Chapter 8 : Under the Cloak
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Chapter 8: Under the Cloak
“Al, it’s amazing!”
“I’ve heard, why don’t--”
“The history in this cloak is, well it’s--”
Rose glared at Scorpius, who exchanged a smirk with Albus as she returned to examining the Invisibility Cloak.
They were seated in a corner of the library on the first of classes after the holidays. Rose had pestered Albus so much during Potions about the cloak that he added the wrong ingredient to his cauldron so that his potion, which should have turned pale blue, turned black and began emitting sparks.
“Well, you’ve seen it,” Albus said, “So will you leave me in peace in Potions now?”
Rose blushed slightly but remained quiet, as though trying to maintain a dignified silence, though it was marred somewhat by Scorpius’ snort of laughter.
“What are you going to do with it?” Scorpius asked when he had gained control of himself.
“Find out who’s sneaking around at night,” Albus said. “If I can’t have the Map--” Rose flashed him an annoyed look, which he ignored, “--this is the next best thing. I’ll just sneak out next time I see them.”
“Al, you can’t!” Rose said, looking appalled at the idea of breaking curfew. “If you get caught you’ll be in awful trouble. Didn’t you learn anything from your detentions? Breaking rules isn’t cool, Al.”
“Because you’ve just the epitome of cool,” Scorpius muttered under his breath so only Albus could hear.
“Well, I don’t have a choice, do I?” Albus snapped, snatching the cloak back from Rose. “I want to know what’s going on and I’m doing it if you approve of it or not. Excuse me for thinking you’d want to use the cloak.”
Albus could tell she was conflicted between her need to follow rules and her desire to test the cloak, but the Hermione Granger in her won out and she folded her arms resolutely.
“Absolutely not,” she said, “I’m not getting expelled because you want to chase some ghost.”
“Fine,” Albus clipped, “Scorp will go with me, won’t you?”
“Course,” Scorpius said, avoiding Rose’s eye. “You know,” he began, picking the cloak up off the table and grinning mischievously. “We could have so much fun with this thing.” He stood, flinging the cloak over his head so that he was only visible from the neck down. “Imagine Filch when he sees the headless ghost of students past.”
They all stared at each other for a moment before bursting out in laughter. Within seconds, Madam Pince had swooped down on them and ordered them out of the library, screaming as she spotted Scorpius standing headless in front of her.
Still laughing, they hurried from the library, Albus stuffing the cloak in his bag as they went.
All week Albus was itching to use the cloak. He and Scorpius had worn the cloak in the dungeons, sniggering to each other as they messed with their classmates. On one memorable occasion, Albus had donned the cloak and moved Theodore Trent’s bag every time the other boy looked down at his Transfiguration book while Scorpius, who sat across from Theo, stuffed his fist in his mouth to keep from laughing at the looks of shock on Theo’s face every time he reached for his bag. After Albus hung the bag from a high wall bracket, Socrpius had fallen off the couch in a fit of giggles as Theo, looking both annoyed and confused, retrieved his bag for the fifth time and stalked up to the dormitories, casting nervous looks over his shoulder.
There had still been no sight of the two mysterious figures and Albus had decided that using the cloak to wander around at night for no reason would not be “using it wisely” and therefore decided to wait.
“I mean, I’ll be helping whoever that person in the cloak is, so it’s not so bad that I’m breaking the rules, right?” he rationalized to Scorpius at breakfast on Saturday.
Before Scorpius could answer, someone shouted Albus’ name and he turned to see James storming across the hall towards him, looking furious,
“Where is it?” James shouted, stopiing next to Albus.
“Where’s what?” Albus said blankly.
James slammed his fist on the table. Sparks flew from the tip of his wand. “Don’t play dumb, I know you took it!”
“Took what?” Albus said, completely nonplussed.
“The Map is gone,” James hissed. “Who else would take it?”
“How should I know?” Albus said. “Maybe you left it at home or something. I’ve never even been to the Gryffindor Tower.”
“Who’d want to go there anyway? It probably smells something awful,” Scorpius said, causing James to glare at him.
“I want it back,” James said, rounding on Albus again. “If you don’t--”
They both turned to se Zabini sweeping down from the staff table towards them.
“I’ve had quite enough of your fighting,” he said angrily. “Mr. Potter I suggest you return to your own House’s table, or it will be detention.”
James looked for a moment as though he might contradict Zabini but thought better of it and muttered, “Yes, Professor,” before giving Albus one last disgusted look and moving towards the Gryffindor table.
“As for you two,” Zabini said, looking down at Albus and Scorpius. “I suggest you finish your breakfast and be on your way. I won’t have another scuffle.”
They nodded mutely and turned to each other as he returned to the staff table.
