Scorpius Malfoy heaved his trunk after him as he made his way down the train. The trunk was heavy, but he hadn't found an empty compartment to dump it in yet.
He pushed open the door to the next carriage and nearly ran into the back of a boy his age. He looked rather lost.
'Oh! Sorry.' The boy helped Scorpius get his trunk through the door, then straightened self-consciously. 'Are you a first year, too?'
Scorpius nodded. 'Are you looking for a compartment? I am.'
The boy also nodded, looking relieved. 'My name's Michael Garrow. What's yours?'
'Scorpius Malfoy.' Scorpius waited for the flinch, for Michael to recognise his surname, but he didn't. Must be a Muggle-born.
In an unspoken agreement, they started down the train together. By Scorpius' calculations, this was the second-last carriage, so if they didn't find an empty compartment soon, they were in trouble.
The last compartment was the emptiest they'd seen so far. There were two people in there, a boy and a girl about their age. Michael glanced back at Scorpius. His face quite clearly said: What choice do we have?
Scorpius nodded, and Michael opened the door.
'Anyone sitting here?' He asked, gesturing to the empty backwards-facing seats. The boy shook his head. He offered to help them with their trunks, and together they managed to lift them into the overhead baskets.
As he sat down, Scorpius examined the boy and girl more closely. The girl was taller than him, with bushy auburn hair and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. The boy had messy black hair and piercing green eyes. He looked like Harry Potter. A lot like Harry Potter.
'My name's Rose,' said the girl, smiling at them. 'What's yours?'
'I'm Al,' said the boy.
Rose giggled. 'Albus!'
Al punched her in the shoulder. 'Don't!'
Rose saw their confusion. 'We're cousins. His full name is Albus, but we all call him Al.'
'Are you named after Albus Dumbledore?' Michael asked. Al nodded.
Scorpius remembered his mum mentioning in passing that Harry Potter would have a son in his year, but he'd never actually thought what that would mean -
'Hey! You think my name's funny, do you? You can't talk!' Scorpius realised he'd been staring and flushed with embarrassment.
'No, I... areyouharrypottersson?' Rose snorted and Michael sat up straighter.
Al looked confused. 'That's my dad's name, yes...' He broke off as Rose descended into a fit of giggles. 'What! Why are you laughing?'
Rose managed to control her mirth for long enough to choke out: 'You... have... no...idea...'
Al swung round to face Scorpius and Michael. 'What's so special about my dad? I saw people staring at the station but Dad wouldn't say why.' Seeing them hesitate, he added 'Tell me!'
'Does your dad have glasses and a lightning-bolt scar?' Al nodded and Michael went on: 'How can you not know? Your dad is the Harry Potter, he defeated Voldemort when he was seventeen! Gosh, even I know that and I'm the only wizard in my family!'
Al's eyes were big as saucers. He turned to Rose and demanded to know why she hadn't told him.
'Dad told me not to,' she said simply. 'The only reason you didn't know is because Uncle Harry didn't want you to get a big head.'
Scorpius frowned, suddenly remembering something he'd packed at the last minute. 'Do you really not know anything your dad's done?' Without waiting for an answer, Scorpius stood up on his seat to reach his trunk. He found what he was looking for and presented it to Al: Harry Potter's autobiography. Al stared in surprised, then started to read.
The miles and hours rolled on. Somehow they never ran out of things to talk about, and Scorpius learned that Al had an older brother, a younger sister and a keen interest in wizard art. Rose had a younger brother who collected toads and Michael had an older sister who was possibly more interested in the wizarding world than he was.
When the witch with the lunch trolley came by, Michael confessed that he'd never eaten any of the things she sold, so they pooled their money and bought some of everything. There was high hilarity when Michael's first chocolate frog card was Harry Potter, and Al got three Albus Dumbledore's. 'I've got at least ten of him, it's like he's following me around or something,' he groaned, giving a card to Michael to add to his growing collection.
Just as Scorpius was considering raising the subject of houses, an older boy opened the door. He looked about a year older than them, with brown hair and eyes. Both Rose and Al seemed to recognise him.
'Hello James,' said Al warily. 'This is my brother,' he elaborated. Then, to James again: 'What do you want?'
'Just saying hello.' He grinned. 'What are you reading?' Al showed him, and James roared with laughter. 'I wondered how long it would take you. Watch out for the fan-girls, Al, they'll go for you even more than me because you look like Dad.'
Al groaned. 'Go away.'
'I'm not a Slytherin!'
As James ran off, Al sunk back into his seat, looking depressed. Obviously houses were a sore subject.
'He's so certain I'll be a Slytherin. Dad says it doesn't matter, but I don't want to be one. James is a Gryffindor...'
'He's only teasing,' said Rose soothingly. 'What houses do you two think you'll be in?'
Michael shrugged. 'I think I'll be a Hufflepuff. It seems about right to me, anyway. What about you?'
'Well... I never really thought about it much, but Dad reckons I've got Mum's brains, and Mum thinks she should have been a Ravenclaw, so I could end up there. But all of Dad's family have been in Gryffindor, so I don't really know. I don't mind either way.'
Scorpius swallowed. They were all looking at him now. He inspected his shoelaces. 'All Malfoy's are Slytherins. I don't think I'm remarkable enough to break the pattern, although Dad wants me to.'
'Well, at least I'll have someone to talk to,' said Al. It all sounded rather morbid.
In an attempt to break the tension, Rose checked her watch and said: 'We'll probably be there soon, we'd better get our robes on.'
They did so in silence.