I just wanted to thank JK for her world, and her continued generosity with it! These are her toys! I own any OC's that appear, they're MINE ALL MINE! BWahahahaaah! Sorry little touch of megalomania there. So enjoy my take on the continuing saga of the epilogue to DH.
Oh and do be kind and tell me whatcha think. I'm needy!
Albus Potter and the Year of the Badger
Chapter 1: Compartmentalized
Albus Potter was making his way through the Hogwarts Express. His brown hair, which he had attempted to tame into a part, still had a wayward cowlick waving in the back. Picking his way through the stream of students in black school robes with his trunk and owl, searching for an empty compartment.
He knew that his parents expected him to stay with his big brother. They should have realized that, in the last few weeks, he had had enough teasing from James Sirius Potter to do him for a lifetime!
"Oh, you've got that runty, little, slithery quality about you," James would say under his breath while Mum and Dad were out of the room. "We might as go ahead and get you some green robes now to match your eyes!"
James had actually put a common rat snake, nicked from the park, in Albus' sock drawer at one point! That prank earned him a private conference with Dad in the den. Once Albus was brought in to accept the apology, James remarked, "I'm sorry Albus. I just thought you'd get on with a snake!"
After loading their belongings on the train and saying their goodbyes, Albus and Rose pushed their carts down the corridor. Their owls, Rose's big tawny screech owl, Celestina, and Albus' Nox, a smooth black long-winged eagle owl, were hooting softly in conversation in their cages, stacked on top of the trunks.
As they arrived outside the compartment they where supposed to ride in, they saw James entertaining some girls his age, bragging animatedly. From the gestures he was making, it was obvious he was telling about the atrocities he had visited upon his sensitive little brother the last few weeks. Tight as twins with Rose Weasley since they were toddlers, it only took one silent look and a nod on her part for them to agree to defy his parents' wishes. So they passed James by, and went on to find another car to ride in.
In spite of the stress from ducking his brother, Albus was enjoying his walk through the train. Bits of lively conversations echoed around him, the sense of history was everywhere. So many wizards had made this same journey, and walked through these posh, red panelled, carpeted hallways. Included in that number, was one frightened and lonely boy named Harry, with a lightening bolt scar on his brow, on his way to destiny all those years ago. It was strange for Albus, to think of his dad being that small, alone and scared, but he took courage from the thought.
Now it was his turn.
Rose, with her sprinkle of freckles, pert little nose and mane of bushy auburn hair, was just behind him. She was prattling on as usual, about things she had read in the copy of Hogwarts, A History given her last Christmas. Practically inhaling it, she was now able to quote entire chapters.
"And then the four founders came up with their criteria for the House named for them. Godric Gryffindor had this old hat, which they all enchanted, and that was…"
Albus was only listening with half an ear, just enough to know she was still behind him. He felt he could handle anything if he stayed close to Rose.
It wasn't long until Albus started to worry that leaving James had not been a good idea. Almost to the end of the train, they still hadn't found a compartment. Most of them were full; the ones that weren't contained students that didn't look too friendly to the passing first-years. He fretted about not finding a seat and being stranded in the corridor for the whole trip until Rose put a restraining hand on his shoulder.
"Here's one! You almost walked right by. Honestly! Are you paying attention Al?"
He gave her Uncle Ron's familiar affronted look that she would dare suggest such a thing! And calmly assured her that he was indeed paying attention. She countered him with a classic Aunt Hermione look that told him she wasn't buying it for one second. They glowered at each other for a few moments, but then they had to grin. Albus glanced through the glass, and saw that the compartment wasn't empty after all.
It was the same slender white-blond haired boy, with the sharp features, pointed chin and imperious manner, they had seen on the platform. He was sitting staring forlornly out the window in his school robes, his head resting on one hand.
"That's the Malfoy boy; Dad told me to beat him at every test," Rose announced, forgetting to keep her voice from carrying, as usual. Over the years, this little defect of hers had generated more than one awkward situation. When the lone occupant of the compartment turned with a start, and a touch of trepidation, and saw them staring at him through the door, awkward was the best word to describe it. Albus watched as Malfoy, seeing no threat, sneered and pulled cold aloofness around him like a heavy cloak the brief moment of vulnerability gone instantly. He dismissed them by turning back to the passing countryside. Not a good first impression, to say the least.
Albus made a quick decision. They could go all the way back to the caboose and not find a compartment this empty, or try to salvage the situation here. Unless this boy was Lord Voldemort reborn, he and Rose could handle whatever he dished out.
"This one is fine," Albus said. He lugged his heavy trunk, with Nox hooting indignantly, to the door and slid the panel back. "Really hate to be a bother, but this is the only compartment open."
Brooding like he was having the first rough day of his life, Malfoy was obviously thinking that this interruption wasn't going to be an improvement. However, Albus could tell Malfoy's desire to not be alone in the car like some museum oddity was outweighing the infringement. The answer hoped for came in the form of a curt nod before the other boy turned once again back to the window.
