As the train came to a halt at Hogsmeade Station, Rose Weasley brushed the last few crumbs from her grey skirt and pulled her coal-black robe more closely around her. Scorpius stood up too, and Rose frowned as she saw he was taller than her. She was taller than all the boys her age, and she didn't like change that much.
She hustled Spider back in his cage, much to his protest, and shuffled out into the busy corridor. Scorpius followed and tightened his cloak as the cold air bit into his skin. They both hobbled out into the station, and Rose watched in slight disgust as she saw all the different people walk past. There were Gryffindor boys with their red-and-gold ties around their heads running around, there were Slytherin girls tying their ties into bows around their necks and adjusting their jumpers so they looked good. There were also the quieter people, like the Hufflepuff's who jovially walked by talking animatedly to their colleagues. Ravenclaw residents were also quieter but- frankly, Rose thought- they looked a little nerdy. Most had their noses buried in books or their wands out, already practicing spells for the new term.
As she saw James and Albus approaching, she shuffled away from Scorpius and then turned her back on him. She waved at James and Albus and quickly grouped with them. She saw Scorpius casting a surprised look at her, but she quickly set off (whilst waving good-bye to James) towards the giant silhouette who was calling out for the first years.
Professor Hagrid was huge. Rose had met him a couple of times before when he had visited her parents and uncle, but at Hogwarts amongst the eleven year olds he was a whale of a man. She saw Albus draw unconsciously nearer to her only just stopping himself from grabbing her hand, and Scorpius cast a surprised look at Professor Hagrid's thigh, which was as far as his eyes could see if they were staring straight ahead.
"How're you, Rose, Al?" Professor Hagrid asked as she got there. The other first years glanced awe-struck at them at the fact that they knew this giant.
"I'm good, Hagrid." Rose said being polite as always.
"I'm a little cold, but, you know," Albus shrugged, trying to look casual as he shot terrified looks everywhere.
"We can fix that!" Professor Hagrid boomed and slipped off a very tattered and ripped moleskin jacket and dumped it on Albus's shoulders. The rest of the year laughed, and Al looked mortified but Rose knew he was too polite to say anything but 'thank you'.
"Ev'ryone here? Good! Now we can head off, ev'ryone stick together!" Professor Hagrid ordered, and then he walked off down the gravelly path with the first years hurrying to keep up in his wake.
As they arrived at the Black Lake, Albus did actually grab Rose's hand, and she was grateful. Rose was terrified as they drew closer to her new school, and she kept thinking about the houses and the spell she would have to learn, and the people. Rose wasn't a good people person, and belonging to a whole house full of strangers was petrifying. She kept going through all the possibilities of letting them down, or losing house points, or other scenarios. Most of all, she felt like she didn't belong. She liked Quidditch more than studying, so Ravenclaw was out. She didn't care about what she looked like, so she couldn't be grouped with those Slytherin girls, and she didn't think she would be happy enough in Hufflepuff. But the Gryffindor's looked like a bunch of ecstatic imbeciles! They were running around flapping their arms and hooting like idiots! Rose felt she didn't belong anywhere, but she was secretly happy as she thought the sorting hat would find her a place among the mess.
Professor Hagrid told them to hop in one of the four-seat boats that lined the pebbly shore and then strolled to his own, slightly bigger boat. Rose quickly rushed Albus to a boat closest to Hagrid, and made sure he was in. Then she turned and saw Scorpius a little apart from the crowd of eager first years. She waved with her hands to get his attention and gestured to the boat she was in, whilst making sure Al was looking at the lake. Scorpius strode over with a look of relief and took his seat. Rose hopped in next to Albus, and later they were joined by another girl with pretty dark skin and long black braids.
"All in, are yeh?" Hagrid called. Everyone agreed and then they were sailing across the Black Lake.
Rose leaned over the side as Albus started talking with Scorpius and the new girl. She kept thinking she saw faces other than hers and giant tentacles beneath the black water but she rationalized with herself and told her imagination that the mer-people wouldn't come to visit a bunch of first-years. She felt Al squeeze her hand as Scorpius introduced himself and she looked up and joined the conversation, glimpsing that Al's green eyes were not open wide in fear, but in fascination. For once.
