Chapter 5 : Emerald and Crimson
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“The what?” Scorpius gaped as Albus tied the letter to Lina’s leg and took the owl to the window . As she took off into the night, Albus sat back down on his bed.
“The Marauder’s Map,” he said excitedly. “It’s a map of Hogwarts my granddad and his mates made when they were here. It shows every part of the Castle and grounds. Secret passages, everything, including where everyone is! James nicked it from my dad’s office summer before last. He showed it to me before we left last year.”
Scorpius’ eyes were wide with awe. “Wait,” he said, frowning, “if James has it, why are you writing Rose?”
“Well,” Albus said, standing and beginning to pace the room, “You don’t expect James to just hand it over, do you?”
Scorpius, who seemed to have caught on, began to laugh as his face broke into an incredulous grin, “Al, you didn’t!” he said, still laughing.
“It’s worth a shot!” Albus said defensively.
The door opened and the rest of the first year boys came in, laughing and talking loudly. Nick was looking sullen and kept glaring at Max.
Scorpius fell silent, though he was still smirking and occasionally making a soft, derisive noise.
“She might do it,” Albus said in a low voice, leaning toward Scorpius.
“Right,” Scorpius whispered, holding back his laughter with obvious difficulty. “Al, the day Rose Weasley breaks into the second-year Gryffindor boys’ dorm to steal something from her own cousin is the day Hagrid stops loving mad stuff like Fergus and our dads become best mates.”
Albus scowled at him.
There was a soft whoosh of winds as Lina swept into the room and fluttered down on Albus’ knee.
“Bit late to be getting an owl, isn’t it, Al?” Theo called across the room. “And I thought my Mum was bad.”
Albus ignored him as he untied the note and Lina took off out the window again. Scorpius stood to shut the window before sitting next to Albus to read Rose’s letter. Somehow, even in ink, her words seemed to carry her usual disbelieving indignation that she often saved just for them.
Are you insane!? I am NOT stealing that map from James. I don’t even know where he has it. He could be carrying it around in his skivvies for all I know! I’ll admit that what you saw was very strange, Al, but if you’re so worried, tell Zabini instead of trying to get me in trouble! Goodnight.
Scorpius snorted as he reached the bottom of the letter. “I told you,” he muttered, standing up as Albus crumbled up the letter and tossed it in the bin.
Albus lay back on his pillow, thinking hard. Who was wondering the grounds so late? Was it really a ghost he had seen, or something darker? And, whatever it was, how had it and the cloaked figure vanished into thin air? Mind still racing, he closed his eyes, though he lay awake long after the others had gone to bed and when he eventually fell asleep he was still wearing his robes.
In the days following Halloween, Albus continued to try and convince Rose to find a way to get the Map from James’ room, though she continued to refuse point-blank. Excitement in the school was running high as the first Quidditch match of the season, Slytherin vs. Gryffindor, was the coming Saturday. This, Albus thought, was a perfect opportunity for Rose to get the Map as the Gryffindor tower would be empty, something which he pointed out to her after Potions on Monday.
“No,” she said for the hundredth time as they stood in the sheltered courtyard, their collars turned up against the chill. “I’m not doing it. If you want it so bad, get it yourself.”
“And have James kill me?” Albus said incredulously.
“Well I’m not doing it,” Rose repeated coolly. “Besides, did you ever think maybe I want to go to the match, too?”
“You hate Quidditch!” Scorpius interjected.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t care about the match,” Rose retorted, blushing slightly. “The points from the match will help Gryffindor win the House Cup again.”
Albus and Scorpius both made noises of disgust. Though he hated admitting it, Albus was sure that Gryffindor would win the match. The Slytherin team just didn’t have the same natural talent of the Gryffindor one. As three of the players were seventh years, however, Albus hopped that next year’s team would be better.
James, and Fred, who played Beater on the Gryffindor team, strutted around the corridors as usual, basking in the praise from the other Gryffindors and laughing off the hissed threats from the Slytherins.
