Albus Severus and the Midwinter Meeting

"Well, well! Another Potter. "

"I would like to be sorted into Gryffindor, please?" said the young Albus Severus Potter in a rush, as he sat on the three legged stool, to the Sorting Hat that was currently enveloping his whole face.

Albus Severus was very scared he would end up in Slytherin, something about which he had been teased mercilessly by his elder brother. Even his father's words at the King's Cross station about the Hat taking into account his preferences was not enough for him to be sure that he would follow his father, mother and brother into Gryffindor. He so wanted to be one, but he was very much afraid he was a Slytherin. He knew for a fact he was very ambitious, cunning and smart, and he simply loved Potions. His Dad told him that he had taken after his Grandmother Lily who had been excellent at Potions and she had been a Gryffindor, but still … he was afraid. Now his fears were well founded. The Sorting Hat itself was saying he was different from his family who were all Gryffindors except his little sister Lily, who was of course not a student yet.

"Hmmm" The Hat was still sifting through Albus's mind as he tried very hard not to squirm.

"Very interesting. A deep love for success and wanting to stand up and be recognized for yourself…."

Albus did not like it at all. This Hat was seeing into memories no one had any right to see. He spoke to no one about his deepest desire which was to create new Potions and make dramatic amendments in existing ones. He had always been interested in potions, but he had started thinking on these lines after listening to his one of his father's stories about Professor Snape's brilliant amendments to his NEWT Potions Book while he was still a student, that his dad had used in his sixth year to great success. That story had caught Albus's fancy, and since then he had dreamt of doing similar things. He had started reading about Potions straight away and he knew he was good if not brilliant in that subject, if he was honest with himself. His thoughts were broken when the Hat spoke to him.

"You would do well in Gryffindor..."

Albus sighed in relief. He was going to be sorted into his parents House after all.

"But I also think young Albus Severus, that you would do excellently in Slytherin, a House that will take you to great heights and fulfill your potential," and before Albus could say anything the Hat screamed, "SLYTHERIN!"

Albus was horrified. He sat on the stool unable to move. His father told him that his choice would be taken into account, but the Hat had not done that at all. He simply sat there, stunned, until the Professor held his arm, almost bodily lifted him from the stool and pushed him, not unkindly, towards the Slytherin tables.

Albus did not dare look towards the Gryffindor table where he was sure his brother was smirking an "I told you so" at him. He walked slowly towards the Slytherin first years. Someone moved aside and created a place for him and Albus sat down and put his head into his hands.

"It's not so bad. Slytherin is a good House you know." said an amused voice next to him and Albus looked up to see a pale, pointy face with blond hair looking at him with a smile.

"So you say." Growled Albus. "Slytherin is the House of Voldemort."

The boy raised an eyebrow. "Who was defeated with the help of a Slytherin; Headmaster Snape."

"So?" Albus asked in confusion.

"What I meant to say was that Professor Snape was a Slytherin and he helped your Dad defeat Voldemort." Drawled the boy sounding rather bored.

Albus looked at him helplessly. He knew this story of course and he also knew about Peter Pettigrew. But that did not help his case.

"There are good and evil people in all Houses Potter. It depends on you, I guess, to see what you want to in a House … your House. I am Scorpius Malfoy and I am proud to be Slytherin irrespective of Voldemort. I am proud I am in my father's House and in Professor Snape's House." he said with a shrug and turned away. Albus glared at Scorpius and opened his mouth to say something cutting, when he was distracted by the Professor calling the names of the students, the Sorting was still going on.

"Weasley, Rose!"

Albus looked up. The Hat barely sat on her head before it shouted "Ravenclaw!" Rose pulled off the Hat, looking relieved as she walked towards the Ravenclaw table, before turning to look at Albus sympathetically.

He shrugged before he slowly turned to look at his brother, who he was sure would be gloating. To his great surprise James was looking at him sympathetically too and he smiled and nodded his head in acceptance of Albus's Sorting. Albus sighed in relief, realizing only then, how much his brother's acceptance had meant to him and that he had been more scared of disappointing James than anything else. He gave a small smile, relief clear on his face when James grinned back at him mouthing "later" telling him that they would talk later about this. Albus nodded and gave his attention to what was happening in the School for the first time since he put the Hat on his head, only to find that the Sorting was over and if the Headmistress McGonagall had said anything, he had missed it all. He smiled to himself shaking his head wryly, reaching out for the food that had appeared on the tables and turned to Scorpius Malfoy.

Three and a half months later …. The day students left Hogwarts for Mid-Winter Holidays

Albus had finished packing for the Mid Winter holidays and currently he was sitting on his bed waiting for Scorpius to finish his packing. He grinned as he heard muffled curses; Scorpius was throwing things all around him to find something; Albus rolled his eyes at the mess the other boy was making.

With nothing to do except watch Scorpius make a royal mess, Albus's thoughts drifted. Three months as a Slytherin; Albus realized he could never be as comfortable anywhere as he was here. James had no problem and he was already welcome in Gryffindor Tower and James had come down with his friends a few times to the Slytherin Common room. More unbelievable was his friendship with Scorpius; they were best friends and while he knew a little of the history between his father, Uncle Ron, Aunt Hermione and the Malfoys, his father and Aunt Hermione had not minded his friendship with Scorpius, and he knew Scorpius's Dad had said nothing, when Scorpius had written him about Albus.

Scorpius, once he finished packing was going to meet Headmaster Severus Snape, who was currently a portrait in the Headmistress's office. Professor Snape had been a close friend of the Malfoys and he had saved Scorpius's father, Draco Malfoy from committing a murder on Voldemort's directions during the second war. He knew that the Malfoy family held Professor Snape in the highest regard. Scorpius had met his portrait as soon as he had come to Hogwarts, and now Scorpius was going to meet him again before they all left for the holidays.

