Welcome to Hogwarts

Albus hardly listened to Headmistress Beaumont's brief welcoming speech. Later, he had no idea what he'd put in his mouth, just that dinner of some sort had been consumed. He didn't even hear the congratulations of his cousins Victoire, Fred, Louis, Molly, Lucy, Roxane, and even Dominique. He was in Gryffindor, which was what he'd always wanted.

But Rose, amazing, brilliant, talented Rose, was in Ravenclaw. For one intense moment, Albus wished he'd had the courage to choose Ravenclaw—the Hat had seemed to think he could fit anywhere, after all. But no, he'd wanted to be in Gryffindor with the whole family. Well, this wasn't his whole family, not without Rose.

He followed the fifth-year prefects, his cousin Fred and a tall dusky-skinned girl whose shirt was scandalously unbuttoned in the front named Ainslie Shacklebolt, to the Gryffindor dormitories, not having taken in one word of Professor Beaumont's speech after dinner. "Hercules' club," said Fred, and the portrait swung open. Fred conscientiously directed the first years toward separate boy and girl staircases.

Albus went up the stairs to the boys' dormitories in a haze. He passed a room with a golden plaque that read, First Years, and, underneath, the names Colin Abercrombie, Oliver Braithwaite, Frank Filo, Samuel Finch-Fletchley, and Tafadswa Swaffle. He moved on.

At length, he came to a door reading First-Years that had Potter on it. He didn't bother reading the other names, and went in. He walked straight to the four-poster bed with his trunk propped up beside it, sat down, and rummaged for parchment, thinking he had to write to his father, to try and explain what had happened.

In quick succession, four other boys entered the room. The first was tiny, but what he lacked in stature he made up for in energy—his entrance was the most dramatic. He walked in, beamed at Albus, saw his trunk, flew toward it—actually flew, unless Albus was very much mistaken—and proceeded to bump into his bedpost, fly across the room, and narrowly avoid going through the window and presumably falling to his death. Albus's fingers tightened on his wand just in case. However, the boy picked himself up and walked back to his trunk like a normal person, only to spoil it by tripping over his own feet.

"Wow," Albus told the boy. "You make my cousin Teddy look like a ballet dancer."

The two other boys who had entered in time to see the small boy's spectacular clumsiness laughed. One was tall and thin as a rail, with a tuft of blonde hair on top. The other had a very wide smile and eyes that could, Albus was somewhat irrationally convinced, turn malicious in a moment.

Just then, the last boy entered. Although the most ordinary-looking of the lot, he had an air of calm authority that reminded Albus reassuringly of the many strong-minded leadership-oriented people in his life: his father, Rose, his Aunt Ginny, James, Victoire sometimes, Dominique on the Quidditch pitch, Uncle Percy, Aunt Hermione…

"So," said the last boy. "Let's have a round of introductions. No interrupting until we're finished. I'm Harry Ozkan."

"Lawrence, Harry," said the boy with the wide smile.

"I'm Harry Creevey!" exclaimed the small boy.

"I'm Harry Jones," drawled the tall boy. He looked at Albus, humor twinkling in his eyes.

Albus sighed. "I," he said resignedly, "am Albus Potter. And this is obviously someone's idea of an amazing joke."

The other four boys—smiling Harry Lawrence, bossy Harry Ozkan, excitable Harry Creevey, and drawling Harry Jones—stared at Albus, realized how awkward this was—each and every one of them had been named in honor of Albus's father—and burst out laughing.

"What say—we all—go by our—surnames?" suggested Harry Jones, eyes streaming.

"I think," Albus said wryly, "we have an agreement. Jones."

---

Mike Corner was starving. He barely heard Professor Beaumont's opening few words, and once the food appeared (glorious food! Or, as his friends from the train would have said, wonderful, life-giving sustenance!) he wolfed down the first couple of bites without even realizing what he was eating.

Once the edge had been taken off his hunger, he slowed down and looked around at his Housemates. A tall, stern-looking girl who had to be at least a sixth-year winked at him. He nearly fell off his stool in surprise.

Nearby, an ingenuous brunette first-year stared around in awe at the Great Hall's ceiling. "It's enchanted to look like the night sky," he told her softly, not mentioning that he owed this knowledge to Rose Weasley, who'd gotten it out of Hogwarts, A History.

"Wow!" she exclaimed. "I'm Muggle-born, you know," she added.

Mike carefully refrained from mentioning that he had realized this. "Have a name?" he asked. "I'm Mike Corner."

