Standard Disclaimer: Nothing is mine. =)
I originally intended for this to be a one-shot; I'm trying to think of a good way of expanding it.
"Is this your first time?"
"No, it's, arghh, it's not, but I still, ungh–" Albus Potter huffed to catch his breath, feeling sweat run down his neck and back. "You?"
"Oh, it's not mine either."
"How, unh, how many…?"
"Hmm… eleven, if I count what happened when I was four."
Albus froze. "Eleven? You were four the first time?"
"Well, that was technically the first time but they didn't get very far with me before they were caught…"
"Wow. This is only my second time… Don't your parents protect you?"
A long pause. Then, "It won't matter soon. Hogwarts is said to have excellent barriers."
Dropping the magical bind he had been tugging against, Albus turned to fully face the other boy also trapped in the magic-encased cell. It was too dark to really see each other but he could tell the other was kneeling calmly near the wall instead of fighting for freedom like him. Albus wondered if he would be as apathetic if this was his eleventh time to be kidnapped instead of only his second. Could he even be kidnapped eleven times? His father would never stand for such a thing!
"I'm going to Hogwarts this fall, too. My name is Albus, but everyone calls me Al. What's your name?" Albus waited for a moment but the other boy didn't respond. "Um, I asked–"
"We should probably go now."
"Huh? But we're still tied… to…" As he lifted his arms to show the restraints, Albus was shocked to discover that the binds had disappeared. "Wha… When…?"
"Oh, I de-magicked them," the boy said matter-of-factly and was already waiting by the cell door. "I got tired of waiting for someone to rescue me, so I've been reading through my father's library."
"De-magicked… Reading through your father's…" Albus blinked up at the other. "Who are you?"
The other boy laughed quietly; he held out a hand to Albus. "We have to go before they return."
Albus squinted his eyes but he could barely see the other boy's face in the dark. Hesitantly, he took the offered hand, surprised by how warm it felt despite the chill of the cell. The other boy didn't actually help him to his feet, but as soon as he was standing he was tugged in the direction away from the stairs that led out of the dungeon.
"Hey," Albus said, pulling against the other boy's hand. "Shouldn't we go the other way?"
The firm, resolute tone of the boy's voice stopped any protest Albus had. Placing confidence in the other, he allowed himself to be led deeper into the dungeons and it didn't take long before they were completely incased in darkness, yet Albus was steered through the empty passages like the boy was following a lit path.
"Can you see in here?" Albus whispered, something about being in the dark making him feel the need to be quiet.
"Yes," the boy replied at the same volume he'd been speaking in the entire time.
Albus waited for the boy to explain how, but then sighed when he realized that the explanation wasn't going to come. For a moment, he thought he heard something behind them, but the other didn't pause in the slightest, so Albus walked a little faster so they were more side-by-side and squeezed the hand in his own. Unexpectedly, his hand was squeezed back and he felt a bit reassured.
It seemed like they walked for a while, always in a determined direction, but eventually Albus noticed a dim light ahead of them. It was hardly enough to be called "light" but his eyes were so accustomed to the dark that even the tiny change appeared bright. When they got closer enough, Albus realized that it was a small hole in the stone wall. Albus let go of the other boy's hand and pressed his face to the walnut-sized hole. He couldn't see much except dirt.
"This passageway goes under a hillside," the other boy stated.
"Have you been here before? Is that how you know where to go?"
"No." The boy placed something heavy sounding in the hole and then grabbed Albus's hand again, pulling them back a few meters.
"What was–" Albus started to ask, but was interrupted when red sparks erupted from the hole and the wall trembled twice before stones, grass, and dirt fell to the ground, creating a large enough opening for them to escape. Albus stared in wonder. "Whoa! How did you do that?"
His question ignored once more, Albus was led through the dust, carefully over the remnants of the wall, and into crisp night air. Albus blinked against the moonlight once they were fully outside and spun to look in what he thought was the direction they had come. Far up the hill he could see a castle-like mansion reaching toward the starry sky, looking ominous with only a few lights burning in the windows.
In a moment of childish petulance, he stuck his tongue out at the house and whoever was in it. "Jerks," he muttered.
"Fools," the other boy corrected.
Suddenly remembering that he had no idea who the other boy was or what he looked like, Albus whipped back around so that they faced one another. Only the warmth of the other's hand in his assured Albus that he was not staring wide-eyed at a ghost.