The new girl was Verity Thomas, and Rose smiled and said their fathers' knew each other. She had heard her dad speak of how funny best friends Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan had been many a time. "Yeah," Verity agreed. "Dad's told me about all your parents." And she even smiled at Scorpius, even though Rose thought it looked sort of like a sad smile. "My dad even dated your mum and said your dad stole her away from him." She raised a teasingly accusing finger at Albus. Big mistake.
Albus Severus Potter was a scardey-cat. That's all there is too it. With his green eyes and black-brown hair, he looked adorable, but, in truth, he was the biggest wimp Rose Weasley had ever known. And she meant that in the nicest of ways. He never understood his brother's sarcasm and always flinched when Uncle Harry jokingly threatened to throw him out of the house if he didn't make the Quidditch team on his first year. So when Verity Thomas accused him of lost love, he practically wet himself. Before he could though, Rose leaned in and whispered in his ear.
"That was sarcasm, Al. And we're here." So instead of crying his apologies to Verity and Dean Thomas, he smiled and gave a breathy laugh, tossing his hair out of his eyes and turned to look around as the boat stopped.
They ended up walking a short way to the castle, with Scorpius and Rose taking the lead and Verity and Albus following them. They were to awe-struck to speak as they approached the giant castle, with every window ablaze and you could already hear the chatter of a thousand students in the great hall. Rose remembered what her mother had told her of the great hall. The ceiling is enchanted to look like the night sky and they have four house tables. House-elves send the food up from identical tables in the kitchens below, and, she remembered her father adding on, the food's always amazing.
She heard Scorpius moan beside her. "What?" she asked, widening her brown eyes in concern. He just grimaced at her.
"I'm so hungry." He answered, putting a hand on his stomach. She huffed and blew her hair off her forehead. Boys were hungry all the time, she thought, and to prove her point Al chirped from behind her,
"I know, right? I'm going to starve to death if we don't get started soon!" Scorpius clapped a hand to Al's shoulder and groaned,
"Tell me about it, dude." At least Albus had made a friend before the Sorting had even started, Rose thought. She had had this insane idea that Albus wouldn't make many friends at Hogwarts because he was to shy. Being told he would grow up to make his father proud his whole life had made Albus shrink into his shell a little. Being so look-apparent to Harry Potter had made everyone expect Albus Severus to be exactly like him. Make the Quidditch team, top Defence Against the Dark Arts, be in Gryffindor. It was all too much for Al sometimes, but now he and Scorpius were friends it might be a little better for him at Hogwarts.
Rose was still looking at Scorpius when he caught her eye and grinned. She smiled back and was going to ask him a question when Al seized her hand, all friendliness forgotten, as the big oak front doors opened after Hagrid knocked three times. She whirled around and got her first look at Neville Longbottom as a professor. She saw Albus give a relieved smile to Neville and then smiled at him herself. Neville was a close friend of her parents and she felt comfortable around him. She was glad he was looking after the first years and not some strange professor.
"Hello everyone!" Neville-or Professor Longbottom, Rose decided she should call him at school- called out. The first years stopped their nervous chatter and Scorpius lent in and whispered,
"Is that Neville Longbottom?" into Rose's ear. His breath tickled and she only just stopped herself from jerking away from him. She nodded in assent and he chuckled. "Dad said he was made a professor. He's not very spectacular looking for someone who helped vanquish You-Know-Who, is he?" Rose abruptly smacked him across the chest before she realised he was joking, but he just wheezed laughter as Al shot her a filthy look.
"Thanks Hagrid." Professor Longbottom addressed the giant as Hagrid walked inside, humming a drinking song. "Welcome to Hogwarts first years! Be on the lookout for Peeves as you kindly step this way and could you please," Professor Longbottom wiped his nose anxiously, a habit Rose knew he got from old allergies to plants even though he took anti-allergenic potions "Stick together and come into this room here."