"Emily Snow," said the girl, smiling at him.

"Have some food, you're not eating," he said, noticing that her plate was bare.

She blushed. "Well, if you think I should…" she said, and helped herself to a roll and some soup.

Mike was bewildered. Did he think she should? Of course she should eat, it was dinnertime, wasn't it?

He talked some more with Emily over dinner, and he also met Alex MacMillan, Harry Saunders, and Runcorn Cattermole.

"Wasn't Runcorn a Death Eater?" Alex asked.

Runcorn Cattermole shrugged. "Yeah, I guess," he said. "But this one time, right before the end of the war, he saved my parents from Azkaban, and maybe worse. I wasn't born until about seven years later, but they remembered the name."

"Huh," Mike said thoughtfully. He wondered why Runcorn the original, the Death Eater, had helped Cattermole's parents. Oh, well, he told himself. Just another wartime mystery. It wasn't like he'd ever know.

He followed the stern girl who'd winked at him to the Hufflepuff dormitories, near the kitchen, after dinner. She turned out to be a sixth-year named Mia Bones. "Any relation to Amelia Bones, Head of the Magical Law Enforcement during the war?" Alex asked. He really was a talker, Mike thought. What if Mia wasn't comfortable discussing her relatives? Not everyone was, as he had ascertained on the train.

Mia's eyes darkened. "Yes, actually," she said shortly. "Great-aunt." She gestured for them to follow, and they entered the Hufflepuff dormitories.

Mike's roommates turned out to be Edward Shoreham. Elijah Summers, Edgar Bones, Mia's little brother, and Runcorn Cattermole, who he already knew. He sighed, climbed into bed, and prepared for whatever chat they'd manage to have before falling asleep.

In that moment, Mike didn't care that his father had been in Ravenclaw, and his mother in Gryffindor. He knew he belonged right where he was.

---

Lottie didn't listen to Professor Beaumont's speeches, concentrating instead on various plans to make proper friends with the Potter boy, and of course on how to survive the inevitable grilling later. Her brother had told her Slytherin wasn't a House for cowards—there'd be some sort of initiation, left over from Salazar's time, apparently. Lottie decided not to worry about it. After all, her brother, Alex, and her sister, Celinda, had presumably already gone through it. Not to mention her parents.

"This place is amazing," whispered a small first-year girl with stunningly pale blonde hair to Lottie as they followed Lottie's big brother and a pretty, dark-haired girl named Inga Sullivan to the dungeons. "Have you ever seen anything like this?"

"Well," said Lottie, tilting her head to one side and considering Diagon Alley, Saint Mungo's, the Ministry of Magic… "Yes."

"Wow," said the girl, impressed.

"Muggle-born, huh?" Lottie asked.

"Is it that obvious?" the girl said, embarrassed. "I'm Xanthe Quent, by the way."

"Lottie Rosier. And, honestly, it's no big deal. In fact, sort of the reverse, in most of society anyway—Hermione Weasley might have something to do with the new fashion for Muggle-borns," Lottie commented. There was also Harry Potter, of course, but even this girl would already have heard about that.

The Malfoy boy from the train joined them just then, rather to Lottie's surprise. The Malfoys were generally considered to the most pureblood-conscious of anyone ought of Azkaban. She'd always known that must be an exaggeration.

The three of them had a very civil, interesting chat, and then there was the initiation, which proved to be quite innocuous, and then Lottie went down the hall in the Slytherin dormitories and met her roommates: adorable Brethe Yaxley, bossy Amarachi Ivanhoe, quiet Letha Carey, and Muggle-born Cinnamon Pensey. Lottie was surprised to meet another Muggle-born Slytherin, but, on an acquaintance of about five minutes, she could say she liked all her roommates.

---

Scorpius Malfoy didn't hear Professor Beaumont's speeches. He was much too busy assessing possible alliances, and wondering about Rose Weasley the Ravenclaw. She was interesting, there was no denying that. And probably very intelligent. His father had recommended staying away from her (and, coincidentally, to beat her in every test) but he thought she was worth further investigation.

He was rather annoyed that his two childhood friends, Vincent Goyle and Hermogenes Bulstrode, had hemmed him in on either side. It wasn't that he particularly wanted to distance himself from them—although Hermogenes was currently bragging about his connections, and Vincent was shoveling food into his mouth—but he had wanted to make new friends as quickly as possible.