The strange thing was that he, himself was named after this man, but as far as he knew or remembered he had never met him, even though his father had called him the bravest man he ever knew. Knowing how brave his own father was and how courageous his father regarded Uncle Albus, his grandparents and Uncles Sirius, Remus and so many others like Mad-Eye Moody, Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron, his father's comments about Professor Snape was shocking. Albus had not given it much thought, not given his father's words at king's Cross any thought until now, but now he remembered his father's words quite clearly.

"The bravest man I ever knew"

How brave could this person have been for his father to say something like that, he wondered. What had Professor Snape done to warrant this that so many others who his father loved and looked up to and who he knew were enormously brave did not do in his father's eyes? It was also strange that his father having such an opinion about Professor Snape had never brought him to meet Professor Snape. He wondered why. He knew his father came to Hogwarts regularly, frequently even. Suddenly Albus wanted to meet Professor Snape.

He turned to Scorpius. "Can I come with you?"

"What?" Scorpius turned to Albus, astonishment plain on his face. "Sure!" he said pleased with Albus once he understood.

Albus shrugged and tried not to look too embarrassed. "Yeah, well, I've never seen him and I am named after him too. I thought I'd come and say hi!"

To his surprise Scorpius giggled. "You don't say hi to Professor Snape." and he wouldn't say a word more, much to Albus's irritation.

The two boys ran to the Headmistress's office, once Scorpius finished packing, where he had obviously obtained prior permission to visit, since he had the password.

"Cockroach Clusters!" he said much to Albus s bemusement and the gargoyle moved to allow them to ascend the spiral staircase to the Head's office.

"Come in!" called a low, stern voice and Albus stepped for the first time into Headmistress McGonagall's office. She raised her eyebrows in surprise when she saw who had accompanied Scorpius to visit the portraits.

"I hope it's alright for Al to come with me." Scorpius stammered, realizing only then that he did not have permission to bring Albus with him.

"I am sure it's fine Scorpius." said a new voice and Albus looked up to see Albus Dumbledore beaming at him, his smile wide and obviously delighted. Scorpius looked relieved and he walked to a simple looking portrait that was elegant in its very simplicity and was speaking in low tones to its occupant, who was listening to him with a hint of a smile on his rather stern face.

"Thank you Sir!" Albus stammered turning to Professor Dumbledore.

"Come close my boy! I have wanted to see you. You were a tiny baby when I saw you last"

So he had been here, only he was too little to remember. Albus smiled nervously as he looked at one of the Headmasters he had been named and he glanced at the other; the Slytherin who his father spoke so highly of. Only to see Professor Snape looking intently at him. He blushed.

"Severus, this is Albus Severus Potter." Professor Dumbledore said in a rather bland voice, though he looked very amused. "The boy who is named after you."

Professor Snape glared at Dumbledore. "He is named after you as well." He said in a sharp voice and in pretty much the same tone he called to Albus Severus. "Potter! Come here."

Albus shivered; scared for a minute, but he obediently stepped forward.

"Sir!" He said bravely.

"Hmm. Look at me Mr. Potter!"

Albus looked up and looked right into the black, black eyes of the former Potions Master, Head of Slytherin House and Headmaster of Hogwarts; the bravest man his father ever knew.

Snape in turn looked into Lily and Harry's green eyes for a long moment; then he smiled, making Scorpius gasp. He had never seen Snape smile and he had met him many times now.

"A Slytherin hmm?" he said softly, his black eyes gleaming with an emotion that Albus could not understand.

"Tell me Potter." He said briskly, after a moment's silence. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

Albus gaped for a minute, before he understood Professor Snape was asking him something about his beloved potions, something he knew. His mind started working a second later and he answered smartly, "Asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful, it's called the Draught of Living death, Sir!"

Snape's eyes gleamed.

"Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?"

He knew this one as well. Wiping his sweaty hands he answered "It's a stone taken from the stomach of a goat, Sir."

Snape blinked.

"What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane, Potter?"

"They are the same plant, which also goes by the name of aconite Sir."

Snape stared. Albus stared back nervously, wiping his sweaty hands on his robes again, in the silence that had enveloped the Head's office, broken only by Dumbledore's chuckles.

"Well," Snape said softly at last, "finally a Potter who's not a dunderhead. You may tell your father I asked you these questions and that you answered me correctly." He said, his eyes glittering.

What? Why? Albus desperately wanted to ask the portrait why, but for some reason he did not dare just now.

"You may also, with the Headmistress's permission, come here and ask me any questions you may have about Potions."

Scorpius gasped loudly, jealous and envious at once; Snape had not given a single instruction to any student since he became a portrait. Scorpius could not believe Albus's luck. Perhaps he could come up along with Al and learn from Professor Snape as well.

"Thank you Sir!" Albus was pleased. He knew of Snape's expertise with Potions and Scorpius's gasp told him that this was not done frequently.

"Happy Midwinter Al, Scorpius." Professor Dumbledore said smiling.

"Happy Midwinter Professors!" the boys chanted and turned to leave wishing and thanking the Headmistress.

As they were about to close the door, Albus turned his head to see both Dumbledore and Snape, after whom he was named and blushed when he saw both of them looking at him. He gave a small embarrassed half wave, half salute. Dumbledore beamed and nodded his head, while Snape inclined his head slightly, his eyes watching the boys as they left the room.

"You'll take me with you when you go up to discuss potions with Professor Snape won't you?" asked Scorpius anxiously, the moment they stepped away from the gargoyle.

"Sure! But before that we'll have to make a list of questions…"

Chattering and laughing in anticipation of their holidays and their classes with the legendary potions Master, the boys went to pick up their trunks from their dorm to leave for their homes for Midwinter.

Happy holidays!