He wished he could see his father's face. He wished he could touch his father's scar, feel the shiver of electricity, and wrap his arms around those broad shoulders. But the distance between the pair was growing.
Albus Severus Potter's eyes were glued to the window. The English countryside greeted him warmly. Trees and fields and lakes and mountains whipped by, each welcoming the new wizard as he passed. He remember his father's last words to him, still sharp in his mind.
You were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.
Slytherin. His brother joked about it, his mother comforted him—but his father had promised him that being a Slytherin was a noble thing to be. Secretly, Albus wished he could thank his father for this; because the thing he needed most right now was encouragement.
As soon as they had boarded the train, James had gone off to find Teddy Lupin, and soon after, Victoire Weasley had hurried after them, a broad smile plastered on her pretty face. Rose Weasley joined some girls she'd met on the platform in a compartment. He'd watched them go, enviously. To have friends and people to visit on the Hogwarts Express seemed to him at that moment the best thing in the world.
Finding an empty compartment, the young wizard had slid his trunk underneath his seat and sat, waiting. Waiting for another first year, another student, to talk to, about his fears and his excitement and his hopes. To be a Gryffindor, he'd say, and smile.
But no one had come and Albus feared that he'd be left alone. His eyes began to water at the thought of his parents. Of his mother, and her gentle hugs, and of his father, who loved him very much. Why couldn't they come to Hogwarts, as well? Then at least he'd have someone to talk to.
The door slid quietly open.
"Hullo. Is this seat taken?"
Albus' head snapped up. His eyes met those of a pale, blond boy, who tapped the seat opposite him nervously with his wand.
"Um, no," muttered Albus, frozen. Finally, someone had joined him—but he had no idea what to say. Suddenly, his planned conversation seemed stupid and naïve.
He waited patiently as the boy packed his suitcase underneath his seat and sat down on the plush cushions across from him, straightening his robes and flattening his hair. Self-consciously, Albus touched his own, but with a sigh of exasperation, remember that his was impossible to tame.
"Thanks for the seat, mate," said the blond boy. His voice was laced with relief. Albus wondered vaguely if he, too, had had difficulties finding someone to sit with, and smiled inwardly at the thought.
"Anytime," replied Albus.
"My name's Scorpius," offered the boy. "First year," he added, rather shyly.
"Albus," replied Albus. "I'm a first year too, don't worry."
At that, Scorpius let out a bark of laughter. Albus flinched at first, surprised at the noise that emanated from such a slight boy, but grinned.
"My father's been telling me all about Hogwarts for ages," said Scorpius. "He says it's probably the best place in the world. I can't wait." He bounced on his seat.
"I know," replied Albus casually. "My father told me it was his first home, ever. He met all his friends, and all the best people in the world, right there at Hogwarts. He says that besides our house, it's his favorite place in the world."
Scorpius grinned. "Our dads seem pretty similar—at least they agree on that. Mine's really funny, too, and he's told me so many stories. One time, a professor turned him into a ferret!" He clapped his hands together, shaking from silent laughter. Albus joined in soon after him, mainly because of his new friend's unusual display of humor.
"My dad told me about a secret room hidden in Hogwarts that does whatever you want!" exclaimed Albus. "I bet we could find it sometime…I reckon we'd have loads of fun."
Someone knocked on the glass pane of the compartment door. An old woman, pushing a trolley, stood at the entrance. The first thing Albus noticed was her squashed, toadlike face—the second, the enormous pile of candy heaped onto the cart.
"I reckon we would," replied Scorpius genially. "Fancy a Chocolate Frog?"
It was his first time eating wizarding candy in large quantities. His mother had allowed him a few Licorice Wands once in a while, but only during the holidays. Albus hadn't liked them anyways.
But in the past hour he'd developed an enormous collection of Chocolate Frog cards. He'd found ones of his father, his mother, Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione, Aunt Luna and Professor Longbottom, a woman named Minerva McGonagall, and both his namesakes, in addition to several warlocks whose names he did not know nor care to know. Albus had tasted over a hundred flavors of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and had gagged multiple times—he'd tried Acid Pops and Fizzing Whizbees, Cockroach Clusters and Jelly Slugs.
When he felt he could stuff himself no longer, he turned to face his new friend, Scorpius, who was staring at one of the Chocolate Frog cards.
"What's wrong, Scorpius?" asked Albus through a mouthful of Drooble's Best Blowing Gum.
"I—nothing. I was just looking at one of the cards I found…" he drifted off aimlessly, his eyes flickering up uncertainly to meet the Albus's curious ones.
"Spit it out," pushed Albus, accidentally letting fly an enormous piece of the blowing gum. "Come on, Scorpius! I'm dying here!"
Finally, Scorpius cracked. He shoved the card in front of Albus's face. It was a picture of a young woman, smiling, holding the hand of a tall, dark-haired man.
"You have her eyes," he whispered.