It was then that Albus had one of what James called, creepy little boy moments, when he realized that, in a way, he had just been indescribably rude. He had told the boy he was a last resort. He tried to think of a way to amend his last statement, but Rose beat him to it.
"Albus, you git! I told you we should have gotten in that last compartment, but no! You said they didn't look like people you wanted to sit with! Now you have us disturbing this boy. He obviously doesn't want our company!"
Brilliant, Rose, Albus thought. Now Malfoy wasn't a last resort, but someone they had chosen! Albus gave her the grateful look she deserved for covering up his social mistake. She wrinkled her nose cutely in reply.
She started to tug their things back through the door to complete the ruse when a very cultured and sophisticated, but somehow soft, voice said, "There is plenty of room…"
Albus's eyes met Rose's from around Celestina's cage, his back turned to their new companion. As he helped her lift her trunk over the track, she winked, and he grinned back. They were going to be such a good team!
Being a half-inch taller than either of them, the Malfoy boy helped them get their trunks into the overhead bin. The owls went in the floor between the seats.
Albus held out his hand to introduce himself and Rose. "I'm-"
"You're a Potter and she's a Weasley, obviously."
Albus took that statement in stride, but he saw Rose's eyes flash daggers at the boy. A telltale flush crept into her cheeks.
"So what!" she snapped. "We do have first names, you know!"
Malfoy looked taken aback by her reaction. It quickly became obvious he honestly hadn't realized his words were offensive. "I'm sorry," he said quietly.
Rose, used to constant verbal combat with her dad, mum and cousins, appeared off balanced by his lack of argument. "That's okay, "she stammered, "I'm Rose and he's Albus."
His hand was as long and slender as the rest of him, when he offered it. "I'm Scorpius Malfoy."
"I'm sorry if I seemed a bit short," he said a little later as they settled in across from each other. "But my looks, and the mere mention of my last name, is causing people to foam at the mouth."
"Well," Rose replied offhandedly, "you happen to be the grandson and son of two of the only Death Eaters acquitted after the Battle of Hogwarts. You should expect for people to find that offensive, wouldn't you say?"
Her words, carelessly given, had an immediate effect of turning things ugly. The weary boy, having had enough of defending his family, blurted out, "Well in case you don't remember, basking in the glory of your family's universal adoration," he said, his pale face flushed with anger, "the great Harry Potter is the one that spoke up in their behalf! He owes my grandmother his very life!"
Rose wasn't going to back down and Albus could almost see weaponry on both sides lining up for battle, as they started to square off. Albus, however, found the situation ironic. He had more in common with this boy, than he did with anyone else on the entire train! Overcoming unrealistic expectations because of family history was a challenge they obviously shared. And here they were, (or rather, Rose was) about to become enemies. All this impending argument was going to accomplish was to separate him from the one other boy who might just understand what Albus was facing.
In a moment of frustration he blurted to Rose, "So what does it matter! I'm a Potter, you're a Weasley, and Scorpius here is the offspring of a bunch of big, bad, Death-Eater gits! Can't we fight later, and sit now?"
They all looked at each other a moment, stunned. Suddenly, all of the tension and fear and anger flowed into a laughter so hard their stomachs ached.
Scorpius snickered out, "Since your father…is Saint Harry Potter…saviour of the Wizarding world, do you need lighting at home…or do you just use his halo?"
Albus guffawed, "When your dad…washed Lord Voldemort's shorts…by hand…how did he get the sulphur smell…out?"
They were literally howling when the door slide open and the beauty that was Victoire Weasley poked her head in. Her bright strawberry blond hair glistened in the overhead lights, her part-Veela ancestry somehow managed to make the abrupt motion graceful. The Head Girl badge pinned to her dark school robes twinkled.
"Oh, there you two are." Victoire's mother's heavy French accent gave her daughter's speech patterns just enough French flavour to make her even more exotic. "I told your parents I would look in on you. I asked James, but he got snotty, said he hadn't seen you since King's Cross, so I came looking."
She looked around at the three younger students, rolling around the compartment in fits. "What's going on here?" she asked her cousins, her eyes resting on the only occupant not familiar to her. "Why aren't you with James? I'm not so sure your parents would want you sitting with a boy you don't know."
Rose simpered sweetly like her cousin, Victoire, had been known to do. "Oh, we know him. He's the son of evil Death Eaters, haven't you heard? Before you rudely interrupted, he was regaling us with his dastardly plans to destroy the entire Wizarding World at the ripe old age of eleven."
Peals of laughter accompanied this statement; Victoire rolled her eyes and shut the door, which made it even funnier, so they laughed some more.