“What was that all about?” Scorpius said as they swung their bags onto their shoulders and left the Great Hall.
“No clue,” Albus said. “Oi! Rose!”
He had just spotted Rose leaving the Hall ahead of them, her book clutched tightly in her arms and looking nervous. They hurried toward her, though she looked reluctant to stop.
“Yes?” she said in an unusually high voice.
“Did you hear?” Albus said, hurrying to keep up with her as she took off up the marble staircase and in the direction of the library. “Someone stole the Map from James.”
She made a small noise between and cough and a whimper but said nothing.
“Hang on,” Scorpius said as they reached the library. He grabbed Rose’s book from her, rifling quickly through the pages before she could stop him.
“I knew it!” he cried as he pulled a very old, very worn folded parchment from the pages. He returned the book to Rose’s outstretched hands but she continued to grab for the parchment.
“Give it back, Malfoy!” she said, sounding desperate as Scorpius held the parchment out of her reach.
“Malfoy again, am I?” he said, smirking as Albus took the parchment and hurried to their favorite table at the back of the library.
Rose and Scorpius followed him, Rose still looking nervous and Scorpius holding back his laughter with obvious difficulty.
“Al,” Rose groaned as Albus lay the map across the table and pulled out his wand. “Be careful. I was going to put it back!”
“No way!” Scorpius said, shielding the map from her. “Why did you take it in the first place if you were just going to give it back?”
“Because,” Rose growled, pushing past Scorpius to look at the Map. “because you idiots were going to sneak out and get expelled otherwise.”
“Miss us, would you?” Scorpius said, grinning as she glared at him.
“Would you two shut it?” Albus hissed. They fell silent and leaned over the map as Albus tapped it with his wand and whispered, “I solemnly swear I am up to no good.”
Lines of writing like inky spider webs spread from where his wand had touched, filling the tattered old parchment with a detailed map of Hogwarts Castle and Grounds. Tiny black dots labeled with their owner’s names moved across the map. At the top of the page, thin script said:
Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers
are proud to present
The Marauder’s Map
And scribbled under this in untidy writing was:
With revisions and additions by
Roonil Wazlib and “The Chosen One”
“Who are Roonil Wazlib and The Chosen One?” Scorpius said curiously, pointing at the scrawled note.
Albus shrugged as his eyes swept the Map, trying to take in every inch of it. Every now and then he saw scribbled notes in the same untidy script.
“This is unbelievable,” Rose breathed; she seemed to have forgotten her distress in seeing such an impressive piece of magic.
“It’s perfect,” Albus said. He looked up at Rose, grinning broadly. “Thanks.”
“Well,” she said, smiling reluctantly, “I have to admit, it was a little fun.”
Scorpius stared open-mouthed at her as Albus patted her shoulder and said, “There’s the Weasley in you coming out.”
An icy January slid into February, where a constant, grey sky hung overhead. Albus carried the Marauder’s Map with him everywhere, though he rarely had a chance to search it as James seemed to be everywhere he turned. He was beginning to wonder if his brother was following him in an attempt to get the map back.
By the end of the month, however, he seemed to believe that he had, in fact, left the map somewhere at Marshwood Downs and, while still not friendly towards Albus, he was much less hostile.
Albus, meanwhile, was beginning to get desperate. He had still not seen what he was looking for on either the map or the grounds and was beginning to wonder if Rose stealing the map was a waste of time. He confessed his concerns to Scorpius as they made their was to DADA one Tuesday in early March. The weather had been mild for the past few days and a warm sun shone through the windows into the corridor. A ghost of a young woman floated past, almost disappearing in the bright sunlight.
“Even if you don’t see them,” Scorpius said as they took seats by the window. “You still have the map. It’ll be useful no matter what.”
“I suppose,” Albus sighed as he pulled the map out under his desk and scanned it briefly. Realization suddenly struck him like a lightning bolt and he froze, eyes wide as he stared at the map.
“She’s not here,” he whispered.
“The Grey Lady!” Albus said excitedly, waving the map in Scorpius’ face. “The ghost we just passed! She’s not here none of the ghost are! God, I’ve been stupid!”
Scorpius watched him apprehensively as he wiped the map clean and stuffed it in his bag.
“All this time I’ve been looking for what I’m sure is a ghost,” Albus muttered as Professor Cooney strode into the room, looking confused as usual with his thick glasses and flyaway hair. “But I’ve just realized, ghosts don’t show up on the map!”
“What about the one in the cloak?” Scorpius said. “I’m pretty sure that’s not a ghost.”
“I don’t know, maybe they haven’t been out on the grounds. It’s winter, after all. But that doesn’t exactly matter to a ghost, does it?” Albus said, frowning. He turned to Scorpius resolutely. “I’m going out tonight,” he said. “With the cloak. I’m looking for them. Are you in?”