The anti-chamber was much smaller that the Entrance Hall but, as all the first years clumped together out of nerves and anxiety, it was much more comforting. They waited cautiously, expecting Peeves to swoop down on them any second, for Professor Longbottom to come back. Rose's brow was furrowed and Albus was clinging to her arm with his chin on her shoulder chewing his lip. In contrast to them, Scorpius Malfoy was laid-back and cool; collected enough to make attempted small talk with Rose, but realising it was more enriching to talk to Verity, who also seemed relaxed.
When Professor Longbottom came back, he ordered them into a single line. Rose was separated from Albus by Verity, which was bad because she was terrified. And if Rose was terrified, than Albus Severus must have been scared stiff. Rose was behind Scorpius, though, and Verity was patting her back telling her not to be so scared. She felt a twinge of guilt for not being next to Al, but he was going to be fine. He'd have to be fine, if he got sorted into another house.
Professor Longbottom hustled them back out into the Entrance Hall, and told them to stay in line and prepare themselves. He walked down the line, comforting those who looked scared and smiling reassuringly. When he got to Rose he said, "Chin up, Weasley." Rose smiled timidly at him, knowing he was teasing her. He always called her dad that when they had a tiff. When he got to Al he sighed and ruffled Albus's hair.
"You look so much like your father, you know." He said wistfully. Rose knew Uncle Harry and Professor Longbottom had been close friends, but Al would hate this. Albus didn't need extra pressure right now, but Professor Longbottom seemed to think he was offering him assurance, not scaring Al. "I just know you'll be a great Gryffindor, just like Harry Potter. Just like him. You'll be fine, Albus Severus Potter." Professor Longbottom smiled at Albus again and then kept walking down the line. Al was now a slight shade of green and was sweating. Rose wished she was beside him to take his hand, because, whilst she was scared, she knew Al would benefit more from the comfort. Verity saw Rose looking at Al and smiled at her.
"I'll look after him," she said to Rose. Rose was shocked. She hadn't known Verity more than an hour and a half, yet she was already reassuring Rose that her cousin would be fine with her. But Rose was thankful. Al didn't need another reminder of his family right now.
When she turned to face Scorpius Malfoy again, he was looking at her over his shoulder. His eyes were grinning mockingly, and he said, "Scared, Weasley?" inwardly, Rose groaned. Now was not the time for taunts. But all she said back was;
"You wish, Malfoy." And shoved him playfully in the shoulder. He was about to respond but then the doors opened. The Great Hall was filled with students and, forgetting her ruse of toughness, Rose grabbed Scorpius by the elbow as the first years started walking single file into the hall.
She clinged to him tightly as they walked down the marble floor that separated the tables. She could feel him laughing at her, but she was too terrified of the sorting to respond in any way except to hug his arm closer.
As they passed the Gryffindor table, she tried to catch James's eye, but he was too immersed in talking to the boy next to him. One of his friends, Rose suspected. As she walked past, she heard, "I bet you he's going to be in Gryffindor. Dad always said he was going to be like him at Hogwarts." She glanced around to Al and she knew he had heard this too when he stiffened and went from pale green to sickly grey. But then, when she knew he thought no one was watching, his eyes flashed dangerously. She knew he was thinking something outrageous by that look, but she didn't know what. What could he possibly do that'll make him stand out anymore? He couldn't rig the sorting or anything.
The thought was lost when they arrived up the front, facing a three-legged stool. Professor Longbottom explained about the rules of the houses, but Rose wasn't paying attention. She was too busy hugging the only person she knew that was close to her tighter. Scorpius was still laughing at her nervousness, but she couldn't find the effort to care. All her attention was focused on being scared and wondering what house she was going to be in. She didn't even see the members of staff up at the head table, or the plaque hanging behind them recording the names of all those who had died at the Battle of Hogwarts all those years ago. She knew almost all the names on their anyway. Her parents had known almost all of them.
"Alferdale, Vanessa!" called Professor Longbottom. Rose hadn't even been aware the sorting had started, and pouted when she realised she had missed the sorting hats song. A plain girl with blond ringlets stalked up to the hat and promptly dumped it on her head. Not even ten seconds had passed when it yelled "Slytherin!" Vanessa Alferdale sauntered over to the table that was cheering and sat down, smoothing out her skirt as she did so. Rose knew they would be immediate friends.
