“Now, if I was a Malfoy, where would I hide?” mumbled Albus as he closely followed his cousin down the dark and gloomy stairway, with only a sparse amound of torches lighting their way. In a single file line, Rose, Albus, and Azalea made nearly no sound as they made their way down corridors they didn’t know, looking for a boy in a castle with a million hiding places. More than once, one of them had tripped into the one in front of them.
Rose threw a scathing look over her shoulder and put her finger to her mouth with a look that could wilt even a Venemous Tentactula. Albus gave her an equally contemptuous look, coupled with a grotesque face to rival Mad-Eye Moody’s, once she had turned back to look where she was going. Azalea couldn’t help but give the softest of giggles, because she had seen it. Albus gave her a wane smile over his shoulder that she returned with a bright toothy one.
After they had been walking for about five minutes, and the babble of the new first years had almost been silenced below them, Rose stopped. She hesitated, wondering whether or not to go through the door before her or to go back and just tell the Professor that had talked to them before about Scorpius’ disappearance. With a pleading look on her face, she turned to look at Albus, who gravely nodded at her, knowing perfectly well what she was thinking. Sighing heavily, she nodded in agreement, and pushed open the door to the dungeons.
Blindly walking through the halls, Scorpius ran his hands along the walls aimlessly as he walked. His eyes were glazed over, the torchlight reflecting in them like small fireflies caught in a spider’s web. Though his steps were slow, his mind was racing a mile a minute.
What am I doing?
His father had warned him that his greatest academic rival at school had had a daughter of the same intellectual standards, equipped with the Quidditch might of her pureblood father. He had told him that he wanted his son to be the best that he could be, and if that meant beating that girl in everything, so be it.
Scorpius had been able to tell, just by the look in his father’s eyes, that Draco Malfoy was trying very hard to not impose the same things that Grandfather Malfoy had imposed on him. But despite all that, there were those undeniable grudges that he still held against blood status even though he himself was married to a nice half-blooded witch.
So when he had been wandering around the train, looking for a compartment far away from Crabbe Jr. and Goyle Jr. and their pigheaded ways, he hadn’t realized at first who the girl who approached him was.
“Hello,” she had said brightly, dragging her wheeled trunk down the compartment corridor alongside him, “Lovely day for a train ride.”
Slightly taken aback that she had approached him at all, he didn’t respond right away, but said, “Yes, that’s right.”
Her smile widened and she awkwardly held out her hand for him to shake. So used to meeting right handed people, he surprised again when he saw her left hand held out, even though it would have been much easier for her to proffer her right. Feeling a smile beginning to tug at his own lips, he held out his left hand to shake hers.
“My name’s Scorpius,” he said after he put his hand back on his trunk and picked up speed as she did.
“I’m Rose,” she said, following his lead and not saying her last name.
Neither of them wanted to break the friendly silence between them, even though both of them knew that their fathers would have conniption fits if they saw them even walking together and not fighting for the next open compartment.
Glancing over at him, Rose cleared her throat almost nervously. “My cousin should be looking for a compartment, if you want to join us.”
Scorpius felt himself halt in his tracks. Rose didn’t realize that he had before a moment and stopped, looking back at where he stood with an undecipherable expression on. It looked as if he was debating with two different sides of himself before lifting his head to meet her gaze. A small smile crept across his mouth as he nodded.
“I’d be grateful.”
It hadn’t seemed so monumental then, accepting a simply kind offer from a girl he hardly knew. But know he knew that it had been the defining moment of his Hogwarts career. Now he had three new friends, definitely not including the two goons his father had hesitantly admitted to him that they wouldn’t be the best of chums and to try to find some new ones. But he knew that his father wouldn’t be thrilled that he had taken his words so close to his heart.
He felt terrible that he had left Rose, Albus and Azalea behind in the Entrance Hall without telling why he had left or where. In truth, he didn’t even know the answer to either of those questions.
Stopping underneath of a flickering torch he leaned up against the wall and put his head back, eyes closed. Breathing in and out through his nose the cold and slightly damp air of the dungeon corridor, he calmed his racing heart and racing mind.
He hadn’t been there for more than a minute before he felt a cool hand on his forehead. For a moment, he thought it was the hand of his mother and his eyes snapped open to see a pair of green eyes that didn’t belong to her, for she had had blue eyes.
“What happened to you?” asked Rose as she took her hand from his forehead, kneeling down on the floor next to him. “We were worried sick about you!”
With help from Albus and Azalea, Scorpius stood up from the dungeon floor to see three figures in the torchlight, all with very concerned looks on their faces. He shrugged noncommittally.
“Just thinking; sorry I didn’t tell you I was leaving. I just needed some time by myself before getting sorted.”
Rose’s eyes, once filled with concern, were now filled with fear as she slapped a hand to her forehead and grabbed onto Scorpius’ sleeve and dragged him along. “The Sorting! How could we forget? We’ve got to get up there!” exclaimed Rose.
Closely following them, feet pattering in time as they struggled to keep up with the pace that the two taller children were setting, Albus and Azalea exchanged glances.
“Welcome, new students, to another year. Let’s properly welcome you now, and sort you into the House you were meant to be in,” said the still-strong voice of Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts.
With a painstakingly slow decent, she sat back down in the large seat meant for the Head of the School, amidst the polite, yet still enthusiastic applause for the aging woman’s speech.
“Now, when I call your name please step forward and sit on the stool,” said the Professor that had welcomed then in the Entrance Hall. He unrolled the parchment in his hand and read off the first name on the list.
The girl’s knees threatened to give out beneath her as she made her way up to the front of the Great Hall and had the Sorting Hat placed on her head. After a tense moment of debate, silent for everyone but the two on the stool, the brim of the Hat opened and out from it burst, “HUFFLEPUFF!” A cheer went up from the table with the badger mascot above their heads.
And so went the Sorting until…
Professor Neville Longbottom frowned, surprised that he hadn’t noticed the disappearance of his daughter before now. Murmurs went up around in the hall as no one stepped up to be Sorted. Throwing a glance over his shoulder to his wife who had an uncharacteristically concerned look on her face, he cleared his throat and repeated.