Scorpius looked shocked at his sudden conviction but nodded silently as Professor Cooney instructed them all to begin reading about the Jelly Legs Jinx.
That night at dinner, Albus found he could barely chew his lamb chops. Every now and then he would instinctively grab his bag, where the map and cloak were both stowed.
“Chill out,” Scorpius said. “You’d think you’d be used to breaking rules after punching James. Still brilliant that you did that, by the way.”
But Albus wasn’t listening. “Why is Rose coming over here?” he said, frowning as his cousin strode up the aisle towards them.
“Oh, er,” Scorpius began awkwardly as Rose forced her way between him and Albus.
“If you do it, I’m telling your parents,” she said, looking steadily at Albus.
“You told her?” Albus hissed, glaring at Scorpius, who was suddenly very interested in his apple crumble.
“Don’t yell at him,” Rose said, poking Albus in the chest. “I would have figured it out anyway. I’m not letting you both get expelled. You’re being thick.”
“Well, then I’m being thick. I don’t care,” Albus said, stabbing a green bean angrily with his fork. “I’m going. And I’ll go alone if I have to!”
“Aw, come on,” Scorpius groaned.
“Well if I can’t stop you, I’m going with you,” Rose said firmly.
Albus glared at them both, Rose with an all too familiar look of unwavering resolution and Scorpius looking both apologetic and pleading.
“Fine,” Albus grunted. “But I hate you both,” he added, suppressing a grin as they both beamed at him.
They hung around the library nine o’clock, when Madam Pince shooed them out into the corridor.
Albus pulled out the cloak and map and stuffed his now empty bag in his robes.
“Ready?” he whispered. They both nodded and he threw the cloak over their heads.
“This is wicked,” Scorpius said as he looked down at his own invisible hands.
“Come on,” Albus said, checking to make sure they were completely invisible and pulling out the map. “Let’s go.”
They moved through the silent corridors, occasionally passing a patrolling Prefect or a ghost drifting along.
“Peeves is in the Owlery,” Albus as they descended the marble staircase to the entrance hall.
They reached the oak front doors and Rose tapped the handle with her wand and muttered, “Alohomora.”
The lock clicked and the door opened a fraction. They stepped out into the cool night air, closing the door carefully behind them.
“Let’s check by the lake,” Albus whispered. “That’s where I saw it last time.” They padded across the moonlit lawns towards the shimmering lake. The grounds were completely silent, with only a light breeze ruffling the treetops. The windows of Hagrid’s cabin at the edge of the forest glowed warmly and smoke rose from the chimney.
They moved towards the beach where Albus had last seen two figures over three months ago.
“There’s no one here,” Rose said, shivering slightly against Albus as a breeze through the clock.
“Let’s go around the lake a little,” Albus said, squinting through the darkness.
“What’s that?” Scorpius said, pointing behind them passed the Castle to the other side of the lake.
Albus followed his gaze and his heart leapt. A figure in a long, black cloak was running along the opposite bank, visible only as it passed into the moonlight between shadows of the Castle’s turrets and towers.
Without a word, Albus took off across the grounds, throwing off the cloak and keeping his eyes fixed on the distant figure.
“Al, come back!” Rose groaned.
He heard their footsteps behind them, but didn’t slow. Suddenly, his legs gave way as his feet caught on something stretched across the ground. Something soft and moving, which cried out in protest.
Albus rolled over in the grass, the map flying from his hand and fluttering down in the grass twenty feet away. He sat up and stared at the thing he had tripped. Fergus, Hagrid’s jarvey, was sitting in the grass behind, looking annoyed.
“Watch where you’re going, stupid!” he shouted.
Albus ignored him and stared across the lake. The bank was empty. Cursing, he ran to the map, picking it up as Rose and Scorpius appeared, panting and clutching their sides as they held the cloak open.
“Get under the cloak!” Rose gasped.
Albus, who was staring at the map, swore loudly. “They’re gone!” he shouted. “Again!”
“I’m sorry, Al, but please get under the clock!” Rose pleaded, eyes sparkling with tears.
“Who’s out there?”
They exchange horrified glances and stared at the map where Albus saw a tiny black dot labeled Rubeus Hagrid making towards them. Albus ran under the black and muttered, “Mischief managed,” wiping the map clean just as Hagrid appeared, clutching a massive crossbow in one hand and a swinging lantern in the other.
“It’s about time!” Fergus shouted, scampering up Hagrid’s long overcoat and onto his shoulder. “Those idiots nearly squashed me.”
“Who?” Hagrid said, peering through Albus, Scorpius and Rose, who stood rooted to the spot with fear.
