For a few moments, all was darkness and Thor could not tell where he was. Then light began to emerge. There was a rushing sound and he realized he was in a small room that was moving very quickly.
"This is the Hogwarts Express," a voice beside him said. He looked down and saw Albus. "It's the train that brings us to our school."
A child darted through Thor's body and he gasped. Albus' lips twitched into a smile.
"We're in a memory. We cannot be seen or touched. Come." He walked down and halted in front of an open compartment. Thor looked in and saw the two boys, the blond and the raven, sitting across from each other.
"You don't talk much do you?" Young Albus was saying. "Well that's alright. My mom always says that I can talk up a storm." He frowns. "And sometimes my brother says I talk too much."
The young Scorpius looked at him and frowned. "You know my last name, right?"
"Malfoy!" He grinned. "I know. Say, is that a DS in your bag?"
"Why are you here, then?" He looked out the window. "Potter." He said the name like it left a bad taste.
Albus blanched slightly and then a blush started to spread on his cheeks. His hands fluttered about as he tried to articulate. "Well I… I saw you on the platform and thought you were really… really... and… and I've heard so much about you and I thought maybe…"
"I don't need pity friendship," Scorpius snapped.
Albus chewed his lip. Then he pointed at the pack. "So I see you have Pokemon Black. I have the White version." He rummaged in his bag and lifted a device in triumph. "We could trade and complete our Pokedexes!"
"Al!" The girl from earlier charged in through their incorporeal bodies and flopped on to the seat next to Al.
"Hi Frankie!" He pointed. "This is Scorpius. He likes Pokemon too!"
Scorpius rolled his eyes. "I never said I liked it."
"Well then why do you have the game?"
Another figure appeared in the door, much like Albus but taller and with eyes a shade of hazel rather than green.
"Al, what are you doing here? Come on, Rose and I have a car further down."
He made a face. "I don't wanna squash in with all your friends. Plus I met a new friend!" He gestured. "Scorpius!"
"I'm not his friend!" Scorpius said hotly.
"I should hope not," James laughed. "Can't you tell from the silver hair? He's a Malfoy, Al. Make friends with him and you might end up in Slytherin for real. Don't want that do you? Now come on. You too Frankie, your dad wouldn't want you talking to someone like him either."
"I'll talk to whoever I want!" She kicked him in the shin and he hissed.
"And maybe I want to end up in Slytherin! Dad said that he would be proud of me if I did!"
James rolled his eyes. "Dad just said that. Nobody really wants their kids to be in Slytherin. At least good parents," he said with a glare at Scorpius, who flushed. "So come on, hang out with us."
"No!" He crossed his arms. "I want to hang out with Scorpius."
For a moment James opened his mouth to argue, but then turned around. "Fine, whatever. Losers."
Albus let out a sigh of relief once he'd gone. "So, you wanna play before we get to Hogwarts?"
"Did you mean it?" Scorpius asked.
"That you wanted to end up in Slytherin."
Albus flashed him a grin. "Well if that's where you end up, sure. Besides, I'm named for Severus Snape, the greatest spy of the war! I think he'd be happy if I ended up there, right?"
Scorpius paused, and then pulled out his game. "So how far have you gotten?"
"Nerds," Frankie laughed but there was a good-natured tone in her voice as she propped her feet up on the seat across from her.
The scene faded into darkness once more. The darkness lifted and Thor found himself in a bright field. A house was behind them and in front the two boys were running around. They were still young, not much older than they'd been in the previous vision, clad in robes with objects in their hands that looked like some manner of training swords, clumsy but glowing. Albus had a green one and Scorpius a blue and they were sparring with each other.
"What is this? Are you training? The swords are unlike any I have ever seen but your actions are not unlike those which I oft practiced in the ring with my companions."
"No," Albus chuckled. "Just playing."
"I have the high ground!" Albus brought his sword down on Scorpius.
"You underestimate my power!" Scorpius laughed and pushed back,
Albus tumbled into the grass. Scrambling to get up, he came at Scorpius again but as he ran at him for another attack the sword suddenly became an enormous snake, he dropped it with a scream.
The sound of laughter came from another corner his brother stepped out.
"James!" He shrilled. "Change it back!" He looked at the snake with wide eyes, shaking as he tried to back away.
"What's the matter? I thought guys like you were supposed to like snakes." His eyes were bright and he was smirking. "And isn't that your name anyway? Asp?"
"Please James!" He begged.
Scorpius pulled a wand out from his pocket.
"Alarte ascendare!" Scorpius whipped his wand and suddenly the snake went flying into James' face.
With an enraged scream he tore it from his face and with a pop it reverted to its original form of a plastic sword. The damage had been done, however. "My eyes! Mom!" He ran screaming back into the house.
"We're going to get in trouble!" Albus fretted.
"It was his own fault for starting it," Scorpius said and took Albus' hand. "Come on," he said softly. "Let's go to my grandparents' place. We can hide there for a while."
