Albus woke up late the next morning, but he was still up before John or Matt were. Bilius and Ethan's beds were empty, so they were already up. Albus was surprised that John wasn't up yet. He rarely ever missed breakfast, even on the weekends. The Quidditch match wasn't for another two hours, so Albus quietly got dressed and read a bit of his Quidditch in the Twentieth Century book. He had been reading for a half hour when he heard someone come into the room.
"Albus?" a voice called out, "Aren't you up yet?"
Albus looked up from his book, "Oh, hi Rose, Amanda. I've been up for a while, but those two are still asleep." He jerked his head towards John and Matt's beds.
"I don't think I've ever seen John miss breakfast before," Rose commented while looking at his sleeping form.
"Me neither. But we did stay up pretty late last night," Albus said.
"Yeah. We've been up for a while, doing homework," Rose responded.
"Still have loads more to do, though," Amanda sighed, "I haven't made much progress on my phases of the moon essay for Astronomy."
"Bet Matt could have that done in fifteen minutes," Albus commented, "He could probably help you."
"Good idea, I'll ask him after the match," Amanda decided, "We should probably get them up, though."
Albus agreed and pulled back the curtains on Matt's bed while Rose and Amanda prodded John awake. Albus looked down at Matt, who was sleeping soundly. Albus almost felt bad waking him up, but he knew Matt wanted to watch the match and would be mad if no one woke him up in time. Albus pulled back the blankets and gently poked his arm.
"Wha's going on?" Matt mumbled. He sat up and rubbed his eyes.
"We almost slept through Quidditch," John replied sleepily as he got up out of bed and headed to the bathroom.
"Oh, right!" Matt yawned and got up immediately.
Fifteen minutes later, Albus headed down to the Great Hall with his friends to have lunch before the match. The usual excitement that accompanied a Quidditch match was in the air when they walked into the room. Harry had been right when he said that Quidditch would take people's minds off Rita Skeeter's article. Albus hadn't heard anyone mention it in days. It seemed as if everyone had finally forgotten about it.
"Why can't the conditions be like this when we play?" James groaned as he sat down next to Albus.
The weather was unusually good. It was still bitterly cold, but it was relatively sunny.
"Well, it doesn't matter, because our team can play in any weather!" Samantha Meyers announced. "The Hufflepuffs on the other hand...."
"They're better than the Slytherins this year," James commented.
"True, but the Slytherins haven't totally lost the Cup yet. Ravenclaw only beat them by 30 points in their match. Now, if they lose to Hufflepuff in the next match, they'll be out of the running," Samantha explained.
After lunch, everyone made their way to the Quidditch pitch. Albus and his friends managed to get good seats, but none of them really knew which team to root for. The match lasted almost two hours before the Ravenclaw Seeker finally caught the Snitch. Both Seekers spent most of the match hovering above the other players, neither of them managing to see the Snitch. James was sitting a few seats down from Albus and Albus heard him shouting to the Seekers on numerous occasions because he had seen the Snitch. In the end, the Ravenclaw Seeker saw it hovering near the Hufflepuff goal posts, caught it, and won the game.
Albus and his friends spent the remainder of the day working on their homework. Matt was able to help Amanda finish her essay, and everyone helped him catch up on all the work he had missed the previous week.
"Fifteen minutes left!" Professor Slughorn announced during double potions one March afternoon, a few weeks later. "Bring a sample of your potion up to my desk for grading and clean up, please!"
Albus poured a bit of his boil-cure potion into a vial and took it up to Professor Slughorn while John cleaned out their cauldron.
"Albus, m'boy!" Slughorn grinned at him and took his potion. He held it up to the light and shook it. "Near perfect, I think! Could have done with a few more porcupine quills, but very good.
"Now, I am planning on having another little meeting this Sunday evening," Slughorn went on, as he put Albus's potion on his desk with the others. "I was hoping you and Miss Weasley would be able to attend."
Albus inwardly groaned. He did not want to go to another Slug Club meeting. The thought of being that close to Quinton Willinson again made him shudder. "Er, well, actually, I've got lessons with my Aunt Hermione every Sunday. Rose does, too."
"Oh, what a shame," Slughorn replied, "Maybe next time, then?"
"Er, maybe," Albus shifted nervously. He had no intentions of ever going to another Slug Club meeting. At least not while Willinson was still at Hogwarts.