Hair so blonde it was almost white fell like silk over the soft, blue robe covering the boy's shoulders, and his skin looked as delicate and smooth as a porcelain doll. It was a stark contrast to Albus's own tousled black hair, sun-kissed and dirt-smudged face, and tattered play robes – in his defense, he had been "practicing" quidditch with James and Fred a short while before his abduction.
But what really got Albus were the boy's eyes: so light they looked pupil-less and white like the hair framing his face. They sent a thrill through Albus and he abruptly recalled the captor who had brought the other boy to the cell saying, "Nasty li'l shit with ya empty eyes. Like Death himself a lookin' at me."
"They won't find you again."
Albus practically jumped out of his skin at the boy's voice. His mind tried to wrap around the fact that the voice and face were the same person, and when it did he realized that the two fit perfectly together. Then he realized he hadn't actually heard what was said. "Huh?"
"I said that they won't find you again. Not tonight."
"Oh…" was all Albus could manage against those unwavering light eyes.
"You don't have to hold my hand anymore."
"Huh?" Albus blinked stupidly, and then the other boy looked away and the trance on him was lifted. "Oh!"
He jerked his hand back embarrassedly, stuffing it in his pocket. He hoped it was dark enough that the other wouldn't see his blush. They stood awkwardly for a moment – well, Albus certainly felt awkward, anyway. He thought he heard a sigh, but when he looked up, the other boy had started to walk further down the hillside. Albus got the distinct impression that he'd done something offensive.
"They're not creepy!" Albus blurted without thinking. The other boy paused but didn't look back at him. Albus chewed at his bottom lip, now more embarrassed than before. "Um, I don't think they're like Death's, you know? Your eyes, I mean. They're kinda, um, different, but they're not creepy. I… I like them."
The other boy turned around and he was smiling such an honest and wide smile it made a kaleidoscope of butterflies take off in Albus's stomach.
"What… What's your name?" Albus breathed, a strange and new emotion making his whole body shiver despite the summer air.
The other's smile softened a bit but it was still warm and friendly. "I'm–"
"Albus? Al, is that you?"
The harshly-whispered, familiar voice made Albus jump out of his skin a second time that night, the butterflies gone in an instant. He jerked toward the nearby ditch where a head lifted cautiously over the edge. As he squinted his eyes to see who it was, the person stood abruptly and rushed toward him. Albus's eyes widened as he recognized the gangly figure. "Uncle Ron!"
Albus was enveloped in his uncle's strong arms and hugged so tightly he thought his ribs might crack. He was released just as abruptly as he was hugged and held at arm's length so he could be studied.
"It really is you!" Ron Weasley marveled. "Harry's up there kicking the doors down looking for you! And Ginny! Man, but we were all worried about you!"
Albus grinned at the mention of his parents. "I'm okay! I knew Dad would come for me!"
"Who took you?" Ron's expression changed from ecstatic shock to a severe glower. "Did you recognize any of them? What'd they do to you?"
"They didn't hurt me," Albus assured him. "It seemed like they were too busy fighting with each other to pay us any mind. They just tossed us in a dungeon."
Ron looked confused. "Us?"
"Yeah, me and…" Albus went to point at the other boy whose name he still did not know, but where the boy had stood before was now completely empty. Albus pushed away from his uncle and searched the area frantically. "Where did he go?"
"What? Al, you were the only person I saw out here…" Ron pat his head gently, concerned. "You sure you're okay?"
"No! He was here! Right over there!" Albus insisted. "He's the one that got us out!"
But as he searched, he began to realize that he and his uncle were the only two people standing on the hillside.
The white peacock cooed down at him from atop the overgrown hedge, its feathers shining in the moonlight, and Scorpius Malfoy smiled softly up at it. He maneuvered around the broken walkway, avoiding clumps of the hedge that grew outward and the weeds that rose between the stones brushed against the bottom of his robes. Untamed flowers spilled from the beds and Scorpius felt their velvety petals brush his hands as he passed.
The Malfoy garden wasn't quite what it used to be. His father told him how it had once been beautiful and bright, that it would one day be that way again, but Scorpius liked the wild flare it had now.
As he ascended the steps to the manor, the back French doors flew open and his father's silhouette stood against the dim light from inside. Draco Malfoy practically ran down to meet him, appearing flustered, worried, and nothing like the composed, cold man he was in public.
Scorpius hummed lightly as he was hugged and cheerfully returned the embrace, breathing in his father's smell as he did. No matter how many people spit at him – on him – or glared or whispered behind their hands or refused to meet his eerie eyes, his father always accepted him with love. It only saddened him that Draco seemed to be silently begging his forgiveness for such a life at the same time.
