If asked, Albus Severus Potter would vehemently deny feeling any sort of fear towards his upcoming school year. However, one would simply have to look at his face to know that wasn’t true in the slightest. He’s pale, paler than usual at least, with deep purple bags weighing down his green eyes. His hair’s a disaster, despite the numerous straightening charms his mother had attempted on him that morning. One trip through the fireplace and it was all over the place once again. Let’s just say it doesn’t look good.
It certainly doesn’t help that his cousin Rose looks practically pristine, bouncing on her toes in an attempt to see the train better. That’s just about the only thing Albus was better at than her: growing.
“Oh I just can’t wait Al!” she says, sighing dreamily and turning to face him.
“Yeah” he answers, albeit with much less enthusiasm.
Like always, she seems to practically read his mind. “Don’t be nervous, it’ll be fantastic; I just know it.” She grabs his hand and delivers a tight squeeze, before dropping it and turning to look at the scarlet engine again. “It’s much shinier than I expected it to be” she comments, head tilted to the side.
“Yeah,” Al repeats. He turns to look for his family, or entourage as James likes to put it, only to meet eyes with the boy his Uncle Ron had pointed out to Rosie earlier, just a few meters away. Scor something. And a Malfoy. Al didn’t actually know much about him, but he knew a lot about his father. Draco Malfoy. The student-turned-death eater-turned-innocent trapped in a crossfire. His Aunt Hermione kept a collection of newspaper clippings about the war under her desk, and Rose had taken them one day and made copies with one of Granddad’s machines. They would pour over them together at night whenever given the chance.
The boy’s grey eyes widened at being caught staring, and he turned his head away again. Albus turned too, locking eyes on his family farther along the path, talking to Mrs. Scamander, or Auntie Luna as she was affectionately called. Her two boys, Lorcan and Lysander, were going into their second year at Hogwarts, and had told him not to be afraid just a few minutes ago. Yeah, like that was enough to stop the churning in his stomach.
He pointed them out to Rose, and they made their way over together.
“Hey Rosie,” Lysander greeted with a wide smile on his face. Of the two of them, Lysander was the much more outgoing twin. He and Rose often had discussions about various magical creatures, something they were doing right now in fact. As a second year, he already knew that he wanted to grow up to be Magizoologist like his great grandfather. Lorcan was much more closed off, preferring to read or draw than engage with other people. Al didn’t think he had ever exchanged more than ten words with the guy, but he liked him well enough anyway. His art was pretty amazing. He didn’t enjoy talking much either, so they got along well.The twins’ differences didn’t stop there though. For one thing, Lysander was in Ravenclaw, and Lorcan was in Hufflepuff. Lysander was a good few inches taller than his brother, and his hair was a good few inches shorter. Lorcan’s blond hair reached his shoulders, and sometimes he would pull it back into a ponytail. Albus secretly thought that was really cool, something which he would only ever admit to Rosie.
“What do you think Al?” Lysander asked. Albus jumped, realizing he had zoned out of the conversation.
“Do you think they would let me take Care of Magical Creatures a year early? They didn’t last year, but maybe Headmistress Sinistra will change her mind.”
“She won’t,” Rosie interrupted. “You’ll just have to wait; it’s the rules .”
Albus agreed with Rose, but just shrugged in answer and turned to face his mother, who was deep in conversation with Auntie Luna about something or other. Luna turned and winked at him, before whispering something in his mother’s ear and pulling the twins towards the train.
“We’d best start heading that way too sweetheart,” his mother tells him, a gentle smile on her face. “The train is going to leave soon.”
He doesn’t say anything, just starts walking in that direction with her, trying to ignore the unease rising up his throat. Before he knows it, he’s in front of the scarlet engine, and he’s hugging his parents and Lily goodbye, and he and Rosie are looking for a compartment. They find the very last one to be completely empty, and sit down before peering out the window to get a last glimpse of their families. They spot them, and start to wave, but then the train is pulling away, jostling them about and causing them to lose sight of the station. Al sits down, holding his stomach gingerly, and Rosie sits beside him and pats his shoulder.
“It’ll be alright Al. Everything is going to be fine.” He can scarcely hear her though, the sound of his own blood pumping louder than his surroundings. He’s been known to throw up before when nervous, but he hopes dearly that it doesn’t come to that. That hasn’t happened to him since the time when he was eight, and his father hadn’t come home from a trip when he said he would. It had been just a week after he and Rosie had started reading the articles, and the fear he felt caused him to be sick for two straight days until he finally came home. It turned out that everything was fine, and since then he had been better about controlling his nerves. He felt close now though, and closed his eyes, focusing on the feeling of Rosie patting his back gently. She knew about his troubles, of course she did. They were best friends after all, and best friends know everything about each other.
It’s after he’s calmed down a bit that his father’s words from the station come back to him.
‘It doesn’t matter to us, Al. But if it matters to you, you’ll be able to choose Gryffindor over Slytherin. The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account. It did for me.’
Albus didn’t think his father had ever told him that before. No, he was almost certain. He’s comforted again by these words, and takes a deep breath before turning to Rosie with a shaky smile.
“Thanks Rosie. I’m good now.” She smiles back, and takes her hand away to dig around in her bag. She produces two owl treats and give them to Viktor and Bathilda each respectively. Albus still can’t believe she named her pet after an author. The author of the most boring book ever might he add. He wasn’t much better though, naming his pet after a character from an anime. It wasn’t his fault the bird’s feathers were the exact same silvery shade as the character’s hair. Besides, he could always just lie and say he’s named after the Quidditch player.
