Albus caught one last glimpse of his parents' smiling faces before the train turned round the bend of the station and they disappeared from sight. Sighing Albus turned around and waded past the crowd of first years who had also been waving goodbye to their families. He continued down the long aisle of the Hogwarts Express attempting to find a compartment where he would be welcome. At the same time Albus was desperately hoping to avoid his brother. Unfortunately in such a condensed and crowded place avoiding someone was rather hard to do. Sure enough, a moment later Albus heard a familiar voice call out his name and turned to see his brother James poking his head out of a compartment a few feet away.
"Saying bye to mummy and daddy again were you little Alby" his brother asked in a voice that could only be considered mocking. Albus mumbled a quiet response. He wished he could just walk away, but ignoring James Potter tended to be more trouble than it was worth.
"Don't you think by sixth year you could leave for Hogwarts without having to be sent off by your parents?" his brother whispered loudly, making sure that everyone in his compartment, which had its door open, could hear him.
"Well gee, if only I could be as mature and cool as you James." Albus replied.
"I doubt that will ever happen Al," his brother said, patting him on the shoulder and ignoring Albus' blatant sarcasm. On second thought, perhaps he didn't even notice it in the first place. "But it's good to keep striving towards a goal." With that, and a little wave, which translated to 'now run along' James turned around and went back to his compartment, closing the door behind him.
Albus walked on, trying not to let the bad interaction with his brother ruin his day. Pushing and shoving his way through the crowded isle of the Hogwarts express, he peered into different compartments, hoping to eventually find a friendly face. Fortunately it wasn't too long before he found the compartment that his cousin Rosie was sitting in.
"Hey, mind if I join you guys?" Albus asked, not bothering to wait for an answer. He walked into the compartment shutting the door behind him, stowed his bag and sat down across from his cousin.
"Albus!" she said, leaning over and giving him a big hug. "We were wondering when you would show up."
"Yeah, we were all shaking with anticipation." Jeremy Astor scoffed from the seat across.
"Well hello there Jeremy, it's always a pleasure." Albus replied. "Have a good summer?" Rosie sat back down next to Jeremy and he planted a kiss on her cheek.
"Well, since you asked, I did. Me and Rosie went to India with my family for two weeks, I'm sure you heard about it. We had a great time, didn't we love?" He casually draped his arm over Albus' cousin and leaned in for another kiss.
"I believe that would be Rosie and I... wouldn't it?" This comment deserved him a glare from his cousin's boyfriend as well as everyone else in the compartment. Looking around he gave a smile to the other sixth year Gryffindors sitting around him. There was Amy Teller, Grace Spencer, and Ian Carmichael. Combined with himself, his cousin and her obnoxious boyfriend, their compartment was completely full.
"Al, Jeremy... please don't start fighting already. Come on, can't we all just get along?" Rosie grabbed her boyfriend's hand in hers.
"Fighting? Who's fighting?" Albus replied innocently. "I'm gonna go track down the treat trolley. Anybody want anything? Amy, Ian?" Ian chose to tactfully ignore Albus while Amy replied with a faint, "I'm watching my weight."
"Of course you are Amy." Albus stood back up and opened the compartment door just enough to squeeze out. After the compartment door was tightly closed behind him Albus gave a large sigh of relief. Although those were the people he had shared a house, classes and even a room with for 5 years he felt more comfortable in a room filled with blast-ended skrewts. At least those things weren't capable of stinging sarcasm or hateful indifference.
Albus reached the trolley and got himself a couple chocolate frogs and cauldron cake for Rosie. Even though she hadn't asked for anything, he knew they were her favorites.
Making his way back to the compartment he couldn't help but hear the shrill and whiney voice of Amy Teller through the closed door as he neared. He stopped outside to listen.
"I just don't understand why you always let him sit with us. I mean, I know you're family, but he is soooooo rude to us. Like, he always acts like he's better than us even though everybody knows he hasn't got any friends." At this point Jeremy jumped in.
"It's true Rosie. I know you have been really close in the past, but let's face it. Albus is maturing much slower than the rest of us. Having him around does nothing except make us all uncomfortable."
"Seriously Rose," Ian chimed in, "I already have to share a room with the guy. I don't need any more angst in my life than that."
Finally Rosie spoke, defending her cousin. But even to Albus her words sounded weak and rehearsed. "Guys, he just had a really hard summer. I mean, James got head boy and quidditch captain. Albus took it a little hard you know? I'm sure he'll cheer up once we get to Hogwarts. He got a bunch of O's on his OWLs and I know he's excited about all the new classes he's taking." Even while trying to put a good spin on his situation, all his cousin had done was make him look like a whiney baby, who couldn't handle having a brother who was better than him. Albus couldn't take it anymore. He opened the door to the compartment quickly and sat down, before closing the door again.