"They shouldn't punish you," Draco always said, "for the mistakes your grandfather and I made."
Draco finally relented his hug and pulled back cup Scorpius's face in his hands, staring into the boy's eyes as so many wouldn't. "Where have you been? Your mother is beside herself with worry. Were you… Did someone threaten you? Hurt you?"
"I'm fine," Scorpius murmured, his smile falling when he saw his father's distressed face. "It's okay, Daddy. They can't hurt me anymore. I outgrew people like them a long time ago."
Instead of finding the words comforting, Draco felt his stomach turn. He again pulled Scorpius close. "You shouldn't have had to outgrow them! You're too young for all of this! I should at least be allowed to protect my son!"
Scorpius didn't say anything else.
A knock on the door the next morning had Scorpius pausing on his way to the dining room. The Malfoy Manor rarely had visitors and none that entered through the front gate. He sat down at the base of the stairs, knowing better than to answer, and waited for someone else to come. There was another, more insistent knock and a moment later his father strode into the front parlor. Draco didn't notice Scorpius sitting quietly and was already transitioning into aloof mode.
With a flick of his hand, the front door opened before Draco, and Scorpius was surprised when the emotionless mask slipped for a split second.
"Potter," Draco greeted with a small nod, voice steady but Scorpius could see his eyes darkening. "You are not accompanied by Weasley or another Auror so I take that this, ah, visit isn't on business."
"Actually, Malfoy, it is," Scorpius heard the other man respond. He sounded uncomfortable. "I thought it best if we discussed it, um, just the two of us."
He sounded very uncomfortable.
"Oh?" Draco clearly enjoyed that he was making the other man stand awkwardly on the doorstep, which made Scorpius happy to see him so.
"Yeah…" An embarrassed pause. "Can I come in?"
Draco looked for a moment like he might say no, but then stepped to the side to allow the other man access. Scorpius watched curiously; usually if Aurors were coming to the Manor, expected or unexpected, he was whisked away to the jungle-gardens by his mother. He had yet to meet the "Potter" that always irritated his father so much – "Potter" who was also "The-Boy-Who-Lived," "The-Chosen-One," and "The-One-Who-Saved-Us-All" that Scorpius had read so much about in the books and newspapers. It was because of his reading that he immediately knew "Albus, but everyone calls me Al" with the daring, emerald green eyes he had met not eight hours previous was, in fact, "Albus Potter."
And when "Potter" caught sight of Scorpius sitting on the stairs out of the corner of his eye and turned to look, Scorpius could see that the eyes and hair always caught in the photos for The Prophet were just as lively and messy in person.
Draco's voice cut through his thoughts and he broke eye contact with "Potter."
Ah, I was caught.
"Go to your mother," Draco ordered calmly.
Scorpius obediently stood and continued on his way to the dining room, but once out of sight of the two adults, he cut through a small study and a sun room back around to the front parlor, hiding quietly behind the door. Normally, he had no reason to disobey his father, but the excitement he'd felt at the words of "Albus, but everyone calls me Al" still made him grin like a fool, and he couldn't help being a bit curious about "Potter."
He could only hear the murmur of voices and pulled his wand from a hidden pocket in the sleeve of his robe. Unlike other young magicals his age, Scorpius had had a wand for many years, attained for his protection from a less-than-honorable source. He was looking forward to receiving a new wand matched to him when he was to go to Diagon Alley with his mother in a week's time. The only drawback to a legitimate wand was that it came with the underage trace.
Scorpius pressed the tip of his gnarled, old wand against the door and closed his eyes, chanting a spell inside his head. Then, as if he were still standing in the front hall, he could clearly hear the adults arguing.
"–a joke?" "Potter" snapped. "The two I interrogated right after said that they grabbed Albus and your son, Scorpius."
"Did you ever stop to think that they were lying?" Draco replied evenly.
"They were under verisaterum," was the irritated counter. "And Albus himself confirmed that there was another boy with him – a boy that he described perfectly to your son, from what I saw – and don't you dare try to call my son a liar!"
"For what reason would they abduct both our sons?" Draco asked, not calling anyone a liar but not conceding to "Potter" either. "That seems to be a conflict of interest."
Potter gave a frustrated sigh. "Look, they weren't the smartest group–"
This Scorpius agreed to completely.
"–but they were well-funded. There could have been any number of plans and people behind this. We're still interrogating everyone, so I don't know."
