Filch was prowling the hall in which peeves had last been seen wrecking, and kneeled to inspect a sideways suit of armor. A soft meow from his cat, Mrs. Norris, caused him to look up. She softly padded toward him.
"Ah, a troublemaker up after dark? Well, come on, my sweet, we can catch that blasted poltergeist later."
A corridor away, a boy completely oblivious to the caretaker's approach and holding a peculiar mix of items was joined by his brother. He jumped in fright.
"Albus! Get out of here! You should be up in the common room, mum'll kill me if I get you into trouble again!"
Albus, no older than eleven, answered him.
"You're going to lose Gryffindor even more points if you don't come back to the common room with me right now! Slytherin is going to pull ahead of us!" He wailed.
"There are more important things that house points, Albus. And besides, Ravenclaw would still be in first."
"James, you're going to get in trouble and sent to Nevi-Professor Longbottom again!" Professor Longbottom was Gryffindor's Head of House, but he wasn't particularly strict on punishing James Potter; after all, he had been through a lot with his father back when they were in school.
Albus grabbed hold of James' sleeve and tried to pull him up and get him to go with him. Before James could shake him off, though, a long, bony arm grabbed Albus by the scruff of his collar lifted the skinny boy off the ground. Albus squeaked and tried to punch himself free, but only succeeded in hitting his brother accidently.
"James Potter, this time I'll make sure you're expelled. We're going straight to the Headmistress' office." This whole time he had been looking at James, but now he seemed to notice he was holding someone in his grasp. He swung little Albus around so he could see the boy's face. "Little Albus Severus-" He spit the last name out-"Potter. What a surprise. I should've known you'd follow in your family's footsteps."
"Let him go, Filch." James stood up to the grimy man without a trace of fear, and in response Filch shook Albus slightly.
"You won't talk to me like that, Potter." He grabbed the jumble of items in James' hands and pushed him forward a little. "Both of you are coming with me to the Headmistress' office right now."
Filch forced James forward and dragged Albus by the collar. James had the gait of a practiced troublemaker ready to talk his way out of punishment, but his brother couldn't've been more of the opposite. Albus had never been in trouble in his life, but in these first two weeks of Hogwarts, trouble seemed attracted to him. He suspected it had something to do with his brother, but he had gotten himself in trouble for standing up to a group of older Slytherins who were picking on Rose Weasley. He probably wouldn't've gotten in trouble if the Slytherin Head of House hadn't seen him pull his wand out.
Filch dragged and pushed both boys toward the Headmistress' office, where a stone gargoyle stood guard. Normally, the statue would require a password for it to allow anyone entry, but it had long since learned not to anger Filch. (Last time it refused entry to Filch, it didn't get cleaned for two months. It really didn't want that to happen again.)
"I'm here to see the Headmistress." Filch spit out impatiently. The gargoyle jumped aside, and the stairs appeared to grow upward from the bottom. Filch shoved James onto the moving platform, and dragged Albus behind him. The stairs grew and carried them up, lifting the three toward the top where the Headmistress' office stood.
James climbed bravely up the moving stairs with an air of confidence that his brother did not have. Albus was shivering, and his uniform sweater was half off of his body due to Filch's pulling grasp. The stairs stopped suddenly, and Filch pushed ahead of both boys, finally releasing Albus.
Filch knocked on the door as he muttered loudly "Headmistress, I have two trouble makers I caught in the side hall next to the portrait of Susan the Sorceress." Both James and Albus were sure they heard an audible sigh from inside the door, but whether or not Filch heard they didn't know, for he knocked open the door and stampeded in.
"Professor McGonagall! Look at what these two-" he shoved Albus forward, and James strode in with a clearly brash attitude. "Have been doing! Destroying the school, again. I took this from them!"
He shoved the mixture of items that he'd stolen from James into Professor McGonagall's hands. She turned them over and it was apparent that she thought Filch was wasting her time.
For the first time, Albus and everyone else in the room could see exactly what his James Sirius Potter had been building, but before anyone could question him he spoke up.
"Professor, please, my brother didn't do anything. It was all me, I swear. Don't get him in trouble, please!" Albus looked at his brother in amazement. To him, it appeared that the only person James seemed to be afraid of was their mother.
"That's a lie! I saw both of them with my own eyes- and I want punishment!" Filch had now reached his level of anger where all he did was scream.
"Where did you say you discovered them, again, Argus?"
"By the portrait of Susan the Sorceress, the corridor one over from where Slytherin's common room lies! And they deserve PUNISHMENT! I want to see some expulsions."
"Argus, you have been trying to get the Potters expelled for nearly three generations, will you please stop jumping to the conclusion that everything they do should have them expelled?!"
"They deserve it! They both were trying to destroy the Slytherin's common room, and you aren't going to do anything?"
