The Ferret's All Right
A\N: Technically set in the CB-verse. But the only thing that carries over from there is the fact that Snape's alive.
Summary: Avoid duels until he knows how, and have a say in his sorting to become a Gryffindor – Sound advice form his dad that Albus really wants to follow. Oh, if only things were that simple. But sometimes one has to choose between what's right and what's easy, as his namesake once said. And Scorpius is not making it easy. Follows the books to the letter, except for Snape being alive.
The shrill sound of a whistle, and the train was moving. Albus pressed himself against the window, to see his parents and sister as he glided away from them. As he saw them grow smaller and smaller, he started to wave frantically as well. In no time at all, they had turned into small dots in the distance, and then the train turned and he lost them from his vision.
He looked at Rose, standing next to him, whose face was flushed in an expression of barely suppressed excitement. They stopped waving at the same time, though his cousin's boisterous hand movement had hardly been similar to Albus' panicked one, who was only now realising that he had just left his family and would not be seeing them again for months.
Rose, finally noticing his subdued mood, told him, "Come on, Al, let's go find the others."
Those others she was talking about were their numerous cousins, and Albus' older brother, who were at present located on the Hogwarts Express. Remembering that, Albus felt at once better. They might be a loud, nosy bunch, but they were family, as well. There was no fear of him ever being alone at school.
The corridors were still full of students running around, trying to find seats. It turned out quite a hassle to track down the other members of their clan. And finding them turned out to be the easiest part, in the end.
Victoire was first. Eldest of their cousins and Head Girl, she was the one who found them while making her rounds. They almost went with her, used to her authority throughout their childhood.. But then Teddy's voice called out of her talking mirror, and she turned her back to them to chat with him. Knowing full well how long Victoire's talking mirror chats usually lasted, they quietly slipped away.
Next was Molly. She was the easiest to find, all they had to do was ask for the prefects' compartment. But five minutes in there were enough to convince Albus of two things: Molly was not going to leave the compartment until it was time for her to be making rounds, and he could not, under any circumstances, spend the journey being poked and prodded by prefects who all had a penchant for giving advice and asking nosy questions about the more well-known members of Albus' family. He shot Rose a begging look, and she complied with an exaggerated eye roll.
It was at that moment, as they slipped out of the prefects' compartment, that they first saw him up close. The pale blond boy their parents had been talking about on the platform was leaning against the wall, surrounded by a few older students, a couple of which already wore their school uniforms, proclaiming them members of Slytherin House.
At that point several things happened at once. The group of students stopped talking and turned to face them, clearly annoyed at being interrupted. The pale boy in the middle shot them a look that Albus would swear started out relieved, only to turn into dismayed an instant later. At the same time, James appeared in the corridor, together with Fred.
"There you are! I've been looking all over for you," he said as soon as he caught sight of his younger brother.
"Oi, Jamie, look who else is here," Fred said, and both boys' attention focused on the Slytherin students.
"Potter and Weasley. What a... surprise. Did you want anything?" asked a rather burly older boy, whose composed tone clashed with the malicious look in his eyes.
"Why, are we interrupting something?" asked James with the same chilled politeness as the Slytherin.
"We were just having a little chat."
The pale boy's face tightened at this, and blanched even further, but his expression did not waver, and he did not say anything.
"Sure you were," James muttered under his breath.
Then he turned to Albus and Rose. "Come on, let's get out of here."
Fred shot the Slytherins a final dark look before he also followed James.
A short while later they found themselves in a compartment with several other students of different ages, who nevertheless all seemed to know each other well. Dominique, Victoire's younger sister, was also there.
"Oh, you found them," she said as soon as they entered.
It seemed as though the first years were at last settled for the journey. They were with family, and they had the opportunity to get to know a few new faces.
But they soon discovered that the students inside that compartment were members of the Gryffindor quidditch team and their most faithful fans, which included James and Fred. Worst of all, they talked about nothing but quidditch. The year had not even started yet, and they were already discussing strategies, and strengths and weaknesses of the other teams.
Ordinarily, both Albus and Rose could enjoy some quidditch talk, but despite that, it took less than an hour for them to be bored out of their minds. Fred and James, on the other hand, were not showing any signs of boredom. They were enjoying being included in the quidditch players' discussions, and were eagerly asking about try-outs.
Rose and Albus exchanged long-suffering looks. James had spent the whole summer talking about the coming year's try-outs, now that he was a second year and was finally allowed to have his own broom and try for the House team. He had annoyed his parents for days until they had finally given up and bought him a ridiculously expensive broom. And then he had spent the rest of the summer training like a madman. He was not getting bored any time soon.
Conceding defeat, Albus and Rose snuck out of that compartment as well, and went to look for an unoccupied one. Making friends would have to wait until they had arrived at Hogwarts.
They did not find any empty compartments this late into the journey, but they did find one with a single occupant, a first year just like them, the pale boy from before. Rose opened the door before they lost their nerve and they went in.
"Can we sit here? Everywhere else is full," she told the boy as he looked up.
