Rose and Albus boarded the train after their other cousins, excited but nervous about being away from home for the first time. And of course, Albus being so nervous about the sorting didn’t make Rose feel any calmer. With each step he took, anxiety poured out of Albus and he looked even more disheveled than usual, which was difficult to achieve. Albus had thick black hair that stood up in every direction and deep hazel eyes, not quite as green as his father's. But his glances were constantly askew and he had an unseemly tear in his jumper, which made him look completely out of whack.
“Where should we sit?” Rose asked and got a noncommittal shrug in response. They got out of the way other several older students looking for a compartment. Rose wrung her hands anxiously. “What if we can’t get a compartment?”
“Let’s just pick somewhere to sit,” Albus suggested.
“We could go look for James and—”
“No!” Albus practically shouted. “We cannot sit with James!” Rose cringed away from his loud voice. She should’ve known that was a bad suggestion. They walked by a compartment with one girl and Rose asked if Al wanted to sit there. He shrugged, not looking too pleased with the options that she was presenting.
“C’mon.” Rose pulled him towards the compartment. Rose slid the door open and the girl looked up. She had a round face and soft brown eyes. “Do you mind if we sit here?”
The girl blinked and then grinned precociously. “Please do! I would’ve hated to sit alone for the whole ride.” She moved her pack off the seat next to her and Rose sat down. Albus moved across from them and flopped down, looking thoroughly disheveled with his crazy hair, messy clothes, and slouched form. Rose was slightly embarrassed to be related to him.
“I’m Rose and this is Albus.”
“I know,” the girl smiled brilliantly and then blushed. “I mean, I’ve heard horror stories about your older brother James. Not that I stalk your family in the newspapers.” She rambled, looking slightly embarrassed. “My sister’s told me about your family,” she said finally.
“Who’s your sister?” Albus asked curiously.
Rose and Al’s eyes widened knowingly. Albus burst out laughing, “I bet you’ve heard stories! Freddie’s told us horrifying tales of the things James has done to that poor girl. Merlin, your sister hates James from what I’ve heard.” Rose gave the girl a sympathetic look.
Penny smiled, twirling her reddish brown hair around her finger. “She certainly complains about him a lot.”
“What’s your name?” Rose asked.
“Penny. Penelope. Sometimes my sister calls me Lop.” Penny said disapprovingly.
“Eliza is in Gryffindor, right?” Rose asked. Penny nodded. “Are you hoping to be in Gryffindor as well?”
Penny shrugged, “I don’t really have a preference. It might be nice to be in a house where people know me, but I think I’d do fine in any house.” Albus looked slightly scandalized by her carefree attitude.
“Are you nervous?” He asked, sounding rather nervous himself.
Penny raised an eyebrow, “Why would I be nervous? I’m excited! Think of what being sorted tells you about yourself. Each house has qualities associated with it and I’m rather curious to see what my traits are.” Albus got paler and paler with every word Penny spoke. Rose felt guilty for finding his pain amusing.
“But what if you’re put in Slytherin?” Albus whispered like he was saying a bad word.
Rose sighed, “Don’t mind Al.” She told Penny. “He’s just nervous because James has been teasing him all summer about being put in Slytherin. Didn’t your dad have a chat with you on the platform? He said it didn’t matter.” Rose told him insistently. Albus shrunk into his seat.
“I know, but…” Al’s voice drifted away as he looked towards the door. Rose and Penny followed his gaze.
A white-haired boy, whom Rose recognized to be Scorpius Malfoy, was passing by and when he noticed the trio staring at him from the compartment, he gave them a sneer and then continued walking with an air of superiority.
Albus looked discouraged, “See? Slytherins are horrible.”
Penny rolled her eyes. “That’s one boy from one family. Don’t be so narrow-minded as to think that all Slytherins are horrible.” Albus’s eyebrows shot up and his glasses fell askew, making him look slightly deranged.
“But they’re sneaky and deceptive—”
"And all Gryffindors are brave?” Penny said wryly, "not all Gryffindors are good people. Look, all the qualities that the houses stand for are necessary and have worth. The qualities themselves aren’t bad, it all depends on how people use them.”