Consequently, when they all got up to follow sandy-haired Alex Rosier and pretty, elegant Inga Sullivan to the dungeons, Scorpius casually strolled away from his childhood friends. He found himself just a few feet behind the girl from the train, Lottie Something, and a tiny girl with hair blonder than his, if that were possible.

He heard the word, Muggle-born, and stiffened out of reflex. A Slytherin Muggle-born? Clearly, times had changed. He studied the tiny girl more closely. Yes, she was staring around as though she'd never seen talking portraits or ghosts. He wondered if Lottie realized she courted social ostracism by talking to the tiny girl, at least in Slytherin.

Then again, who really cared about that stuff anymore? His mother had been disowned because her family believed the Malfoys were too concerned with blood purity. And the political climate hadn't helped his parents, either. The thought that his grandfather would hate what he was about to do clinched the matter. He smiled wickedly, and caught up to Lottie and the Muggle-born girl.

"Hello, I'm Scorpius Malfoy," he introduced himself.

"Lottie Rosier, we met on the train," said Lottie. "And this is Xanthe Quent."

"Good to meet you," said Scorpius politely.

"Malfoy…" said Xanthe thoughtfully. "Someone was telling me something about that…"

Scorpius shrugged. "You'll hear all about it in History of Magic."

"Your family's famous," said Xanthe.

"Or infamous," Scorpius commented. "It doesn't matter."

"You're quite brave, aren't you? Sure you shouldn't be in Gryffindor?" teased Lottie.

Scorpius shuddered elaborately. "Perish the thought," he said, overacting slightly. He wouldn't have minded Gryffindor, except maybe a little on principle. After all, it would hardly be logical to be part of a House that contained the very people whom Xanthe had no doubt heard disparaging his family. Blood was still thicker than pumpkin juice, even in these supposedly egalitarian times.

The three of them arrived at the Slytherin dormitories, and Alex Rosier and Inga Sullivan waited until everyone was quiet before describing the initiation ritual.

"You will each write your name, full legal name, on the wall beneath this portrait of Salazar Slytherin," said Inga.

"This will ensure that all members of this House are magically bound to one another," explained Alex. "Names have power. Sharing yours with your Housemates is a gift, a symbol of trust."

Everyone got into a line and signed their name. Scorpius had a brief moment of doubt (did being bound to his Housemates mean that they would have some amount of control over his actions? Was this how the Dark Lord had so effortlessly won the loyalty of Slytherin House?), but signed his full name, Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, anyway. Just as magical bonds could prove dangerous, they could be equally powerful and useful. And he hadn't met anyone who struck him as the next Dark Lord yet.

After the ritual, Alex and Inga explained the rules. The other prefects seemed content to allow them that privilege, but they sat in armchairs, silently watching. The seventh year prefects looked especially menacing, glaring around at the first years as though they could hardly remember being eleven and new.

"And," finished Alex, "This is our most important rule: no matter what your conflicts with one another are, we do not, I repeat do not, bring our quarrels out of these walls. Together, we must present a united front, because, out of all the four Houses, Slytherin is the most maligned, and therefore the most alone. Which is not to say you can't have friends in other Houses—just know that, when you're out there, you're representing all of Slytherin House to a world that isn't so fond of us right now."

"In other words," smiled Inga, "What happens in Slytherin, stays in Slytherin. Have a problem? We prefects are here for you. Not comfortable talking to us? See our Head of House, Professor Parkinson-Bulstrode. Understand?"

There was a chorus of yeses, and then the first years were at last allowed to go to bed. Scorpius discovered he was rooming with Evaristo Elsevier, who was as prissy as his name, David Scruggen, who seemed a practical sort, Piers Prest, who was obnoxious to cover up being nervous, and Vincent Goyle, his childhood friend.

Scorpius and Vincent's parents had known one another for years, and Scorpius's father had miraculously managed to stay friendly with both Vincent's parents after their painful divorce when the boys were about three.

Scorpius said good night to everyone, and then prepared to go sensibly to sleep, reflecting that it was going to be a big day tomorrow. Classes! He could hardly wait.

---

Rose Weasley heard every word of both Professor Beaumont's speeches. The Headmistress began by saying, after the last three people had been Sorted ("Williams, Hermione!" "GRYFFINDOR!" "Wood, Francesca!" "HUFFLEPUFF!" and "Yaxley, Brethe!" "SLYTHERIN!"), "Welcome all. Please, dig in!" After dinner, during which Rose conversed amicably with her immediate neighbors, Prefect Pele Longbourne, daughter of Professor Longbourne, who taught Charms, and fellow first years Demosthenes Arcante, whose dark hair fell over one eye in a style no doubt designed to be attractive—Rose was unfavorably impressed with his constant efforts to flip it out of his eyes so he could better observe what he was eating—and an orange-haired girl who could have been a Weasley in appearance, called Pauline Francis, the Headmistress began once again.

