Prologue - Train Rides and Nice Guys
Albus Severus Potter was not like the rest of his gigantic
family – he had always known this – but he had managed to hide that fact from
everyone else, bury it in the sand where no one could ever find it, where it
would eventually be lost to time. He was sure no one would ever find it, so
sure he had no backup plan, no excuse, just the assurance that the truth would
never reach the surface.
His plan to pretend for all his life had been going well, not one person had noticed, not even his father – who had always favoured him – until one day, Albus Severus sat on a mundane stool and had a not-so-mundane hat placed on his head.
He had thought – naively Albus would recognise now, if ever he looked back – that this hat would be fooled too, for, in the end, it was just a hat, yes? But this was a wise hat and it could see things no one else could. Tucked away in the recesses of what made Albus Severus Potter, it saw ambition, cunning, and a fierce sense of self-preservation. These traits, it knew – as did Albus – did not suit a Gryffindor well, and so, to the shock and awe of almost everyone in the Great Hall, the Sorting Hat named the great, brave and noble Harry James Potter’s second son a Slytherin.
Albus’ secret was released into the world, never to return to its place in the sand.
Albus Potter dared not chance a final look at his parents and little sister when he stepped on the Hogwarts Express for the first time in his relatively short life. The train was bursting with people he had neither heard nor seen before, and just a few he was related to. Brushing past what felt like a thousand people, Albus made his way down the train to where he thought he might find his brother, James, and his cousins Rose, Fred, Roxanne, Lucy, Molly and Dominique. Indeed, when he did find the compartment that housed his family, it was full.
“Come on Al,” Rose said, taking Albus’ arm in a firm grasp and leading him out of the compartment, her curly red hair bouncing on her shoulders. “We’ll find other first years to sit with.”
And so, without any choice in the matter whatsoever, Albus found himself in the crowded thinned and by the time they found a compartment that was not completely full they were the only two still standing that Albus could see.
“There’s somebody in this one,” Rose commented after peering
into the final compartment on the train. “But I think he’s asleep. Should we go
Rose’s bright blue eyes searched Albus’ for conformation, her hand resting on the brass door knob, ready to open it or leave depending on Albus’ reply.
Albus shrugged; “Sure.” He was unused to being asked his opinion; normally James just led him around. Something of his true nature flickered in his stomach and he instantly fought to suppress it.
Rose slid open the door and stepped inside, Albus following close behind and taking the spare seat at the window. The boy was indeed fast asleep, his head rested against the window, pushing his slicked back, white blond hair into a strange position. He looked young, certainly no older than James and the uniform he wore had no indication of his house; Albus guessed he was a first year. On the seat beside him was a long, pale wand and a large black dragon hide bag from which small squawking noises came when the carriage rattled over the old train tracks. Albus and Rose sat in silence, afraid to wake the sleeping boy.
A loud banging and the noise of voices shouting roughly roused Albus from an uncomfortable sleep. At his side Rose sat with her nose buried in a book, completely unaware of the stout elderly woman and her trolley loaded with sweets sauntering past their compartment.
“Anything from the trolley, dear?” she asked loudly, peering
at Albus with kind brown eyes. Albus was about to refuse, but a loud rumbling
from his stomach reminded him of the fact that he hadn’t eaten since his
breakfast early that morning.
“I’ll have a pumpkin pie, please,” he said, rummaging around his pockets for some money.
“And I’ll have the same.” The voice was unexpectedly close, making Albus squeak as he turned around to see that the sleeping boy was sleeping no longer, and that he was standing right next to Albus.
Albus stared at him as the tall boy – for he realised now
that the boy was very tall – handed over
some silver coins to the trolley woman was handed a dull orange pumpkin pie in
“Thank you, dear,” the woman said, dropping the money into a pouch around her waist and holding out a pumpkin pie for Albus expectantly. When he finally brought out the money, he realised he was short.
“Fluff,” he murmured to himself. “Rosie, have you got any money on you; I’ve left mine in my trunk.”
Rose’s head snapped up to look him in the eyes. “No, I left my money in my trunk too.”
Albus’ stomach growled loudly again and he looked at the woman apologetically.
“Sorry,” he said. “I’ve not got enough.” He shoved his silver coins back into his pockets and sat down, not looking into the woman’s sympathetic eyes.
“Here,” the blond boy said suddenly, dropping more money out to the woman and passing the pie she gave him to Albus.
Albus looked up to the boy in wonder at the act of kindness,
who stood in the doorway until the woman and her trolley passed by completely.
“Thanks,” he muttered, tucking into his pumpkin pie. The boy shrugged.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s like my Dad says; what’s the point in having loads of money if you don’t spend it?” He smiled at Albus, but the smile didn’t reach his grey eyes.
“I’m Scorpius, by the way. Scorpius Malfoy.”
Albus stared at the hand Scorpius outstretched to him. Scorpius Malfoy. Scorpius Malfoy. Pf the Malfoys. Albus was a Potter and Scorpius Malfoy had just bought something for him. Scorpius started to retract his hand, but Albus grabbed it before he had withdrawn it completely with a sudden flair of courage. Who cared if he was a Malfoy, he had just been kind to him.
“Albus Potter,” he announced, smiling widely. Scorpius smiled again and this time his grey eyes lit up with it.