Albus and Rose stared at Penny in amazement. “Are you sure you don’t want to be a Ravenclaw?” Al asked suspiciously. Penny laughed charmingly.
“I told you, I haven’t a preference really.”
Albus didn’t seem pleased with that answer. “Well, I want to be in Gryffindor.”
“Why?” Penny asked in a way that seemed like she was challenging him.
Albus’s stammered, “What—well, because that’s where my family is!” He said indignantly once he gathered his wits.
“Didn’t you just say that your family has been teasing you all summer?”
Rose stifled a smile as Penny outsmarted Albus. Al didn’t appear to have an answer for the sassy eleven-year-old.
Penny said, “You shouldn’t feel bad no matter which house you’re sorted into. The hat knows where you belong and you can decide what to do with your life even if you are put in Slytherin.” This is the argument that everyone in their family had been giving Al ever since he started worrying about the sorting, but he actually seemed to listen to Penny. “Also, just because cunning and slyness might be the dominant traits of Slytherins doesn’t mean they aren’t brave or loyal as well. And just because Gryffindors are brave doesn’t mean they aren’t smart or cunning.”
Albus stared at Penny for a moment, then ruffled his hair and said, “Aunt Hermione would love you.” He didn’t seem pleased by this statement.
Penny looked thrilled, “She’s my hero!” Then she looked shyly at Rose, “sorry, you must get that all the time.”
Rose looked proud of her mum. “Actually, I’m normally with this dunderhead,” she motioned to Albus who was trying to kick off his shoes, “and people are more focused on his dad than they are on my mum.” Which didn’t seem fair to Rose because she had heard enough of her father’s stories to know that neither Harry nor her dad would be alive if it wasn’t for her mum.
Penny looked pleased, “Well, I think your mum is amazing.”
Albus snorted, “Unless you get on the business end of one of her lectures.”
Rose let out a long breath, “Yeah, I can’t even count how many times she’s yelled at me for joking about house-elves.”
Albus stretched up in his seat, “Oh, I think I see the trolley! I’m starving!”
Rose waiting nervously with the crowd of other first years. It was extremely embarrassing standing in the front of the Great Hall with all the other students watching from their seats, but it gave Rose a chance to look at the magical expanse of the Great Hall. The ceiling was full of stars and dancing lights in a dark blue sky. Each stone looked as if it had been hand carved and carefully places among its brothers creating a room of beautiful architecture.
Lost in her own thoughts, she barely heard Professor McGonagall say, “Penelope Jacobsen.”
Rose pulled herself from the inside of her head and watched with anticipation. She hoped that she and Penny were sorted into the same house. It would be nice to have a friend outside of her family in her house. And if Rose and Penny were sorted into different houses, the likelihood of their new friendship growing stronger was small.
The hat was placed ceremonially on Penny’s head and remained there for a minute before shouting, “GRYFFINDOR!” Gryffindor students erupted in applause and Rose saw Penny rushed to her cheering sister’s side. Rose had been waiting to see which girl James was obsessed with and was not disappointed. Eliza had light blonde hair and soft features, but looked like she could give as good as she could get. She saw James try to get Eliza’s attention, probably to congratulate her on her sister’s sorting, but Eliza promptly ignored him.
Rose watched James continue to call to Eliza, earning him a weary look from several Gryffindors. Just as the cheering died so McGonagall could move to the next student, James yelled, “ELIZA!” not realizing that the hall was going to be silent. Everyone turned to look at him, the only person still standing, and gave him a tired look. Eliza was beet red and trying to cower behind her friends.
McGonagall gave James a withering look as he slowly shrunk into his seat, looking unabashed and like a typical cheeky, scrawny second year.
Rose was embarrassed to be related to James and looking at Albus, so was he.
A few minutes later, after more first years had been sorted, McGonagall called, “Scorpius Malfoy.”
Everyone seemed to hold their breaths as Scorpius Malfoy, a skinny and lanky boy, climbed the steps slowly with purpose. He didn’t look at anyone when he sat on the stool and McGonagall placed the hat on his head.