Albus had to admit, they had nerve, or perhaps they were just stupid. The Slytherin Seeker and Team Captain, a seventh year boy named Eric Clemson, was more than a foot taller than James, lean and tough, while the Beaters, a fifth and sixth year name Anderson and Vaisey, were huge and affectionately called gorillas with bats, for both their size and intelligence.
The youngest Slytherin player, in fact, was a Chaser named Pricilla Ryan, the third year sister of Albus’ classmate Penelope. Pricilla was a shy girl with long, black hair and porcelain skin. Though she looked fragile, Albus knew that she was an excellent and vicious flyer, by far the best player on the team.
It was with a certain amount of reluctance that Albus left with Scorpius and Rose to go to the Quidditch pitch on Saturday morning.
The sky was pale and clear, with a cold breeze sweeping up from the lake, causing their teeth to chatter as they pulled their cloaks around them.
They took seats apart from both the Slytherins and the Gryffindors to avoid any arguments, and settled in amongst a group of Hufflepuffs.
“Hiya, Al, Rose!”
Their cousin Molly waved excitedly to them from two rows down, her brown hair tied in pigtails with red and gold ribbon. Lorcan sat next to her, weaving a red and gold scarf and smiling serenely.
Scorpius pulled a large green and silver blanket emblazoned with the Slytherin serpent, which Rose reluctantly huddled under with him and Albus as the chill wind picked up.
“Welcome, to the first match of the season!”
As the voice echoed over the wind, Albus looked across the pitch to the commentator’s booth where his cousin Dominique sat with Professor Kapoor, her long, red hair swirling in the wind. Of Albus’ Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur’s three children, Dom had been the only one to inherit the Weasley red hair, her brother and sister both had silvery blonde hair like their mother. She was also the only one to inherit the Weasley sense of mischief and strange desire to break rules. Unlike her sister, she had not been made a Prefect.
“Gryffindor vs. Slythering! And her comes the Gryffindor team! Captain Deana Eldridge seems to be banking on a fresh team this year, with both a new Seeker and Beater in their second year and a new third-year Chaser. We’ll see if James Potter and Fred Weasley will live up to the players they were named after!” There were cheers and boos from the crowd as James, Fred and the rest of the Gryffindor team made their way to the center of the pitch, where Madam Bell was waiting with the ball crate.
“And here are the Slytherins!” Dome yelled, as the Slytherin team trooped out from the changing rooms to more cheers and boos. “This is the final year for three Slythering players, including Seeker Captain Clemson. This match ill really demonstrate if experience can win out over what some would call natural talent.”
There were hisses and catcalls from the Slytherins, but James and Fred raised their fists into the air, laughing. With a jolt of anger, Albus saw Quinn on the opposite side of the pitch with the rest of the Gruffindors, cheering and holding up a sign that said “POTTER” in flashing gold letters.
The Captains shook hands and both teams mounted their brooms. Madam Bell released the Snitch and Bludgers, which zoomed off across the pitch. Albus could see James trying to keep track of the Snitch’s progress over the stands.
Madam Bell mounted her own broom, blew her whistle and threw the red Quaffle straight up into the Chasers.
“And they’re off!” Dom yelled. “Slytherin Chaser Broslin with the Quaffle, she passes to Holloway! Holloway hit by a Bludger from Gantz! Now it’s Isaacs with the Quaffle. That’s Gryffindor’s Chaser Isaacs with the Quaffle. Oh, almost hit by a Bludger from Vaisey but he ducks and the Bludger hits Slytherin Chaser Erin Broslin! Isaacs is halfway there, he dodges Holloway, dodges Ryan, he shoots--!”
There was a great roar of delight from the Gryffindor crowd as the Slytherin Keeper, Wolford, dove for the Quaffle, which passed straight through his arms and through the left hoop.
“He scores! That’s Isaacs with the first score of the match, ten nil to Gryffindor!”
