Chapter 8 : Parties and Pranks
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Chapter 8: Parties and Pranks
During the next few weeks, the teachers had increased their homework, each insisting that the students needed to increase their studying time. Albus found himself doing homework every day after dinner, and finding it hard to have time to have snow ball fights outside.
Albus hadn't forgotten about his cleaning detention with Washburn, and was doing even more to try to stay away from him. During class, Albus wouldn't even look at Washburn. He did not say a single word during Charms anymore. No more talking to John and Matt while they were practicing making fruit walk across their desks.
Albus had noticed that James had changed since the detention. He was quieter, and often sat in a corner of the common room with their cousins Cedric and Ben, whereas he used to be at the center of attention, talking about Quidditch matches. Albus guessed he was still scared about what happened during detention. Albus hadn't mentioned the incident to anyone, so only him, John, and Matt knew. Of course, James had told Cedric, Ben, and his friend Nathan, but Albus rarely noticed them talking about it. He was also a bit afraid of what the incident meant, but not nearly as much as James was.
Before they knew it, Christmas holiday was upon them. There was one day left, which was the day of Slughorn's Christmas party. The entire school was talking about it, and envious students who had not received invitations were constantly dropping hints to invited students about going with them. Albus would have gladly given up his invitation, but since all his cousins, James, and his dad were going, he had to go too.
Albus, John, and Matt had decided they should go a little later than the party actually started, so they could try to slip in unnoticed. John in particular, was very excited about going.
“Which Quidditch player do you think Slughorn's invited?” he asked as they walked down to the dungeons.
“Dunno. Maybe he's invited a couple!” Matt responded excitedly.
“Yeah! I sure hope so,” John said.
“Guess we're about to find out,” Albus told them as he opened the door and walked into the dungeon. It was packed. Albus noticed most of his cousins, with their flaming red hair. The few who had not inherited the hair were blending in with everyone else.
“Blimey! How are we supposed to find the Quidditch players with all these people here?” John exclaimed.
“No idea. How about we head for the food and hope we find them on the way?” Matt asked.
“Sounds good. C'mon, Albus,” John said as he pushed through people to get to the food. Albus and Matt followed.
“You see Willinson anywhere?” Albus whispered.
“No, but it's hard to tell if he's here or not,” John answered.
“I'm sure he's here somewhere. Keep your eyes peeled for him,” Albus told his friends. “I've got to stay away from him.”
When the boys arrived at the food table, they saw that Rose and Amanda were already there. “Hi. Did you just get here?” Rose asked.
“Yup, wanted to slip in unnoticed,” Albus told her as he grabbed a plate and started filling it. “Seen anyone interesting yet?”
“Yeah, actually. The rumor about the Quidditch players was right,” Rose responded.
“Really!? Who's here?” John shouted, as he scanned the crowd.
“Oliver Wood. He used to be Keeper for Puddlemere United,” Rose told him.
“I know who he played for, Rose. He's really here? That's brilliant. Puddlemere United's my team,” John told them.
“We know, you've told us a million times,” Rose said exasperatingly.
“Who else?” Albus asked.
“Helena Yaspies, current Chaser for Chudley Cannons,” Amanda told them.
Matt started choking and spat out his mouthful of butterbeer. Albus slapped him on the back. “You okay, mate?”
“I'm fine!” Matt coughed, “The Chudley Cannons are my team! I've got to find her! Anyone got a quill for an autograph?”
Rose laughed. “You guys are crazy.”
“Nothing crazy about wanting to meet your favorite Quidditch players,” John told her. “Blimey, Oliver Wood...”
“I ever tell you that my dad used to play on the Gryffindor team with Oliver Wood?” Albus asked John.
This time it was John's turn to spit out his butterbeer. “No! You never did! Why not?”
Albus laughed. “You never asked. Anyway, he was captain when my dad joined the team in his first year. They played on the team together until my dad's third year.”
“Blimey! That's brilliant! So, you could have met him?” John asked.
“I have,” Albus smiled.
“You're kidding!” John shouted, “Well, what are we waiting for? Go introduce me!”
Albus laughed. “Ok, let's go find him. You want to come, Rose and Amanda?”
Rose sighed, “Sure, I guess.”
“Any chance you know Helena Yaspies?” Matt asked.