Albus went back to his table, got his bag, and left the room with his friends. As they walked up the stairs to the Entrance Hall, Albus told them about the Slug Club meeting.
"You're not going, are you, Albus?" John questioned.
"Definitely not," Albus replied adamantly, "Plus, I've got Occlumency that night anyway."
"I'm glad he made the meeting for a Sunday, then," Rose commented.
"Yeah, me too. But he won't do it again, though. Now that he knows we have lessons that night. I guess next time I'll just have to say I've got too much homework or something," Albus said.
"Or use a Puking Pastille or Fever Fudge or something," John suggested.
"That could work," Albus replied as they emerged into the Entrance Hall. They started to cross towards the Great Hall when Albus noticed someone walking towards them. He grabbed the backs of Rose and Matt's robes and stopped them.
"What?" Matt turned around and looked quizzically at Albus.
"Shush!" Albus whispered, "Come here." Albus lead them over to a broom cupboard and pulled them inside it.
"What are we doing in here?" John asked loudly.
"Shush!" Albus said again and opened the door a crack. "Look at that man. He's who I saw arguing with Washburn!"
Rose, John, Matt, and Amanda each took a turn peering out the door to look at the wizard. "Are you sure?" Rose asked.
"Positive," Albus replied.
"Wait, you saw him arguing with Washburn?" Matt asked.
"Oh, right, you were in the Hospital Wing then," Albus remembered. He quickly rehashed what he had overheard while doing detention for Washburn.
"So Washburn's doing some kind of job for that wizard?"
"Yeah," Albus said, "And I think they're up to something. I say we follow him."
"But it's time for supper!" John whined.
"Exactly. Which means no one will be around to wonder what we're up to," Albus reasoned. "Plus, we'll get supper after."
John sighed, "Fine. Where do you think they went?"
"Probably Washburn's office."
Rose opened the door. "Let's go then."
Albus followed Rose out the door and they crept up the stairs towards Washburn's office, with John, Matt, and Amanda following. The corridors were empty since everyone was in the Great Hall. They reached the Charms classroom and Albus peeked inside. Washburn and the other wizard were standing near his desk, arguing in hushed voices. Albus motioned for his friends to move closer and the five of them huddled near the open door, being careful not to make too much noise.
"You haven't done it yet," the strange man hissed, "Why haven't you done it?"
"I'm sorry!" Washburn replied, "I haven't been able to yet!"
"Well, why not? It doesn't seem that difficult to me."
"It's harder than you'd think! I don't know where they are!" Washburn answered.
"I've told you how to find out!"
"I know and I've been trying. I have, really!" Washburn moaned.
Albus looked quizzically at his friends. He had never seen Washburn like this before. Usually, it was Washburn who was doing the bullying, not the other way around. But this man was obviously angry that Washburn hadn't finished whatever he wanted him to do.
"Well, hurry up then. Try harder!" the strange wizard insisted.
"I will, I will."
"You know we cannot proceed without them. I'm positive I know where one of them is, but it will prove very difficult to get. Once we find out where the others are, we'll do them first. They're the more important ones anyway. So, you must do it soon. Just find out where they are. I'll retrieve them. You've obviously had difficulties with even doing the simple task of finding them, let alone retrieving them," the wizard growled.
"Yes, I know. I will try harder, I will. It's just...," Washburn trailed off.
"What?!" the wizard demanded.
Albus leaned his head closer to the doorway, but Washburn remained silent. Then Albus felt a wet object collide with his head. "Argh!" he screamed and turned around.
"Ickle firsties!" Peeves was bobbing up and down in the air, cackling madly. "Spying on teachers? Very naughty!
"Peeves!" Rose shouted as the poltergeist heaved a water balloon at her head. Peeves cackled and threw another water balloon at Albus.
"What is going on out here?!" Washburn appeared in the doorway, his voice returning to the usual rage that Albus was used to.
"Firsties spying on your meeting, Professor, Sir!" Peeves saluted Washburn and flew down the hallway, laughing hysterically.
"Potter!" Washburn spat, glaring at Albus. Albus stood trembling and soaking wet, waiting for whatever was coming next. At the time, spying on Washburn seemed like a great idea. But now that he thought about it, it was inevitable that they would be caught.
The strange wizard came sauntering out of the room with a smug look on his face. "I think that concludes our discussion. I shall be speaking with you shortly." He walked down the corridor and disappeared around a corner.
Washburn watched him leave and once he was gone, Washburn turned back to Albus. "Just what, do you lot, think you were doing?" he seethed.
