Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Betas: Many thanks to abigail89 and gioiamia for their help.

Author's Note: Written for the January 2008 The Next Generation Challenge at The Quidditch Pitch.

The Train to Hogwarts

Doing his best to act like the near adult that he was, Scorpius shook his father's hand and kept his face hard. His father's smile said that he'd seen the struggle, and approved of Scorpius's behaviour. "Be good and make us proud."

His mum, on the other hand, was obviously trying to hold back her own tears. She hugged Scorpius, who returned it, closing his eyes and breathing in her familiar scent. She finally released him and said, "Be careful, dear. Know that we love you."

Scorpius nodded and kissed her cheek. He didn't dare say anything for fear of embarrassing himself. Just as he turned to board the train, his father clapped him on his shoulder. He said, in a voice so quiet that Scorpius could barely hear it, "The Potter boy is your age; he'd be a good friend to make. Don't insult anyone he appears to have befriended, no matter how unsuitable; the Potters are nothing if not loyal." His father stood back and smiled. "Have fun," he said as he stepped back to Mum.

Scorpius hauled his trunk onto the train. It seemed strange to be taking care of things himself. Strange, but good nevertheless. Every compartment he tried to sit in was taken, and the occupants all glared at him. Scorpius knew that he'd been protected from the people who believed the Malfoys were evil, and deserved to have been punished much more harshly than they had been, but it was something of a shock to see what that meant. How did Father handle it, and how did he ever successfully court Mum, who didn't accept anything but worship from everyone?

By the time he came to the last compartment, Scorpius was ready to spend the train ride sitting on his trunk at the end of the corridor. He was so tired of the rejection. He paused when he looked in: Harry Potter's son. And a girl who looked a lot like pictures of Hermione Granger, but with Weasley red hair. Which, really, made perfect sense. "May I sit here?" he asked, trying hard not to sound as if he were begging. "Everywhere else is full up."

"Sure," Potter said easily, "have a seat. I'm Al, Al Potter, and this is my cousin, Rose Weasley. You're Scorpio Malfoy, aren't you?"

Scorpius sighed; he had a horrible feeling that he'd be making that correction entirely too often over the next several weeks. "Scorpius, not Scorpio. The true name of the constellation." He bit his lip, but decided to continue, "I thought your name was Albus."

Potter scowled. "Albus is weird," he said. "Al's kind of cool. If I thought I could get away with it, I'd go with Asp, but then James would really take the mickey. Have you ever thought of a nickname? Scorpius is almost as bad as Albus."

Scorpius sat down, feeling hopeful. It looked like Father's suggestion would be a lot easier to do than either of them had thought. "It's a bit unusual, but then, so am I."

Weasley giggled. It was the first time she'd actually acted like a girl, which meant that Scorpius looked at her in surprise. Apparently, she didn't giggle much when with just family; Potter was staring as much as he was. "Well, he sounds so full of himself, doesn't he, Albie?" She gave the last word the nasty baby-talk sound that would have driven Scorpius wild if he'd been Potter.

Scorpius started to say something, but stopped for just a moment. When he started again, he'd decided that he and Potter were going to be great friends, and if Potter had this James person trying to take the mickey, he'd have to deal with Malfoy cunning and Potter, well, whatever Potters used in place of cunning. Idiotic bravery, perhaps? In addition to Potter whatever. "I see she rarely sees confidence, hm, Asp?" he asked, as loftily as he could manage.

Potter's, no, Asp's, whole face lit up; he suddenly looked their age. "I don't know what she has to talk about," he said, his green eyes sparkling. "Her mother's name is even worse than yours, and she gets really nasty if you try to shorten it. Even if you're little."

Weasley giggled again. Scorpius looked at her in surprise. He'd thought they didn't like each other, but they were teasing. And teasing him back. "Why do you think Hugo and I have such short names?" she asked. "Daddy insisted. So," she turned to Scorpius, "which House do you think you'll be Sorted into?"

"Slytherin," he said, his chin up. "Malfoys are always Slytherin, and mother's family typically are as well. But even if Greengrasses sometimes Sort Ravenclaw, I can't imagine doing so."

"So, what's your ambition?" she asked. She looked interested, not horrified.

"I want to bring pride back to the Malfoy name," he said. Not certain what they knew about the Malfoys, he decided not to go into how they'd been wronged in the aftermath of the War, but just stick with the facts that everyone agreed on. "Of course, the two of you will be Gryffindor."

"I'll probably be Slytherin, too," Asp said mournfully. "James says I'm doomed."

Scorpius remembered that the oldest Potter boy was James; Asp was probably talking about his older brother. "Well, are you ambitious?"

"No," Asp said, just as Rose said, "No one more so."

Asp looked surprised. "What?"

"You want to be known for yourself," she said, very sure of herself. "You don't want to be Harry Potter's son, or James Potter's little brother, or even Ginny Potter's son, which is pretty cool, you have to admit. You want to be known as Albus Severus Potter, the great whatever-it-is you decide to become."

"Something wonderful," Asp mumbled.

"Severus?" Scorpius asked. He'd heard of a man with that name, who'd died during the Battle of Hogwarts, but Father had always said that Harry Potter hated him. "For whom were you named? The only Severus of whom I've ever heard is Headmaster Severus Snape, but Father says your father hated him."

"Maybe your dad doesn't know everything?" Asp said, sounding uncertain. "Dad says I'm named for two of the Headmasters of Hogwarts and the Severus I'm named for is the bravest man he's ever known. And he was in Slytherin," he said, looking more cheerful.

"I didn't know that," Rose said, sounding as if that were a crime. "When did he tell you that?"

On the platform," Asp said. "He was trying to cheer me up. James says I'm sure to go Slytherin 'cause I'm evil."

