NOTES: This is the first chapter of an adventure at Hogwarts featuring Rose, Albus, and Scorpius,as well as some new original characters and a couple of old familiar faces. I'm still researching the details on how things work out, and hopefully will have this completed by Christmas.

Rose Weasley and the Malevolence

Come, my friends,'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

Chapter 1: First Glimpse

- Rose Weasley catches her breath - an aggravation of Malfoys -
Muggleborn neighbours - apologies amusing and unamusing - Cheering Charms by comparison -

Rose Weasley caught her breath as she reached the crest of the hill leading down to the lake.

All the descriptions in the world hadn't prepared her for the first sight of Hogwarts, sitting over the dark water, beneath a halfling moon in a spangled sky.

Perhaps it was the faint moonlight that limned the castle's towers, or the bobbing dance of candlelights in the windows. Perhaps it was the smell of the lake and the slap of tiny waves against the wood of the boats waiting in the water below. Perhaps it was just that it was her first glimpse of Hogwarts, never mind that she'd heard the stories from her parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins all her life.

Whatever it was, it caught her breath and stunned her into silence.

Coming up alongside her, Al paused and took a deep breath. "We're really here."

"Do you want me to pinch you?"

Al shot her a sideways glance and was nearly his old self instead of the slightly anxious stranger he'd become in the last week as the start of the school year drew close. "Only if you want one back."

"That's going to be new," Rose said after a second during which the main sounds were the amazed noises of the other students around them, and the soft wash of the water across the rocky shore. "No mums calling after us to behave."

"No Lily and Hugo pestering to join us."

"No James- Oh, wait."

"You know," Al said, his eyes gleaming a little, "he always hated it when we pestered him to play with us at home..."

Rose dimpled, knowing exactly where Al was going. "You are evil."

"Oh, and you're always the good one?"

"I try." She fluffed her hair and grinned as he wrinkled his nose.

"All right you lot - into the boats," said Carruthers Stimson, his reedy voice somehow carrying over the night breeze. "Not more than four to a boat!"

They clambered down to the shore, moving past the already-filled boats and those which had only one space left. More than a few of the children already in the boats were known to them by face and name, if nothing else. Rose walked past a boat containing Alice and Shawna Longbottom who were talking animatedly with a couple of unfamiliar boys, and smiled briefly at Oliver Goldstein's hail, but shook her head when he invited her to take the spare seat in his boat.

"We could split up," Al suggested, sounding dubious. "I mean, it's not like we don't know anyone here."

They weren't nervous. They'd agreed that on the train. They just wanted to stay together until they reached the castle.

Rose craned her neck to see down the shadowy beach. "Al, I think I can see a boat that still has space!"

She passed two full boats, flashed a smile at Vikas Bhuiyan as he waved at her from the boat he was sharing with Artemisia Creevy and Hermione Ustinov, and was still smiling when her gaze slid and stopped at a pair of blue-grey eyes.

Scorpius Malfoy arched a brow at her from the boat he was sharing with his cousin Elycia and two other children whom Rose recognised as coming from 'the wizarding wealthy' - as her mum called it. His lip was curling in what was probably the start of a sneer, and Rose thought about poking out her tongue at him before she restrained herself.

Instead, she gave him a superior smile and let her gaze slide off him to the next boat as though he wasn't worth her time.

The next boat with two spare seats in it. The other two seats were filled with a boy and a girl who were obviously familiar with each other, although probably not with the wizarding world - they kept sneaking glances at the lake and the castle on the hill, as though not entirely sure they were in the right place.

Rose smiled her most friendly smile. "Are these seats taken?"

"They are now." It was the boy who spoke, big and golden blonde, with a broad grin that seemed to twinkle. "Jerry Rothwell. This is Hilary Lee." He indicated a tiny, round-faced girl with lovely golden-tan skin that Rose - prone to burn in anything more than a moderate sun - immediately envied.

"Rose Weasley," she said and glanced back to where her cousin was talking to Artemisia. "Al, come on!"

Al made his excuses, hurried past Scorpius Malfoy's boat, and climbed into the boat to plump himself down in the seat next to Rose. "You're so bossy, Rose," he said, but without any rancour.

Rose blushed, even though the comment was teasing. This wasn't the impression she wanted to make to the two curious and interested other people in the boat with them - especially on their first night at Hogwarts. But the phrase stung her temper. "Well, if you didn't let Artemisia waylay you..."

"She was being friendly."

"She always is." The words were out of her mouth before she could call them back, and her blush grew even hotter. She covered it by plunging on. "Anyway, this is Hilary and Jerry."