"I have never said that, Argus. But I like to think that I'm fair, and I would like to hear their side of the story. Now, Mr. Potter, would you care to explain to me what you were doing with a box of Weasleys' Wild-Fire Whiz-Bangs and a pile of dungbombs near the Slytherin's common room?"
All heads turned to face James, and he brightened. He had just been given a chance to escape any sort of trouble, and he was going to make the most of it. Albus, on the other hand, was nervous. He knew that his brother seemed to have unfaltering impunity, but that couldn't last forever, could it? And there was no way to get out of this one, they had been caught in the act.
"Well, professor, you see, Scorpius had been eyeing Rose Weasley, and I've heard stories of what his dad did to my parents and Rose's parents, my uncle told me everything. So I thought that if I sent him this little gift... he would leave my cousin alone, because I believe Slytherins shouldn't be hanging around Gryffindors."
There was a snort from the wall, and everyone in the room heard the soft mutterings coming from Severus Snape's portrait. "Exactly like his father and grandfather- absolutely arrogant, dislikes Slytherin with a passion, a stubborn fool, probably only a mediocre wizard, intent on destroying the school-" Snape's complaints against James were cut short when Albus, curious to see which portrait could possibly hold so much hatred for his family, met Snape's eyes. Once again, the green eyes found the black, but instead of coldness and death, the black eyes now only held the pain of memories long since past. The green eyes held confusion at why this man seemed to hate his brother and even himself with such a passion when they'd only just been in the room for a minute or two.
"James..." Professor McGonagall started slowly. "First, your house pride and your father and uncle's predjudice should never stand in the way for unity and friendship between houses. Second, if your cousin would like to be friends with a Slytherin, let her. I believe that little Rose Weasley is perfectly capable in her ability to choose her friends. And third, Mr. Potter, no matter what the case may be, you should never try to sneak into another common room to wreak havoc upon it. For that, I'm taking twenty points from Gryffindor."
"Twenty points? That's all? No detention? Professor, he deserves much worse than this!"
"Argus, I shall decide what he deserves. Now, will you please escort James to Gryffindor's Head of House? He will decide any further punishment."
"Are you serious, Headmistress? Professor Longbottom never punishes Potter! This is an injustice to the school!"
"Do what I ask, Argus. I believe Professor Longbottom treats them as he would any other student." Filch turned and stalked angrily out of the room, while James and Albus hurried to catch up. "No, Albus, you stay here for a moment." Albus Potter hesitantly turned back, as his brother ran ahead, delighted at his luck.
"Yes, professor?" He stuttered nervously, eyeing the photographs on the wall. One in particular, of an elderly man with a long white beard whose portrait stood above the Headmistress' desk, caught his eye. He squinted to read the plaque- Albus could make out the first line "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore" but the rest was too far away for his eyes to read. He looked up at the portrait, and was shocked to see that a thin line of tears was falling from the portrait’s eyes.
"Albus, I want you to know that I'm well aware that you had nothing to do with your brother's prank right now."
"Um, thank you, professor." Albus was still staring at the portrait- this was the man he was named after. The man his dad had told him about, the greatest wizard ever known. This was Professor Dumbledore, who had believed in his dad and helped him defeat the Dark Lord. And Albus was named after him.
"And I also asked you to stay for one other reason." Albus was barely listening to her, his eyes were now searching around the room, looking at the other portraits in the hopes that he might see his other namesake. "I thought that perhaps now might be a good time to introduce you to two men who you should know."
"Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape, meet Albus Severus Potter." Albus now found where Snape's portrait was on the wall, and he was shocked to see that it was the man who spoke with such hatred to his brother.
"I don't believe this... Harry, he named his son..." Dumbledore murmured so quietly. The tears from before were now coming down much quicker, but it was out of happiness. "Severus, look. And after everything you ever said about Harry. Look how he felt about you." Snape didn't respond, but continued to stare into Albus Severus Potter's green eyes.
"My dad told me about you." Albus told the portrait of Professor Snape. Snape didn't seem interested in anything anyone had to say, he seemed to be drinking in the green of Albus' eyes, as if he almost expected Lily Evans to apparate into the office.
"That's all, you may go now, Mr. Potter. And please try to help your brother stay out of trouble." Albus turned to leave and walked over to the door.
"What did he say about me? How awful I was to him? How I made his life miserable? How he hated me and how I hated him?" Snape spoke quietly and distantly, and Albus turned around to look at him once again.
"No." He appeared surprised, and was wondering how someone could think his father could say something that mean about someone. He thought back to the day at King's Cross Station, where his dad comforted him with the thought that Slytherin wouldn't be all bad. "He actually told me you were the bravest man he ever knew."
And then Albus Severus Potter turned on the spot and exited the office, taking Lily Evan's emerald eyes with him.