Another day, another prison cell...this shit was getting old.
He had been there for over seven hours now with no visitors, no updates and not even a newspaper to read. Then again, he wouldn’t have been able to read a newspaper even if they had given him one. It was a different prison this time; or rather the holding cells at the Japanese Auror department and they had been nice enough to treat and bandage his wounds.
His initial idea of quitting the tournament and leaving the country had faded. He wasn’t going to help anyone by running away. He needed to see this through.
Another ten minutes of wait finally found the door to his cell being unlocked.
“You’re being released,” Inspector Chang said bitterly.
“Really? You gotten bored of my company already?”
Chang snorted. “We found the body of a caterer just outside the school boarders. Obviously this guy jumped him and stole his uniform and pass so that he could sneak into the party. That and witness testimony have deemed that your actions were in self-defense. Oh, and you were right,” he said sounding particularly sour, “DNA matches confirm that it was lamp post man’s brother. We still don’t have names for either of them though.”
“Go with something simple...Doug or Pete or Larry...” Al grinned, walking out of the cell.
An hour later, he was back at Hokkaido and walking through the door of his dorm. Scorpius, Rose, Harry, Ron and Hermione were all waiting for him. His father immediately hugged him. As he did, Albus could feel his dad heart still pounding inside his chest.
They all had looks of relief on their faces but it wasn’t hard to see that they were still shaken. Both Scorpius and Rose were still wearing their clothes from the night before and obviously hadn’t slept but Rose had restored her face to its original features.
“You made the front page,” Scorpius said holding up a copy of the Daily Prophet.
“They get my bad side again?”
“Actually...they seem to be focusing on your good side...” Rose said, sounding surprised.
“You’re not gonna believe this,” Scorp threw him the paper.
Albus looked down at the head line.
ALBUS SEVERUS POTTER – THE NEW CHOSEN ONE?
“You gotta be shittin’ me!” Al blurted and continued to read.
Albus Severus Potter seems to be following in his father’s footsteps, becoming a protector of innocent people and warrior against evil. This paper has exclusively learned that during the New Year’s Eve celebration Ball being held at Hokkaido Academy of magic (currently hosting the Tri-wizard tournament) Albus Potter single handedly stopped an assassination attempt on fellow tri-wizard champion – Shiori Unocho...
This wasn’t making any sense. After last night, Al was sure that the Prophet would have lashed out at him with all the teeth and claws they could muster, smearing his name and making him out to be the next dark lord. Instead they were singing his praises! He read on.
The wizarding world watched in amazement as Albus Potter sacrificed his chance at coming first place during the first task (and very nearly sacrificed his life) in order to save Salem Witches tri-wizard champion – Scarlet Nixon from certain death. This newspaper can also reveal that Albus later went above and beyond the call of duty to rescue Miss Nixon again when armed criminals, looking to subvert the tournament, broke into her private dorm room and attempted to murder her and fellow Salem’s student Amanda Blakely. Both acts of bravery resulted in Albus sustaining sever injury but the Hogwarts champion has outright refused to give up on the tournament. These actions point to Albus Potter being the wizarding world’s next great savior.
“Is this some kind of fucking joke?!” Al asked, looking even more confused than the others.
“I have no idea. I’ve asked Gin to look into it...” Harry said.
“We never got press this good until after we killed Voldemort,” Ron stated.
“I wasn’t even mentioned...” Scorpius added in a quiet moan.
“Something is going on here...the Prophet is never this nice...especially about me! They sounded ready to lynch me a few weeks ago.”
“You aren’t the only one they seem to like now. There’s an article about Shiori in there as well.”
Albus scrambled through the pages until he found a large moving picture of Shiori taken the night before. Even in on paper and in black and white, she still looked amazing. There was a large, attention grabbing headline just above it.
WHO IS THE WARRIOR GODDESS?
Since the beginning of the tri-wizard tournament, questions without answers have followed the Hokkaido Academy champion – Shiori Unocho where ever she goes. Now this newspaper has found those answers. Miss Unocho is respected and revered by all those who know her, not just because of her exquisite skill with magic but because of the very blood that runs in her veins. She is the last living descendant of the Saito bloodline which dates back over eighteen hundred years to wizarding Asia’s greatest hero – Ouin Saito.
