Word spread like wildfire that a group of first years had lost Gryffindor 100 points in one night. Quite a few older students were very angry about this, especially since the loss of points placed them below both Slytherin and Hufflepuff in the running for the House Cup. After classes the next day, Albus and his friends were bombarded by a couple fifth years, including his cousins Georgia and Gabriella, demanding to know why the points were taking away. Albus quickly explained what had happened with Washburn, and silence fell around the common room. After a few moments, someone started clapping. Soon after, a couple more people joined in and eventually the entire common room was cheering and slapping Albus and his friends on the back. Albus stared quizzically at everyone, wondering why they were all cheering that he had lost them so many points.
"Why's everyone clapping?" Albus asked James.
James grinned, "Because you made Washburn so angry! Everyone hates him! No one's had the nerve to spy on him before. It's brilliant, really. I've heard people have been trying to get him to quit since he first started teaching when Victoire was a first year. You've done so much stuff to him this year. First you set him on fire-"
"That was a complete accident!"
"Doesn't matter, the point is, he's horrible to everyone, except the Slytherins. And you're rebelling against him. Honestly, you've got more nerve than I thought," James stared in awe at his brother.
"Thanks," Albus smiled at James. Albus had felt horrible about losing so many points, but if the other Gryffindors weren't going to care, than maybe it wasn't so bad after all.
For the next few days, whenever Albus and his friends were in the common room, the other Gryffindors would ask Albus for help in planning pranks to pull on Washburn. Apparently, the other Gryffindors saw Albus's spying as inspiration to figure out their own ways to drive the Charms professor crazy. Albus, however, wanted nothing to do with it. He was far too worried about the idea of Washburn and that other wizard trying to find the Hallows and use them to complete Voldemort's plans. He spent the weekend trying to do homework, but always wound up thinking about the Hallows and trying to think of something that was heavily guarded that could be used to gain power.
By the time Monday arrived, Albus had exhausted every possible powerful object and couldn't think of anymore. Monday meant that it was time for their detention with Washburn. After dinner, Albus and his friends walked slowly to the trophy room. Albus was not looking forward to being in close vicinity with the person who was most likely performing Legilimency on him.
"Are you all right, Matt?" Rose asked, jolting Albus out of his thoughts. He turned around to look at Matt, who was lagging behind the rest of them, even though they were all walking slow.
"Yeah," Matt yawned, "Just tired, no big deal."
"You should go to Madam Pomfrey. She'll make Washburn reschedule the detention," Rose suggested.
"And have Malfoy find out? No. Plus, if I do it another time, I'll have to do it alone," Matt shuddered at the thought of being alone with Washburn.
No one said another word the rest of the way to the trophy room. When they got there, Washburn was already there, looking murderous, and standing next to a large bucket of cleaning supplies.
"It's 7:05. You're late," he growled.
"Sorry, sir," Matt mumbled, "It was my fault."
"I don't care who's fault it was. It just means you'll be here later," Washburn barked, "You'll be staying until every one of these trophies is spotless. No magic, of course."
Washburn strode over to a large armchair that was sitting near the door, sat down in it, and started his usual glaring. Albus picked up a bottle of polish and a rag and wandered over to a trophy for the Gobstones Club. John and Matt started polishing trophies on either side of Albus, while Rose and Amanda started on the other side of the room. The trophy room was quite large and Albus guessed it would take them at least two hours, perhaps more, to polish all the trophies and cases. They polished in silence for a half hour, moving along the wall of trophies as they went on. Albus was polishing a Wizard's Chess Championship trophy from 1922 when he felt a sharp poke in his side. He turned to his right and saw John, who had stopped polishing his trophy. "What?" Albus whispered.
John silently pointed to Albus's other side and Albus turned to look. Matt was standing with his head slumped up against the trophy case. He was fast asleep. Albus glanced nervously back at John. Albus didn't want to know what Washburn would do to Matt if he discovered that he wasn't awake.
"Matt," Albus prodded his friend gently, "Wake up."
Matt groaned a little and lifted his head off the glass. Albus glanced nervously at Washburn. Luckily he was currently pointing out a spot of dirt that Rose had missed on a Quidditch trophy. Albus poked Matt again, a little harder this time.
