Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all of its characters belong to J.K. Rowling. Written merely for fun (and because I was bored)
A/N: Welcome to my second Harry Potter fic! This one takes place after Deathly Hallows and will focus on Harry's son Albus. Now, I created just a few (four, I think) characters for this fic because I needed a few people to fill the vacant roles, so I hope you enjoy it. As for my other Harry Potter story, I have not given up on it yet. I still plan to get back to it eventually, but there are a few things I want to change, though it will still basically be my version of how I felt the seventh book of Harry Potter should have played out. Enjoy!
The Pride of Slytherin
"Of all the outrageous, irresponsible, dangerous offences I've seen students commit in my many years as a teacher at Hogwarts, never in my life have I been so mortified by the behaviour of students from my former House. This is the kind of thing I would have expected from your brother James and your cousin Fred, but not from you! Brawling in class, knocking over potentially dangerous mixtures of-"
"But, Professor McGonagall, it was Goyle who-"
"That's enough out of you, Mr. Potter! Your potions teacher, Professor Held, was quite right in sending you to me! Not even your Head of House, Professor Longbottom, ever managed to blow up and entire classroom in his first year at Hogwarts!"
Eleven year old Gryffindor student Albus Potter opened his mouth to protest, but the steely glint flashing in the dark eyes of the Headmistress at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry prevented the words from leaving his throat. Subsiding into silence, he gazed miserably at his feet and proceeded to follow the Headmistress down the hallway to what he assumed would be her office. In his opinion, he thought it was a bit unfair of McGonagall to accuse him of blowing up his potions classroom when, in fact, the large dungeon was still standing relatively in one piece. Though, knowing McGonagall, she was probably more concerned about the students than she was about the classroom itself.
"This way," said Professor McGonagall a little stiffly, pointing him towards a large (and rather ugly) stone gargoyle he had noticed before on his trips though the hallways of the large castle, but had never really paid much attention to, until now. Had his father ever mentioned something about a stone gargoyle before? He was sure he wasn't imagining things, but with all the information he had collected about Hogwarts from his friends and family over the years, and now from his fellow students, it was hard to remember who had said what and which parts of it were actually worth remembering. "Professor, what-"
"Phoenix!" snapped Professor McGonagall, glaring at the stone gargoyle.
Apparently this was supposed to be some sort of a password, because the gargoyle suddenly sprang to life and hopped aside as the wall split in two. Behind it was a spiral staircase, which reminded him of a muggle escalator, and it was moving slowly upwards until they reached a solid oak door. There was a brass knocker on it shaped like a griffin, and the sight of it made Albus want to run in the other direction. If he was being taken directly to McGonagall's office, which he did not doubt for a minute, then he was in serious trouble.
McGonagall quickly opened the door and Albus found himself standing in a large circular room. A number of odd looking silver instruments stood on spindle-legged tables, whirring and emitting little puffs of smoke, and the walls were covered in portraits of old headmasters and headmistresses. All of them appeared to be snoozing in their frames, but Albus barely noticed. His attention was focused on the Sorting Hat sitting behind the desk on a shelf and a jewel-encrusted sword bearing the name of Godric Gryffindor sitting in a glass case beside the shelf.
"Have a seat," ordered Professor McGonagall, pointing her wand at the chair sitting in front of her desk. "I'll be back in a minute with Mr. Malfoy. Professor Held has got him cleaning up the potions classroom, but I daresay the two of you can finish the job together after I've arranged your punishment for such a blatant disregard for school rules."
Albus sank slowly into the seat Professor McGonagall had offered him and gazed miserably at his hands. The door slammed closed behind him, and as soon as he was sure she had left the room, he let out a deep sigh. If it hadn't been for Brandon Goyle, a crude, obnoxious, burly first year from Slytherin House, he wouldn't have ended up in McGonagall's office in the first place, but ever since the Malfoy fiasco at the beginning of the school year, Gryffindors had become a target, even more so than usual, of much Slytherin cruelty and tricks, especially when it came to a certain pale-haired, grey-eyed, first year student who usually took the brunt of most of the attacks.