"I…seriously...need to stop…it's beginning to hurt!" Scorpius said, rolling over on the seat, bent over. Albus was on the floor between the two benches trying to stifle the hiccups, and the two owls in their cages on the floor glared at him, dignified and annoyed, as he worked to gain control. Rose had pulled the school robes she had been wearing since they embarked over her head, leaving just the bushy Weasley tinted brown hair poking out as she attempted to wipe her eyes.
They finally gained enough control to recover, but hysterical laughter was by no means too far off. They sat in a silence that was companionable. Albus, who finally got around to getting his robes on, pulled out some worn Exploding Snap cards that he always seemed to have on him somewhere. Without another word the other two had been dealt in. Two rounds where played by the time the snack cart came through.
The snack lady, who had been travelling the Hogwarts Express for the better part of twenty years, knew the significance of the grouping she saw in the compartment as she stuck her head in. "Any one need some snacks?" she said, her confusion apparent. The look became even more pronounced when Scorpius impulsively bought out close to her entire stock and shared it with Albus and Rose. She rolled away, murmuring about "Strange times we are living in."
Rose and Scorpius both dug into the chocolate frogs to add to their respective Wizard card collections, and soon they where in deep negotiations, trading them back and forth. Then Scorpius held up a Harry Potter card to Albus, who was watching them contentedly munching a sour grape liquorice wand.
"I'm thinking, that I might not be the only first year, dealing with a famous family name!"
Albus saw the familiar handsome face with the flyaway hair, scarred forehead, and glasses waving at him. He waved back absently.
"I think I've got the better end of the deal considering."
Scorpius studied the card, making a statement meant to be off the cuff, but had too much a hint of trepidation to quite pull it off.
"I'm an only child; I have no cousins. Outside of my parents, and grandparents, and now you two, I don't know a lot of people.
Rose rolled her eyes. "Oh, believe me, you aren't missing a thing! We've got so many cousins, and relations, and friends, and friends of friends…"
"All courtesy of being related to Saint Harry Potter mind you!" Albus interjected with a chuckle.
"By the time we get there most of the staff has already been round to dinner!" Rose continued, "Professor Neville Longbottom himself is Uncle Neville!"
"Professor Hagrid broke two chairs at Grimmauld Place last time he visited," Albus said as an aside. "Our elf, Kreacher, insinuated if Hagrid ever comes back, he's going to take the sock."
Into the conversation leapt a cream-colour fur-ball with a chocolate brown tail and face, landing in Malfoy's lap from the storage rack. Albus and Rose were startled, but Scorpius absently reached out to pet him.
"Don't worry, it's my cat, Kublai," he told them as he picked the fluffy cat up by its scruff to look into its bemused chocolate covered face with the turquoise eyes. "Are you up then? I thought you where going to sleep all the way there!"
The cat, in response, batted the end of his nose with its paw.
"Alright, you can stay with me, " Scorpius said with mock exasperation, letting the cat settle in his lap before giving Kublai's ears a scratch.
The cat stared at the other two occupants like a king would his serfs, fixing his bright eyes on the two avian occupants, to their alarm. Rose reached out a cautious hand and scratched its ears, receiving a purr in response.
"I'd be a bit cautious, he's a Mongol." Scorpius told her. "He may be purring and friendly right now, but that can change in a second, no warning."
Albus made no effort to reach for the cat. "That's all right, I've had quite enough of cats to last me for a lifetime."
Rose changed the subject. "Well, if you dislike how people treat your family so much, why not change what it means to be a Malfoy?"
His suddenly cool blue-grey eyes regarded her with hauteur. "You say that like it's actually an option."
"Why isn't it?" demanded Rose. "Who is saying that you can't?"
"I'll be in Slytherin of course, you know what that means, not exactly a heroic lot." With those words Scorpius went back to staring out the window, in a huff, his chin in his hand like when they first saw him. Kublai, sensing his mood, curled up and batted Scorpius' hand. His hand moved under his cat's chin, making the little pet stretch his neck and close his eyes in pleasure.
The silence was immediately awkward, but Albus broke it, surprising himself, by saying, "There are other houses, you know."
Rose was aghast. "This coming from some one who has been stressed out for months about where he'll be sorted! Gryffindor or nothing, you said!"
"You two belong in Gryffindor, obviously, and I'm bound to be in Slytherin. I'll bet there's not much chance of us being friends, beyond this point," Scorpius said resignedly, staring out at the countryside
They sat in an uncomfortable silence, only broken by the owls hooting softly.
Then they heard the announcement: "We will be arriving in Hogwarts shortly, however, due to some recent unfounded accusations," the voice remarked with a sniff, "you will be required to check all personal items with the wizard on the platform."
It was fortunate that it wasn't long before the train lurched, grinding to a halt. They were careful not to look at each other as they collected their pets and trunks filing out into the crowding aisle.
Thought for the day: How does JK's first husband feel when he sees that the woman he abandoned is now the second richest lady in the entire British Isles? Sleeping well there bozo? :)