On September 1st, we held our very first Flash Fic Festival. Participants had 24 hours to create, write, and edit a ficlet based on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Although the spirit of the challenge was to build community and encourage writers, we promised to award our favourite fic with a beta-edit, a PDF compilation, and a lovely fan art postcard. After much deliberation, we’ve selected By the Emerald Fire’s Light by quilldust as our winning fic! Congratulations to everyone who send us ficlets, drabbles, and one-shots. We hope to hold another Flash Fic Festival in the near future, so sign-up for our Owl Post to keep informed.
Click here to read our winning fic By the Emerald Fire’s Light in beautiful PDF format.
By the Emerald Fire’s Light
The echo of the Sorting Hat’s proclamation still rang in Albus Potter’s ears as he sat awake in the flickering green light of the common room. Everyone had gone to bed, bellies full and pleasantly exhausted from the hustle and bustle of the first day at Hogwarts. But Albus couldn’t sleep. He stared into the fire, flames licking and wood crackling.
He couldn’t get the gasps and murmurs out of his head. The wide-eyed looks and whispers when the blackened brim of the Sorting Hat had been yanked from down over his eyes. The moment he’d been dreading since James had come home from his first year at Hogwarts with that red and gold scarf. When he’d watched his father thump James on the back, teeming with pride.
“It’ll be your turn soon, Albus,” said his father, still beaming at his eldest son.
Today, Albus’ turn had finally come. And everything had gone horribly wrong. For how could the son of the most famous Gryffindor in wizarding history have been sorted into the house of his nemesis?
“It’s wrong,” whispered Albus to himself. “There’s been a mistake.”
A pang of unease rippled in his stomach at the thought of it. Because, deep down, he knew that the Sorting Hat couldn’t have been wrong. It had looked into his mind – however that was possible – and found a distinct Slytherin-ness deep within him.
Earlier that day, at King’s Cross Station, Albus had gone to his father with a nervous pit in his belly.
“What if I get put in Slytherin?”
His father smiled. “Not to worry. The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account.”
But later, sitting in the Great Hall with the hat atop his head, Albus hadn’t asked anything of the Sorting Hat at all. Because he wanted to know the truth. To know what kind of person he was on the inside.
Albus had always felt different. Different from his older brother, from the boys in his neighbourhood, from his famous father. Like a puzzle piece with an extra edge. Out of place. But a Slytherin? Cunning. Ambitious. Resourceful.
Albus Potter was none of those things.
He whipped round. A skinny blond-haired boy wearing blue and white striped pyjamas had emerged from his dormitory. The same one he’d met on the train. Scorpius Malfoy.
“Hiya,” said Albus glumly, turning back to the fire.
Scorpius tiptoed across the stone floor of the Slytherin dungeon and took a seat next to Albus. He held his bare feet up to the flame.
“Cold floor,” said Scorpius, wiggling his toes in the fire’s warm glow. “And poor circulation. It runs in the family. Pointy noses too.”
Albus stared for a moment at the boy’s slender feet and patented Malfoy nose. He sighed and slumped his shoulders, gazing into the fire once again.
“Something the matter?” asked Scorpius, putting his feet down and leaning eagerly toward Albus. “You can tell me, you know. That’s what best friends are for.”
Albus flicked his eyes towards him. “Are we best friends?”
They’d only met on the train that morning. Still, Albus felt a strong affinity towards the boy.
“Well, you’re my best friend. I know that,” said Scorpius, matter-of-factly. “So you can tell me things and know they’re safe. I have a vault.” He tapped his temple twice.
The corner of Albus’ mouth curled upwards. Then he knitted his brows in worry. “I think I’m cursed.”
Scorpius’ eyes darted up and down, looking for signs. “Cursed? You don’t seem it to me. You seem perfectly, well, fine and normal. Great, even. And definitely not cursed. No way, nuh-uh.”
“I am though,” said Albus, letting his head fall back and hit the edge of the couch. “Why did the Sorting Hat put me in Slytherin?”
Scorpius frowned a little. “What’s wrong with Slytherin?”
“Oh, I dunno, only Voldemort was in it.”
Scorpius’ ears wiggled. “Er, actually, it was Tom Riddle who was in Slytherin House. 1938 to 1945. He didn’t become Voldemort til about 1950…”
“Fine,” said Albus, rolling his eyes. “But you must know Slytherin has a reputation for breeding evil people. Tom Riddle, the Lestranges, the Malfo –”
He stopped when he caught the look in Scorpius’ eyes.
“Sorry,” said Albus, “I didn’t mean –”
“My dad isn’t evil,” said Scorpius quietly. “Misguided, maybe afraid. But not evil. I’ve read all about him in A People’s History of the Wizarding War.”
Albus looked down, feeling guilty. “I know, I’m sorry. My father works with him at the Ministry. Never said a bad word.” He wrung his hands. “I, on the other hand, say very stupid things sometimes… without having all the facts.”
Scorpius’ eyes glinted. “That’s why we’ll make perfect best friends. I have all the facts! I spend a lot of time in the library. Dad thinks I’m lonely. I keep telling him you can’t be lonely surrounded by books.”
Albus grinned and then furrowed his brows. “I just don’t understand… why Slytherin? My whole family’s in Gryffindor. It’s like the universe wants me to know I’m not like them. That I’m different. As if I didn’t already know…”
Scorpius leaned into Albus a little. “What’s so wrong with being different? It would be boring being just like everyone else.”
“I suppose,” Albus shrugged. “Stinks I had to find out in front of the entire school. That I’m an outsider.”
“You’re not an outsider,” said Scorpius. “You’re with me. And a ‘me’ plus a ‘me’ is a ‘we.’ Whee!”
Albus snorted. “You’re a geeky one, aren’t you?”
“Oh, yes. Supremely,” said Scorpius with a grin.
The two boys chuckled for a moment. The room grew quiet again.
“Green is most definitely your colour though,” said Scorpius, his cheeks going a little pink as he glanced at Albus’ tie. “It makes you look clever. And a little mischievous. Two Slytherin qualities I’m terribly fond of.”
Albus looked at him. “I think I might get used to it. In fact, I’m certain I will.”
Scorpius smiled gently and then laid his head on Albus’ shoulder. “I think I might like my life with you in it.”
Albus stared into the glowing emerald fire, the promise of a great light in the darkness.
“I think I might like that too.”
Albus Potter is conflicted after being sorted into Slytherin House. Feeling alone as he stares into the emerald fire’s light, Scorpius Malfoy talks him through the virtues of being different.