“Nope, sorry. Never met her,” Albus told his friend as they maneuvered their way through the crowd.
“There he is, Albus!” John shouted, pointing to the back of the room. “He's talking to your dad.”
Albus made his way to the back of the room, his friends following behind him. The room was slightly less crowded in the back. There was still no sign of Willinson.
“Hi, Al!” Harry waved at Albus.
“What's up? Enjoying the party? I know you're not a fan of these, but thanks for coming,” Harry told Albus. He bent down so only Albus could hear what he next said, “You know, I wasn't a fan of these either, when I was in Hogwarts.”
“How are you, Albus? Enjoying school?” Oliver asked.
“Yeah, it's great!” Albus responded. “These are my friends, John Brickston- he's a big Puddlemere United supporter, Matt Eckerton, and Amanda Tagger.”
“Hi, nice to meet you,” Oliver told Albus's friends. “So, you support Puddlemere United, John?”
“Yeah!” John shouted, his eyes lit up. “I've been to a few matches. I saw you in the last one you played in! I was 9, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Such spectacular saves.”
Oliver laughed, “That was a good game. I'm glad you enjoyed it.”
“It was awesome!” John said.
A tall brunette came walking over to the group, carrying a small boy on her hip. A little girl was trailing behind her with a plate of Christmas biscuits.
“Hey, Heather,” Oliver put his arm around the woman. “John, Matt, Amanda, this is my wife, Heather. And this,” Oliver took the little boy from his wife and put him on his shoulders, “is my 2 year old son, Alex. And my daughter, Holly who is 6.”
“Hi,” John and Matt said together.
“I stopped playing Keeper shortly after Alex was born. Couldn't keep up all the traveling with 2 kids.”
“I remember that,” John told him, “I was kinda mad, but was just glad I got to see your last match.”
Oliver laughed, “I understand. I would have been mad if I were you, too. But I've got high hopes for little Alex here. He can already fly his toy broom expertly. And Holly's already flying a real broom!” Oliver beamed, he was obviously proud of his kids.
“That's pretty neat!” Matt replied, “My mum wouldn't let me on a broom until I was 9.”
“Holly was on one at 5. But just because you start late doesn't mean you'll be a bad Quidditch player,” Oliver explained, “Look at your DADA teacher! Hadn't set one leg over a broom until he was 11.”
“Yeah, but I'm rubbish at Quidditch,” Matt told him.
“Hey, Mr. Wood, could you sign my Quaffle?” John produced a Quaffle from his bag and held it out to Oliver.
“You brought a Quaffle?!” Rose exclaimed.
“'Course! After hearing those rumors, how could I not bring one?”
“Sure, I'll sign it,” Oliver took the Quaffle and signed it with a quill that he pulled out of his robes. He then handed it back to John.
“Thank you,” John whispered, as he stared in awe at the Quaffle.
“How 'bout you, Matt?” Oliver asked, “You want an autograph?”
“Sure! But I don't have a Quaffle.”
“That's okay. I've got some parchment,” Oliver signed some parchment and gave it to Matt.
“Thanks!” Matt pocketed the parchment.
Alex started whining. “Hungy, hungy!”
“Well, boys, I've got to go get some food for little Alex, here,” Oliver told them, “Enjoy the party!” He and Heather walked towards the food table with Holly behind them.
“Wow, just wow,” John told his friends, “That was so cool.”
“I'll say,” Matt replied.
“I can't believe you two know him!” John told Albus and Rose.
Rose rolled her eyes, “It's no big deal.”
“You just don't like Quidditch that much,” Albus told her, “It's cause you're horrible on a broom.”
“Shut it, Albus,” Rose glared at him.
“Where's Helena Yaspies?” John scanned the crowd, “Any of you lot seen her?”
“Nope, not yet,” Albus told them.
“No, but look over there near Slughorn's desk. It's Willinson,” Matt whispred.
“Excellent!” John grinned.
“What?” Albus looked at him like he was crazy, “Why on earth do you want to see him?”
“I've been plotting a little prank,” John whispred, “C'mere.” He pulled them behind a table and they all crouched down. John pulled a box out of his bag. “This is an Exploding Eclair.”
“What?” Amanda asked.
“Exploding Eclair,” John repeated, “I bought it through owl-order from your uncle's store, Albus.”