Albus and Scorpius groaned and Rose cheered loudly, casting them an apologetic glance.
Over the next fifteen minutes, Gryffindor had scored six more times and the Slytherin team was getting desperate. As the Gryffindor Chaser, Miller, made her way up the pitch with the Quaffle, the Slytherin Beater Anderson swung to hit a Bludger at her but instead threw his bat straight at her head, resulting in a penalty, which Gryffindor Chaser Fawcett took with ease as Madam Bell tended to Miller’s bloody lip.
Suddenly, the match was vicious. When Fred hit Pricilla Ryan hard in the back with a Bludger, nearly knocking her off her broom, she three the Quaffle at him so hard that he took five minutes to catch his breath when it caught him in the stomach.
Madam Bell blew her whistle twice and Isaacs missed the Gryffindor penalty while Pricilla scored hers, putting Slytherin on the board for the first time and giving the emerald and silver-clad crowd something to cheer about.
“That’s seventy--ten to Gryffindor!” Dom yelled after wrestling the megaphone back from Professor Kapoor, who had taken it from her after she swore rather badly at Pricilla for hitting Fred.
“Seventy--ten Gryffindor!” She repeated. “It’s starting to look like Slytherin’s only way out is for Seeker Clemson to catch the Snitch before the Gryffindor Chasers completely dominate the match!”
Mark Holloway, who was flying near Albus, made a rude hand gesture in the direction of the booth as the Slytherin crowd hissed and booed.
Apparently spurred on by Dom’s jab at them, the Slytherin Chasers scored four goals, three of them by Pricilla, who was now being dogged by the Gryffindor Beater Gantz.
“Seventy--fifty!” Dom shouted.
All eyes were on the Seekers now. Rose was chewing her nails nervously, her eyes following James like a hawk while Albus and Scorpius watched Clemson.
Suddenly Clemson dove and the crowd gasped.
“There!” Albus shouted in excitement, pointing to where the tiny, glittering ball was hovering at the foot of the Slytherin left hoop.
James swerved in midair and took off after Clemson, who was frowning in concentration.
“Go James!” Rose squealed, ignoring Albus and Scorpius’ scowls.
Two rows down, Molly and Lorcan were cheering James on, too.
“This is it, folks!’ Dom yelled excitedly. “Clemson and Potter are going for the Snitch! Clemson is ahead by a mile, it’s going to take real skill to catch him. Come on, James!”
But James was catching up to Clemson. He had inherited the Potter Quidditch skill. He was at Clemson’s tail now, now his back, they were shoulder to shoulder and Clemson was stretching out to grab the Snitch as they zoomed low over the ground.
James put on an extra burst of speed, shot past Clemson and rolled through the air in front of him, clutching at the little golden ball as he did.
Albus groaned as James rose into the air, thrusting his fist upward, the fluttering Snitch in his fingers. A great roar of approval went up from the crowd.
“He’s got it! He’s got it!” Dom yelled. “Potter has the Snitch! Gryffindor wins, two hundred and twenty to fifty. Good job, James!”
Rose was jumping up and down, clapping and cheering with the rest. People began flooding onto the pitch to congratulate the Gryffindor team, who landed around James as the Slytherin team slumped off into the changing rooms.
Albus and Scorpius followed Rose reluctantly onto the pitch, where she pulled James into a hug.
“You were brillian!” she squealed.
“Your dad is going to be so proud," Professor Longbottom said as he clapped James on the back, grinning.
James laughed as he was enveloped by Gryffindor suppoters. He spotted Albus and grinned.
“Alright, Al?’ he shouted over the noise.
Albus ignored him. “Let’s go,” he muttered to Scorpius, turning to leave.
“Of course, I’m not surprised,” James shouted. “I mean, beating Slytherin, it’s not exactly hard.”
Albus froze and James laughed.
“That’s where they put the people who are too stupid to be in Ravenclaw, too cowardly to be in Gryffindor and too much of a loser to be in Hufflepuff.”