"Albus," Al said after a moment's hesitation, leaving off his family name. "I'm Rose's cousin."

Carruthers' reedy voice rose over the chatter and wind with surprising clarity. "Everyone have a seat? Then we'll be off."

And with nothing more than a liquid ripple, the boats set sail towards the mountain and the great shadow of Hogwarts Castle against the silver-clouded sky.

The first minute or so was silent as the boats slid gently across the surface of the lake.

"I can't believe we're actually here," Hilary said, her voice a thrilled whisper in the breeze. Across the lake, other children beginning to hold quiet conversations in their boats. "It feels like a dream. Don't poke me!"

Rose stared at the smaller girl, then realised Jerry was folding his hands demurely in his lap with a mischeivous grin. The gesture reminded her somewhat forcibly of Hugo - except that Hugo would have poked her anyway.

"Are you guys related?" Albus asked, amused.

"Hils and I have been neighbours since we were toddlers. I think that makes us honourary cousins?"

"And you're the bossy one," Hilary replied, dimples denting the round curve of her cheeks. "We got our letters within days of each other - Jerry's only a week older, you see."

"You didn't know you were wizards? And you were neighbours? That's quite a coincidence!"

"Funny, isn't it?" Jerry said. "Imagine all those years living as Muggles!"

"Hard for us to imagine, maybe." Albus shrugged. "My dad and Rose's mum grew up in the Muggle world, though."

"I suppose." Jerry glanced up at the castle. "They say that Harry Potter grew up as a Muggle, although his parents were wizards. I guess if he could become the greatest wizard of modern times, then there's no reason other Muggleborns can't do well, too..."

Rose saw the moment Hilary realised. Albus was an uncommon name, after all, and the details of Harry Potter's marriage and children were public knowledge, even if their lives were private. The tiny girl's brows twitched downwards as she glanced at Albus, her eyes widening. Albus saw, too, and winced.

But Hilary said nothing, just staring at Albus as though he'd suddenly grown horns.

"There are plenty of Muggleborns at Hogwarts these days." Rose filled in the silence. "My mum's a Muggleborn and she was considered very clever among her peers."

But that way lay more complications, because if Jerry knew about Uncle Harry, then surely he knew about Rose's parents. Ron Weasley and Hermione Grainger might be knuts compared with Harry Potter, but they weren't exactly nonentities in the wizarding world. She hunted for something else to say - a conversational topic that might skirt around her and Albus' parents.

"You seem to know a lot about the wizarding world, Jerry."

Jerry tore his gaze away from the shadow of the castle, now almost directly above them. "The guy from the Department of Wizarding Education brought a few books for us to read. I think I went through them in a night. Do you remember, Hils? The pictures moved!"

"I remember," Hilary said, her eyes still on Albus, who was blushing furiously and avoiding her gaze.

Rose took pity on her cousin's embarrassment and pointed up at the castle. "Look!"

Faces lifted, even as the boats slid into the vine-covered tunnel and darkness enveloped them. There were a few squeaks of astonishment from other boats, but there was a faint light visible at the other end of the tunnel - some kind of lamp gleaming on a grassy shore.

The boats sailed smoothly through the tunnel as though guided by an unseen hand, and voices hushed as the echoes rolled around the cavern in a melange of murmurs.

When their boats beached on the underground shore, Jerry was the first to scramble out. Albus held the boat steady for Hilary, who managed to peep a thank you before she joined the others heading up towards the passageway that led up to the castle's front door.

Albus let out a shaky breath, just loud enough for Rose to hear.

"It'll be okay," she said, softly.

"I know. I'm just...worried."

"Aren't you always?" Rose giggled at the mock-angry look he shot her. But it had the effect she'd hoped for - his face cleared as they started up the passage after the others.

There was an assortment of stragglers still on the stairs, ahead of Rose and Albus, and as she climbed up, Rose nearly trod on at least one robe, and bumped shoulders with several others who weren't moving quite fast enough for her.

"Sorry," she said for the umpteenth time, glancing up at the most recent student she'd bumped in her climb.

Scorpius Malfoy arched one pale brow down at her, a faint twist curling his lip.

"Excused," he said in the most prim, polite voice she'd ever heard from someone who wasn't an adult.

Rose flushed to the roots of her hair, bit her lip, and kept climbing, her eyes firmly fixed on her shoes and the staircase, and not on the hem of the robe that now waved in front of her like a taunt. Of all the people to bump!