Ouin Saito is said to have defeated Soushen, a bloodthirsty empress whose power, it’s said, vastly exceeded that of Voldemorts. The Saito bloodline is said to carry with it, magical abilities that have never been seen by the modern wizarding world before. This may be what has given Miss Unocho her famed title of Warrior Goddess. Sources close to Miss Unocho confirm that she is a master of high-level martial arts and a ‘Kensei’ AKA. Sword Saint, highly proficient in the use of a samurai sword. This coupled with her undeniable magical skill have made her the odds on favorite to win the tournament.
“Saito...” Al mumbled. “Rose?”
“Yes, I already looked him up,” she said confirming his guess. “The legends of Ouin Saito are everywhere. Apparently this ‘Soushen’, discovered some kind of magical technique that allowed her to rise to power very quickly. She later decided to pass it on to people that she deemed as ‘special’ and Ouin Saito was her first student. I haven’t finished reading the history yet but it’s obvious that later on, Saito and Soushen turned against each other which ended with the latter being defeated. In Japan, Saito’s more famous than Merlin!”
“And Shiori’s his great descendant...so that’s where the Denka part comes from,” he surmised. It was no wonder she got treated like royalty. If a decendant of Merlin was alive and well in Britain, the wizarding world would probably call them ‘Lord’ or ‘Lady’ or some other high ranking title. “Bet she’s not happy about this.”
“No shit, we saw her earlier, getting gang raped by the press. She looked livid,” Scorpius said.
Shiori slammed her fist down on Headmaster Watanabe’s desk so hard that it broke in two and crumbled to the ground. Watanabe just let out a small sigh. Better she take her anger out on his desk than somebody’s head.
“Who’s responsible for this?!” she screeched.
“We’re not sure. Whoever it is, they skipped all the Japanese papers and went straight for the Daily Prophet,” Watanabe said.
“They practically spelled out that I’m a Toushi! My master’s going to be furious!”
“Your master hasn’t contacted you yet. Maybe it’s not as bad as you think,” Han tried to calm her. He was standing by the door to the office and didn’t seem to want to come any closer just yet. “They didn’t actually say anything about -”
“They might as well have!” she spat.
“You don’t think that this could be Katsumi? Maybe doing it out of spite?” Watanabe wondered.
“I wouldn’t put it past her. She’d love for the world to know about us.”
Watanabe waved his wand and his desk repaired itself in a second.
“Well, only someone inside this school could have leaked the information. No one else, except the aurors, knew about what happened to Scarlet and Blakely. We never made their attack public knowledge.”
“Well, it’s out now!” Shiori growled. “No one will forget what Albus did at the party!”
“Yes...good thing he turned up,” Han mumbled.
“What?!” Shiori hissed.
“That man was clearly deranged, he could have hurt you. I would have thought you’d be grateful.”
“Grateful?! Albus Potter did not save my life!”
“He might as well have. What if that man had been there to kill you...you’d be dead by now!”
“I would not be -”
“You didn’t even see him there Shiori!” Han shot cutting her off. “You were so focused on embarrassing Potter that you didn’t notice an armed maniac standing right behind you! Why do you find it so hard to ignore him?”
“I can ignore him!”
“Apparently you can’t! What’s with you lately, I’ve never seen you like this! You’re never this...confrontational...not even around your mother...”
“She is not my mother!” she scowled with a fearsome look.
“Fine! Adopted mother, but she is your legal guardian, whether you like it or not!”
“I never had any say in that!” she yelled back, looking hurt.
There was a seconds silence before Shiori stormed out of the headmaster’s office.
“Shiori, wait...” Han tried and started to follow her.
“Give her some time Han,” Watanabe said quickly. “Let her calm down...it’s not wise to tickle an angry Toushi.”
“I’m just worried about her...I’ve never seen her act this way before,” Han sighed.
“Shiori maybe the Warrior Goddess, a descendant of Saito and a Toushi, but she is also a teenage girl. You can’t forget that,” Watanabe said softly.
“You’re saying she’s acting this way because she’s hormonal?” he snorted.
“Shiori has never met anyone that wouldn’t back down from her before. She’s not used to being challenged in such a way which is why Potter can get such a rise out of her. Despite the goodness in her heart, she’s threatened by him...And Toushi only know one way to deal with a treat...through violence...”
“Yeah, well, Albus isn’t exactly the gentle type either. He’s not even eighteen yet and he already has a body count,” Han worried.
“Yes...he has a lot of rage locked up inside him. He’s not evil, but he is dangerous...it’s no wonder the All Seers are so interested in him.”