“What are you going to do with it?” Albus eyed him warily, he happened to have been on the receiving end of an Exploding Eclair at the family dinner before start of term. His cousin, Bradley, had done it.
“Plant it on Willinson's plate,” John told them, “But I'll need your help. When Willinson sets his plate down, walk by him. Close enough that he can see you, but far enough that he'll have to leave his plate unattended. Then I'll put the eclair on it. And when he bites into it, bam! It'll explode.”
“Brilliant!” Matt shouted.
“I dunno. It'll make him real mad,” Albus said.
“But he won't know it's us! That's the beauty of it. There's so many people here,” John explained, “But to be on the safe side, we'll leave right after. We don't want to stay if he's here anyway.”
“True,” Albus agreed.
“Everyone in, then?” John asked, grinning.
“Yep,” they all stated.
“Then let's go,” John got up from under the table and his friends followed. Willinson was still by the desk, so Albus, Matt, Amanda, and Rose headed over. They walked next to the food table and waited until Willinson noticed them. It didn't take long. He spotted them, smirked, and set down his food. Albus saw John close in on his plate.
“Hello, Potty, Weasel, and company,” Willinson glared, “Enjoying the party? I'm just waiting until the moment you explode again, Potty.”
“Willinson,” Albus snarled, “I'm not planning on exploding. Are you?”
“'Course not. When have I ever exploded? You on the other hand,” Willinson laughed, “Don't like the popularity, do you, baby Potty?”
“Shut it,” Matt stepped towards Willinson.
“What're you going to do about it, Shrimp?” Willinson towered over Matt by at least a foot.
“You think I'd tell you what I'd do? Think I'm stupid? If I told you, you'd know how to block it,” Matt growled.
“I doubt there's a curse you know that I don't know how to block.”
“Probably, but I know you wouldn't start anything with Professor Potter a few feet away,” Matt jerked his head in the direction of Harry.
At that moment, Albus looked over and saw John. John winked at him and walked away from Willinson's plate.
“Well, I think I've had enough of your company tonight, Willinson,” Albus annonced, “Have a horrible Christmas.” Albus started to walk towards John, and his friends followed.
“Got it planted, then?” Albus asked when they reached John.
“Yup,” John gave him a thumbs up, “We're on.”
They walked over to the door of the dungeon so they could escape easily if needed. Willinson picked up his plate and wandered back over to his friends. As they were talking, he picked up the eclair and bit into it.
The explosion was amazing. As soon as Willinson bit the eclair, cream exploded all over his face and in a 2 foot radius around him. A few bystanders were hit as well. It didn't seem possible that that much cream could fit in one eclair.
“Bloody Hell!” Willinson shouted, and the whole dungeon went silent. Everyone looked at Willinson and started laughing.
Willinson looked around the room and his gaze fell on Albus. “I'll get you for this, Potty,” he seethed as he stormed out of the dungeon.
“That was bloody brilliant,” John said once Willinson had disappeared into the hallway.
“Yeah, it was!” Matt agreed.
The girls and Albus nodded. “But he said he'd get us. We'd better be on the lookout. He knows it was us,” Albus told them.
“He can't know it was us!” Matt said.
“Yeah, I guess. But he'd still get us even if he doesn't know who did it,” Albus reasoned.
“But it's Christmas break tomorrow, so it doesn't matter!” John grinned.
“I suppose you're right,” Albus smiled, “But let's get to the common room anyway. His friends agreed, and the five of them made their way to Gryffindor tower.
It was still early when they made it back to the common room, so it was quite crowded. However, Amanda spotted a few chairs in the back for them to occupy.
“So, who's excited about Christmas?” John asked, “I sure am, I could use a break from studying.”
“You're not going to get a break,” Rose told him, “We've got loads of homework.”
“Way to put a damper on things, Rose,” John answered, “But at least there's no classes!”
“I'm looking forward to Christmas,” Albus said, “I love Christmas.”
“What do you usually do for the holidays?” Amanda asked.
“Oh, it's great! We all go to my grandma and grandpa's house. Everyone. My family, Rose's family, all our aunts, uncles, and cousins. Plus Teddy and his grandma. It's pretty crowded, but it's still fun. I love it. Usually someone winds up having too much to drink and there's loads of jokes played on people,” Albus said excitedly.