They sit in silence for a while, watching their owls nibble on their treats and ruffle their feathers. After just a few minutes of this, Rosie falls asleep with her head on his shoulder. She’s never been able to stay awake during trips, even if they’re only driving for a few minutes. Just a few miles and she’s out like a light. Al could almost fall asleep too, it’s nice in the compartment, and he hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before; he could use the extra hours. But then, the door slides open slowly, and he turns his head to see who it is, only to be greeted with the downturned face of Scor-something Malfoy.
“Can I sit in here?” He asks nervously, peering into Albus’ eyes imploringly through his fringe. “Everywhere else is mostly full, and...well...nobody really seems to want to talk to me.”
Al doesn’t say anything, too startled by the silver-haired boy’s presence. After a few seconds of staring at him, the boy blanches, and makes to turn around and leave; probably to squeeze into some other compartment, and, well, Al doesn’t want to be cruel.
“Wait,” Malfoy looks up hopefully,“you can stay. I don’t mind, really.”
He takes a step, then stops, looking towards Rose. “What about her?” He asks warily.
“She won’t mind either.”
He doesn’t say anything else or move, seeming to consider Albus for a moment, before sitting across from him with a small smile.
“I’m Scorpius, uhm, Malfoy.” He mumbles his last name.
“Scorpius” Al says, testing it out on his tongue. What an odd name, but he supposes he’s one to talk.
“I’m Albus Potter.”
“I know.” Scorpius answers, blushing a bit when he realizes how it sounds. “I mean, uhm, because…”
“It’s okay. I think a lot of people probably know.”
Neither of them say anything now, both blushing and looking down. The silence is broken only by Rose’s loud snores. Al starts to giggle, because really, it’s a little absurd. Scorpius looks up at him, and cracks a smile too. Just like that the tension is gone.They’re both laughing like fools, so much so that Rosie wakes up, a red splotch on her cheek where it had previously been resting on Albus’ shoulder.
“Whas so funny?” She asks Al, rubbing her eyes; then she catches a glimpse of Scorpius and turns to him with a little squeak. They keep laughing, because her hair is stuck to the side of her face, and her eyes are blinking owlishly at Scorpius. It’s hilarious.
“That’s not very nice you know.” She scolds, turning back to Albus once the giggles subside, and then they start laughing again. She fumes, fixing her hair with one hand and scrubbing her face.
“I’m sorry Rosie, really, really sorry. This is Scor…”
“I know who he is,” she interrupts scathingly. They stop laughing. “That’s Scorpius Malfoy, in our train compartment .”
“Yes, in our train compartment . Is that a problem?” Al asks with an apologetic glance at Scorpius and a glare at Rose.
“Uhm, no, I guess not.” She looked a little ashamed. “Uhm, it’s...very nice to meet you, properly, Scorpius.”
Al turns his glare to Scorpius, who looks grateful. “You too. It’s Rose right?”
“Yes...It is.” She answers with civility, if a bit stiffly.
“Good then.” Al says with a nod. “What house do you hope you get into Scor?” He asks, trying to carry on a conversation.
“Scor?” Oh drats, he had accidentally given him a nickname.
“Oh god, I’m sorry.” He stammers. “It’s just, Scorpius is a bit of a mouthful, and well, I just…”
“I like it.” Scorpius has a very nice smile. “Very much. And I don’t really know. My mom and my grandparents want me to get into Slytherin, like the rest of my family. I don’t think my dad really wants that though. I think I’d like to end up in Ravenclaw, or maybe Hufflepuff. But Slytherin or Gryffindor wouldn’t be bad either. I’m just excited to finally get to go to Hogwarts. I’ve been waiting my whole life, you know?” He blushes suddenly, and looks down, murmuring into his lap. “Sorry, my grandpa tells me I talk too much. He’s right of course.”
Al’s a bit shell-shocked, but shakes out of quickly. Scorpius hasn’t looked up yet. Al glances over at Rose, and notes that she’s as surprised as he is, then makes a decision.
“No, no, no, you don’t talk too much. Don’t worry about it!”
“That was very well-said Scorpius.”
Apparently Rosie made the same decision at the same time.
“No, I do. You don’t need to say that. Thank you though.” Scorpius still didn’t look up, and Albus was having none of it.
“No, really, that was fine Scor. We don’t mind at all. Like Rosie said, that was really cool,” Al said, coming over to sit by the morose boy, patting him on the back the same way Rose had been a few moments ago.
“Thank you.” Scor answered, finally looking up. “I’ve never really, interacted, with people my own age. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to say sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong,” Rosie piped up from the other seat.
“Anything from the trolley dears?” They all looked up at the new voice, and were greeted by a kindly, wizened face.
“Uhm, may I have a chocolate frog and a pumpkin pasty please?” Rose recovers first, digging around in her bag and pulling out a few knuts.
“Of course,” the witch replies, and they exchange. “Anything for you boys?” She asks, turning to face them.
Albus gets a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, and Scorpius gets the same with the addition of a chocolate frog.
The three of them spent the rest of the train ride enjoying the treats and making mindless conversation about what things they had done over the summer, what classes they were looking forward to, and other things of that caliber; interrupted only by short nap breaks by Rose. Albus couldn’t believe it when they pulled into Hogsmeade, the time had gone faster than a Firebolt. They all stumbled off of the train with fuzzy minds and happy smiles. Al was surprised to see that he wasn’t scared anymore. He found himself actually looking forward to the upcoming school year, excited to spend it with his family, and with his newfound friend.