But Draco and Scorpius knew. Anyone still sticking to the old ways and trying to get at "Harry Potter" would go after the Malfoys, too. After all, it was the Malfoys' faults that "Harry Potter" had defeated "The Dark Lord." Unfortunately, the other side hated the Malfoy family as well and were equally as cruel. Scorpius had been stuck in the middle his entire life.
"You should keep a better eye on Scorpius," "Potter" was saying. "He was clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. They wouldn't have grabbed him otherwise."
Scorpius breathed in sharply. He didn't have to see his father to know that Draco was furious with this last statement.
"They wouldn't have?" Draco growled through clenched teeth. "What do you know about what happens to my son? You make the mistake of thinking that anyone who was against The Dark Lord is automatically a good person. Several hated The Dark Lord but were still murderers and thieves, Potter."
"Potter" stumbled over his words for a moment before harshly saying, "If Scorpius is in danger, then you should protect him."
Oh no, no, no! Scorpius screamed in his mind, feeling his chest constrict. Don't say that to him!
"Get OUT!" Draco roared.
"Get out of my home! NOW!"
Scorpius thought "Potter" might try to argue, but a second later he heard the front door slam with such force the walls shook. Then there was a loud crash as Draco threw something to the ground and shouted in anger. Scorpius sat frozen on the other side of the door and listened to all the banging and yelling, and even heard his mother rush in but Draco told her to leave, that he wanted to be alone.
When the front parlor finally quieted, Scorpius pushed the door open a crack and peered cautiously through. The parlor was a mess and it took him a moment to find his father. Draco sat at the base of the stairs where he'd been before "Potter" arrived not thirty minutes earlier. The sight of his father sitting there, head in hands and looking as though he wanted nothing more than to cry, had Scorpius through the door and pushing his way into his father's arms in a flash.
Draco startled in surprise. "Scorpius, you–"
"It's okay, Daddy," Scorpius whispered against his chest. "I'm okay."
Scorpius felt strong arms wrap around him and he hugged tighter, trying to pour every happy thought he had into his father.
Because how could a family of former Death Eaters protect anyone when, by decree of the ministry, half of their magic each had been sealed?
One Month Later
Rose took the first available compartment without so much as a backward glance at Albus, fully expecting him to follow, and he did. He always did; there was never a reason to not follow.
"Did you read your books?" Rose asked.
"A little," he said, and it wasn't a lie. He'd read the covers, after all.
"Mother said it's best to get a head start," Rose admonished, and he felt more than saw her knowing frown. "Mother gave me her old books."
Albus sent her an odd look. "Why?"
Rose's frown became more tight-lipped and her shoulders tensed as though she were a ruffled bird. "Because the new authors clearly think we're novices. If you'd have read your books you would know that the material is watered down to a ridiculous simplicity."
Albus didn't point out that they were novices and that simplicity was probably a good thing, or that a glance at his potions manual certainly did not seem "watered down" to him. In fact, he was relatively sure that it wasn't even in English. But maybe there was a chapter on translation – he didn't read his books, so he didn't know.
The first half of the train ride was more or less like any other trip Albus had been on with his family: Rose talked (a lot) and an hour into the trip his butt started to hurt. When it became unbearable to sit any longer, he waited for Rose to take a deep breath between sentences and quickly got to his feet, stretching his arms above his head.
"I'm going to walk," he stated plainly, easing over to the compartment door.
"Are you upset about James?" Rose asked.
"Huh? Oh– that."Albus rolled his eyes. James stopping by to tease him again about the sorting had caused a small wave of panic, but the excitement of going to Hogwarts had long since pushed his nerves to the back of his mind. Where they should stay. "No, I just want a look 'round the train. Are you coming?"
Rose sniffed delicately and pulled her book bag closer to her. "I still haven't finished Hogwarts: A History."
"Oh." Albus started out the door, but looked back around at her. "I thought you read that at the beginning of summer?"
"I meant I haven't yet finished reading it this time."
"Oh, I see." Albus stepped into the hallway and started to pull the door closed. "I'll be back in a bit, then."
A frown from Rose was all he received in response.
There were a few students in the hallway and an attendant passing through with a treat cart. Albus got a couple of licorice wands to eat as he wandered. He and Rose had boarded near the front of the train so he made his way toward the back. Not all of the cars were compartment style like the one he and Rose were riding. There was a long one that was open with seats and tables. Most of the students in this car were sixth and seventh years so Albus quickly passed through it. He heard James's voice from a compartment and ducked under its window quietly. When he made it to the last car the back door was charmed shut so all he could do was stare through it at the disappearing landscape. It was already getting dark.
