such a vengeance."
"I d..." Albus began, wanting to spare his brother; the situation had caught him off balance. On the one hand he did not want to go against his brother so early in the year; on the other, something about the girl said it would be a very bad idea to refuse her offer.
"Must I repeat myself?" This time a frigid gaze met his to emphasize the words. "I said, Sit. Down."
"You heard her." James said with a tone of nervousness in his voice. "She usually throws a fit if she doesn't get her way.
"I? Throw a fit? Interesting choice of words coming from the boy who took two hours venting after failing a quiz he'd been reminded to study for the entire week. Repeatedly, I might add."
Albus wasn't sure if he wanted to smile or hide behind his brother. James was afraid of crossing her, that much was obvious, the question now being whether he should too. Seeing her slumped, apparently asleep, had been a complete misnomer.
She looked like she might be the same year as his brother but the air with which she carried herself belied the age. She looked like she might have been partially of Asian descent and was, now that he'd had a better look, very pretty, with fine bone structuring that ended in a stubborn chin. But most striking was the eyes. An odd mix of yellow-grey with hints of green, hooded in a frame of dark lashes beneath sharp, articulate brows, they held him like a hunter who knew its prey had no prayer of escape.
He wondered if maybe there might be any hope of politely refusing but she left him no choice in that matter, gestured to the bench she was on. Feeling his odds of seeing tomorrow fluttering out the window like feathers from a dying bird, Albus carefully lowered himself to the seat he'd been directed to.
She gave a small smile with none of the earlier frost. "Since the ape unfortunately known as your brother is determined to play the rude prick, I'm Akuji."
"I'm Albus Potter." Somehow the formalness of her tone prompted him to give his full name even though it would not take a genius to figure it out.
"Albus eh? What, may I ask, insensate prick gives a child a name that makes them sound like they belong in a rocking chair by the fire with a grandkid or several on their knee?
"I was named after a Headmasters of Hogwarts., two of them actually." Albus retorted defensively, he was proud of his name and it wouldn't be the first time he'd had to defend it.
Akuji said nothing more but gave him another long look with those feral eyes. "So this is your first year at school then?"
"Yeah, I'm actually kind of nervous about it."
"Don't be. Despite the international hoorah it so fondly emanates, compared to where I'm from it's a walk in the park."
James huffed at the scene and turned away, and promptly fell back almost on top of Albus with a sharp yelp. Reflexively shoving his brother off him, Albus immediately froze at what he saw.
His first impression was a large oval of long, pearl white needles set on a pink background. Fangs, his mind supplied when it caught up. The jaw closed and Albus instead found himself staring into dark jade eyes of a golden cat with…horns?
The spell was broken by a knock on the compartment door. Tearing his eyes away from the creature that had startled his brother, Albus saw another student standing in the doorway. Momentarily he forgot about the teeth and wondered if he wasn't screwed for the rest of the ride.
The boy looked to be the same age as James but stood a little taller. What Albus noticed first and foremost were his eyes, dark emeralds that seemed to shine, giving them an almost glowing quality.
Oh and he was definitely just as pretty if not prettier than Akuji.
You couldn't tell much about build since the guy was already dressed in the shapeless school robes, but his delicate Asian features and pale skin were a sight that made even loudmouthed James shut up and stare. At this angle the long, jet black hair could just be seen disappearing into a neat ponytail that went past his shoulders. How someone could look like that and still be very recognizably male was beyond poor little Albus.
"I apologize for intruding," despite the formality, Albus surprisingly felt himself relax at the low, polite tone, "but it would appear everywhere else is full. Would it be an imposition for me to join you?"
"Not at all." James happily seized the opportunity to change the populace in his favor. "Al, scoot up."
"I apologize, I was unaware we were now taking order from Lord Potter now." Akuji taunted. Albus almost flinched at the razor chill of her tone. Akuji either did not notice or did not care. Instead she pulled out a long, white wand which she pointed at the new arrival's trunk and Albus's that was still blocking the aisle.
Albus resisted the urge to gawp as the two trunks floated up to settle on the far end of the racks. According to his knowledge speechless spells were an advanced class. Even Aunt Hermione hadn't been able pull them off before her sixth year. That Akuji could do so with such ease spoke volumes.
The movement however, seemed to disturb the creature perched above their heads. It promptly renounced its presence by making a landing pad of James who still lay partially sprawled on the floor between the seats, landing squarely on his stomach.
Albus jerked then instinctively went still. The thing was bloody massive. The memory of all those teeth playing bright and fresh in his mind.
"Than, that's enough." Akuji said. The cat seemed to give James a dismissive flick of its eyes then leapt gracefully over to its master who smirked. "Honestly James, you spend two months avoiding him then try sneaking up on me without looking to see where he was?" Ignoring her friend's glare she offered a nod to the newcomer. "Feel free to safely ignore the troll in the room."
James huffed, picked himself up with as much dignity as he could manage and sat opposite Akuji. The other boy gave a polite dip of acknowledgment and sat opposite Albus, a respectful distance from James.
Silence sat thickly for several seconds.
"A beautiful creature, a Caracal if I'm not mistaken." The new comer complimented.