"Ouch!" Matt winced and opened his eyes. He glanced around with a confused look on his face.
"Oh, right," Matt picked up his rag that had fallen on the floor when he drifted off and went back to polishing.
The three boys continued polishing in silence for the next hour. Occasionally, either Albus or John would have to wake Matt up. Matt was not getting a whole lot of polishing done, but since he was working right next to Albus and John, Washburn didn't seem to notice.
"Albus," John whispered a while later.
"What?" Albus looked over at John. John pointed at the trophy he was polishing. Albus looked at it and saw that it was a plaque of everyone who received an award for special services to the school.
John pointed at two names on it, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. "What did they do?" he whispered.
"Saved my mum from Voldemort and a basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets," Albus whispered back. "And discovered that it was Voldemort attacking students in the first place. He possessed my mum through a diary he wrote when he was 16."
John stared wide-eyed at Albus. "Whoa. I think I remember my parents telling me about that. They weren't in Hogwarts yet when that happened."
"Quiet back there," Washburn growled.
Matt jerked awake at the sound of Washburn's voice. "Wha's going on?" he said a little too loudly.
"Oh, wake up, Eckerton! It's only 9 pm!" Washburn shouted, "The sooner you finish, the sooner you can go to bed."
"Sorry, sir," Matt replied and went back to polishing a trophy.
As Albus continued polishing, he thought about the award his dad had gotten all those years ago. He had been a hero every year he had been in school. He still was a hero. 'Will I ever do anything like that?' Albus thought. 'Will I ever live up to what people think I will do? Everyone thinks I'll do great things just because my dad did, but what if I can't?' Albus doubted that he would ever get an award for special services to the school.
"Eckerton!" Washburn shouted, causing Albus to come out of his thoughts. "Why can't you stay awake?! Get up!"
Albus looked over at Matt. He was slumped yet again on one of the glass display cases, looking very pale. He opened his eyes and started slowly dragging his rag along the glass with his eyes drooping.
"Why don't you lay off him already?" John shouted disgustedly. "You know perfectly well why he's tired."
Washburn got up from his chair and started towards John. Albus glanced nervously from one to the other. Rose and Amanda both stopped polishing and were paying close attention. Matt had fallen asleep on the glass again. "What did you say?" Washburn spat once he was within two feet of John.
John stared at him, not breaking eye contact. "I said, why don't you leave him alone? You knew he'd be tired today and you still made him do detention! Just let him sleep and we'll finish the cleaning. We're almost done anyway."
Washburn's face turned a shade of purple that Albus had only seen on his Great-Uncle Vernon. He stepped closer to John, but John didn't look away. "50 more points from Gryffindor for talking back. And another detention, I think. Tomorrow night. Lines. My office. But just you. Sleeping Beauty will be even worse tomorrow and as much as I'd love to give more detention to Potter, Weasley, and Tagger, they haven't done anything. This was all you. Go on, get out of here!" He shouted stormed out of the room.
Albus stared in shock as he left. He glanced around at John, who was still glaring at the door, his face as red with anger as Rose's hair. "C'mon, let's go," he said quietly as he prodded Matt awake.
"Huh?" Matt mumbled.
"Detention's over," Albus told him as he walked towards the door.
"Oh, ok," Matt yawned and followed the rest of them out of the door.
"He's kept us past curfew," Rose commented as they made their way through the corridors.
"Figures," John grunted.
"That was brilliant, by the way," Albus said.
"What was brilliant?" Matt asked.
"John flipped out on Washburn while you were asleep," Albus told him.
"What did you do?" Matt asked John in an astonished voice. "Why do I always miss the good stuff?"
John was still too angry to say much, so Albus explained. "He told Washburn off for yelling at you. It was after Washburn woke you up that second time. And you had just fallen asleep again. John started yelling at him about how he shouldn't have shouted at you when he knew why you were tired and how he shouldn't have assigned you detention for today."
"What?!" Matt shouted, "Are you mad? What did he do to you?"
"Detention tomorrow night. And fifty points lost," John replied.