As he stood there, his mind traveled back to a month before when he had been kidnapped – the event occupied his thoughts often since that night. They never did find the other boy, but Albus's father promised that he would find out about the boy when he interrogated the kidnappers. Albus, of course, was never told much beyond that. Something about Auror confidentiality.
But the boy was coming Hogwarts; that much Albus did know, and he was determined to find the other, no matter how long it took.
With this resolution in mind, he started on his way back to Rose. He had just entered a car when a rowdy group of Hufflepuff third years knocked into the same attendant he'd bought the wands from earlier.
"That's it!" she cried, pulling her wand out to round up all the fallen treats. "That's the fourth time! All of you, out of the hallway!"
The third years quickly ducked into their compartments as Albus stood nervously to one side. The attendant turned to him expectantly.
"Away with you!"
"Uh, well, I'm actually-"
The compartment door behind Albus opened magically and he felt as though strong hands were shoving him inside. He stumbled backwards into the compartment and stared wide-eyed at the attendant. She rolled the cart in front of the compartment and gave him a stern look.
"Now then, dear, was there anything you wanted off the cart?"
"Uh…" Albus didn't know if she actually wanted a response. "Um, no thank you ma'am. I don't want anything."
With a sharp, "Good," the door slid shut, nearly taking Albus's nose as it did, and the attendant continued to push the cart down the hallway.
Albus stood in shock for a moment, unsure if it was wise to attempt heading back to Rose at this point and fairly certain that even if he tried the door wouldn't open. He froze when he heard the rustling of clothing from behind him.
Closing his eyes to hope that the attendant hadn't thrown him in with a group of angry seventh years, Albus slowly began to turn. When he was all the way around, he opened his eyes again.
And immediately froze up.
Wha-wha-wha… I – so soon? This is… I'm not mentally prepared for this!
There was only one other student in the compartment and he pushed himself up from where he'd been lying on the cushion with one hand and rubbed his eyes with the other. When he finally looked at Albus it was through sleep-clouded almost-white eyes. He stared at Albus blankly for a long while, as if waiting expectantly, but Albus had yet to unfreeze. Then he smiled a small, secretive smile and Albus felt the same swarm of butterflies from before start to flutter in his stomach again.
"Have we arrived?"
He spoke so quietly that Albus almost didn't hear him, but it was enough to grab Albus's full attention and he huffed out the breath he hadn't know he was holding. "Oh, uh, no… We're almost there, though… I think."
The other boy hummed and turned to look out the window at the dark sky. He was, Albus noticed, already wearing his school robes like Rose but there wasn't a single improper crease despite him having slept in them. Rose had spent most of the trip fussing about wrinkles. She wouldn't have dared to lie on the cushion.
"You won't sit, 'Albus, but everyone calls me Al?'"
Albus dropped onto the cushion across from him without a second thought.
"You remember me!" he breathed, grinning excitedly.
"Yes," the boy murmured, tilting his head slightly to one side. Like before, his hair slid like silk over his shoulder and now that there was light it looked soft.
Albus's fingers twitched.
"I, uh- Well, um, you see, I," Albus stammered, blushing. "I-I'm Albus Potter, and I… I've been so worried about you! You disappeared that night and my uncle Ron thought I was crazy or that I'd hit my head or something and I didn't know what to say or do but I told my dad everything and he said he'd take care of it but he hasn't told me anything because he has to keep things that go with work confidential which is stupid 'cause Uncle Ron is always telling us things he's not supposed to and I didn't know if Dad'd actually managed to find you and I was so worried 'cause you just disappeared, and how did you do that anyway? I mean, we were standing right there and Uncle Ron said he didn't even see you but he doesn't notice anything which is why Aunt Hermione is always yelling at him–"
Albus cut off abruptly when he realized he was rambling and that the other boy was staring with trembling lips as though trying to keep from laughing. He shifted uncomfortably on the seat, wiping his sweaty palms on his old, every day robe – I wasn't prepared for this so soon! Finally, eyes on the floor of the compartment, he muttered, "What's your name?"
The other boy stood up suddenly, his action jerking Albus's eyes off the floor to him. He was smiling, practically beaming, and Albus couldn't help grinning dopily in response, nor could Albus break eye contact as he sat back down on the cushion directly next to the flustered Potter.
"My name is Scorpius."
"Scorpius…" Albus repeated a bit idiotically, feeling somewhat dazed by that stare.
"Mmhm," Scorpius hummed with a nod. "Scorpius Malfoy."