"James only grew worse after that. My toys would change into snakes or scorpions whenever he thought nobody was looking. He teased us if we told. So I got good at transfiguration," Albus told Thor in a voice that sounded weary and distant. "That way, whatever he did I could undo."
Once again the scene faded. They emerged in another yard, this one adjacent to a large house.
"This is the mansion," Albus said. "Sorry that you've only seen the worst of it."
"It is quite regal," Thor complimented.
"Come." Albus walked over to a tree where two figures were hunched.
"Shhhh Al. It's okay." Scorpius was bent over another young apparition of Albus. Albus was digging in the dirt and there was a heavy wooden box with a feather etched on top sitting next to him. They were several years older than they'd been in the previous scene but still not their current ages. "It'll be alright. Grandpa Lucius said that there are some young peachicks and he'd be happy to let you have one."
"I don't want a new one," Albus said in a watery voice and Thor realized that he'd been crying. His eyes were rimmed a blood red and his body heaved with the exhaustion of one who had been crying long and hard. "I loved Vivi! I don't want another peacock! I want her back!" He dropped the shovel and started to sob again. "I swear I locked her pen! I did! I don't know how… how she got out…"
Scorpius knelt next to him and embraced him. "I do."
Albus pushed him away. "He wouldn't! He knew how much I cared about her!"
"Maybe he didn't think a fox would get her. Maybe he thought she'd just wander off, thought it would be funny if you missed her but then things went wrong," Scorpius offered in a conciliatory tone, though Thor could tell that he didn't actually believe that.
Albus looked at him for a moment, and then slumped against his chest again. "She was the best owl ever. Even if she wasn't really an owl."
"I know, Al. I know."
"Scorpius had given me one of his family's albino peacocks the first Christmas after we met," the older Albus explained to Thor. "Wizards use birds to communicate. Normally owls, but sometimes we will use others." A sad smile spread on his lips. "Vivi was mine. Until she died." They looked at the tableau of the grieving boys for a moment longer. "That night, we snuck into James' room and stole his wand then used priori incantatem on it. It is a spell which will tell you what spells the wand has last cast." He sucked in a breath. "The last spell James had cast was alohomora. The unlocking spell."
The world faded again and they stood in darkness for a moment.
"I could not prove it to my family of course. Scorpius and I technically stole from James to find the information out. We couldn't give them proof without revealing our own trespass. But we knew. And that hurt as much as losing Vivi."
"Could he be so cruel? Your own brother?"
"It might have just been a prank gone wrong," Albus said coldly. "But James never did care much about the consequences of his so-called pranks. They got worse and worse. And though I held back, Scorpius rarely did."
The scene shifted again. Once again, time had passed. They were on a couch watching a machine that Thor recognized as a television. Frankie was there too, sitting on the couch while they stood and bounced around on the cushions.
"Perform for crowds of thousands!" Scorpius sang, flinging his arms wide.
"They'll shower us with diamonds!" Albus joined in, jumping up next to Scorpius.
"That show's for babies." James' voice, coming from the doorway, cut through the music. "And you two look gay." Without another word he walked off while Al deflated, silencing the television with his wand as he fell back onto the couch.
"Al. Al." Scorpius sat down. "Don't listen to him." He gave Al's cheek a swift kiss. "It doesn't matter what he says. You know that, right? That he's an idiot with flobberworms for brains?"
"Scorpius is right." Frankie scooted closer. "James is stupid. And you and Scorpius are a million times better as a couple than that awful Corner girl he's dating."
"I'm so sick of James," Albus whispered. "I wish I was an only child like you Scorpius."
"Well, Lily isn't so bad," Scorpius said with a shrug. "But yeah, I wish James wasn't around either."
"I love you more."
"What?" Scorpius looked at his dark-haired companion in confusion.
"More than James." He looked up and kissed Scorpius softly and slowly. "He may be my brother, but I love you more."
Scorpius' pale skin flushed a delicate shade of pink.
"You two are so sweet I can hardly stand it," Frankie muttered.
"Shut up Frankie," Scorpius said, but without any malice. "And let's go to my grandfather's library."
"To make out with Al? There are closer places you could do that, you know," Frankie laughed.
"Tempting but no. Come on, Al. And you too Frankie." He grinned. "Let's go hit the books and see if we can't find a curse that'll make James' crotch rot off. Preferably while he's in the middle of a date with that Corner girl."
Albus smiled fleetingly at the memory. "We never did find a spell for that so Scorpius settled for a potion slipped into pumpkin juice that made James' hair fall out. Even when I didn't want him to, he retaliated for me, with words and spells. James would jinx me, Scorpius would mock his last Quidditch loss and then ruin a date of James'. So James would meet him after a class with two or three of his pals and start a fight. We were in detention constantly. And we could barely stand to be at home with one another when school let out. I had been considering leaving and then… well, just watch."
Thor found himself at the food of a stadium, packed to the brim with cheering crowds.