"You are mad," Matt said quietly, "You didn't have to do that. I don't want you getting in trouble for me."
"Yes, I did," John said, "It's not fair what he did. He should have made the detention over the weekend, like you suggested. He's deliberately trying to run you down. It's just not fair."
"Yeah, well, life's not fair. I found that out six years ago," Matt said bluntly.
"Yeah, but it doesn't mean it's okay for people to treat you like dung," John replied softly.
By the time John trudged back into the common room after his detention the next night, most of the rest of the Gryffindors had gone to bed. There were a few fifth years huddled up at one table, studying for their O.W.L.s, and Victoire and Amy were up talking quietly while studying for their N.E.W.T.s. Albus and his friends had managed to get the good armchairs near the fire once the fourth years occupying them had gone to bed. Rose was reading a book while Albus and Amanda played gobstones. Matt was sound asleep in his chair.
"How'd it go?" Albus asked as John collapsed in one of the chairs.
"It was bloody miserable," John groaned, "He stared at me the whole time. Had me write 'I will respect my elders and not talk back' about 300 times."
"Yeah, that's what he does. I've gotten used to it, but it drove me mad during the first few detentions," Albus told him.
"He's an evil git," John growled.
"I know," Albus agreed.
"Well, I don't want to talk about him anymore. I just spent two hours with him. Anyway, what have you been up to?" John asked.
"Not much. We finished all our homework a while ago. We've just been sitting around waiting for you," Albus said.
"When did he fall asleep?" John jerked his head towards Matt.
"About an hour ago," Amanda answered.
John sighed, "You know, it's almost like he expects everyone to be rude to him."
"I'm pretty sure he does," Albus whispered.
"Well, it's probably because most people have," Rose commented, "I mean, most people aren't exactly nice to, well, people like him."
"I know, but he shouldn't just accept it. I'm going to stick up for him," John said.
"We will, too," Rose agreed, "But he's just not used to it."
"I guess, but I'm not going to let anyone treat him badly. Especially not someone like Washburn," John replied.
"Me neither," Albus said.
"Definitely," Amanda replied.
"We should probably go to bed," Albus said after glancing at his watch, "We've got Astronomy tomorrow."
Amanda groaned, "Oh, yeah. Should be a miserable night."
"Yours won't be as miserable as his will be," John pointed to Matt.
The next day went by fast for Albus. Charms was thoroughly miserable for Albus and all his friends. John had made it onto the list of people Washburn clearly disliked more than the others. Now, the only one of Albus's friends who wasn't, was Amanda. However, Washburn did dislike her more than the other Gryffindors, just because she was friends with Albus. Washburn spent the whole class lecturing and shouting at Matt whenever he fell asleep. Albus could tell that John was trying hard to behave himself whenever this happened. It didn't help that Malfoy spent the whole class with a smug look on his face, clearly enjoying that Washburn was shouting at Matt every five minutes.
"Evil git. We ought to sneak a few puking pastilles in his pumpkin juice," John muttered under his breath after Washburn woke Matt up for the fourth time.
"What did you say, Brickston?" Washburn shouted.
"Nothing, sir," John answered.
"Didn't sound like nothing," Washburn growled, "Ten points from Gryffindor."
Matt wound up skipping Potions because he couldn't face a second class with Malfoy that day. Malfoy interrogated Albus again as to where Matt was, and Albus told him that Matt had left after lunch to visit his sick gran.
After dinner, Albus and his friends decided to see if Matt was in the Room of Requirement. He never showed up at dinner. When they arrived in the Room, Amy was already there, trying to wake Matt up.
"Hey, Amy," Albus said quietly.
Amy turned around, "Oh, hi, Albus."
"Are you going to the Hospital Wing now?" Rose asked.
"Yeah, I'll see you guys tomorrow, I guess," Matt yawned as Amy helped him out of the bed.
"All right," Albus replied.
"Bye," John, Rose, and Amanda said quietly.
"Bye," Matt winced as he followed his sister out of the room.
Albus and his friends spent the rest of the evening in the Room, working on their homework. After a few hours, in which Albus managed to get the latest Potions homework done, it was time for Astronomy.
