Monday, 29 August 2011


Ginny kissed Albus good-bye.

"See you at Christmas."

"Bye, Al," said Harry as his son hugged him. "Don't forget Hagrids invited you to tea next Friday. Don't mess with peeves. Don't duel anyone until you've learned how. And don't let James wind you up.

"What if I am in Slytherin?"

The whisper was for his father alone, and Harry knew that only the moment of departure could have could have forced Albus to reveal how great and sincere that fear was.

Harry crouched down so that Albus's face was slightly above his own. Alone of Harry's three children, Albus had inherited Lily's eyes.

"Albus Severus," Harry said quietly, so that nobody but Ginny could hear, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waving to Rose, who was now on the train. "You were named for two headmasters of hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew."

"But just say-"

"- Then Slytherin House will have gained an excellent student, won't it? It doesn't matter toto us Al. But if it matters to you, you'll be able to choose Gryffindor over Slytherin. The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account."


"It did for me," said Harry.

He had never told any of his children that before, and he saw the wonder in Albus's face when he said it. But now the doors were slamming all along the scarlet train, and the blurred outlines of parents were swarming forward for final kisses, last-minute reminders. Albus jumped into the carriage and Ginny closed the door behind him. Students were hanging from the windows nearest them. A great number of faces, both on the train and off, seemed to be turned toward Harry.

"Why are they all staring?" Demanded Albus as he and Rose craned around to look at the other students.

"Don't let it worry you," said Ron. "It's me. I'm extremely famous."

Albus, Rose, Hugo, and Lily laughed. The train began to move, and Harry walked along side it, watching his son's thin face, already ablaze with excitement. Harry kept smiling and waving, even though it was like a little bereavement, watching his son glide away from him...

The last trace of steam evaporated in the autumn air. The train rounded a corner. Harry's hand was still raised in farewell.

"He'll be alright," murmured Ginny.

As Harry looked at her, he lowered his hand absentmindedly and touched the lighting scar on his forehead .

"I know he will."

The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.

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