Chapter 33 : Home Again
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The audience stood up and applauded as the boats left. A few people cheered and whistled. Albus could hear Teddy's cheering over everyone else's. After a few minutes, people started to leave.
Albus and Rose said a quick goodbye to their families before heading off to the horseless carriages that would take them to Hogsmeade Station. They got into a carriage with Matt and the carriage lurched forwards to take them to the train.
"John and Amanda must already be on," Albus said as they walked down the corridor in the train.
"Probably, we're some of the last ones on," Rose pointed out. They continued to look into the compartments before they found the one that their friends were in.
"How was the graduation?" John asked once the compartment door was shut once again.
"Really good," Rose said.
"Yeah, Teddy kept shouting and whistling and Professor Patil was glaring at him," Albus laughed.
"And Victoire's speech was really good," Matt told them, "Much better than Tyler Pike's speech."
"I could hardly understand a word of it," Albus commented.
"I thought it was a good speech," Rose responded, "It was all about how the class needs to use their talents and skills to further advance the Wizarding World."
"Well, he could have just said that," Albus huffed, "He didn't have to make it so bloody confusing."
"I got told off by him once, I couldn't understand anything he was telling me," John laughed.
"He's just got a big vocabulary," Rose insisted, "Anyway, the graduation was really good."
"Yeah, but it'll be weird next year when Victoire's gone. She's starting training to be a Healer next year," Albus told them and turned to Matt, "What's Amy doing?"
"She's going to be a Healer, too," Matt told them, "She's going to work with Healer Sterling this summer, actually. She, er, wants to get involved with the study I'm in and stuff."
"Oh, is that the Healer who's in charge of it? He's the one who Albus saw in the Hospital Wing a couple months ago?" John asked.
"Yeah," Matt told them, "Amy's wanted to be a Healer and work on the Wolfsbane Potion ever since she saw me after the full moon for the first time," he said quietly.
"That's good," Amanda said, "Maybe she'll actually find a cure."
"Maybe, but probably not," Matt replied sullenly.
"So, what are you doing in Ireland, Amanda?" Rose asked after a moment of awkward silence.
"Mainly just sight seeing and stuff," Amanda answered, "It's going to be really fun. I've always wanted to go there."
"There's all kinds of history there," Rose told her, "There's a bunch of wizarding villages there, too. I'd love to go and visit them."
"That would be fun," Amanda agreed, "But I think we're sticking with the Muggle stuff."
"Oh, right," Rose said, "Well, if I ever go to Ireland, you can come with me and we'll look around all the wizarding villages."
"I wish I was going to Ireland over the summer," John announced, "We're not doing anything. Just staying home."
"Us, too," Albus said, "Last year we went to France."
"That was loads of fun!" Rose grinned, "I want to go back."
"The funniest part was watching James try and speak French to all the French people," Albus laughed. "But this year we're just staying home."
"We never go anywhere," Matt told them. "Well, we did go see my uncle in America a couple years ago. I was eight. But we haven't been back since. It's really expensive to ride on Muggle airplanes, and we always go to Australia every Christmas," he sighed. "I'd rather just visit my uncle than my grandparents."
"I've never been to America," John told him, "What's it like?"
"Different. The Muggles drive on the wrong side of the road," Matt said, "But it was loads of fun when we went. I think we might be going next year."
"Well, you can all come visit me and Rose for a little while," Albus told them, "We usually have our birthday party at the Burrow, but you can come stay at my house before it."
"That would be awesome!" John grinned, "I'll just Floo to your place."
"Yeah, that would work," Albus agreed, "And hopefully your parents will let you come, Matt."
"I think they will," Matt responded, "But we're not connected to the Floo Network."
"You're not?" Albus asked, "Why?"
"Basically, because of what happened in Australia with the Ministry and everyone finding out about me. My parents just want to lay low here, and if we're not on the Network, that's one less way of the Ministry tracking us down. Of course, my dad works for the Ministry, so I'm not exactly sure what my parents' logic is."
"Oh," Albus said, "Do you just Apparate everywhere?"
"Pretty much. Well, I Side-Along Apparate, of course. But that works to get where we're going. My parents will just Apparate me to your house," Matt told them.
"And you can come stay at my house," Rose told Amanda.
"Ok, but I can't do any kind of Apparition or Floo," Amanda said.
"It's all right, my parents can drive. We'll come get you," Rose assured her.
"Great. I can't wait to see your house. I bet it's a lot different from mine. I've never been in a wizard house before," Amanda said.
"So, is your whole family going to be at the Burrow?" John asked.