Rose didn't want to let go when Professor Longbottom called "Malfoy, Scorpius!" he had to turn and gently untwine her fingers from his cloak and then Scorpius swiftly moseyed up to the hat. Rose saw Professor Longbottom close his eyes as Scorpius passed him, and wondered why. The students of Hogwarts were murmuring now, and Rose suspected most of them knew about the Malfoy's reputation in the Wizarding World.
Scorpius sat there for a while, tapping his foot nervously on the ground. The crowd waited, breathless, but finally, the Sorting Hat opened its mouth and shouted "Slytherin!" Rose was almost disappointed. She had thought that, maybe, Scorpius might have chosen a different house, to be chivalrous. But she had to remind herself that Slytherin's themselves weren't bad, just that some of the people in that house had turned bad and given it a bad reputation. Merlin himself had been a Slytherin.
"Potter, Albus Severus!" Professor Longbottom called. She felt Albus walk sure-footedly past her, and then up the steps to the three-legged stool while the crowd cheered for the child of their hero. Professor Longbottom clapped him warmly on his shoulder and, just before the hat covered his eyes; Rose saw the flash of rebellion that she had seen before.
They waited. And waited. And waited. For several minutes, Al sat, undisturbed, beneath the Sorting Hat. Rose saw Professor Longbottom lean in to talk to Hagrid, both of them glancing concernedly at Albus and the Hat. The, finally, after at least seven minutes of anxious waiting, the Sorting Hat did something that shocked the whole staff and, later, the whole school. It laughed loudly for everyone to hear then the rip opened near the brim and it shouted "Slytherin!"
Rose gasped, along with the rest of the school. Then, hesitantly, the Slytherin table slowly started a smattering of applause. Albus took off the hat and hastily ran off to the Slytherin table where he sat down next to Scorpius, who bumped him with his shoulder to let him know he still supported him.
Rose looked around and found James, staring, opened mouthed, at Albus, and then he stood. He glared at him, and everyone hushed to see what the first son of Harry Potter would do. Then, as dramatically as only James Potter could, he said clearly so it could be heard across the hall without him raising his voice, "You're not my brother." And then he stormed out of the Great Hall, and everyone could hear the sounds of the front doors to Hogwarts banging against the wall and James Potter stormed out onto the grounds.
Rose saw Al shrink a little in his seat, but Professor Longbottom tried to get everyone's attention back to the Sorting by yelling "Praval, Trissa!" at the crowd. Trissa ran up looking scared, but it sorted her into Ravenclaw quickly enough.
"Thomas, Verity!" Professor Longbottom called after a little while. Verity walked up to the hat and crossed her legs under the stool while she was being sorted. After only a few seconds, the hat shouted "Gryffindor!" and that table clapped and cheered. At least, Rose thought, one person got sorted into the house they were meant to be.
Professor Longbottom cleared his throat meaningfully before yelling Rose's name. Rose practically ran to the hat, wanting it all to be over, and dumped it on her head, trying to block out the whispers of 'Did he just say Weasley? The Weasley's?"
Ahhh... it's been a while since I've sorted a Weasley... something whispered in her ear. She swallowed but thought logically. Her cousins Molly, Dominique, Fred, Victoire, Roxanne and Lucy had all been at Hogwarts. They were Weasley's. And only Fred and Molly had graduated, so the rest of them were still here. And, in fact, Lucy was only in fourth year, so he only sorted a Weasley three years ago.
Ha, the voice said, with that logic I should put you in Ravenclaw. Rose knew her dad would get pretty angry if she was to be put in Ravenclaw, so she panicked a little. Gryffindor, Gryffindor, Gryffindor... she thought nervously. The hat laughed again. Okay, it said. I was always one for choices, as little Potter found out before... Rose was shocked so she almost didn't stand when the hat shouted "GRYFFINDOR!" to the rest of the school, but she did it automatically, and walked over to the hooting idiots that were in her house.
Had Albus really chosen to be in Slytherin?