“The three pestilences standing right in front of you, you great oaf!” Fergus said. “All those students do is slink around in the dark at night.”
Hagrid reached out a massive, dust-bin lid sized hand and grabbed at the air inches from Albus’ face. He took another step forward and made to swipe again when Rose, shaking madly, cried, “Hagrid, it’s us!”
She stepped from beneath the cloak, her face pale and scared in the moonlight.
“Rosie?” Hagrid said, letting his hand fall to his side. He jumped back as Albus pulled the cloak of himself and Scorpius. “Al? Scorpius? What--is that yer Da’s cloak? How--What’re yeh doin’ out here?”
Rose, who looked on the verge of tears, whimpered.
“Er,” Albus said, stuffing the Marauder’s Map further in his pocket. “We were--”
“Coming to visit you, Hagrid,” Scorpius interrupted, stepping forward.
Albus and Rose stared at him. Hagrid, thankfully, had his attention focused on Scorpius and didn’t notice.
“We haven’t been down in awhile and we--we fancied a visit,” Scorpius finished rather lamely.
Hagrid stared at them, still looking perplexed. Albus had his fingers crossed in his pocket. At last, Hagrid chuckled, shaking his head.
“Jus’ like yer Da’, Al, and yer parents, Rosie,” he said, patting Albus on the shoulder and making his knees buckled. “I h’appreciate the gesture but I won’ have you three getting’ in trouble fer me. Go ter bed. Yeh can stop by Saturday.”
They breathed a silent, collective sigh of relief. Rose looked as though she might faint.
“You won’t tell our parents, will you, Hagrid?” she squeaked.
Hagrid chuckled again. “Course not, Rosie,” he said. “I jus’ said I didn’ want to get yeh in trouble, didn’ I? Make sure yeh wear the cloak and watch out fer Filch.”
They nodded furiously, barely believing their luck as Hagrid strode off into the night, shaking his head, Fergus still on his shoulder.
“What is wrong with you!” Rose squealed, hitting Albus around the head.
“Oi! That hurt,” he said, rubbing his ear.
“Would you both shut up and get under the bloody cloak!” Scorpius hissed.
Rose jumped and slipped under the cloak as Scorpius held it open. Albus ducked between the two of them and they began moving back towards the castle.
“You’re lucky it was only Hagrid that found!” Rose muttered, half running to keep up with Albus and Scorpius’ longer strides. “We’d all be expelled it you’d been caught by Filch or--or a Prefect or--”
“Rose!” Albus hissed, rounding on her as they stopped at the oak front door. “I get it!” But we weren’t caught by Filch and we aren’t expelled, so drop it! They vanished again anyway so I’m going out again, alone, tomorrow.”
Rose stopped suddenly and Albus and Scorpius pulled up beside her.
“I will tell your parents if you sneak out again, Al,” she said; she folded her arms across chest, eyes narrowed, jaw set.
Albus met her gaze beneath the cloak, Scorpius watching nervously.
“Fine,” Albus said at last, taking a step towards the marble staircase. Rose stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
“Promise me,” she whispered. “Please.”
“Okay, I promise,” Albus said with a sigh.
“Guys, not that this isn’t a great moment, but, can we go?” Scorpius murmured.
They hurried silently up to the seventh floor, where a portrait of a fat lady in a pink silk dress hung in the corridor.
“Rhubarb crumble,” Rose whispered. She shrugged at the look of curiosity Albus and Scorpius gave her. “It’s the password.”
“The Fat Lady shifted in her sleep and muttered, “None for me, thanks,” and the portrait swung forward to reveal a round hole in the wall.
Rose ducked from under the cloak. “Be careful going,” she whispered, grabbing Delaney as he tried to slink through the portrait hole passed her. “Goodnight!”
She clamored through the portrait clutching Delaney, who stared curiously at the spot where Albus and Scorpius stood invisible in the corridor. Rose waved briefly as the Fat Lady swung shut again.
They walked in silence back through the Castle and to the dungeons, sneaking carefully into their dormitory, where the other first-year boys were already asleep.
Albus folded the cloak carefully in his trunk. He pulled the Marauder’s Map from his pocket, tapping it with his wand and staring at the blank grounds.
“Night,” Scorpius said as he crawled into his bed and pulled the hangings shut.
Albus pulled on his pajamas and climbed into bed, laying his wand and glasses on the bedside table and the map on the pillow beside him.
For a long time he lay awake, gazing at the worn parchment, though he fell asleep long before a single dot appeared on it, moving quickly across the grounds towards the silent Castle.
A/N: I hope you all got the "Roonil Wazlib and The Chosen One" reference. Honestly, I can just picture Harry and Ron sitting together as they make additions to the map, sniggering like idiots while Hermione rolls her eyes at them. :)
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