"Scorpius Malfoy," Albus repeated again, this time as a firm statement to indicate that he had the name and wouldn't forget it. There was a bell going off in the back of his mind telling him that he should recognize the name, but Albus was too preoccupied with trying to not laugh like a fool when Scorpius smiled brightly at him to pay it a considering thought. "And you're a first year like me… We could get sorted to the same House!"
"We could," Scorpius lightly agreed.
Albus wiggled in his seat eagerly. "It'll be so cool! We could hang out all the time! And there's so much I want to talk to you about! You already know a bunch, don't you? I bet you're smarter than even Rosie!"
Scorpius didn't know "Rosie" but was flattered all the same. The shy smile he gave in response made the butterflies in Albus tickle all the way to his toes.
"This… This is just so cool!" Albus exclaimed, nearly grabbing Scorpius's shoulders and shaking him in barely contained excitement – a month's worth of wondering about and idolizing the other boy overflowing now that they were together once more. "We'll first have to–"
The door to their compartment slid open abruptly.
"Albus Severus Potter!" Rose commanded from the hallway, "What are you thinking? I've been looking for you for almost an hour, we're about to arrive, and you're not even in your robes!"
Oh, Scorpius realized, watching the incensed young witch curiously, By "Rosie" he meant "Rose Weasley."
Her eyes darted to him at that moment and, due to her angry expression, Scorpius expected her to admonish him as well. Instead, her eyes widened as she recognized him in return and immediately, swiftly, she moved into the compartment, snatched Albus by the wrist, and tugged him toward the door.
"You need to get changed," she ordered Albus, but her eyes were trained suspiciously on Scorpius.
Albus allowed her to pull him to his feet but resisted being taken any further. His excitement appeared to block his perception of the mistrust Rose was exuding toward his new friend, or the fact that Scorpius's smile had faded quickly to a blank mask as he stared at Rose with equal intensity. "Rosie! This is the boy I told you about. The one that helped me escape! His name is Scorpius Malfoy."
"I know!" Rose snapped, and Albus furrowed his brow in confusion but she ignored it and continued to tug him away from Scorpius. "Let's go, Albus!" she urged. "You need to get changed. Now!"
"Just wait a moment, will you?" Albus said in exasperation, shaking his wrist free only to have her grab it again. Then, he said to Scorpius, "You should come, too, so we don't get separated when we get there."
"I still have a few things to take care of first," Scorpius replied quietly, not smiling. "You should go get changed."
Albus faltered at his new friend's sudden cold demeanor and gave a small, forced smile. "Oh, okay… I guess we can meet up later, once we get off. I'll look for you, okay?"
Scorpius only nodded and Albus let Rose drag him into the hall and toward their compartment far up the train. He gave one last confused glanced at Scorpius but the other boy was simply sitting with his hands in his lap, staring at them expressionlessly.
Once they were safely two cars away, Rose whirled on him, demanding shrilly, "Do you have any idea who that was?"
Albus looked at her like she'd asked him if he knew his own father. "Yes," he said in irritation. "I told you. His name is Scorpius Malfoy."
"Yes, Albus! Scorpius Malfoy. Scorpius Malfoy!"
The way Rose stressed the last name helped something click in Albus's brain. It was a name that he'd heard in passing between the adults when they recounted their school days and the war they'd survived, but no comment in particular really came to mind. Albus shook his head at Rose. "So?"
Rose heaved a huge sigh in frustration. "So his parents and grandparents were members of Voldemort's," the name she whispered, "side! Dad and Uncle Harry have gone to the Malfoy home many times to check for dark objects and question them about their dealings with dark wizards. Dad even pointed them out on platform nine-and-three-quarters!"
Now that Rose mentioned it, Albus did recall his Uncle Ron, after having plenty of fire whiskey, ranting about the Malfoys and their role in aiding the dark lord named Voldemort. His Uncle Ron tended to be more liberal with information from those times. Harry Potter wasn't one to talk about the war, not even to his own children – not exactly bedtime story material – so Albus had very little to resent the Malfoy family for.
"And," Rose continued, "didn't you see? He has Death's Eyes! They're so creepy!"
"Nasty li'l shit with ya empty eyes. Like Death himself a lookin' at me."
"You take that back!" Albus shouted, her words infuriating him and his arms flinched as he almost shoved her the way he would James or Hugo. "There's nothing wrong with his eyes!"
"It's what that is called, Albus – eyes so light like that. They're called 'Death's Eyes' because they look empty and sinister!"
"No they don't!" Albus all but screeched.