Every single student at Hogwarts, Albus and the Slytherins included, had been shocked, to say the least, when the Sorting Hat had uncharacteristically placed Scorpius Malfoy in Gryffindor House, and he could still remember the look in his cousin Fred's eyes, and the shock on his brother James' face, both of whom were in Gryffindor House. Even his cousin Rose had been flabbergasted over the Sorting Hat's decision to place Scorpius in the same House she herself had been placed in, but that was nothing compared to the look of utter disbelief that had been on Scorpius Malfoy's face. Not once in the history of Hogwarts had a Malfoy ever been placed in any House other than Slytherin, and as a result, the Slytherins, especially Brandon Goyle, seemed to view what Scorpius had done as a betrayal to Salazar Slytherin's noble House. Since then, Scorpius had become the Slytherins' number one target for nasty pranks, duelling, insults, and every other kind of cruel act the Slytherins could come up with in order to pay for his crime against Slytherin House. Even Albus didn't receive as much brutality as Scorpius from the Slytherins, despite the fact that he was the son of famous Harry Potter, who was of course the Head of the Auror Office at the Ministry of Magic. Gryffindor aside, according to the Slytherins, Scorpius Malfoy's worst crime was becoming friends with a Potter.
Albus wasn't exactly sure how it had happened, but somewhere along the line Scorpius had indeed become his best mate, which had sunk not only him, but Scorpius, as well, even deeper into the Slytherins' bad books. To top if off, the Slytherins seemed to feel he, Albus, was a little easier to pick on than James was, so they saved most of their wrath against the Potter family for him.
Potions class with Professor Held (or Professor Hell as most students, including the Slytherins, called him behind his back) had begun like any other lesson, until Goyle had begun taunting Scorpius with his usual snide remarks. Normally, Scorpius did his best to ignore the Slytherins, but unfortunately Goyle had made a rather nasty comment about what Scorpius' father, Draco Malfoy, must have thought at the news of his son being put in Gryffindor, and any self-control Scorpius had managed to hang onto up until that moment had shattered completely.
Throwing his wand aside, Scorpius had punched Goyle directly in the face, and the two of them had ended up rolling across the floor in a flurry of kicks and punches. Several of the other Slytherins had tried to gang up on Scorpius, and in an effort to defend his friend, Albus had ended up in a fist fight with a good-looking, though rather sullen, Slytherin by the name of Forrest Zabini.
Scorpius and Goyle had ended up rolling back towards Goyle's desk, and somehow they had managed to send both Goyle's and Zabini's cauldrons flying across the room. Unfortunately, Goyle was even less adept at making potions than Professor Longbottom had been, and as soon as his blood red concoction mixed with that of Zabini's lavender solution, it had caused a huge explosion. The entire room looked like it had been hit by a tornado and every single surface had ended up covered in slimy, blue liquid. More than half the class had been sent to the hospital wing with minor injuries, and Professor Held, who hated all students, including those in his own precious Slytherin House, had almost expelled a third of the class right there on the spot. Luckily Professor McGonagall had stepped in, but standing in her office now, he did not feel so lucky anymore. In Albus' opinion, it was a shame Professor Slughorn had passed away quite a few years ago because, according to his Uncle Ron, Slughorn had been much easier to get along with, even if he had had an annoying habit of favouring students with famous relatives who were ex-Hogwarts students themselves. Considering how old Professor Slughorn had been, though, before he died, it was amazing he had lasted at Hogwarts as long as he had, especially after leaving the school once before.
Unable to sit any longer, Albus slowly stood up and made his way over to the portraits hanging along the walls. Despite how nervous he was at the thought of punishment, he was more anxious about what his cousin, Rose Weasley, might say. He had seen the disapproving look on her face in potions after the accident, though she had cleaned her robes quickly enough with a clever vanishing spell, and the look on her face had created a lump in his throat. He didn't think she would tell his parents what had happened, but now that he thought about it, it wouldn't really matter if she did. McGonagall was sure to tell them, and somehow he didn't think they were going to be any easier on him than the Headmistress.