Rose sniffed. "No way would they let an evil House stay at Hogwarts. It was a temporary aberration."

Scorpius looked at her. He'd never heard anyone talk the way she did. He felt better when Asp rolled his eyes. "Yeah," Asp said, "but you'll go into Slytherin because you want to be known as the brightest witch of our age. That's what they called Aunt Hermione when she was a student. Still is, but Rose wants to take her title."

"No, I want to make my own," Rose said. "I wouldn't mind being the wizarding world's Albert Einstein, though."

Rose was kind enough to explain who Albert Einstein was but, other than the fact that he was a famous Muggle, Scorpius didn't understand most of the explanation. His mind was whirling with plans. He'd get Asp Sorted into Slytherin; that way he'd have a friend at the Welcoming Feast, which would be a Good Thing, and he'd stay friends with Rose Weasley, which meant he'd have someone to help him with his homework. Obviously the Fates had been kind when they'd made him wait until the last compartment to have a place to sit. Things would work out fine.

When the trolley came around, Scorpius offered to buy snacks for all of them. The other two accepted, and promptly shared their own contributions. Rose had a sack of sugar-free treats. "Mum's lethal about sugar," she said, flushing. "And these are Muggle, too."

Scorpius picked up one of the hard candies and tasted it. It was actually quite good, tasted rather like Ice Mice. "And they're my favourites," he said, gallantly. He was rewarded with a shy smile. He hadn't realised until just then that she was pretty. Very kind, those Fates.

Asp handed around a Muggle candy his father had slipped him right before he got on the train. "He was looking for them the first time he went to the trolley, so he thought we should have some. I'm not really sure why."

Scorpius thought his parents would be pleased at the exotic treats he was being introduced to; his father would even approve of the fact that the candies were Muggle. They'd both disapprove of the Mars Bar, though: thick and chewy, the chocolate wrapped around caramel and something Asp called "nougat", it was surprising tasty, even if it did stick in his teeth.

The rest of the ride was a cheerful one. Rose giggled the first time Scorpius called her cousin 'Asp', but Asp himself looked grateful. Scorpius enjoyed the shocked looks on other people's faces when they saw him in the same compartment as two of the children of the Famous Trio.

The closer they got to Howarts, the more nervous Scorpius became. Asp seemed to be having the same problem; he was almost literally bouncing off the walls of their compartment. Rose's method of calming them down was to read them sections of A Child's Guide to Hogwarts. At least, Scorpius assumed that's what she was doing. Maybe she just wanted to read out loud.

Leaving the train, boarding the boats, crossing the lake and walking into the school were all a bit of a blur. The castle was magnificent, of course, and quite deserving of the gasps it received, but it paled in significance next to the importance of his being Sorted into Slytherin. There was also the problem of where his two new friends would be Sorted. Scorpius didn't really want to start all over making friends. The two he'd already made were quite satisfactory, thank you.

Scorpius was fine, until it came time to be Sorted. He'd just made two friends, but they weren't likely to be in Slytherin with him. And he had to go first.

He didn't hear much of what the adults were saying, but he was paying enough attention to know when it was his turn to sit under the Hat. It was a pretty disgusting object, but it was traditional, so he didn't say anything about it. Professor Sinistra, the Deputy Headmistress, plopped it on his head and, after what appeared to be a moment's reflection but could have meant anything for a hat, it said, "SLYTHERIN."

It seemed to take forever for Asp to be called. That was nothing, though, compared to how long he sat under the Hat. Some people did take longer than others, but it was minutes, minutes, before the Hat finally said, "SLYTHERIN!" Asp grinned, especially at his older brother who looked thoroughly gob-smacked, and strode down to sit next to Scorpius.

Leaning over, Scorpius asked, "What took so long?"

"Tell you later," Asp said, grinning. "Dad was right!"

Scorpius had to be satisfied with that seeming non sequitor for now. Finally, with fewer than half a dozen students left, Rose Weasley was called. "She'll be Gryffindor," Scorpius said unhappily. He wanted Rose in Slytherin, with him. He didn't want to examine why too carefully.

"Nah," Asp whispered back, "Ravenclaw. Her mum almost went there, and Rose is a lot like her."

After almost as long as it took Asp, the Hat called out, sounding rather tired, "SLYTHERIN!"

The Great Hall was silent. Scorpius thought everyone was stunned, which wasn't surprising. Weasleys were Gryffindors; that was as much a fact of life as Malfoys being Slytherins. Refusing to look at all the reasons he was so delighted that Rose was Sorted into Slytherin, he started clapping. The rest of the Slytherin table picked it up quickly. Scorpius wanted to preen; his first act of leadership in his House and it was his first day. Just wait till he told his dad. Father.

"Wanting to be known for your discoveries is ambition, isn't it?" Rose said as she sat on Asp's other side. "I think I surprised the rest of the cousins, don't you?"

Surprised isn't the word for it, Scorpius thought. The Sorting was continuing, but every Weasley in the room was staring at the three of them. Asp seemed to think the whole thing was hysterical, but Rose was just impatient. "Honestly," she said, once the Headmaster had made his speech and they couldfinally eat, "you'd think that no one had ever been Sorted into a House that isn't the family's. After all, traditions have to start somewhere."

She spent the rest of the meal talking with Martha Goyle. From what Scorpius could hear, it sounded like they were both discussing what barbarians boys were. That was an absolute lie; Scorpius knew that his manners were impeccable, and Asp's were all right and would improve with a few reminders.

As he climbed into bed that night, Scorpius was delightedly composing the letter he would write to his parents the next morning. Hogwarts was great! And he'd made two new friends, and they would be socially and politically useful in the future. Not only that, Scorpius thought but wouldn't write, they'd be a lot of fun.