Rose expected the hat to cry out ‘SLYTHERIN!’ as soon as the hat was placed on Malfoy’s head. Apparently, McGonagall did as well because she reached out to take the hat off, but he hadn’t been sorted yet. Each second that ticked on made Rose’s heart thunder louder and louder. Scorpius appeared to be taking great effort to keep his face passive and unwavering as the hat spoke to him.
“SLYTHERIN!” The cry was so sudden, Rose jumped as the Slytherin cheered. Scorpius looked relieved as he stepped down from the stool and walked to the Slytherin table. The way he walked… one would think he was walking on water given the superior look on his face.
Albus was called up a little while later. Rose gave him a reassuring look as he tried to look brave as he climbed the steps. Several people let out ‘hoots’ and Albus turned red. Rose didn’t even have to look to know it was James and Freddie and possibly Louis. When Al sat down, McGonagall placed the hat on his head and waited expectantly. The whole train ride, the whole summer really, Rose had been calming Albus down, but now that the moment arrived she was sure that she was as nervous as he was.
Albus swallowed thickly and Rose wished she knew what the hat was saying. She bit her lip in anticipation, sure that they wouldn’t be separated. Whichever house he was in, she would have to be in as well and since she was going to be with Penny that meant that Albus had to be in Gryff—
Rose blinked, thinking she must’ve heard wrong. She looked around and the Slytherin table looked just as shocked as Rose felt and then someone started clapping awkwardly. Whoever started clapping was a godsend because there was no much tension in the Great Hall and silence did not help. Rose looked at James, who was staring at his brother with a dumbstruck look.
Albus started to come out of his stupor and he meandered reluctantly over to the Slytherin table that was still clapping for him. McGonagall did her best to keep her face stern, but Rose could see the surprise in her eyes. She did a good job of maintaining her composure and moved on to the next students. All the sudden Rose felt very nervous about her sorting.
She was sure she wouldn’t be in Slytherin, but she didn’t want to be separated from Albus.
“Rose Weasley!” McGonagall hollered.
Rose swallowed and tried not to choke on her own breath as she moved up the stairs. McGonagall gave her a steely look and when Rose sat down, the professor placed the Sorting Hat on her head.
“A Weasley!” The hat cried and it was startling to hear its voice. “You breed like rabbits,” the hat murmured and Rose blushed, but couldn’t exactly disagree with that statement. “Smart… yes, very smart. But brave… hmm… and loyal. Now, let’s see. I think… GRYFFINDOR!” Rose let out a quick breath that she didn’t even realize that she had been holding. McGonagall pulled the hat off her head and Rose started walking towards the cheering Gryffindors.
On the way down the steps, Rose caught Al’s eye and he gave her a small smile. Rose took a deep breath then joined Penny at the Gryffindor table. “Way to go Rosie!” James hollered and then winked ineptly at Eliza who continued to ignore him.
Rose looked back towards Al as the last student were called up, but he was talking with Scorpius Malfoy. Rose’s eyes narrowed as she saw Albus grinning at the pointy-faced boy. All summer… Rose huffed. All summer he’s been worrying about being sorted into Slytherin and when he is… he just up and abandons everything he believes in! The bad reputation of families like the Malfoy's was the reason that Albus hadn’t wanted to be in Slytherin in the first place and now he was all chummy with Little Malfoy.
Penny must’ve sensed her disappointment and said, “Don’t worry, Rose. You’ll see Al all the time.” Rose put on a good face, but she wanted to say that wasn’t what she was worried about. Rose was worried that being sorted into Slytherin would change Albus. If he was hanging out with Malfoy and alike how could it not change him? Of course, as Penny pointed out, not all Slytherins were evil like the Malfoys so why did Al beeline for the one Slytherin who was all the things he had been complaining about.
Rose glared at Malfoy, hating that this pureblood maniac was going to take her best friend away from her.
"Will your parents be angry with you?" Scorpius asked as he unpacked his neatly-folded clothes. Albus flicked his wand and sent his clothes flying to the dresser where they jammed themselves into the drawers. Aunt Angie had attempted to teach him how to do basic household tasks, but he hadn’t been able to practice so he was no good at it.
Albus shook his head, "My dad will be fine with it. I'm worried about my brother and Rose though." He admitted and thought about Rose's face after he had been sorted into Slytherin and her into Gryffindor. She looked like he had betrayed her despite her comforting smile. Her eyes looked sad and lonely.