Muttering to himself, Albus moved slowly behind the desk and frowned at the portraits hanging on the wall. He was about to move on when the large one hanging directly behind the desk suddenly captured his attention, and he nearly tripped over McGonagall's chair in an effort to get a closer look. The man in the portrait was very old and a pair of half-moon spectacles sat perched on the end of his long, crooked nose. His silver hair and beard sparkled softly in the afternoon sunshine, and although he appeared fast asleep, Albus could have sworn the former Headmaster had shifted slightly at his approach. The caption on the portrait told him the man's name was Albus Dumbledore. Unable to hide his surprise, Albus slowly sank down onto the desk and stared at the portrait in a state of awe and disbelief. He had only ever seen Dumbledore's picture on chocolate frog cards and in a couple of books. Never, though, had they affected him quite like the picture currently before him on the wall. Professor Dumbledore was one of the two famous and undeniably brilliant Hogwarts headmasters he had been named after when his mother had given birth to him eleven years before. As a result, he had a lot to live up to, which could be unnerving at times.
After a brief hesitation, Albus slowly stood up and peered more closely at the portrait. "Professor Dumbledore?"
Instead of answering, Dumbledore continued to snooze quietly in his frame. Unable to hide his disappointment, Albus turned to gaze at the other portraits on the walls and received quite a nasty shock. One of the portraits was staring back at him. The man in the portrait hanging on Dumbledore's left had shoulder-length black hair, dark eyes, a hooked nose, and pale, sallow skin. The man's penetrating gaze immediately captured Albus' attention, and only after several moments of tense silence did he realize the former Headmaster had been staring at him for quite some time. Lowering his gaze, he received a second shock. The caption under the portrait said the man's name was Professor Severus Snape. This was the other Headmaster he had been named after. Although he had never seen a picture of Snape before, the man's appearance did not really come as a surprise. As a former Head of Slytherin House, Albus had heard a lot of stories about Snape, and depending on who you talked to, not all of them were what you would call pleasant.
"Well, well, well," said Snape, his lip curling into a bitter smile, "another Potter, judging by the look of you. You couldn't be anyone else. What's your name, boy?"
Another wizard may have been surprised by Snape's rather unfriendly attitude, but Albus merely gazed thoughtfully at the portrait and settled himself back onto the desk. He did not know all the details about what had happened to his father nineteen years ago, but he knew enough not to be surprised by the smirk on Snape's face. Snape had hated his father, and yet, Snape had also helped Dumbledore keep his father safe. Albus knew part of it had something to do with his grandmother, Lily Evans, and although he would probably never know the truth, he had a feeling there was a little bit more to the story than what had been revealed to him so far. Snape, after all, in many ways, had lived a life much like Harry Potter, and although that did not excuse some of the potions master's actions, it did make him a little bit easier to understand. Other students at Hogwarts had been extremely enthusiastic when it came to telling him stories about Snape that they had learned from their own parents, and most of them had revolved around Snape's habit of playing favorites with his own House and his hatred for Harry Potter. Not many people believed his loyalty to Dumbledore and his work with the Order of the Phoenix made up for some of his more particularly vile moments, but in Albus' opinion, no one, not even the legendary Professor Snape, could be half as bad as the current potions master at Hogwarts. Professor Held made Snape look positively charming.
Keeping this thought in mind, Albus smiled hesitantly at Professor Snape's portrait and nervously twisted his hands together. "My name is Albus, sir. Albus Potter."
Snape looked momentarily taken aback, but the surprise on his face was quickly replaced by a sneer. "Minerva did mention something about Potter having a second son, but she never told us what your name was. I suppose I should have expected that. Potter always did think rather highly of Dumbledore."
"Er...is that a bad thing?" said Albus, scratching his untidy black hair in confusion.