Professor Polo announced that they would be finishing their March star charts that night. Albus, John, Rose, and Amanda set up their telescopes and got to work.
"This is the first full moon on a Wednesday, isn't it?" Albus whispered to Rose after a few minutes.
"Yeah, I think so," Rose said, "I'm just glad we don't have this with the Slytherins.
"Where's your friend, Matt?" Jackie Pierce, the Hufflepuff on Albus's other side asked.
"He's visiting his sick gran," Albus said automatically.
"Oh, I hope she's better soon," Jackie replied.
Albus focused his telescope and marked down a few stars. He moved his telescope and pointed it towards the moon. He sighed as he thought about how something as beautiful as the moon could control someone's life as much as it controlled Matt's.
Albus managed to finish his star chart just as the class was ending. John and Rose were able to finish theirs as well.
"I hope he doesn't take off a whole lot of points for not getting all the stars," Amanda sighed as they climbed into the portrait hole.
"If you only forgot a couple, I don't think you'll loose that many points," Rose assured her.
Albus sat down in one of the armchairs in front of the empty fireplace. "Are any of you tired?"
John sat down next to Albus, "No, not really."
Rose and Amanda shook their heads and sat down. "Let's stay up. We can go see Matt in the morning," Rose suggested.
"Good idea," Albus agreed. The friends spent much of the night playing numerous games of chess, Exploding Snap, and Gobstones. Eventually, the sun started to rise and morning came.
"Should we go, then?" John asked once they finished their game of Exploding Snap.
"Yeah, it's probably a good time," Rose said. "But maybe you should go get the map, Albus. I don't fancy running into Filch."
Albus agreed and ran up to James's dormitory. James and the rest of the second year boys were all sound asleep. Albus ran to James's trunk and rummaged around in it until he found the Marauder's Map. He left a quick note to James telling him that he took the map, quickly left the room, and went back to the common room.
Albus spread the map out on the floor and tapped it with his wand, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
"Blimey, that is brilliant!," John grinned as the writing appeared on the map. Albus had told his friends about the map before, but he had never showed it to them.
"Wow!" Amanda stared in awe at the map. "That is awesome."
"Let's see," Albus scanned the map, "Filch is still in his office."
"What about Washburn?" John asked.
"Hmm," Albus looked back at the map.
"There he is!" Rose pointed at the map, "He's in his office, too."
"Good," John said in a relieved voice, "Oh, and there's Madam Pomfrey. She's walking through the Entrance Hall."
"Let's go, then," Albus stood up, "Mischief Managed." He stuffed the map into his robe pocket and left the room, with Rose, John, and Amanda following.
When they arrived at the Hospital Wing, it was completely deserted. Albus and his friends settled themselves on the bed next to the one Matt usually stayed in. The door opened a few minutes later, but it wasn't Madam Pomfrey who came through. It was Amy, followed by Victoire.
"What are you doing here?" Amy asked when she saw Albus and the others.
"We had Astronomy last night and weren't tired, so we just stayed up and figured we'd come see Matt," Albus told her.
"Oh, all right," Amy replied. She walked over to the bed where Albus and his friends were sitting and Victoire followed. "I told her," Amy said to Albus, "about Matt."
"I still can't believe you kept this from me all these years," Victoire said.
"You're not mad, are you?" Amy asked quietly.
"No, of course not," Victoire assured her and sat down next to Rose on the bed. "It just must have been so hard to keep that a secret."
Amy sat down next to Victoire, "It was. But I didn't really have a choice. My parents forbid me from telling anyone."
"Well, I'm glad you told me now. Your parents aren't going to be mad, are they?"
"No, I asked them a couple weeks ago and they said it would be all right if I told you," Amy answered.
"Good," Victoire said and turned to Albus, "How long have you guys known?"
"Since January. Well, Rose put the clues together in November, but we didn't know for sure until January. But we didn't talk to Matt about it until last month," Albus responded.
The group sat in silence for a few moments, before Victoire asked, "When's he coming back?"
"Should be any time," Amy stood up and glanced at the door. "But just to let you guys know, he's not going to be in any shape to talk to you."
"We know, we just want to be here for him," John replied.