A few days later, Al’s wounds were healed enough for him to lose the bandages. He and Scorpius walked through the courtyard, heading towards the shooting range. As they did, almost every single Hokkaido student they passed stopped and bowed before carrying on with whatever they were doing.
“Why are they bowing to me?” Al asked.
“Because they think you saved Shiori’s life,” Scorpius said simply.
“But I didn’t, the guy wasn’t trying to kill her, he was trying to kill me.”
“I know that but the papers have everyone convinced otherwise.”
“I think I liked it better when they all hated me...” Al moaned. “What you got now?”
“Double Charms, which you should have too.”
“That shit isn’t gonna do me any good...especially when there are people trying to make sure that I don’t even make it to the Newt exams. I need to train for the next task.”
“I thought you were forfeiting?”
“I was thinking about that while I was in the cell. Forfeiting the tasks won’t stop whoever is behind all this. If I get myself thrown out of the tournament, they’ll just replace me with another Hogwarts student and people will still be in danger. I think it’s better if I stick around and see it through...at least that way, I can keep an eye on the others,” Al explained.
Scorpius nodded his approval.
“The only time I might not be able to help them is during the tasks though.”
“Any idea about what this one involves?” Scorpius asked.
“Nah...Watanabe’s ‘even when you are surrounded by darkness, doesn’t mean you can’t be seen’ bollocks makes me think that there will be someone or something looking for us...”
“Something you don’t want to be seen by?”
“Probably not. Anyway, I’m gonna go work on my left hand shooting. My aims been a little off since I ripped my shoulder out. I’ll see you later.”
“All right, see ya.”
Over the next two weeks, Al fell back into his training routine. He went running in the mornings, exercised after that, then ran the assault course before practicing basic but useful spells. The ‘darkness’ part of Watanabe’s riddle made Albus practice the Lumos charm several times over but he had no clue what to do about the whole ‘stealth’ thing. Albus wasn’t known for being sneaky or quiet for that matter.
This was where his father’s cloak probably would have come in handy, but the judges would never allow him to use it during the task. The Disillusionment Charm was Newt level magic and he hadn’t been going to any of his lessons so that was out of the question. It actually made him feel a bit stupid for not attending but he didn’t linger on it. He’d just have to think of something else.
One of the things Al was proud of was his ability to think under pressure. The ‘rope/lift’ thing he had used during the first task just popped into his head on the spot and nearly won him the task. He just had to hope that another brainwave would hit him during this one.
Once again, the days began melting together. His mind was so focused on the task, the people trying to screw with the tournament and the safety of his friends that nothing else really registered. He found his belly suddenly rumbling simply because he had forgotten to eat.
Before he knew it, he Scorpius and Rose were silently sitting in the living room of their dorm, nervously waiting for the Auror escort to the second task. It seemed like so long ago that he had been waiting for the first task to begin.
Al was wearing his standard Hogwarts tournament uniform. A padded t-shirt and trousers that had a large ‘H’ on the chest. It was hardly Superman’s outfit.
“Oh, come on, come on, come on, let’s just get this over with!” Al huffed, getting restless.
Rose checked her watch. “They should be here in about five minutes.”
Al stood up and walked over to the fridge, pulling out a chilled bottle of beer. He uncapped it and took a big swig.
“Al! It’s eleven in the morning and don’t you think you should try and keep your head clear?” Rose objected.
“It’ll calm me down. I hate all this waiting!” he took another gulp.
“Only you would get inebriated before going into an unbelievably dangerous wizarding task!”
“And only you would try and stop me,” he smiled.
“You’re hopeless!” she said crossing her arms over her chest.
And he really was. He was shaking slightly and had a sickly sweet taste at the back of his throat.
“So take some deep controlled breaths or something!”
“He’s not going into Lamaze class Rose,” Scorpius laughed.
Al didn’t laugh. He looked down at his hand only to see his fingers becoming blurry and doubling up. The taste of bile in his throat was getting worse.
“I’m just saying that it couldn’t hurt to try,” she said grumpily.
Albus sniffed the top of the beer bottle in his hand. It didn’t smell right. He started to feel light headed and dropped the bottle which smashed on the floor.
He stumbled over to the sink, his legs loosing strength.
“Al?” Scorp knew something was wrong.
Albus grabbed a bottle of vinegar, pulled the top off and began downing it. Two seconds later vomited everything out of his stomach and into the sink but it wasn’t enough. The effects were getting worse.