He intended to rave about it more, but other students that overheard their yelling match were opening their compartment doors to see who was fighting, so instead he gave one last angry shout and stomped toward the other end of the car, ignoring Rose at his heels. The two of them received curious looks as they marched back toward the front of the train with equal expressions of anger and not talking to one another.
When they reached their original compartment Rosie dropped onto her seat with a huff and Albus snatched up the robes she had already laid out neatly on his seat. Though he could feel Rose glaring at him, Albus kept the silence as he exchanged his worn robe for his new school one. He wasn't accustomed to fighting with Rose – it felt entirely unnatural actually – but he couldn't easily forgive her slander towards Scorpius, even if he had only met the boy twice and both times briefly. Even after he'd finished changing neither of them spoke, each refusing to be the one to crack. Fortunately for Albus, the last of the ride to the Hogsmeade station was short; he was always the first to cave in fights. He hated the tense atmosphere and fighting with family always made him feel guilty, even if he knew he was in the right.
As soon as the train stopped, Albus flew off his seat, grabbed his things, and darted out the door, pretending not to hear Rose call his name. He shuffled off the train with the other students and began searching for Scorpius in the crowd once he was on the platform. However, being only twelve created a definite height disadvantage, and the other students were excitedly bustling about, knocking him all over the place.
"Al! What are you doing? Don't you hear Hagrid calling for the first years?"
Albus felt a hand on his arm and turned to see his cousin, Louis Weasley. "Huh? Hagrid?"
Before Louis could respond, the booming voice of Hogwarts's groundskeeper and their fathers' good friend – practically family, he was – rolled over them, "First years! This way! First years, follow me!"
"Hear him now?" Louis asked with a playful flick at Albus's nose.
Albus distractedly pushed away the hand. "All the first years will be over there?"
Louis cocked an eyebrow at him, perplexed. "Of course, unless they've gotten themselves lost like you – hey! Al!"
Albus raced toward the group gathering at Hagrid's feet, most of the students staring at the half-giant in wonder. He wove through the others, eyes searching about for a blonde head. At one point, he made eye contact with Rose and she opened her mouth to speak to him, but he changed directions quickly. It didn't take long for Albus to start worrying as he hunted through the other first years. What if Scorpius never got off the train?
"Right then, time to get moving," Hagrid ordered.
A wave of panic rushed over Albus – they couldn't leave without Scorpius!
"Oh, you really are looking for me, then."
The words of halt he meant to shout at Hagrid died on Albus's tongue. In disbelief, he slowly turned around to find Scorpius standing directly behind him, watching him inquisitively with each hand stuffed in the sleeve of the opposite arm, light eyes almost glowing. Albus gawked at the other boy, mouth opening and closing as he tried to come up with something to say.
"Come on, Al!" Hagrid called, interrupting their staring contest. "You, too, er, other first year!"
Scorpius touched Albus's wrist, not fully holding it but applying a light pressure. His smile from before had returned in full force, and Albus felt the warmth from it and the touch. "Let's go. To Hogwarts."
Albus's own grin resurfaced. "Yeah," he breathed eagerly, "Let's go!"
At that moment, the world as Albus knew it stopped turning.
How? How could Scorpius have been sorted into Slytherin? He'd been absolutely certain that they would both be Gryffindors! It was a mistake. It had to be! It was Scorpius's courage that got them away from the kidnappers, wasn't it? If anything, Albus's only worries were that Scorpius's calm, patient nature would get him in Hufflepuff, or that his intelligence would send him to Ravenclaw. But Slytherin? After what James, Fred, and Louis told him? Not to mention, all of his uncles were against the Slytherin House!
"Albus Potter, wake up!"
An elbow in his side jolted Albus from his terrified thoughts. He shot an irritated glare at Rose who had been the one to elbow him, but she was pointing to the clearly irritated professor standing in front of them. It was then that he realized the professor was looking at him expectantly, as were all the other students.
"Well?" the professor asked. "Do you want to get sorted or not?"
"Huh?" Albus replied dumbly.
"It's your turn, Albus!" Rose whispered, but everyone heard her anyway and many laughed outright.
"Oh!" Albus quickly moved to the stool next to the professor and the laughing increased. He could feel his cheeks heat up and was thankful when the Sorting Hat settled on top of his head, its heavy rim falling over most of his face.
"Hmm," a deep voice suddenly filtered into his mind, "a well balanced child, aren't you?"
Uh, I guess so, Albus responded, wondering if this was voice of "The Hat" that his dad often mentioned.