"The school Quidditch pitch," Albus shouted above the noise. "Quidditch is a sport that wizards play. It's what Scorpius and I were practicing when we ran into you."
"You can fly!" Thor looked up at the figures swooping around on broomsticks.
"Of course!" He smiled. "We are wizards aren't we? James is in the red, there. And Scorpius and I are in green."
The crowd roared as a ball was passed back and forth between two different members of the red team and through one of the hoops.
"Ten more for Gryffindor! Bringing the score up to 90-40 in favor of Gryffindor! And Potter seems to have spotted the Snitch!" A disembodied voice boomed over the crowd.
"It wasn't even that bad," whispered Albus. "Not compared to some of his other actions. But after everything, it was too much."
Scorpius swooped down sending a large black ball swinging past James. He ducked to avoid it, but had clearly lost sight of whatever he was seeking in the process.
"That's a bludger," Al said. "Same as hit you."
"Did it have the same effects? For the one that hit me did feel to me stronger than a giant's fist."
"Just watch," Al murmured.
James spun the broomstick around and sped it up towards Scorpius. The other boy's back was already turned, heading towards the other players on the field. He barely had a warning from the Slytherins in the crowd before James blindsided him, sending him crashing into the stands. He hit the wooden sides and his body flopped onto the grass below, a short distance away from the invisible Albus and Thor.
"Scorp!" Al bellowed.
A bludger swung by him and he smashed it towards James. With a sickening thud it connected with James' head and he too plummeted towards the ground. Thor gasped and the older Albus gazed coldly. The younger Albus pulled up sharply, not yet done, and sped towards the second bludger. He lifted the paddle and with a swift motion he sent it hurtling towards his brother's still form on the ground. It smashed into his chest with a bone-crunching crash and James screamed.
Whistles were blowing everywhere and Albus was landing, dropping off his broomstick before it was even grounded.
"Scorpius!" He ran towards them in a panic and shook the other boy. "Scorpius!"
"I'm alright," he panted. "Just a little winded, did they foul James for…" He looked over to the red, unmoving boy across the field. "Oh no. Nonono. Al. What did you do?"
Al was tearing up. "I thought he'd… when you fell…"
The field became a commotion of people streaming on to it, trying to lift and treat James. A grey-haired woman pulled Albus away, shouting at him that he was ejected, that he was to see the Headmistress and would be lucky not to be expelled. Scorpius tried to stand but fell back, into the arms of a portly man with bushy whiskers.
"Professor Slughorn!" Scorpius looked up at him. "You can't let them throw Al out!"
"I will do whatever I can, m'boy," Slughorn reassured him. "But your leg looks in bad condition."
"Then fix it!" He shrieked. "Al, I need to see Al…"
"Easy boy, easy…" The man said, waving his wand and causing Scorpius to go limp in his arms while the field echoed with shouts and fighting, green against red and blue and yellow.
"I wasn't expelled," Al said. "As badly as James was hurt, Slughorn pointed out the wide latitude Beaters were given when they played Quidditch, that it's an inherently dangerous game and that James understood the risks he took when he agreed to play. I could not be punished simply because I was a Slytherin and James a popular Gryffindor. It galled a lot of people but there wasn't much that could be done." He paused. "Slytherin won the match once James was out. And the House Cup as a result. I think James was most upset about that. At first, at least."
Thor nodded but did not speak for a great while. "This was why you left?"
"I had attacked James," Albus said. "Destroyed his dreams. There was damage and no professional Quidditch team wanted…" He shuddered. "Father was furious."
"He threw you out?" Thor asked sympathetically.
"I left before he could. We haven't spoken since."
There was darkness once more and a pulling feeling and Thor found himself in the basement again, standing next to the bowl.
"And now you know," Albus said ruefully.
"It is a sad and regretful tale you have told me this day, Potterson." Thor set a hand on his shoulder. "But time may yet bind the wounds that have come between you and your brother and father."
Albus looked at him. "I hope so. There's no love lost between me and James, but I didn't mean to injure him as badly as I did. Truly, I didn't. I would apologize but…" He swallowed thickly. "I fear they don't wish to hear it."
Thor shook him. "Brace and hope! For though it may seem as though all hope is lot, yet may the father forgive the follies of the son as mine own father did."
"Heh." Loki scoffed and Al looked at him but did not respond.
"Dinner's ready!" Frankie's voice came from upstairs. "And Mr. Nott just got back!"
"Thanks Frankie!" Albus called. "Would you care for some dinner?" He smiled at Thor.
"Indeed! I am quite famished!" He grinned, but then paused. "Shall my brother and my companions dine as well? It should not feel right partaking in their absence.
"The first two, sure. Not him," he said with a nod at Loki, "no matter how much you try to sway me, Thor. Only you. But don't think we're just going to let you wander around. No funny business, got that?" Albus said severely. "Now let's go." He pushed the three up the steps once the manacles sprung open. "Something actually smells good and I'm pretty starved myself."