"Pretty much. We usually have a few parties there during the summer. A few of our cousins have summer birthdays, too, so there are a few other birthday parties. Rose and me always have a shared one, though, since we're the same age. Samantha and Lindy's birthday is in the beginning of July, so they get a party. Fred, Bradley, and Gabriella are all born in August, like Rose, so they all have parties, too. But theirs are usually at their own houses. Then there's the end of summer party, that's always at the end of August," Albus told him.
"Excellent. There'll be some awesome Quidditch matches, then!" John grinned.
"Oh, yeah, Quidditch can get pretty exciting during the summer," Albus responded, "There's usually so many people that we can get a real tournament going."
"That'll be loads of fun, then. And my dad said he'd get me a broom this year," John told them.
"Great! You can bring it with you. I'm asking for one for my birthday," Albus said.
"I've got a broom at home," Matt said, "I'll bring it, too."
"I obviously don't have one," Amanda sighed, "Maybe I can convince my parents to get me one, but I doubt it. As much as they've grown accustomed to magic, the idea of flying still freaks them out."
"It's all right," Rose said, "There are plenty of brooms in our family, someone will let you borrow theirs."
"Speaking of Quidditch, I think the Chudley Cannons are going to make a real come-back next season," Matt grinned.
"Ugh!" Albus groaned, "You're kidding, right? There's no way they could ever make a come back!"
"Yeah they can!" Matt insisted, "And someday, they'll make it to the League Cup and I'll go and support them!"
"The day the Chudley Cannons make it to the League Cup is the day Gryffindors and Slytherins get along," John laughed.
"You'll see, they'll get to the League Cup. And then they'll win it!" Matt said excitedly, "I want to go to the next one, even if the Cannons aren't in it, though."
"Me, too," Albus agreed.
"I've been to the World Cup once," Matt went on, "When I was four. I can hardly remember it, but Amy says we had really good seats. It was in Australia, I think it's one of the only times it's been there. It was the New Zealand Kiwis versus France. France won."
"That must have been awesome," John grinned.
"Yeah, I've been to regular matches, but not the World Cup," Albus said.
"Well, I hardly remember any of it. I mostly remember France's celebrating afterwards," Matt said, "Just like I'll be celebrating when the Cannons win."
Everyone else groaned. The group kept talking about Quidditch for a while, and they all agreed that they wanted to go to the next Cup. No one knew where it would be, but they wanted to go even if it was far away.
Once they'd exhausted the topic of Quidditch, they played a couple rounds of Wizard's Chess and Exploding Snap. Rose won all the games of chess and while they each won at least one round of Exploding Snap, Rose won most of them as well. When the trolley came around, they bought a bit of everything and had fun eating Bertie Botts Beans and trading Chocolate Frog cards. Albus had most of the cards by now, but he was still didn't have McGonagall.
Towards the end of the trip, everyone quieted down a bit. Rose dug out a book and started reading, Amanda doodled on a piece of parchment, John and Albus started up the Quidditch discussion again, and Matt fell asleep. Albus and John were just beginning to discuss the chances of Puddlemere United making it into the next League Cup when the compartment door opened. Victoire and Amy walked into the compartment, both sporting huge grins.
"So, how's it feel to have graduated?" Rose asked, putting down here book.
"Brilliant!" Victoire said, "We've been celebrating with everyone else, but thought we'd come see you. What have you been up to?"
"Not much, just talking about Quidditch," Albus said.
Victoire sat down next to Rose and Amy sat down next to her sleeping brother. "Of course. That's one thing I'll definitely miss next year," Victoire sighed, "I've never been very good at Quidditch, but I love watching it."
"You can come back to watch," Albus told her, "You've got to. I'm going to try out for Chaser next year and if I make it, I want you to come to the matches."
"I will, at least some of them," Victoire assured him, "But I'll be pretty busy next year. Healer training is pretty intense."
"You'll be good at it, though," Rose said, "Both of you will be."
"I hope so," Amy said quietly as she looked at Matt, "It'd be great to discover a better version of that potion...."
"If anyone can do it, you can," Victoire told her, "You've always been the best at Potions in our year. I've just barely squeaked by. I really hope I got at least an E on my N.E.W.T. If not, I can't become a Healer."
Amy blushed, "Well, I'm not that great at it. I'm sure you got an E on your N.E.W.T."
"Where do you train to be a Healer?" Amanda asked, "Is there a university or something?"
"There are some classes, of course, but it's not like a Muggle university. And there's less schooling than Muggle doctors need. We do a couple years of classes and interning at St. Mungo's," Amy told her.