Snape glared at him and glanced sideways at Dumbledore's portrait. "Depends how you look at it. Tell me, Potter, how many more of you am I going to have to put up with? I've seen enough of your dear brother to last me a lifetime."
"You've met James?"
"Oh, yes," said Snape, looking as if he'd just swallowed something unpleasant. "He ends up in this office at least once a week. That one is so much like his father and grandfather, wouldn't you say?"
From the way Snape had said this, you'd think that was something to be ashamed of.
"Actually, I think James is more like my Uncle George and my late Uncle Fred. I bet my cousin Fred is in here all the time with James. He's George Weasley's son."
"I know that!" snapped Snape, his cold, black eyes narrowing into angry slits. "And by the looks of it, you're going to end up in here as often as your cousin and brother do!"
Albus chose to ignore the angry look on Snape's face and turned to gaze thoughtfully at the ceiling. "James is a lot like my uncles and grandfather, but my dad says I'm more like my mother and grandmother. As for me, I'm not really sure who I'm like, but James and I still get along quite well, even if my dad thinks we're likely to blow up the house if left alone in the same room together."
"Surprise, surprise, your father had at least some sense after all," Snape smirked, his black eyes glittering in the sunshine.
Albus nodded cheerfully in agreement and smiled at Snape's portrait. "Don't worry, Professor, there's only one more of us. I have a younger sister named Lily. She'll be coming to Hogwarts pretty soon."
"That's right. Is something wrong, Professor?"
Snape appeared a little surprised at being addressed in such a polite way, but before Albus even had a chance to blink, the startled expression on the former Headmaster's face was replaced with suspicion. Clearly, he wasn't used to courtesy when a member of the Potter family was involved.
"Professor Snape? Are you-"
"Why are you here?" interrupted Snape, sounding strangely subdued. Lily's name seemed to have given him quite a shock.
Albus quickly explained what had happened earlier in potions class, and when he had finished Snape stared at him as if he had gone mad. "Draco Malfoy's son is in Gryffindor?"
"That's right," said Albus, smiling at the astonishment reflected in Snape's cold gaze. "Scorpius Malfoy and I are best friends and that doesn't exactly help him when it comes to the Slytherins. They torture him more than they torture me, and that's saying something. We didn't mean to blow up the classroom, though. You don't think Professor McGonagall will expel us, do you?"
"If you're anything like your father, you'll manage to sneak your way out of it somehow," said Snape nastily. "Times change, I see. I never thought I'd see the day a Malfoy would end up in Gryffindor. Then again, your grandfather's dear friend Sirius defied Black family tradition by ending up in Gryffindor instead of Slytherin. You are friends with young Mr. Malfoy, are you? Interesting. Your father and Draco Malfoy hated each other."
Albus smiled sheepishly at Professor Snape and shrugged his shoulders. "I know. It's weird, but my dad took the news surprisingly well. Actually, I think my Uncle Ron was more shocked than my dad was. He never thought Scorpius would end up in Gryffindor, and he definitely didn't think I'd end up being friends with a Malfoy. Unlike Scorpius and myself, I don't think my dad and Mr. Malfoy will ever be good friends, but they're civil to each other at least. In fact, I'm going to be spending part of my Christmas holidays at Malfoy Manor this year."
"I'm sure Lucius will be delighted," Snape said dryly.
"You know, according to my dad, Lucius and his wife have never been the same since Lord Voldemort was finally defeated. Scorpius tells me they've kept well away from the Dark Arts since. I bet it's because-"
"The nerve of you, boy, using the Dark Lord's name!" a portrait bearing the name of Phineas Nigellus Black hissed, brandishing a fist and looking very disgruntled.
"Oh quiet, Phineas!" a portrait with the name Armando Dippet printed underneath said cheerfully.
Albus jumped in surprise and gave Professor Black a suspicious look. Had all the portraits only been pretending to be asleep? "My father always calls Voldemort by his name, and so do a lot of other people now. Why should we be afraid of a wizard who's dead and never coming back?"