Albus could feel himself shaking with anger. A few people were laughing along with James. He glanced around, Rose was talking to Neville and the rest of the teachers were still in the stands or else heading back to the Castle.
Albus turned just in time to see Quinn break through the crowd and throw her arms around James, who laughed and stumbled slightly. Seeing Albus watching him, he grabbed Quinn’s face and kissed her full in the mouth.
Everything seemed to go silent in Albus’ ears so that he could only hear the pounding of blood in his brain as fury and hate swept over him. He stared as Quinn pulled away from James, giggling. Suddenly, he didn’t care that there were a hundred Gryffindors around him or that he was a scrawny first-year with glasses or what his parents would say and he was rushing at James.
He drew back his fist and smashed it into James’ face before anyone could stop him. He felt his fingers break but he didn’t care. Drawing back his other fist, he drove it into James’ stomach.
There were girls screaming and someone shouted “No!” but Albus didn’t care. He just wanted to cause James pain. All the embarrassment and anger of the past eleven years from being ridiculed and picked on by James was suddenly bursting violently from him.
He was thrown back from James and he struggled to stay upright as someone shouted, “Potter!”
Professor Zabini was struggling towards him through the crowd, his wand out and his haughty features alight with disbelief and rage.
Neville was holding James back, looking shocked and disappointed.
“What on earth are you doing?!” Zabini roared as Albus straightened his robes and glared at James, who glared right back, wiping blood from his chin. Quinn was standing beside James, clutching his arm. She had tears in her eyes and she looked as shocked and upset as Neville.
“Fifty points from Slytherin!” Zabini cried as he reached Albus. “And two weeks detention! Your father did this once but I suspected better of you, Mr. Potter. Come with me!” he looked at James, who was now sporting a rapidly bruising eye. “Neville, can you please take Potter to the Hospital Wing? Madam Pomfrey should take a look at that eye. And he might have a fractured jaw by the looks of it.”
Neville nodded silently and the crowd parted to let Albus and Zabini through. The Gryffindors glared at him as he passed. He saw Rose and Scorpius’ shocked faced for a moment before they were swallowed up by the crowd now gathering around James.
Albus followed Zabini up the lawns to the Castle. He began to realize how much his hand was hurting and hoped that they were headed towards the Hospital Wing, though he doubted it.
They strode through the open oak front doors and up the marble staircase. They climbed staircase after staircase until they reached the seventh floor, where a statue of a winged gargoyle sat alone in the corridor against the wall.
“Silvius,” Zabini said loudly.
The gargoyle came to life and leapt aside to reveal a slowly revolving staircase, which they both stepped on to. It carried them upward until they reached a small landing with a wooden door that had a griffin door-knocker. Zabini opened the door and ushered Albus inside.
“The Headmistress will be here soon to deal with you,” Zabini said, still sounding furious, “I’ll arrange your detentions Monday.” With that, he closed the door behind Albus with a snap.
Albus stared around. He was in a high-ceilinged, circular room with high windows framed by dark blue curtains that filled the space with pale sunlight. A fire crackled merrily in the grate opposite a polished wooden desk behind which sat an intricately carved, high-backed wooden chair embroidered with blue and bronze silk. There was a glass case displaying a ruby encrusted sword and an old wand behind the desk. Portraits lines the walls, snoozing peacefully in their frames.
“Well, well, well.”
Albus turned on the spot to look at the two portraits directly behind the desk. One, the one from which the voice had come, was of a pale man with long, lank black hair and robes set against a backdrop of gold and silver hangings. He was leaning forward in his high-backed leather armchair slightly, his black eyes searching Albus curiously over his hooked nose.
The other portrait was of an old man with long, silver hair and beard seated on a golden throne. His bright blue eyes twinkled behind his half-moon spectacle.
“Ah, yes,” he said softly, pressing the tips of his fingers together and smiling at Albus over them. “I was wondering when we would see you here, Albus Severus Potter.”
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