"Yes, yes, intelligent enough for Ravenclaw, but with a certain wit to you," the voice continued. "How about Slytherin?"
No! Albus thought automatically.
"No? Well let's consider our other options then…"
But Scorpius is in Slytherin, Albus thought to himself, the voice of The Hat fading into the back of his mind. If it were with him, it might not be so bad… Dad even said it'd be okay… But it's Slytherin! James and Fred will make fun of me, too. I'd be the only one not in Gryffindor. It has to be Gryffindor, right?
"Gryffindor it is."
Albus jumped when the voice boomed above him, "Gryffindor!"
Wait! he thought fretfully, I wasn't ready!
"Come on, off the stool," the professor commanded with an exasperated sigh.
Albus was pulled to his feet and ushered toward the cheering Gryffindor table. "But I–"
"Now, now, off you go."
As he was greeted by many hands and hugs, Albus's eyes drifted to the Slytherin table where Scorpius sat and his breath caught in his throat at the other's gloomy expression. His insides all burned, like someone had come and ripped off the wings of all the butterflies.
Then Scorpius's eyes flickered down to the table and when he looked up again his expression was void of emotion.
"Scorpius! Scorpius, wait!"
Albus struggled to get through the crowded front hall as everyone bustled out of the Great Hall toward their respective House dormitories. He hadn't managed to eat much during dinner despite the amazing feast laid out before him due to his stomach tying up in knots every time he glanced at the Slytherin table. He did decide, however, that he was going to be friends with Scorpius Malfoy no matter what, even if they were in opposing Houses.
When he finally caught up to the newly-titled Slytherin, he was hurt to see that the blank expression was still in place rather than the warm smile he'd been greeted with at the station.
"Is there something you need, Albus Potter?" Scorpius asked politely, tone distant.
"What? Of course there is!" Albus insisted, starting to feel a bit angry but not enough to outweigh his anxiety. He grabbed the sleeve of the other's robe, clinging like a toddler. "Don't be like that. It doesn't matter that we're in different Houses. We can still be friends!"
"No," Scorpius replied firmly, "we can't."
Albus's grip tightened. "Why not?"
"How do you think your family would feel if you were friends with me?"
The fight with Rose immediately coming to mind, Albus tried to deny what he knew Scorpius was hinting at. "They wouldn't care! It's just different Houses!"
"It's more than just different Houses. We barely know each other and we're quite different. I–" Scorpius cut off, suddenly looking incredibly vulnerable and not at all the composed, mysterious boy that Albus had come to associate him as, "I should have known better than to…"
With that, Scorpius shook off Albus's hand and hurried toward the other Slytherins heading down to the dungeons, leaving Albus to stand in shock and hurt.
But a rush of panic snapped Albus out of his stupor, and he yelled after the retreating Slytherin, "Scorpius Malfoy! I don't care what you say! I like you and I'm not giving up!"
All the animated chatter in the front hall ceased as everyone stopped to watch the two boys. Scorpius ignored their stares and disappeared in the Slytherin crowd and Albus blushed as everyone looked at him, intrigued.
Then someone whispered harshly, "Did that first year just confess to that other first year?" and the hall exploded with enthusiasm.
"Merlin! We haven't even been here four hours yet!"
"Aww, it looks like he was turned down."
"Go for it, little Gryffindor! Show him the lion's tenacity!"
"And to a Slytherin, too! That's courage for ya!"
"Ohhh, it's like Romeo and Juliet!"
Albus gaped in horror at what was unfurling before him. He stumbled as other students slapped him on the back with encouraging words. "No… No, wait… That's not what I…"
"Man, Al!" James suddenly appeared, grinning like crazy. "You trying to be a stud already? Wait till Mum and Dad hear about this!"
"No! I didn't mean it like that!" Albus adamantly claimed, trying to stop James as he bounded up the stairs to the Gryffindor tower. "Wait! That's not how I meant it!"
A couple of explanations:
I tried to make Scorpius more mature and advanced than a normal 11-year-old but, at the same time, still quite innocent. Draco may seem way off, but he did cry in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom! The way he conducts himself in public will be different than his at-home attitude, I imagine.
Also, Harry and Rosie aren't unfeeling jerks – Harry is just ignorantly stupid at times and Rosie is the product of several generations of family feud. Plus, I see Ron as the type to tell stories exaggerating his own heroics and the wickedness of "bad guys" like the Malfoys, and Rosie is still only 12-ish. Most children don't consider making their own moral choices about others and rely on their parents' opinions (even the bookworms).
Hope you enjoyed it so far!