"Wise words," Snape murmured, almost to himself.
"Er...excuse me? Professor, what was that you said?"
Professor Snape seemed to realize he must have said something he shouldn't have because his pale face turned a nasty shade of red and he looked furious with himself. "You, Potter! You should be glad I'm not your Headmaster otherwise you'd be out of this school faster than you could say-"
"You're right, you know," Albus interrupted, gazing miserably at the floor. "I've never told anyone this before but I...I'm not a very good wizard. My cousin, Rose Weasley, is way better at casting spells than I am, and even Scorpius can outperform me in a duel any day. I guess I'm pretty good at making potions, but Professor Hell...uh...I mean Professor Held doesn't seem to think much of my skills. My father says I must have got my ability to make decent potions from my grandmother, since he was never the best at him himself, but...it's hard, you know. I don't know how James puts up with it. Everyone expects me to be this great wizard because of who my father happens to be, but I...I'm lucky just to be called average. Worse than average, if you ask the Slytherins."
Professor Snape stared silently at him for a moment, and his dark eyes narrowed into a frown. The look he gave Albus wasn't exactly unpleasant, but something about it suggested he was struggling with an internal battle that had been haunting him for many years. At last he said, "If there's one thing your father and his rebellious little gang of misfits have taught me over the years, it's that even the most mundane wizards can become truly extraordinary if given half a chance."
After what Albus had heard about Professor Snape from his fellow students, this comment was highly flattering indeed.
"Well said, Severus. Well said," a new voice suddenly spoke up. The man's tone was quiet and his words gentle, but even so, Albus nearly jumped out of his skin in surprise. Turning slightly, he found himself face to face with the portrait of Albus Dumbledore. "P-Professor, I thought...I thought you were asleep!"
Professor Dumbledore's penetrating blue gaze peered at him from over the top of his half-moon spectacles, and a small smile turned up the corners of his mouth. He turned slightly in his frame to gaze at Professor Snape, looking both mildly surprised and extremely amused, before turning back to Albus and bowing his head in acknowledgement. "Forgive me, Albus, but I could not help overhearig a few of the more finer details concerning your conversation with my old friend, Professor Snape. I see Harry has given you my name. Dreadful of me to say so, but I'm afraid I do not deserve such an honour. Would it be that I could change some of the more embarrassing moments of my past, but alas it does not do to dwell on our mistakes. Remember them, yes, and learn from them, but we would be of no use to anyone, or even ourselves, if we let them consume us."
For some reason Professor Snape glared furiously at Dumbledore, but instead of commenting, Dumbledore merely beamed at Snape before focusing once again on the conversation at hand. "Albus Potter, a truly great wizard isn't judged by their ability to wave a wand around. Do you think your father could have destroyed Lord Voldemort without the help of his friends? No, Albus, it's our strength, courage, determination, our ability to love, and most of all, our friends that make us truly great. Your father did not save the wizarding world alone, Albus. It was his willingness to fight, and the combined talents of his friends and the Order, along with his own, that saved the wizarding world. Harry did what he did because he knew what he was good at, and he was smart enough to realize there were some things others could do better than him. Instead of trying to do everything alone, he accepted help from those of us, most notably his friends, who had much to offer in his quest to defeat Lord Voldemort. Wands do not make the wizard, Albus, it is the people we care about who truly make us extraordinary."
Albus nodded slowly and chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip. "I guess that makes sense."
Dumbledore beamed at him and clapped his hands together, making both Albus and Professor Snape jump in surprise. "Well, Severus? Very thoughtful, isn't he? Reminds me of someone else I knew a long time ago."
"Sorry, Professor?" said Albus, frowing in confusion.
Instead of answering, Dumbledore turned to look at Snape. Snape stared back at him for a moment and nodded slowly. "He has her eyes, just like...like he did."
"You mean my dad?"
Snape looked at him and managed a bitter smile. "This must be the side of Potter I never had a chance to see. Professor Dumbledore always insisted he was more like his mother, even if he did look like his father, but you...you truly remind me of Lily Evans."