The boy's eyes widened as he saw who was talking to him, and colour rose to his face, but he merely nodded and then turned to stare out of the window.
The cousins looked at each other, shrugged, and sat down in front of him.
Albus cleared his throat to end the silence, and asked, "So, what's your name, then?"
The boy shot him a calculating look. "Malfoy," he finally said.
"I'm guessing that's your last name?" At Malfoy's irritated look he once again cleared his throat. "Right. Of course it is. So... what's your first name?"
Malfoy did not quite hold his gaze this time as he mumbled, "Scorpius," before turning towards the window once again.
"Well, Scorpius, I'm Rose Weasley, and this is my cousin Albus Potter," said Rose.
Malfoy frowned. "I know who you are." There was something almost accusatory in both his tone and his expression.
The cousins exchanged bewildered looks.
"You do?" Albus tried to go on with the conversation. "Oh, you mean you know who our parents are, right? Yeah, lots of people have heard of my dad, though I'm not entirely sure why. He said it's because he defeated some dark wizard. But he's an auror. I mean, he's supposed to catch dark witches and wizards, isn't he?" He stopped rambling at this point, because Scorpius' expression seemed to close off more with every word he said.
"You know, I think I know who your dad is, too," Rose tried once more after a moment's silence. "He's a healer at St. Mungo's isn't he? Whenever someone's been hurt by dark magic, Healer Malfoy's name pops up. And Dad always complains that he knows too much dark magic, but Mum says he wouldn't be able to help so many people if he didn't..."
Albus was not sure what it was Rose said that did it, but Scorpius looked furious, his whole face flushed an angry pink. And underneath the anger was hurt pride. "That's your idea of a joke, is it?" he ground out.
"It wasn't meant to be a joke," Rose said in her most pacifying tone. "I really thought Healer Malfoy was your father. I'm sorry if you find that insulting, or-"
"I don't. I'm Draco Malfoy's son. There's nothing insulting about that."
"No, of course not," Albus frowned. " We never said anything of the sort. Where did you get that idea from, anyway?"
Malfoy's face crumbled, and for a second Albus thought the other boy would either start shouting or sobbing. But he managed to compose himself. "Just leave me alone," he said forcefully.
No more conversation was to be had after that. Certainly not with Scorpius, but even talking to each other while the other boy was stoically staring out of the window became impossible, and after a few aborted attempts to talk to each other, they gave up.
The silence was only interrupted once, when the trolley arrived. The cousins hastily bought a few sweets, conscious of the strange looks the trolley witch was giving Scorpius, who did not once turn away from the window the whole time she was there. They ate in silence after his refusal to even acknowledge their hesitant offers to share their sweets with him.
All things considered, the journey was as uncomfortable as it could have been. Rose said as much when they were finally off the train and away from Scorpius.
"We should have stayed with Molly and the prefects," she whined.
"No way! We should have stayed with the quidditch players. At least they were fun the first five minutes."
They joined the other first years and followed Hagrid to the boats. They finally got the opportunity to get to know some other first years on their way to the castle. They shared the boat with a quiet, tall girl who kept staring at everything with awe and who turned out to be muggleborn, and a boy with the sort of ordinary looks that one easily overlooks, but who made up for that with his incessant chatter.
By the time they reached Hogwarts Rose was on the best way to becoming friends with the muggleborn girl, and the boy, Alan, who turned out to be Ernie McMillan's son, had told Albus his whole life history, and had started on tales from their parents' school days. Albus had tuned him out by the time they arrived in the Chamber of Reception, until he mentioned Malfoy.
"Malfoy?" Albus could not help but ask.
"Yes, him. Dad says he used to act like he owned the school. Of course they didn't know then that his father was a Death Eater-" He whispered the last part. "Or that he would soon become one as well. Dad says it's a shame he never got to pay for that. But of course he helped your dad defeat you-know-who." This was whispered as well. "So I guess they had to let him walk free."
Was that a reference to the dark wizard his father had defeated? thought Albus. He tried to remember the name – It was not one that was frequently mentioned at his home. Quiz? Puzzle? Riddle – that was it. And he had also given himself a really strange sounding name, though Albus had never quite understood why. He tried to remember it, but it would not come.
He found himself unexpectedly glad about Alan's company and his habit of constant talking. He was starting to get a feeling that those old stories his father had told him in passing, about Riddle and his fight against him, were a lot more important to other people than his father had made them out to be. The last thing he wanted was to blurt out something silly, and show everyone how little he knew about those things.
"Do you see over there?" Alan was telling him conspiratorially as he snapped out of his thoughts. "That's Malfoy's son over there. He has a really odd name, too, like a true traditional pureblood. Scorpion? Scarabaeus-"
"Scorpius," Albus interrupted him. "His name's Scorpius."
Alan gave him an odd look, but then relented. "Yeah, that might be it." A moment later, he was back to chattering.
Albus tuned him out again, his gaze remaining on Scorpius' back only a few steps away. The blond boy was standing ramrod straight, not one hair out of place. He was surrounded by other first years, but he seemed separate from them, somehow. Alone.