When Professor Longbottom read "Scorpius Malfoy" off of his long scroll, everyone at the panel of teachers seemed to hold their breath. The First Years parted as the young blonde boy made his way to the stool where the Sorting Hat awaited, and he ignored the whispers with the same stony expression his father had used throughout their time at Diagon Alley getting Scorpius's supplies for the year. His mother had wanted him to go to Durmstrang and, when some of the whispers broke through (he wasn't as good at ignoring as his father was), Scorpius found himself wishing that he'd listened.

"His father's a Death Eater..."

"His grandfather was a Death Eater..."

"...worked for You-Know-Who..."

"...lived in their house..."

"...Death Eaters..."

Scorpius swallowed hard and took a seat, gazing out at his fellow classmates as if he wasn't secretly terrified. And then something was covering his eyes and his stony expression fell apart.

Ah, a quiet voice said. Scorpius immediately wondered what spell was on this hat and whether it was possible to duplicate it. Were there other Sorting Hat's? Or could something else be enchanted? Would anything else even work? Considering the fact that it was a hat and the personality rested in the mind and, as a hat, this particular article would have the best chance of discovering those inner qualities as it rested so close to the brain.

There was a soft chuckle. Well, this is interesting. I remember your father very well, it said and Scorpius swallowed.

"He's not bad," he whispered. "He's not bad like everyone says he is."

Oh, no. I always thought the same. He merely suited the house of Salazar just as his father before him and his father before that. As a Weasley has always had a place in Gryffindor, a Malfoy has always had a place in Slytherin.

"Then why haven't you called out for Slytherin yet? They're all waiting for you to."

Yes, yes, I'm aware. But it isn't my job to do things that are expected. It's my job to sort you where you will be best.

His heart rapped hard against his ribs. "And that isn't Slytherin?"

It could be. You're much more difficult than your father was. You're a bit more like your mother in that. It took me a few minutes to sort her.

"But she was a Slytherin as well."

Yes, she was. And she did very well. But we aren't talking about your parents, are we, Scorpius? We're talking about you and you're very interesting mind. Your interested mind.

"Interested?"

Oh, yes. You're filled with questions, you seek knowledge almost desperately. You wish to soak everything up and you tend to think in rather twisting patterns. You have a cunning and an ambition that befits a Slytherin, but that thirst for knowledge sets you apart. It defines you better.

"Ravenclaw?" he whispered and there was a bit of awe in his tone. "You want to put me in Ravenclaw?"

You're a bit worried, I see, about your father's reaction. But you're willing to brave it. That's a very Gryffindor trait.

A laugh bubbled out and, as the only one close enough to hear it, Neville Longbottom looked over in surprise, brows lifting high enough to disappear in his bangs. "He would kill me if I ended up in Gryffindor. Or Hufflepuff, for that matter."

Well, you are loyal enough to be a Hufflepuff. Scorpius snorted and if the hat could visibly smile, it would have. Scorpius could feel it smiling and that intrigued him. You see? You've been asking questions about me since I was placed on your head. You have a curious nature, Scorpius Malfoy. You would do well in Ravenclaw.

"I'd like to go where I would do the best at," he said after a moment and when the hat shouted "Ravenclaw!" for all to hear, there was almost stunned silence. The last thing Scorpius heard before the hat was removed was Good luck!

The applause at the Ravenclaw table started slower than it had for the other students placed there. Where normally it was immediate, this was slow and fairly stunned. It started with the older students who were doing it merely because they felt it their duty and then others followed. Scorpius quickly made his way to the table and sat. The quiet applause died almost immediately and the next name was called.

"Aren't you... Aren't you supposed to be in Slytherin?" one girl finally asked and anyone who'd heard her held their breath.

Scorpius took a moment, folding his hands carefully in his lap. "The Sorting Hat didn't think I belonged there," was all he said. He was imminently grateful when applause broke out at the Hufflepuff table and when the next Ravenclaw was sorted with them, Scorpius joined the clapping and ignored the difference between this person's arrival and his own. This were so excited to have this girl; they didn't care a whit to have him.

"Albus Potter!" was called and Professor Longbottom didn't even try to hide his grin when the newest Potter strode up to the hat.

"Ravenclaw!" was shouted nearly fifteen minutes later and this was met with as much stunned silence as Scorpius's had been. The Gryffindor table, poised and ready to clap, was now a table full of slack-jawed, awkward looking people who had to slowly lower their hands. The uproarious clapping at Ravenclaw began belatedly, but continued even after Albus seated himself... directly beside Scorpius.

The young Potter looked at the young Malfoy and his bright green eyes were surprisingly shy. "Thanks," he said quietly and was quickly enveloped by the older students who wanted to be on his good side.

Scorpius couldn't imagine what the gratitude was for and didn't get a chance to ask until they were in their room. They were, to Scorpius's shock, sharing. He'd never expected to be sharing a room with a Potter, just as he'd never expected to be sorted into Ravenclaw alongside one. While their other two roommates unpacked, Scorpius made his way to Albus. "What did you say thank you for?" he whispered, as if getting caught talking to the young Potter would cause hexes to come flying at him from all directions.

But the worst thing that happened was the surprise on Albus's face and even that quickly faded into a smile. "I was really worried," he softly began, "that I wouldn't end up in Gryffindor like my older brother and my cousins. I thought I'd end up in Slytherin and my family would disown me. I didn't even consider the other houses and, well, it was pretty surprising that you ended up here."

Scorpius nodded. 'Pretty surprising' was quite the understatement. "I thought I was going to go to Slytherin, just like everyone else... The hat said I would do better here."

"That's what it said to me, too. But, well... I don't think I would've managed to choose to go here instead of Gryffindor if you hadn't been brave enough to. So thanks." Albus grinned "I guess we're both going to have really shocked parents back home, aren't we?"

"We'll have each other, so it's not so bad." And then Scorpius's words caught up with him and he swallowed nervously. There was no way he'd just said something so foolish. A Potter and a Malfoy could never be friends... Assuming they could be - or that they already were in some way - was preposterous.

But Albus was still grinning. "Now our parents are going to be doubly shocked. Think you can handle it?"

"If you can," he replied, an answering smile tugging at his lips.