Albus Potter could barely contain his excitement as he boarded the train to Hogwarts for the very first time.
And his older brother James was not about to let him relax.
Al was clutching his wand through his shirt as if he was afraid that if he let it out of his sight for one moment, it might disappear. As often as he saw his mum and dad flicking their wands to do the dishes or bring in the Daily Prophet, he was so clumsy that he was afraid he might not be a wizard at all.
"You still might be a Squib, you know," James reminded him, waggling his eyebrows as he poked him with his wand, which he didn't seem to mind keeping out and flashing it about like it was as common as an old pair of socks.
"Don't be silly, James," Rose rolled her bulbous, bright blue eyes, her hair bouncing around everywhere. It evidently hadn't been able to decide whether to take after her mum or her dad, so it had compromised by being both bushy and fiery red—somewhat mirroring her personality. "You know perfectly well that he wouldn't have gotten a letter if he was a Squib."
"Well," James sputtered in a last attempt to stir things up a bit. "They could have made a mistake."
"Headmistress McGonagall is perfectly capable of knowing whether or not someone is a squib, James," Rose insisted, matter-of-factly. "You're just upset because now that Albus is at school, you have competition. Isn't that right, Al?"
Al made a small noise and slumped in his seat a bit. He was glad that Rose made up for what he lacked in assertiveness, especially because it made James leave finally, making a show of rolling his warm, brown eyes that Al knew for a fact that girls went gaga over.
Which completely disgusted him, of course.
Albus let out a sigh of relief and pulled out his new wand to examine it again while Rose studied everything else about the cabin they were occupying. She liked to know everything she possibly could about every situation—though she never seemed to have learned that curiosity killed the cat.
James had told Al everything there was to know about Hogwarts—but according to his mum, less than half of it was true. On the other hand, he rather hoped that it wasn't a fib that they transfigured bad students into ferrets for their detentions.
James was certain to get into a lot more trouble than he was.
Being best friends since before they could remember, Albus and Rose stuck close together as the train screeched to a halt, the endless landscape around them coming into focus. For miles there was nothing but towering mountains and deep valleys full of the greenest grass they'd ever seen—except for a castle perched in the middle of it all.
"Looks a bit smaller than I'd always imagined, eh?" said a boy who was shoved up close behind Albus and Rose as they tried to exit the train. "Wonder if they can fit all of Daphne's clothes?"
"Shut up, Gavin," said a girl behind him, who looked rather like him for being of the opposite gender. "It only looks smaller because it's far away. Don't you pay attention when Dad talks about his paintings?"
"No," the boy smirked, being launched forward by a particularly pushy someone in the back and knocking Albus at Rose's feet.
By the time all of the incoming first years of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had managed to get to the impossibly large man who was calling for them, most of them were soaking wet. James had told Albus it would probably be pouring rain as they crossed the lake, but he hadn't believed him. He wondered how much, now, he should believe.
"Firs' years! All aboard the boats, now, c'mon, we don' have all evenin,'" the man called out, stepping backwards for the students to follow him. "… Ah, I'm getting' too old fer this…"
"That must be Hagrid!" Albus squeaked as he tripped over his robes to catch up with Rose, who had not wasted her time staring at Hagrid and his mangy grey bush of hair that almost covered his twinkling eyes. "My dad's told me all about him! He's really… um, big…"
The corners of Rose's lips twitched up as she stepped into a boat already occupied by Gavin and Daphne. Albus was about to follow her, trying his hardest not to tip the boat, when an immense hand cupped over his shoulder, making him jump so high he could have made it over the giant squid.
"Ah, an' you must be another Potter, eh?" he grinned. "Let's hope yeh aren't as much trouble as yer brother, or you two'll have more detentions than there're days of school."
"R-right," he nodded, finally stepping onto the raft, Rose holding his arm to keep him steady.
They sailed towards eh school, everyone's eyes widening as they approached. By the time they were at the dock on the other end, not one of them could see the top of the castle. They all jumped out of the boats as quickly as possible, hustle and bustling after Hagrid, who seemed to only have to take one step for each of their twelve.
When they got inside, a young woman greeted them from in front of giant doors which Albus could only guess led to the Great Hall he'd heard so much about. Her hair and eyes were so dark that Al could thought she must have bewitched them that way, and she had a vaguely bored look as if she had much more interesting things to be doing than messing with eleven-year-olds.
"Er… Professor Vira will take yeh lot the rest of the way, then," Hagrid nodded.
"First years, follow me," she almost yawned, beckoning them with a single finger. Albus got the impression that she would have been extraordinarily beautiful had she ever smiled. But it didn't look like that was happening anytime soon.
They followed her in a line through the doors into a room that was certainly worthy of the title Great Hall. It was so big that he wondered how the ceiling didn't collapse—but when he looked up all he saw was the chaotic night sky.