“Albus, what’s wrong?!” Rose gasped.
“I’ve been poisoned...” he struggled.
“Oh, my God!”
“Al, just breathe easy!” Scorpius said, rushing to his side and helping him fall to the floor.
Rose shot over and picked up one of the broken pieces of bottle and sniffed it. She could smell it too. She bolted off, running up stairs to her room.
“Rose, what are you doing?! Get a healer!”
“Hang on!” she yelled back.
A minute later she returned, a large green book in her hand. “Al, is your vision blurring?”
“Yeah...” he breathed.
Rose grabbed his wrist and felt his pulse before picking up the book. She went straight to the condense page at the back and pressed her wand to the paper.
“Citrus, sweet, vision blurring, erratic pulse, search,” she said frantically.
The writing on the page began to disappear piece by piece until one line remained.
Nightguile poison – page 371
“Oh no!” she panicked.
“What it is?!” Scorpius asked as Al started to turn pale. His breathing was becoming extremely heavy, like he was being slowly choked.
“Assassins poison, it’s shutting down his nervous system!”
Rose had nothing but terror in her eyes.
“Al, you ready, it’s time,” Han’s voice said from outside.
“GET IN HERE!” Scorpius yelled.
Han, Shiori and several Aurors burst in. They all froze with shock as they saw Al on the ground, propped up against the kitchen cabernets.
“He’s been poisoned!” Rose shrieked in horror.
“Jesus!” Han blurted.
“Han, get a bottle of Laughing Moon Elixir, it’s up in the potions lab!” Shiori ordered.
“That won’t work,” Rose said suddenly, “it was in his beer, it’s been mixed with yeast!”
“All right...err...Aazlia Extract?”
“He’ll go into cardiac arrest before it takes effect!” Rose shook her head, tears falling from her eyes.
“How long does he have?” Han asked.
“Ninety seconds!” she cried.
“Rose, look at me!” Scorpius said, grabbing hold of her. “You can figure this out, I know you can! Just take a deep breath and think.”
“Take your time...” Al mumbled. He was about to lose consciousness.
“All right...” Rose closed her eyes, digging into her own mind, looking for a solution.
Inside Al’s eyes, everything was getting darker. All his limbs were so heavy and his chest felt like it was being squeezed. He just wanted to go to sleep for a while.
“It’s feeding off the electrical impulses running down his spine...” Rose said to herself. Suddenly her eyes shot open. “We have to let him die!”
“What?!” everyone said at the same time.
“We have to let the electrical impulses in his body drop to a minimum, that’ll kill the poison, then...we shock him back to life!”
“Rose, are you sure?” Shiori asked, looking just as scared.
“She’s got my vote...” Al said in barely a whisper. His eyes were glazing over.
“We need to keep oxygen going to his brain but we have to wait at least twenty seconds before shocking him. Lie him down,” he said.
They gently liad Al on the ground and propped up his legs and head. Rose waved her wand over his chest and a green wispy line of light floated out of his shirt. It hovered above him, giving off a ‘beep’ reaction to his vital signs like a heart monitor.
“Albus, can you hear me?” Rose asked
Al managed the mumble a response.
“You’re going to go to sleep in a few seconds, but you’re coming back, okay!”
Al’s eyes closed. The beeping stopped and turned into a single long tone.
Albus was dead.
Shiori leaned over him, pressed her mouth to his, held his nose closed and began blowing air down his throat. Rose counted the seconds down, each one seeming to last hours.
“Get back!” Rose yelled and Shiori backed away.
Rose brought her wand down onto Al’s chest and a bolt of blue lightning surged through his body.
His eyes bolted open and he started coughing violently. He rolled onto his side, breathing heavily.
The whole room breathed a sigh of relief.
Albus slowly picked himself off the floor and stood up, rubbing his chest and shaking the dizziness from his head.
“You need to go to the hospital wing,” Han said.
“And I will...” Al said before grabbing a glass of water, sniffing it to make sure there was nothing in it and then gulping it down, “right after I win this task.”
“What?!” Rose shrieked.
“Albus, you just died! You can’t seriously be considering -”
“I wouldn’t dream of it...” Al said, cutting Shiori off. “Oh, thanks for the kiss of life.”
He gave Shiori a quick kiss on the cheek that made her blush slightly before walking past her and out the door, leaving the entire room stunned.
“My God...he really is crazy...” Han blurted.
“You have no idea...” Scorpius nodded.