Akuji looked mildly surprised but nodded with seeming approval.
"Bloody tiger is what he is."
Akuji sent James a cold glare with a matching smirk. "He's a kitten you ignoramus buffoon and you knew that quite well."
"A kitten!" Albus exclaimed. "That thing is a foot long!"
"A foot-and-a-half, more or less. Not to worry, he hasn't eaten a first year since last January, so you're probably safe" Akuji gave another smirk, this time with a smidgen of warmth behind it. "Akuji," she said pleasantly, holding out her hand. "This is Albus Potter and the heathen next to you is his brother James."
"Crevan Daray," he held out his hand in a perfect mirror of Akuji's cultured formality. His tone staying neutral the entire time but still retaining that slight, soothing baritone that gave nothing away.
Not hostile, but not quite sure if friendship was a potential. Either way would be dealt with in the same smooth, unflappable manner.
"American?" Akuji asked.
"Exchange student, this is my first year studying abroad." Crevan responded. "and you?"
"Lived all over, my first year was in Nepal then I transferred here last year."
Albus was surprised at the information; he'd noticed Akuji's accent but hadn't thought to ask. His observation was cut short as his personal space was casually intruded upon. The caracal had slid off Akuji's lap and now sat between them, staring at Albus intently. Up close he now saw that what he'd mistaken as horns were in fact the cat's ears, long and curved back at the ends with an extra length of stiff, upright hair which gave them that antler-like appearance. The fur was a rich gold except the muzzle, which was white with black markings on the nose, eyes, mouth and whiskers. The back of the ears were also black. The whole effect was very exotic and slightly intimidating.
"Than?" Akuji had stopped talking to watch her pet. Slowly, it moved one paw forward, then another, dense muscle bunching intimidatingly beneath its silken coat with every step. About half a foot from Albus, Than stopped, stretched out his neck, and sniffed at the boy. Akuji said nothing, just opting to watch the scene playing out before her. Albus stayed very still. He would not say he was unusually small, but standing on all fours on the seat Than was eye level with him and he'd really rather not have to make an emergency visit to the hospital wing his first night at Hogwarts.
Seeming to have found what he was looking for, Than sat on his haunches, stretched his neck a bit further…and licked Albus on the nose.
"Holy…" James didn't get to finish his phrase as Albus toppled backwards in shock. Than huffed in seeming annoyance and got up to plant his front paws on Albus's side where he proceeded to lick the boy's hair, cheek and just generally the left side of his head.
The feel of the warm raspy tongue tickled the sensitive skin under his chin and ears and Albus couldn't control the small giggles. Deciding the cat meant him no harm Albus reached up a hand to scratch one of the oversized ears. The effect was instantaneous, Than folded his legs and shoved his head further into Albus's palm, twisting his head to rub against the boy's neck while he was at it.
"Well, that's new." Albus sat back up to face Akuji who had and unreadable expression in her eyes.
"What do you mean?" Than seemed to remember himself and sat back as well, but remained close enough for Albus to continue running a hand through the fur on his back. Akuji gave him a small, curious smile.
"That's the first I've seen Than take so rapidly to someone other myself and my godfather, though since I raised him I'm not too sure how much that counts." This time when Albus met her eyes he saw veiled approval there.
"Oh," Albus blushed and suddenly felt blush creeping across his cheeks at the praise. "So, uh, that's, um, a good thing then?"
The air seemed to freeze a beat; then Akuji gave a shrill squeak that made everyone jump. "O.M. F-ing G! You are just adorable! James, can I keep him!? Please, please, pwetty pwease?"
James did not reply. Albus dared peek at his brother and almost gave in to the grin threatening to split his face. James looked absolutely, fucking horrified at what he had just heard. Finally a 'you can't be serious' was squeaked out.
"What? You so obviously don't want him and he's friggen glomp material of the highest quality." Albus had no idea what glomp was and thus had no idea if he should be flattered at the obvious praise in her tone or offended at her accusations toward his brother.
James smiled weakly and made one last ditch effort to buy himself out of the situation. "He's a first year."
Akuji leaned forward to flash James a sugar poisoned smile, "I said, can I keep him, please."
Even the inexperienced Albus somehow knew by instinctive that refusing that tone would be a very bad, bad, idea. Akuji was not asking, no delusion there. James gulps, swallowed a few more times, then simply opted for nodding his head.
"Epic!" Akuji squealed again and actually started bouncing in her seat and grinning at Albus with ten new kinds of crazy. "This is going to be so much fun."
Once again fate seemed to take pity on the poor boy who was saved from having to answer yet again by Than who pulled away to take a exploratory sniff at the car's last occupant. Crevan held out an obliging hand to be sniff and waited patiently as the giant cat checked almost every inch of skin. Than finished sniffing, gave one experimental lick, then settled back to clean his nose before turning to his master. An exchange of some sort seemed to pass between them and an agreement met.
"Guess that means your kosher USA." Albus flicked an eyebrow in an almost identical manner to the ears of the cat that spared him a last look before lying down between its mistress and newest acquaintance.
Finally, for the first time since he'd arrived, Daray gave a small smiled and relaxed back in his seat. Yes this was shaping up to be an interesting year indeed.
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