A/N: Set directly after the events of Deathly Hallows epilogue. Hopefully this will turn out as I planned, and be quite a lengthy fic instead of the short ones I usually write!
Main Characters: Rose Weasley, Scorpius Malfoy, Albus Potter
Disclaimer: I do not own ANY of the Harry Potter characters (unfortunately) or Hogwarts. I do however own a couple of the characters that will be appearing in this fic, because as JKR left a 19 year gap, many of the teachers at Hogwarts will have been replaced!
Rose Weasley stood at the window of the Hogwarts Express, watching the outlines of her parents get smaller and smaller, until eventually they had disappeared altogether. Turning to face the corridor, she searched the crowd of students making their way down the train for a familiar face, and, picking out a head of messy black hair, she started towards Albus Potter, tapping him on the shoulder to get his attention.
"Feel like trying to find a compartment?" she asked her cousin.
"Would if I could, Rose," Albus replied, "but I have to find James first and give him his 'Monster Book of Monsters'. Mum says it's better if I lose a couple of fingers in the process than if Hedwig loses a foot trying to deliver it. I'll come and find you straight after though, promise."
Rose's blue eyes narrowed, and she made her way down the train alone. Each compartment that she looked in appeared full, with the exception of two. One held another Weasley - Victoire, daughter of Bill and Fleur, with some of her fellow Gryffindors, and seated in the other was a lone boy, not yet wearing any house colours, which - Rose assumed - made him a first year like herself. An entire journey with Victoire would inevitably be full of stories of how much she would miss "Her Teddy" during her final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - plus, Rose figured, a group of seventh years would hardly want a lowly first year tagging along with them, no matter who she was.
Taking a deep breath, she slid open the door of the compartment on her right, causing the boy inside to look up momentarily from the book he was reading.
"Mind if I sit here?"
The boy gave a noncommittal jerk of the head, which Rose took as an invitation to take a seat opposite him. As his book had his undivided attention, she stared at her companion, trying hard to fit a name to the face. He had longish white blond hair, and his eyes, when she had seen them, had appeared to be a light grey. The rest of his face she couldn't see, as it was currently hidden by a large leather bound book - "Hogwarts: A History", the title read - held by pale hands with slender fingers. Rose stifled a gasp. It had suddenly dawned on her who it was that she had chosen to share a compartment with, the one person that her father had told her to avoid.
"You're a Malfoy!" she stated almost accusingly, making the boy look up once more and place the book beside him. Leaning forward slightly, he rested his face on his hands and studied her for a second, sitting back when he seemed to come to a conclusion in his mind.
"You're a Weasley," he replied, the hint of a smile appearing on his face. "What are we playing?"
This comment surprised Rose - her father had repeatedly told her of his hatred of the Malfoy family, stemming mostly from his first meeting aboard the Hogwarts Express with Draco Malfoy, in which the latter had shown an obvious dislike for the Weasleys. To now meet a Malfoy who was acting...friendly, almost, made her wonder what other things her father had told her were based on long standing grudges alone.
"Admittedly, you were hard to place...my father told me that all Weasleys were the same - red hair and a vacant expression - whereas you appear to have neither...what colour would you call that?" The boy had taken advantage of her long silence to ask his own questions, pointing at a tendril of reddish brown hair that had escaped her ponytail.
"Auburn..." she said, "I'm Rose, by the way."
"The correct response would have been to give me your name."
"I know that, too."
The faint smile had turned into a full grin during this exchange, and Rose found herself smiling back. This Malfoy boy intrigued her - after all she had been told, she had expected to be thrown out of the compartment once he had established her heritage, yet no such thing happened. Perhaps she should just chalk this one up with the rest of the things she should listen to her mother rather than her father about.
"So what house are you hoping for?"
Once again, her silence had led to a question from him.
"Gryffindor, like mum and dad. I suppose it's Slytherin for you?"
"I hope not," his eyes darkened slightly. "I'm all for tradition, however, when tradition dictates that you be vilified because of what a hat decides, I'd rather break it. Father's promised not to disown me if I get Ravenclaw, although I'm not too sure where he stands on Gryffindor or Hufflepuff."