The group got extremely silent, as if they had been caught committing some terrible crime, which in a way they had. When Albus didn't say anything, but instead opened his chocolate frog and bit off its head, they all seemed to relax a little. Rose even spoke, and asked him who was on the card that came with the candy.
"Belinda Wormsquirt. Oh, haven't gotten her in ages. Think I'll keep this one." He slid the card into his pocket and then held out the cauldron cake to Rose. "I got this for you."
Before she could even thank him Jeremy butt in on the conversation.
"A little late there Albus. I already got her a bunch as we got on the train. I don't think she really needs any more." Rose didn't say anything. She didn't even try to reassure Albus that she did like his gift. The smug look on Jeremy's face made Albus' blood boil.
"Oh, I'm sorry Jeremy. Are you insinuating that Rose shouldn't eat too many cakes? I mean that could send the wrong message, that perhaps you think she needs to watch her weight. That is a slippery slope my friend. I wouldn't dare go down that road if I didn't have to. I mean personally I think that Rose has a beautiful figure, but I know how you quidditch boys can be, so critical and-"
"ALBUS!" Rosie shouted at him, "Can I please talk to you outside?" Albus shrugged nonchalantly and followed his cousin out of the compartment. They got about 20 feet away before Rose turned on him with a glare.
"What was that Albus? Are you just trying to make everyone not like you?"
"I don't think I need to try Rose, I was outside of the compartment when you were all talking about me. I heard what they all said. I also heard how you barely defended me."
"You're making me wish I hadn't defended you at all! They are my FRIENDS Albus, and they could be your friends too, if you only tried to be nicer."
"Why on EARTH would I want to be friends with THEM? They're all jerks. You could do much better than all of them."
"Better? Like what? Like you? Albus you've been acting like a depressed loner since second year and I'm sick of it! You know I love you, but I love Jeremy too and if you can't be nice to him or my other friends than maybe you shouldn't be around us so much."
"Let me get this straight. You're kicking me out of your train group because I can't play nice with your asshole boyfriend?"
"ALBUS, EVERYTHING IS NOT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU!"
Her voice had been loud enough to quiet all of the students surrounding them and the silence that followed her outburst was a little more than uncomfortable.
"You're right Rose." Albus responded after a tense moment. "I'm starting to think nothing is." With that he turned away. A wave of his wand caused the compartment door to shoot open and his bag floated through the air and followed after him. Behind him he heard Rosie sigh and walk away, making no effort to follow him.
Albus kept walking until he reached the very front of the train. Here, instead of compartments about 5 rows of seats lined the car. Very few people chose to sit here; most would have preferred cramming themselves into an over-full compartment, full of friends. Albus knew that by sitting here, alone too, everyone would think he was even more of an outcast. Sitting down, already receiving a glare from two girls who were sitting in the row across, he tried to convince himself that he didn't care what anyone thought. Even as the idea left his head he knew it wasn't true. There were three people at Hogwarts whose opinions he really did value. The first was his little sister Lily. She was the sweetest girl he could imagine and he loved her more than anything. He was always embarrassed when she had to see him like he was at school, some sort of loser or pariah. She deserved a better brother than that. Like James, Albus admitted bitterly, he was exactly the brother Lily deserved.
Then there was Rose. Despite the fight they had just had Albus and Rose had been best friends since birth. He loved her so much, and that was part of the reason he couldn't stand to see her with a loser like Jeremy. He hated watching her slowly drift away from him as she spent more and more time with her new boyfriend and perhaps it did cause him to be a little hostile towards the guy, but it really wasn't anymore than the creep deserved. Albus felt bad that he had hurt Rosie's feelings, but honestly had no idea how to make up for what had happened. Well, besides apologizing to Jeremy. Fat chance. Eventually he knew Rose would come around and forgive him, she always did, but after what happened today he was worried that one day he might lose her forever.
The last person that Albus cared about at Hogwarts he could barely admit to himself. I mean, he had hardly talked to the guy. All he really knew about Scorpius Malfoy he had learned from gossip or rumors. They were in the same year so they always shared at least one class, but they had never even properly met. He didn't know what it was about the boy, but he always became very nervous when Scorpius was around. For some reason, out of all the students at Hogwarts Scorpius was the one he wanted to impress the most. There was just something about him that Albus found captivating. Although Albus never thought of himself as gay he had to admit that the thoughts he had about Scorpius did not belong in the mind of a straight boy. He tried not to worry about it too much, it wasn't as if he would ever have a shot with one of the most well-known and sought after boys in school. All Albus did know was one of the things that made Albus truly happy at school was watching Scorpius Malfoy.