The sorting hat was now in plain view, and it was even more ragged than he had ever imagined. He had no idea how it was still together. It didn't look like a very pleasant hat at all. Rose tired to assure him that he was not going to be in Slytherin, but he couldn't be sure.
He recognized a lot of names that were called from people his parents knew, but he was so frightened that none of them really got his attention until Professor Vira drawled, "MALFOY, SCORPIUS."
As the small, pale boy sat on the hat's stool, Albus wondered if he was the only one who noticed that Scorpius didn't seem to look quite as sour as his father, who had even waved at them at the bus station. What could Uncle Ron have been talking about? The hat took a particularly long time before it finally shouted, "SLYTHERIN."
Finally after what seemed like hours and hours Professor Vira called his name. There were some murmurs in the audience, but not nearly as many as James had said there were. Perhaps people were getting used to the idea that his dad was famous.
Albus was shaking almost violently as he sat on the stool, Professor Vira giving him a dull look as she placed that hat on his head. At first he had no idea what he was supposed to do, but then he heard a voice that seemed to be inside of his mind.
"Another Potter, eh?" the voice said slyly. "Well, you're an interesting one."
Please don't put me in Slytherin, was all he could think.
"Slytherin?" the hat chuckled. "Well, I'm not sure I'd ever considered that anyway. You've got about as much ambition as a blast-ended skrewt. Haven't got the wit for Ravenclaw, no offense of course, and a bit of a lazy streak that Hufflepuff wouldn't appreciate."
Gryffindor? he squeaked even in his mind, knowing he'd blown that. There was no way that the hat would think he was brave enough for Gryffindor by that point.
"I don't know, Slytherin is sounding good…"
Albus almost jumped in spite of himself at the mention of the name, but managed to keep a firm hold of the seat, clutching the sides with his knuckles white.
"Well then," it chuckled again. "GRYFFINDOR!"
It took him a moment before it finally registered that he was not, in fact, going to Slytherin, but rather would be joining his madly applauding brother at the Gryffindor table. He didn't hear anything as he sat down, James patting him roughly on the back. He barely noticed when THOMAS, DAPHNE and THOMAS, GAVIN were also seated at his table. All he could think about was whether or not Rose was going to be with them.
But he needn't have worried. When Rose finally sat down, the sorting hat cried out, "GRYFFINDOR!" after about five seconds. She skipped down the row, confident as ever, and plopped down next to Albus. They chatted animatedly all the way through the last kid sorted (ZORN, ANNABELLA) and admired everything around them.
Al looked up and smiled at Professor Longbottom, who was talking to a man that was at least a head taller than him, even sitting down, who had a very toothy grin that stretched its way all the way up to his eyes. Rose giggled at the fact that he looked even a bit shorter due to the fact that he was sitting as far away from Professor Vira as it was possible as they were seated next to each other.
She turned back to the table and started talking to James about what sort of food they had as Headmistress McGonagall headed up to the podium, but Albus' eyes flickered towards the very edge of the long teachers' table, where a man with sagging, hollow eyes was standing with something small and glimmering in his hand, looking over the crowd.
Albus had the sudden urge to turn away, but before he could, he made eye contact with the strange person—or at least as much as you could make with someone who didn't appear to have eyes, though it was hard to tell because of the shadows.
He blinked away as Professor McGonagall began her speech, and as soon as he looked back the man was gone. He shook his head and assumed it must have been the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, whom James had said was even creepier than seeing Nearly Headless Nick pop out from around a corner.
"As you all know," she continued as Albus got his full sense of hearing back. "First years should know that the Forbidden Forest is just that—forbidden. Any student that goes will be given detention, if they have the luck of returning."
Albus gulped. His father had been in the forest several times—most of the stories told and retold a few times by Uncle Ron, whose part in each event seem to get bigger each time—but he was very glad that he wouldn't be going anywhere near it.
Yes, Albus was certain that he would have a perfectly magical—pun intended—time at Hogwarts, without any thrilling adventures. The thought alone sent chills up and down his spine.
"Are you ready?" Rose said, jabbing him in the spine.
"Ready?" he sputtered, looking around.
"The feast is about to begin, silly," she giggled.
"Oh," he sighed, relaxing, but still checking to make sure there weren't any odd people looking at him. "Right."
Sadly for poor Albus, there is no such thing as normal at Hogwarts.
A/N: Oh wow, my first fan fiction. Never thought I'd write one, but I need practice writing fantasy and the Deathly Hallows epilogue was entirely too short. So, I figured I'd just start where JK left off. I don't own any of this, she does. Just in case you're stupid. :D
So, if anybody would like to review and tell me if I should continue this, it would be much appreciated. :D