"There are a few start of term notices for everyone," said Professor Beaumont. She was a tall woman, probably in her fifties, Rose decided, with gray eyes, long blondish gray hair, and gray robes. Rose wondered if she were a good leader. "Mr. Filch has a list of all things forbidden on his office door. He needs a wheelchair to get around the castle, so please be considerate," she didn't specify who she was speaking to specifically, but Rose saw her eyes linger on the Gryffindor table and its sea of redheads, "The Forbidden Forest is off limits for all students," she continued, still looking at Rose's cousins. "Quidditch trials will take place on the seventeenth of September, and, to clear up a misunderstanding, let me state that first-years are not allowed to try out for their House teams. Furthermore, we have a new Potions Mistress this year, Professor Lænæno." There was polite applause.

Rose studied Professor Lænæno curiously. She looked rather young to be a professor. Her hair was honey blonde and curly, her nose turned up, and her eyes twinkled merrily at the students. Black was clearly not her color—it looked by far too somber, and Rose wondered once again about the wisdom of such a strict uniform policy. It was true that older students rarely respected the dress code, at least on the weekends, but it seemed a pity to make everyone wear black when it only looked good on, according to her research, about five-sixteenths of the overall population.

After Professor Beaumont finished, Rose got up with the other new Ravenclaws and followed Pele and Richard Grant up to Ravenclaw Tower. Pele picked up a bronze knocker shaped like an eagle and a high clear voice asked, "Why?"

Pele laughed, and explained to the wide-eyed first years, "It always starts the year with an easy one."

Richard frowned. "The easiest and the hardest question to answer, I think." He addressed the knocker. "Why not?"

The door swung open, and Rose climbed the stairs to her dormitory. She and her four roommates, an energetic girl who was actually jumping up and down in place, a quiet, dark girl, an even quieter girl whose dark skin seemed to glow, and a cynical blonde, all arrived at approximately the same time. There followed a rapid dash for the beds and each girl's trunk.

"Hi, everybody, I'm Hermione Pearson," said the bubbly girl loudly. "And I'm just so excited to be here, at last, and I can't wait for classes to start—I guess it fits I'm a Ravenclaw, huh?" She giggled. "I know the five of us are going to be the best of friends!"

"I'm Jetta Grant," drawled the blonde. "And I wouldn't count on the friend thing, little Miss Pear-fect."

"Marlene Lestrange," said the quiet, dark girl before a red-faced Hermione Pearson could retort.

"Alexis Shacklebolt," whispered the especially shy girl.

"Rose Weasley," said Rose calmly.

"Oh my Godric!" exclaimed Hermione Pearson. "I knew it! I knew you were a Weasley! I'm named after your mother, you know! Wow, this is so exciting!"

"Quite so," said Rose drily. It was flattering, she supposed, to be so sought-after for something over which she had no control. Still, she might have preferred a little less emphasis on her famous parents, now that she was here on her own account.

"Your parents are heroes," commented Marlene. "And your father is the Minister of Magic," she added, turning to Alexis.

"And your parents are Lestranges, so they must be evil," said Jetta, rolling her eyes. "And little Miss Pear-fect's are probably stolid upstanding citizens of the Wizarding world. Blah di-blah blah blah. Couldn't we just forget all that?"

"Your parents are wealthy and respected," said Marlene. "And now I'm done with that. I second Jetta's motion that we leave our assumptions at the door."

"Ooh, our first rule as a group of roommates!" squealed Hermione. "This is so brilliant! I'm in!"

"Me, too," Rose agreed, relieved.

"Okay," whispered Alexis.

"'Night," Rose told them all, breaking up the group before this turned into a sleepover/gossipfest and she overslept the next day. Classes were starting tomorrow! She could hardly wait. More than the Sorting, more than her roommates, more than the stunning question-and-answer game you had to play to get into Ravenclaw Tower, more than seeing the castle she'd heard so much about from her elder cousins, this was what she'd been looking forward to. Actual learning, in actual classes! She could hardly wait.

---

Author's Note:

Want to know why Albus and James have different mothers? Please check out Harry Potter and the Desperate Housewife.