When the train seemed to be a half hour off from Hogwarts, Albus went to the loo to change into his uniform. On his way back to his seat he passed the compartment that Rosie and her friends were sitting in. Although it was true that he didn't enjoy their company he did wish that he could sit with someone. Despite what most of the school's population seemed to believe, Albus didn't enjoy being alone, he just didn't have much of a choice. Sitting back down, Albus rested his head on the windowsill and slowly drifted off to sleep.
As the train came to a stop Albus was woken by the commotion of students leaving the train as quickly as possible. However, Albus couldn't seem to make himself get up. No one was around him and he started to imagine that he could just stay on the train, ride it back to London, make his way back to his house and not go to Hogwarts this year. Shaking his head he brought himself back to reality. His parents would just send him back to school anyways. Plus he would only create more trouble for himself at school. "Runway" was not another label that he needed. Albus stood up, grabbed his bag and walked down the isle until he reached the door.
Walking out, he realized that getting off the train so late was not his best idea. The carriages that took students to Hogwarts were almost all gone, and the ones that were preparing to leave all looked full. All of a sudden a shout of "Albus" reached his ears and he turned to see his little sister waving at him from a carriage a few yards away. Relief and guilt washed over him simultaneously. As much as he didn't want to ride in a carriage alone, or worse, with a bunch of strangers, he didn't wasn't to impose on his little sister and her friends either. It was too late now though, he had already started to walk over, and Lily made a seat for him in the carriage. He sat down and greeted his sister.
"How was your train ride?" she asked him. Albus faked a smile and replied with a simple "fine". He looked around the carriage and nodded at its other inhabitants. He recognized two of the girls as Gryffindors in Lily year. The only one he knew by name was Abby Thomas, who was in Ravenclaw but had been best friends with Lily since they were babies.
"Hello Albus" Abby greeted him. Abby had been over at their house at least a dozen times during the summer and had even gone with his family to their beach cottage for a week.
"Hey Abby, how was your summer."
"It was nice, a little short though. I cant believe we are already going back to Hogwarts, and as fourth years, it seems crazy." The other girls in the carriage chimed in about how weird being fourth years was going to be. The next topic of discussion turned into how hot Lawrence Zewbone had gotten over the summer. At this point Albus removed himself from the conversation and spent the rest of the trip staring out the window, watching the scenery pass by.
The carriage pulled up to the castle in what seemed like record time. Albus jumped out of the carriage and held the door as the rest of the girls piled out. They all giggled and thanked him before running off after each other into the castle. Lily hung back and walked next to her brother.
"Thanks for letting me sit with you guys," Albus said awkwardly. "I hope it didn't annoy your friends."
Lily rolled her eyes and shoved her older brother lightly on the shoulder. "Shut up Albus." she laughed a little before continuing. "Those girls love having you around. They all think you're pretty hot."
"WHAT?" Albus practically yelped. This caused his sister to laugh even harder.
"Yeah, I mean, you have that whole, dark misunderstood thing going for you. Plus you are pretty good looking bro, you cant ignore it. You even grew over the summer!"
"Yeah, like an inch." Albus had always been self conscious about his height. All the boys in his year, and all the boys in his family towered over him. His cousin Hugo, who was only 13 had a good couple inches on him.
"Well, regardless, you are attractive Albus. Even as your sister I can realize that much." Albus just stared at his sister. Was she joking? Probably not, Lily wasn't the type to play mean jokes on Albus. He looked down at her. Lily was the good looking one. Even at fourteen she already had a mature yet sweet face. The kind of face that people just wanted to trust. Her copper hair was smoothed down and it lay on her shoulders, reminding him of his mother's. James hair was almost brown, less red, and Albus had jet black hair, like his father. Actually, many people thought Albus looked just like his father. They both had black hair and the same green eyes, even the same nose and chin apparently. Albus had heard it all before, but never had he been told that someone thought he was hot. As they approached the doors to the castle Albus decided not to think about it anymore. Even if Lily's friends did think he was cute, they weren't the ones he was trying to impress anyways.
"Albus, would you like to sit next to me at dinner?" Lily grabbed his hand and looked up at him.
"No, I think I'll sit with Rose. But thanks Lils." Lily stared at him, as if she could tell something was wrong. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Take care of yourself Alby, and don't forget that James and I are here when you need us." Albus almost laughed at the thought of James being there for him for anything. Instead he gave her hand one last squeeze and then walked into the great hall, looking for Rose and hoping that she wouldn't be mad at him anymore, or at least take pity on him and give him a seat.
First chapter of my first fic! Phew! I know its a little wordy, but I would love any advice or comments you have.
Promise there will be lots of Albus/Scorpius drama later so stay tuned!