"Sorry," Scorpius said awkwardly. He wasn't half as bad as Albus had imagined, but the blonde boy still seemed to not know how to handle emotions well. "Why would your cousin care?"
Al sighed, "She was just hoping that we would be in the same house. But it's easier for her than it is for me. At least she still has the rest of our family… and Penny." Albus had come to terms with the fact that he was in Slytherin over the past few hours, but he still felt terribly alone. Other than Scorpius, no one had really spoken to him, not even the other four boys in the dormitory.
Al noticed that they hadn't said much to Scorpius either, which was a surprise. He expected Scorpius to be a Slytherin prince or something.
"Who's Penny?" Scorpius asked as he stowed his trunk under his bed.
"A girl we met on the train." Albus tried to force his drawers to shut but they were overflowing with unfolded clothes. Scorpius gave Al an amused look as he watched Al struggle with the fact that he hadn't bothered to properly fold his clothes.
"At least she has a friend," Scorpius coughed. "I don't think she likes me very much."
Al looked up in surprise. "Penny?"
Scorpius shook his head, his perfectly combed hair not moving an inch. "No, your cousin. Rose." He said her name hesitantly as if he was afraid to speak the devil's name for fear she would appear.
"Why would you think that?" Albus wasn't denying it, but he wondered why Scorpius thought so. It wasn’t as though they had spent copious amounts of time together or even properly met, but Albus had seen the looks on Rose’s face throughout the Sorting ceremony.
"I saw her glaring at me in the Great Hall." Scorpius said drily.
"Oh." Albus bit his lip. "I'm sure she wasn't glaring specifically at you—"
"She was." Scorpius didn’t sound particularly upset. "It's fine. I'm used to it and she doesn't strike me as a particularly open-minded person."
"She's not so bad," Albus said half-heartedly. Rose had said over and over that it wouldn't be so bad if he was sorted into Slytherin, but now that it had actually happened… he knew things would change between them. He didn’t believe Rose would hold him personally responsible for being sorted into Slytherin, but they wouldn’t be as close, if for no other reason than the lessening time they would be able to spend together. But it would be easier to spend time together if Rose could adjust to Al’s new Slytherin friends. "You two just have to get to know each other." Scorpius raised his eyebrows, giving Albus an amused look. "Assuming we're friends, that is." Albus added quickly, not wanting to seem like he was latching on Scorpius without invite.
Scorpius still had that cool, amused look on his face as he said, "Considering no one else will talk to us, I think we had better be friends." Albus barked out a laugh.
"Why won't anyone talk to you?"
Scorpius shrugged, "Ever since the war, Slytherin has been trying to rebuild its reputation and they probably think I'll come along and ruin it. And the people who aren’t with that lot are against my family for abandoning ‘the cause.’" Albus felt pity for his new friend. He couldn't imagine what it must be like to have everyone be against him. It was exactly the opposite for Albus and his family.
"Well, you could stand to be a bit friendlier." Albus teased.
Scorpius gave him a cold look.
"I just mean that you could act a bit more like an 11-year-old and less like a 40-year-old man."
"I don't act like an old man!" Scorpius snapped indignantly. "Just because I like to dress well and—"
"—and speak formally and fold your clothes…"
"That's just common sense." Scorpius shook his head. "Look at your mess of a wardrobe." He motioned to the overflowing dresser that Albus had given up on a few minutes ago. "If you had bothered to fold your clothes…"
"On second thought, you and Rose should never become friendly. You’re both such Nagging Nellies. If you were ever in a room together I think there would be an explosion of massive proportions."
Scorpius stuck up his nose, "It's unlikely that we'll ever be in a together room long enough to realize the depths of our hatred."
Albus scoffed, "You can't know that you'll hate each other! You've never even spoken."
Scorpius gave Albus a grim look. "I don't need to know her to know that we could never get along."
Albus sighed in defeat. Rose was still his cousin and his best friend and Scorpius was his only school friend. They had to get along.
Scorpius surely wasn't a bad as Rose thought and Rose wasn't as stuck up as Scorpius seemed to think.
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