Just as Rose was about to reply, the door slid open and Albus entered. He opened his mouth to say something, but then caught sight of Rose's companion and closed it again, instead just glaring at the boy who was seated across from his cousin.
"You're a Malfoy!" he said, the dislike evident from the tone of his voice.
"I seem to be getting that a lot today," came the reply accompanied by a slight chuckle.
"Rose? Can I have a word? Not in here," he added, seeing that Rose was gesturing for him to take a seat, "I found another compartment further down the train, we can talk there."
Seeing no other option than to go with him, Rose got to her feet and headed towards the door.
"I'll see you at the Sorting?" she asked with an apologetic smile.
With a small wave she left the compartment and followed Albus down the corridor. Looking back at the compartment that she had just left, she saw the Malfoy boy put his head out of the door. Spotting her, he waved back and shouted,
"I'm Scorpius, by the way."
Rose smiled to herself, wondering what her dad would say when he found out that she had befriended a Malfoy. She knew that the answer to that question would come in due course, right now she had to focus on what it was that Albus wanted, although she had a pretty good idea. Entering the compartment she took the seat nearest the window, determined to focus on the scene outside until she was spoken to. They must be getting close to Hogsmeade Station, she thought, the amount of time that had passed since they left Kings Cross seemed to have been an eternity.
"What were you doing back there?"
Albus' voice broke into her thoughts, and she looked up to see him sitting opposite her, arms folded and a stern expression on his usually smiling face.
"Well I was trying to have a civil conversation, until you interrupted us..."
"'Us' being you and that...Malfoy?"
"We were the only two people in that compartment, yes," Rose said slowly. "What's your problem Al?"
"He's a Malfoy!"
"You're as bad as my dad! Uncle Harry seems to have forgiven the Malfoys, why can't you?"
"Because the apple never falls far from the tree! Scorpius will turn out just like his father, mark my words."
"Well if he does, then I'll discover it myself and you can feel free to gloat. Until that time, just don't judge him by his name alone, okay, Albus Severus?"
But Rose never got to discover what it was that Albus didn't want her to do, as the train had reached its final destination and crowds of students were clamouring off the Hogwarts Express in order to get the first coach - or in the case of first years, boat - that would take them up to the school. Walking away from Albus, Rose made her way down to the dock and was joined in a small boat by a couple of other girls who introduced themselves as Melinda Thomas and Veronica Roper.
The first sight of the castle was exactly as her parents had described it, Rose discovered. She knew that it had been badly damaged during the final battle in their seventh year, causing concerns over whether it would ever again open its doors to students. Those concerns, of course, had arisen solely in Daily Prophet articles by Rita Skeeter, who delighted in having a true tragedy to report for once. The castle had been rebuilt during the extended summer holiday that was given that year, and it looked just as it had done all those years ago when it was first built for the purpose of educating young witches and wizards. Looking at the other first years making their way across the lake, Rose could see that they all had the same reaction as her - a great feeling of awe followed by relief. Imposing as it might be, the castle of Hogwarts had the strangest homely appeal, as if it didn't matter what your background was or who your family might be - everybody was equally welcome.
Reaching the main doors, the group was welcomed by a man who Rose knew to be Neville Longbottom - Herbology professor and old friend of her parents. He ushered them in with a kindly smile on his face, and, telling them to follow him, led them into the Great Hall. Everyone's gaze was immediately drawn upward towards the magnificent ceiling which showed the stars in the night sky twinkling above them, and a bright full moon in clear sight. On the train, Rose hadn't had chance to properly judge just how many students there were at Hogwarts, now, walking down the centre of the Great Hall, it became obvious. On both sides of the line of first years hundreds of people were seated, divided between four house tables, all watching the new pupils. Once they had reached the front, the procession stopped and a three legged wooden stool was placed in front of them, upon which sat a frayed wizard's hat. Everybody fell silent.
The sorting was about to begin.
(A/N: You know the drill. If you liked it, please review and tell me why! If you didn't like it...review and tell me why anyway! Also, little question for you - anybody know why the title, "First Impressions", is significant at all? Just something for you to ponder whilst waiting for an update...)