"I honestly don't even know if he's going to want you here. He never likes anyone seeing him right after a transformation."
"We don't care what he looks like," John said adamantly.
"I know you don't, but I think he's still afraid you're going to abandon him. He's never had such supportive friends before. The few friends he had went running in the other direction once they found out," Amy explained.
"Gits," John muttered under his breath.
The door to the Hospital Wing opened and Albus looked up. Madam Pomfrey came bustling through while using her wand to float a stretcher through the door. Matt was laying upon it, covered in a thick green blanket. Amy immediately rushed over to them. "How is he?" she asked anxiously.
"Not that bad, actually," Madam Pomfrey replied, "A few broken bones and a fair bit of cuts and bruises, but not as bad as past months."
"Oh, good," Amy replied.
Madam Pomfrey directed the stretcher towards the bed next to the one Albus and his friends were sitting on. "What are you lot doing here?" she asked briskly once she noticed them.
"We, er, just wanted to see if Matt was okay," Albus answered nervously. He suddenly wasn't sure if they should have gone to the Hospital Wing after all.
"He knows you know, then?" Madam Pomfrey asked.
"Yeah, and he explained everything last month," Albus told her.
"And you know, too?" Madam Pomfrey gestured to Victoire.
"Yes, I do," Victoire answered.
Madam Pomfrey smiled, "Good. It's about time he had some loyal friends. Now, I've got to heal him up a bit and then if he's awake, you can see him." She pulled the curtains closed behind her and Amy. A minute later, she came out, went to her office, and came back with numerous potions and bandages. Albus watched as she went back through the curtains and listened to the various healing spells she was performing.
Victoire, Albus, and his friends all sat on the bed, no one saying a word. Albus was still a bit worried about Matt's reaction to them being there. He hadn't thought about it before, but now he realized that Amy was right and Matt probably didn't want them to see him like this. He glanced at his friends, who were also looking a bit nervous. They didn't have long to dwell on it, though, because a little while later, Madam Pomfrey and Amy appeared from behind the curtains.
"He's awake," Madam Pomfrey told them, "You can see him for a few minutes, but not very long. He needs rest."
Albus glanced at his friends and they stood up. He walked through the curtains, with Rose, John, and Amanda following. Matt was laying on the bed, looking thoroughly miserable. His face was covered in cuts and there was a large bruise on his left cheek. Both of his arms were heavily bandaged and he looked very tired.
"What are you guys doing here?" he asked hoarsely when he saw Albus and the others.
"We wanted to come see you. Are you all right?" Albus asked.
"I've been better," Matt answered bluntly.
"I hope you don't mind that we came," Rose said softly.
"It's all right," Matt sighed, "I just thought you wouldn't have wanted to."
"'Course we do," John said, "You're our friend."
Matt grinned tiredly at them. "Oh, did you tell Victoire?" he asked Amy, who had just come back through the curtains with Victoire.
"Yeah, I told her this morning," Amy replied.
"And it doesn't bother me in the least," Victoire assured him. Matt yawned and smiled at her.
Madam Pomfrey came back with another steaming potion in a goblet. "Time for you lot to go," she told them, "He needs to sleep."
"Ok," Albus said, "Bye, Matt. Hope you feel better."
"We'll come see you tonight," Rose told him.
"Ok, have fun in class," Matt yawned. John and Amanda waved as the group left. Amy and Victoire followed behind them, whispering to each other.
Albus walked to the Great Hall for breakfast with his friends. He was feeling quite tired after staying up the whole night. Albus was glad that Matt didn't seem to mind them coming to see him so soon after the full moon, but he could tell that Matt still wasn't completely comfortable with them knowing his secret. Albus figured that after a couple weeks or so Matt would gradually relax about it. Now, all Albus had to do was decide when to tell his friends about the Hallows. He had been putting it off, but decided to take Dumbledore's advice and see if they knew anything about them. It was the only clue he had, and if he was going to stop Washburn from getting the Hallows, he he had to use it.
A/N: Thanks to my sister and beta, Dancer_of_Starlight, as well as my other sister and my brother. Thanks also to inkheart, Moonylupin, and Mamaykay for their reviews!
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