Albus stood still, but said nothing. Rose, John, Matt, and Amanda remained silent as well. Washburn looked at each of them in turn and returned his gaze to Albus. "100 points from Gryffindor. And detention, this Monday at 7 pm, all of you. I'll have you polishing the trophies," he spat.
Albus nodded. 100 points, that was the most Washburn had ever taken from them before. The detention was no big deal, but the points would set Gryffindor quite a ways back in the running for the House Cup.
"Um, Professor," Matt whispered, "Is there any chance we could do it this weekend, maybe, instead of Monday?"
Washburn turned to glare at Matt, looking livid. "NO! I've got other detentions scheduled for the weekend! You'll meet me in the Trophy Room at 7 pm on Monday, or I'll report you to the headmaster!" He gave Matt one more piercing stare and went back into his room, slamming the door behind him.
Albus turned and looked at his friends. They all had shocked expressions on their faces and Matt looked quite worried. Rose's hair was dripping with water.
"Told you we should have gone to supper instead," John commented, as they started walking down the corridor.
"Shut it," Albus replied, "We may have gotten detention, but we did hear some useful information."
"He's got a point," Rose said, "Washburn's definitely up to something. That man wants him to find something out, find out where something is, and then they're going to try to steal it."
"I guess, but we don't even know what they're trying to find out. We can't really do anything about it," John responded.
"And Washburn's even more angry with us," Matt said dryly.
"Yeah, but he already hates me so much that it doesn't matter," Albus pointed out, "By the way, why did you want the detention switched? That's not the, you know, is it?" Albus asked, not wanting to say 'full moon' out loud, in case anyone was lurking around.
"No," Matt whispered, "But it's two nights after the detention, so I'll already be feeling miserable."
"Oh," Albus said, remembering how tired Matt always was in the days preceding the full moon. "Maybe you could talk to my dad or Professor Longbottom? They'd make Washburn switch it."
"I know they would, but then word would get around to Malfoy. The last thing I need is him wondering why I can choose when I have my detentions. You know Washburn would somehow mention it in class."
"Yeah, he would," Albus said darkly.
"We'll just polish your trophies for you," John assured him, "Just make it look like you're doing something and we'll cover for you."
Matt smiled weakly, "Thanks."
"So, we going to go eat supper or not?" John turned towards the stairs.
"You guys go ahead," Albus answered, "I've got to go change out of these wet robes." He gave Rose a meaningful glance.
"I've got to change, too," Rose told them and gestured to her soaking robes.
"All right," John said, and started down the stairs with Matt and Amanda.
Albus and Rose set off for Gryffindor Tower. Once they entered the deserted common room, Rose turned to look at Albus. "You thought of the Hallows when you heard Washburn talking, didn't you?"
"Yeah," Albus said, "Did you?"
Rose nodded, "It does seem suspicious."
"It's got to be him. It fits. That's why he hates me. He thought I'd know where the Hallows are, but I don't."
"I dunno. I mean, it does fit, but still, Washburn's a teacher."
"So what? Teachers can be Dark wizards, too."
"I know, but we don't have any proof! We didn't even hear him say 'Hallows'," Rose reasoned.
"I know, so I don't think we should tell my dad yet, we can't get him in trouble, but it's a start. And we learned more about the Hallows," Albus pointed out, "They already know where one of them is, but it's going to be hard to get. Maybe it's heavily guarded?"
"Probably. Anyway, I think we'll probably have to take Dumbledore's advice and talk to John, Matt, and Amanda about it. We've got to find out what they are."
"Yeah, we should. We'll do it soon," Albus assured her.
"Albus, do you think that Washburn, or whoever is trying to get the Hallows, will be able to bring back Voldemort?" Rose asked quietly.
"I don't think so. I mean, he's dead, right? So how could he come back? Plus, in my dream, the wizard said he was going to bring about Voldemort's 'ideals'."
"Well, his 'ideals' are pretty scary," Rose shuddered, "And the idea of a second Voldemort's almost as scary as the first one."
"Yeah," Albus agreed, "Which is why we've got to keep Washburn from getting the Hallows."
A/N: Thanks to my sister and beta, Dancer_of_Starlight, my other sister, and my brother. Also, thanks to Moonylupin, XXEveryinchXX, and TheNobleHouseofPotter for their reviews!
I've posted my next story, In Moonlight's Shadow. Please check it out on my author page!
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