"My grandmother?" Albus shifted closer to Snape's portrait and took a deep breath. "You really think I'm like her, Professor?"
"Well, you appear to be more so than your father was," Snape said coldly, his face void of expression.
"I know how you feel about my father, Professor Snape, but the way he feels might surprise you. I've heard stories about you, you know, but I don't care what anybody says. In my opinion, you're still the best thing that ever happened to Slytherin House, and they might not seem to appreciate it very much, but we Gryffindors do. If it weren't for you, my father wouldn't have been able to defeat Lord Voldemort. You never once betrayed Professor Dumbledore, and because of that, you never once betrayed my father. You're the pride of Slytherin, even if people like Professor Held and the Slytherin students themselves are too thick to realize it."
Snape stared at him as if he had just grown an extra head, but Dumbledore looked positively delighted over his outburst. "I couldn't have said it better myself, Albus."
Albus grinned back at the Headmaster, and turned to look at Snape. "You know what, Professor Snape? You should have been in Gryffindor."
"What did you say?" Professor Snape choked, his voice barely above a whisper.
"I once told him the same thing," said Professor Dumbledore, placing his long fingers together and smiling serenely at the ceiling.
Albus felt his mouth drop open, but before he could say anything, the door jerked open and Professor McGonagall came striding into the room, followed by Scorpius Malfoy.
"Sit," ordered Professor McGonagall, drawing up a second chair with her wand. Taking her own advice, the Headmistress moved to sit behind her desk and stopped short when she spotted Albus perched on the end of it, his gaze focused on Professor Snape's portrait. Professor Dumbledore had conveniently fallen alseep again in his frame, but Snape was staring at Professor McGonagall, his expression leaving no doubt the horror he felt at being caught talking to a Potter.
Professor McGonagall, looking more severe than ever, pursed her lips together and placed her hands on her hips. "Albus Potter! You get off my desk this instant and sit in your chair before I lose my patience!"
Blushing furiously, Albus quickly scurried off the desk and hurried over to his seat next to Scorpius. Despite the fury in his grey eyes and the blue slime dripping off his robes, Scorpius was gazing apprehensively at the Headmistress and he had his wand clutched tightly in his hand.
"Hey, mate, you look terrible. What happened after I left?" Albus whispered, leaning close to Scorpius in order to prevent McGonagall from overhearing.
"Professor Hell, what do you think?"
"Later," Scorpius muttered, nodding his head towards McGonagall.
Albus hesitated and finally nodded.
Professor McGonagall sent Snape's portrait one last suspicious look before turning to face them, and all thoughts of Dumbledore and Snape faded away. The only thing Albus could think about now was whether or not Professor McGonagall was going to expel them and kick them out of Hogwarts for good.
"You do realize the seriousness of the situation, I presume?" said McGonagall, glaring at them from behind her glasses. Her thick, black hair had turned as white as snow over the years, but instead of diminishing her appearance, it only made her seem even more formidable. She was very old, but her mind was still as sharp as ever and she had a way of looking at you that made you feel guilty, even if you hadn't done anything wrong.
Unfortunately this did not appear to affect Scorpius, though, because the blond's pale cheeks turned bright red and he sent the Headmistress a look of pure outrage. "Goyle's the one who started the whole thing! Those Slytherins have been out to get me ever since-"
Professor McGonagall held up her hand and Scorpius immediately fell silent. Albus patted his friend's shoulder in sympathy and turned his pleading eyes on the Headmistress. "Professor, please-"
"Mr. Goyle will not go unpunished, I assure you, but nothing, Mr. Malfoy, nothing gives you the right to put the lives of other students in danger! Lucky for you that solution for curing boils is harmless, but with half the classroom blown apart, someone could have been seriously injured. Not to mention, it is very unwise to mix potions, whether they've been brewed properly or not. The situation could have been much, much worse. And you, Mr. Potter! Getting yourself involved was extremely foolish! I would think your father would have taught you as much. Even Fred and James haven't done anything this outrageous before and they've been threatening to do so ever since they arrived at Hogwarts! And that's another thing! I will not tolerate fist fights in my classrooms, do you understand me? Yes, Mr. Malfoy, I'm talking to you as well!"