She knew about the Malfoys - everyone did. They were an old family who'd prided themselves on the purity of their wizarding blood - as though that had any bearing on talent or skill. And they'd openly served Voldemort during the War, even if they'd surrendered early on during the Battle of Hogwarts. They were no longer as rich or as powerful as they'd once been, but they had money and influence aplenty still.

During the summer, she'd overheard a conversation between her parents about whether Hogwarts would accept Scorpius Malfoy as a student at all, in fact. Her father had said something grim about Draco Malfoy's part in opening Hogwarts to the Death Eaters twenty years ago, before her mother had shushed him - yet here Scorpius was, with his fine robes and his supercilious expression, so clearly someone had pulled strings to get him in.

Rose snorted to herself. She didn't know why her dad disliked the Malfoys so much - other than that they'd served Voldemort once upon a time - but if Scorpius Malfoy's attitude was anything to go by, he was going to be as much of a miserable ferret-faced worm as Dad claimed Malfoy senior had been when her parents and Uncle Harry had been at school.

They reached the top and the other children now staring up at the torchlit front of the castle, while Carruthers counted heads, not quite under his breath. "Good. Nobody's drowned. Come along now."

He knocked at the entrance to the castle, the huge carved doors swung open, and they were welcomed into Hogwarts School by a calm, smiling woman who introduced herself as Professor Bones.

"In a minute, I'll be leading you into the Great Hall where you'll be sorted into Houses by the Sorting Hat according to specific personality traits. While you're at Hogwarts, you'll live in your House dorm, take classes with your Housemates, and play in teams according your Houses. In essence, your school house will become like your family here at school.

"Points are accrued through the year to each house. You can be awarded points for good behaviour or praiseworthy achievements, and have them deducted for misbehaving. Points are also given for co-operation and activities between students of differing houses. Yes?"

Jerry had lifted a hand to ask a question. "Which house is the best?"

Professor Bones looked a little surprised, then smiled. "You'd likely find the answer changes according to who you speak with, young man. Each of the houses has admirable qualities and traits and have produced great wizards through the years. The Hat will know where you belong."

And with that, she went to a door and passed through, first admonishing them to remain where they were until they came back.

A murmur of conversation sprung up - the other students whispering to each other about the Hat, about the school, about the rumours they'd heard about Hogwarts while growing up.

Hilary had sidled up alongside Rose. She looked like she wanted to run for the door and never come back, but she whispered, "Is Al's dad really...?"

"Yes." Rose didn't mean to sound so short, but Hilary blushed.

"Sorry. I just... He's in the history books! I've never known anyone who was in the history books."

"He's just another uncle," Rose said, since conversations around them were rising as the others murmured in anxiety and reassurance. Besides, it wasn't like it was going to remain a secret much longer, anyway. "Dad still works with him."

"Still? So your dad...?"

"His best friend. And my mum. They all went to Hogwarts together. Dad likes to tell the story of how little Uncle Harry knew about the wizarding world when he first arrived at Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters."

"Wow. I'm sorry. But it's... wow." Hilary looked uncomfortable and nervous. "Sorry."

"Stop apologising."

"I'm sorry!" The girl caught herself and for a moment looked horrified. Then she giggled. "Oops!"

Rose giggled, too. "Sorry. I couldn't resist."

"Share the joke?" Albus appeared at Rose's shoulder. "I could use a laugh."

He still looked anxious at the prospect of being sorted, and Rose bumped his shoulder, exasperated. "It'll be fine, Al. Honestly!"

"You're worried?" Hilary shoved drifting bangs out of her eyes. "Why?"

Al shrugged. "Aren't you?"

"But I'm me! You're..." Rose coughed quickly before Hilary could finish and the girl blushed. "Sorry!"

Their eyes met, and they burst into giggles. Al regarded them with a frown, but Rose wasn't about to explain. There was nothing wrong with Al, but there were times when Rose thought it would be nice to have a close girl friend, too.

"Merlin's beard," he muttered. "I hope you two don't get sorted into the same house. Hogwarts would never survive you."

Rose hiccuped and waved a dismissive hand. "Hey, Hogwarts survived our parents, Al. We'll be Cheering Charms by comparison!"

Al looked exasperated, and Hilary surprised, but before either of them could say anything, the door in front of them opened, and the chatter in the room ceased.

"They're ready for you," said Professor Bones.

And suddenly it wasn't only Al who was nervous.

- tbc -

CHAPTER NOTES: As I said, I'm still researching the details of how this ends, and if there are still people reading when this is done, I might very well write stories for Albus and Scorpius, too. We'll see. In the meantime, I'd love to hear back from you if you enjoyed this!