"Yeah, we're going to get a flat in London sometime this summer and split the rent during the training," Victoire added.
"Can I go visit you? I want to see your flat," Albus asked.
Victoire laughed, "Of course you can."
Amy stretched her arms and got up, "Well, we're almost there, so I think I'll go get my stuff ready. You coming, Victoire?"
"Sure, we could probably get in a bit more celebrating before we're in London," Victoire grinned. "See you guys in a little while."
Albus waved as his cousin and Amy left the compartment. The remainder of the journey was uneventful. Albus played another round of Exploding Snap with John and Amanda and then he dozed off for a bit. The next thing he knew, John was shaking him awake when they were in London. Albus yawned and started putting all his things back in his bag. He joined the crowd of students heading out of the train and walked onto the platform with his friends.
"There's my parents," Matt pointed to the left and Albus saw the Eckertons talking to his Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur, "I guess I'll probably see you guys this summer, if my parents let me come."
"They will," Albus said adamantly.
"They'd better," John laughed.
"I hope so," Matt responded quietly, "Well, I'll let you know if I can, Albus. See you soon, I hope."
"Definitely, this summer will be awesome!" Albus grinned, "Bye, Matt!" John, Rose, and Amanda all said goodbye as well.
"Bye, guys!" Matt waved and walked over to his parents. Albus watched as Mrs. Eckerton pulled him into a tight hug. She reminded Albus a lot of his grandmother.
"You should find your parents so they can meet ours," Albus told John and Amanda.
"Good idea," John looked out among the crowd, "Oh, they're over there. Hey, Mum! Dad!" he shouted.
A man and woman walked over to John, the woman shaking her head and the man laughing. Three little girls followed them. "Must you be so loud, dear?" the woman asked.
"Mum, what a way to greet me after you haven't seen me in months," John grinned.
"Oh, come here, Johnny," the woman smiled and wrapped John in a hug.
"Mum!" John's cheeks reddened and he pulled away. "Hi, Dad."
"Hello, John, how was the rest of term?"
"Albus! Rose!" Harry said from behind Albus.
Albus turned around, "Hey, Dad! Hi, Mum, Lily, Hugo, Aunt Hermione, Uncle Ron." Albus and Rose exchanged greetings with their parents and siblings while John continued to tell his parents about school. Lily and Hugo seemed to hit it off with one of John's sisters and they were running around the platform, trying to get each other to eat the disgusting flavors of Bertie Bott's.
Amanda had meanwhile found her parents and brought them over to the group. They both looked a bit uncomfortable among all the witches and wizards, but seemed to want to meet Albus and the others.
Rose seemed to take charge of all the introductions. "Ok, Mum, Dad. These are mine and Albus's friends, John and Amanda." The next few minutes were spent with all the adults shaking hands and introducing themselves. Rose and Albus told John and Amanda's parents about their birthday party and it seemed like both John and Amanda would be able to go. After a few minutes of discussing details, John, Amanda, and their families said goodbye to the Potters and the Weasleys and headed back into London.
"Ready to go, James?" Harry shouted to his oldest son who was standing a few meters away, talking to Nathan.
"Yeah, Dad, just a second," James shouted back. He said something else to Nathan and then walked over to his family.
Albus and the rest of the Potters walked back out of the station with Rose and her family. Albus was tired from the journey home and did not say much. He was thinking about the past year. It had been great. Sure, the whole altercation with Washburn had been scary, but that was over now, and his dad was taking care of that at the Ministry. He was happy he had made a few good friends and was very glad that Matt trusted them with his secret. Albus was looking forward to the summer and having John and Matt visit him at Grimmauld Place, but in all honesty, he was looking forward about going back in September. He had only been at Hogwarts for a year, but it already felt like a second home to Albus.
Thanks go out to my wonderful beta and youngest sister, Dancer_of_Starlight. She's been reading this and betaing it ever since I started writing it in September of 2007. I've bounced ideas off of her and she tells me whether they're good or they're awful. My other sister and my brother have also been extremely helpful. Thanks to them as well!
Thanks as well to all my faithful reviewers. XDNLxtlz99, sinwillys822, Moonylupin, and ginnyweasleypotter87, you guys are awesome!
Albus's story is far from over, though! Be on the lookout for the sequel, Albus Potter and the Tracks They Left Behind, sometime shortly after Christmas! It chronicles Albus's second year at Hogwarts and is filled with new characters and plots! It is completely finished, so updates will be on a regular basis. I'm currently working on the nameless story of Albus's third year.
I'll leave you with that rather long bit of author's notes. I hope everyone has a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy Other Holidays!