Albus glanced at Scorpius and the two of them quickly nodded.
"As for punishment, the two of you will be spending your Saturdays for the next whole month in detention with Professor Held, and I'm taking a hundred points each from Gryffindor!"
"You can't be serious!" roared Scorpius, leaping out of his seat. "A hundred points, each?"
"Sit down, Mr. Malfoy, before I make it two hundred each!" barked Professor McGonagall.
Scorpius scowled at her and reluctantly sank back into his seat.
"Look on the bright side," Albus whispered, nudging his friend in the ribs. "At least we're not expelled."
"I guess. My father would kill me if I ever got expelled, but still, a hundred points each?"
"Be grateful your punishment is so light," smirked Phineas from his portrait. "In my day, we used to hang students from the ceiling by their ankles."
"Yeah, well who asked you?" snapped Scorpius, glowering at Professor Black's portrait.
"Enough!" Professor McGonagall said sternly, her sharp eyes narrowing into angry slits. "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't get involved, Phineas. I have enough problems to deal with at the moment."
"Taking a leaf out of Potter's book, are you, Mr. Malfoy?" Snape suddenly interrupted, his lip curling into a nasty smirk. "I would have expected better from you."
"Oh, come now!" a corpulent, red-nosed man named Dexter Fortescue said cheerfully. "Boys will be boys. I daresay none of us were all that innocent when we were at Hogwarts."
"Too true," giggled a witch by the name of Dilys Derwent.
Scorpius turned to look at Snape and let out a loud snort. "Hey, you're that Professor Snape bloke. I hear all the Slytherins have turned their backs on you. They seem to think you're an insult to Salazar Slytherin's noble House."
"The members of your family were all in Slytherin house," said Snape, very quietly.
Scorpius nodded thoughtfully and crossed his arms over his chest. "True enough. I'm not proud of it, but...I think some of them have learned to see the error of their ways, even if they won't admit it. Like my father, for instant."
Albus turned to look at Snape and grinned. "The Slytherins might think you're an insult to their House, but if I were you, I'd consider that to be a compliment!"
"How dare you insult the great House of Salazar Slytherin!" shouted Phineas. "You Potters are all -"
"Enough!" Professor McGonagall's wand let off a series of loud bangs and all the portraits immediately fell silent. Turning swiftly in her chair, McGonagall poked Professor Dumbledore's portrait in the nose with her wand and gave him a very severe look. "If you think I'm going to believe for one minute you're alseep, then I'm going to have to conclude you've lost your wits. Albus, I would have thought you'd have had a bit more control over this lot!"
Professor McGonagall waved her hands at the portraits and sent them all a very disapproving look. Professor Dumbledore slowly opened his eyes, and winking at Albus and Scorpius over the top of McGonagall's head, he gave the Headmistress a pleasant smile. "Why, Minerva, the charming headmasters and mistresses of this school have been out of my control for years, if they ever were to begin with. You should know that by now. Oh, do let them have their fun. Life as a portrait in this room can be quite dull at times. If I had known that earlier, I would have let them run wild myself."
Professor McGonagall snorted loudly and turned her attention back to the task at hand. "As I mentioned before, on top of the punishment I've already given the two of you, I must ask that you finish cleaning up the potions classroom, as well, and I want it done before dinner. Do I make myself clear?"
Albus made a face at Scorpius, who grinned at him, and both of them nodded. "Yes, Professor."
"And no magic! You will clean the dungeon using rags and muggle soap!"
"Do you think we could persuade Rosie to help us?" Scorpius whispered, nudging Albus in the ribs.
"Not a chance. She'll be unbearable after this."
"Thanks, mate, like I needed a reminder."