“Yeah, it's pretty neat. We don't all stay the whole break, though. Because most of us have other family to visit. My family usually stays until a few days after Christmas and then we spend the rest of the holiday with my mum's parents,” Rose explained, “But Albus's family spends the whole break at the Burrow, that's what we call my grandparents' house.”
“Yep. But most of our cousins go straight to the Burrow from Hogwarts. My family always goes home first, to visit my grandparents' graves. We always do that on Christmas Eve. Dad's been going ever since he was 17, every year on Christmas Eve. Then we get the Burrow late that night.”
“What do you do you lot do for Christmas?” Rose asked.
“Oh, I love Christmas too,” John smiled, “We stay at my house and my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents all come over. They never all come at the same time, though, so it gets pretty crazy. My mum freaks out because she never knows how much to cook. And usually someone starts arguing about something, but it's all right. My family loves to argue, but we never get real mad at each other.”
“Sounds pretty cool. You have a lot of cousins, John?” Amanda asked.
“A fair amount. Most of them are all younger than me, though. 'Course that means they're great to play tricks on,” John laughed.
“Well, my family celebrates Hannukah,” Amanda told everyone.
“Oh, that's neat,” Albus told her.
“Yeah, it's good. I'm just glad Hannukah is late this year, so I'll be home for it. Sometimes it's at the end of November. But anyway, I have a pretty small family. Just 3 cousins and my aunt and uncle. And my little brother and older sister. My cousins usually come over for two days or so and we all exchange presents. It's quiet, but fun.”
“Sounds fun,” John agreed, “But I love my huge loud family. What do you do, Matt? You've been awful quiet.”
Matt looked up from the table. “Christmas has never been all that fun for me, I guess. We usually go down to Australia to visit my grandparents.”
“That sounds like fun to me,” John told Matt.
“Well, it's not. I don't like Australia. That's where-” But Matt suddenly stopped talking.
“Where what?” John asked.
“Nothing, nothing. It's just, that's where I, er, got sick for the first time. You know, how I get sick so much.”
“Yeah, anyway, well, we visit my grandparents. My parents, me and my sister go. My mum's a muggle born, and we visit her parents. It's always very formal when we visit them. They're rich and stuck up. Never let me do anything there. I have to just sit still and they're always staring at me. Guess they don't want me to break anything. Luckily we only visit them at Christmas. I don't have any cousins. My dad's got a brother, but he's living in the States, so we don't see him much either. We sometimes visit him over the summer. My dad's parents died a long time ago, before I was born. So I don't have much family. I just wish we'd spend Christmas at home.”
Albus, John, Amanda, and Rose just looked at Matt. “I'm sorry, Matt. I wish you had a better Christmas,” Rose said sympathetically.
“Why don't you spend Christmas with us?” Albus asked, “No one will notice another person in the Burrow.”
“That's a great idea!” Rose shouted.
“I dunno. I don't think my parents will let me. Especially this short notice,” Matt looked down glumly. “My mum likes all of us to be together on Christmas. She seems to think every year it will be different. That my grandparents will loosen up. But they never do.”
“Blimey,” John whispered, “That stinks.”
“I know,” Matt agreed.
At that moment, James came bursting in with his friend, Nathan. They both made a beeline for Albus's table.
“Was it really you?” James shouted breathlessly, “Did you give Willinson the Exploding Eclair?”
John grinned. “It was my idea.”
“Brilliant, just brilliant,” James smiled, “The look on his face...”
“Yeah, but you lot had better watch out when you next see him. He seemed to know it was you,” Nathan told them.
“I'm not worried,” John answered, “He'll probably forget about it over Christmas.”
“I sure hope so,” Albus stated. He looked at his watch. It was midnight. “Well, I'm off to bed. I'll see you guys in the morning.
“We'd all better go to bed,” Rose stood up, “I think the train is leaving at noon tomorrow.”
Albus got up out of his chair and headed to the staircase. He couldn't wait to go to the Burrow. He missed being surrounded by his family all the time. He missed his grandmother's cooking. Thoughts of the delicious food filed his head as he drifted off into a pleasant, dreamless sleep.
A/N: Hope you guys like it! Please read and review. Thanks as always to Dancer_Of_Starlight and my other sister and brother. Also, thanks to QUEEN and teddysxxgirl for their reviews! Next chapter is Christmas Eve.
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