Albus slowly got to his feet and followed Professor McGonagall and Scorpius towards the door. He hesitated and Scorpius gave him a rather curious look. "Hey, Al, aren't you coming?"
Albus glanced over his friend's shoulder to make sure McGonagall had already descended the stairs, and coming quickly to a decision, he gave his friend a quick smile. "I'll catch up to you, all right?"
"Er...I guess, if you're sure."
The minute Scorpius disappeared from sight, Albus turned and strolled back into McGonagall's office. He made his way directly over to Snape's portrait and gave the former Head of Slytherin House a penetrating look. "I don't care what Goyle and the others say. Besides Scorpius and Sirius Black, you're the only good thing to have come out of Slytherin House, and that includes anyone associated with it."
Snape raised his eyebrows and gave Albus a rather odd look. "Is that so? I wouldn't consider being associated with Sirius a very good thing."
Albus ignored Snape's jibe and continued to stare at the portrait with a very serious look on his face. "I won't deny there were times when my father wasn't very nice to you, and their were moments when he could have been a bit more understanding, but I think...no...I know he realized his mistakes in the end. It was only after you gave him your memories that he finally began to understand you. He hated you, Professor. He thought you were beyond forgiveness, but...sometimes forgiving others isn't really as hard as we like to think it is. Things could have been different, you know, if their hadn't been so much misunderstanding, but...you're wrong, Professor. At one time, you might have been right about my dad, but now...now things are different."
"How so?" snapped Professor Snape, his expression guarded.
"Professor, do you want to know how my father really feels?"
"I know how Potter-"
"Just before I came to Hogwarts, my father told me you were the bravest man he ever knew, but if you want more proof, ask me my name."
"I know your name!" Snape snarled, but he did not sound quite as confident as he had before.
"No, I mean my middle name."
Albus slowly stepped away from the portrait and made his way over to the door. Turning, he looked over his shoulder and smiled at Professor Snape. "Severus."
"My full name is Albus Severus Potter. I guess forgiveness isn't so hard, is it."
Professor Snape looked as if he'd been hit by lightning. He stared at Albus with his mouth hanging open, and after a minute of silence he managed to find his voice. "I wouldn't know. I've never tried."
"I think now might be a good time to try," the portrait of Albus Dumbledore said very quietly.
Snape's face had turned pure white and his dark eyes were glittering strangely in the golden glow of the sun streaming into McGonagall's office. "You, Potter! You'll come back, won't you? The school year has barely started. You still have plenty of opportunities to get into trouble and I'm quite confident you'll take advantage of every single one of them."
Albus smiled to himself and quickly nodded. "Don't worry, I'll be back."
He turned to go, but Snape's voice stopped him."Wait! Tell your father...tell Harry Potter I...I...for Lily..."
Albus turned back towards the door and slowly pulled it open again. "I will."
"Till we meet again, Albus," said Professor Dumbledore, his voice beaming with pride. "And...thank you. I daresay this will sound a little odd, but...did your father ever tell you about the Patronus Charm?"
Albus hesitated at the door and slowly nodded. "He explained to me how to perform one, but since underage wizards aren't supposed to use magic and I wasn't allowed a wand until I came to Hogwarts, I've never been able to practice it, until...until now..."
Albus swallowed hard, but he didn't dare turn around. "It's the only spell I can perform perfectly. Rosie was furious when she found out I was practicing it. It's very advanced magic. No first year should be able to...to..."
"May I ask what form your Patronus takes?"
Albus stepped through the doorway, thinking he'd better hurry before Scorpius started wondering where he was, or more importantly, before McGonagall caught him still hanging around her office, but just before he stepped onto the stairs, he turned back towards the office and let his gaze fall on Professor Snape. "A silver doe."
Without another word, he slipped down the stairs, and head held high, he made his way towards the dungeons with a smile on his face. Like his dad had said, in the end, it didn't really matter what House you were in. It was all about choices, and the witches and wizards who were strong enough to choose the right path were the most extraordinary wizards of all.