Chapter 4 : Howlers and Classes
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“Hey, cousin, what’s up?” a familiar voice called. Albus turned around and saw Fred coming down the stairs from his dormitory. Albus liked Fred; he was always nice to Albus and often helped him whenever James pulled pranks on him. Fred was slightly short yet muscular, almost perfect for playing Beater on a Quidditch team. Even though both his parents had played for Gryffindor, Fred had neither the interest nor the time. He was slightly dark, and his face was full of freckles. His brown hair was pretty long, and a few strands were always getting into his perfect blue eyes. He was someone everyone took a liking to in an instant.
“Oh, hey,” Albus yawned. “I’m fine. Just can’t sleep. What's up with you?
“Well, the roof is, and the dormitories,” he stated matter-of-factly. Albus raised an eyebrow. “Oh well, nothing actually. I just came down early today. Couldn’t sleep either.”
Just then the other Gryffindor prefect came down. She was a short and chubby girl with shoulder-length brown hair. “Hey, you ready, Fred?” she called. “You know, there are a couple of people who always create trouble first day back? We’ve gotta stop them this time.”
“Coming, Mandy!” he yelled back. “Well, bye, Al. Good luck for the new year!” He left, leaving Albus alone again.
Albus felt a mingle of nervousness and excitement. Today he was finally going to start classes, and he was free to explore the huge castle as he wanted. He had heard so much about the school from his parents, uncles and aunts, and even James, so he couldn't help feeling eager to look around the whole castle. He wondered what would happen on his first day at Hogwarts.
Albus heard a noise from the stairs leading up to the boys’ dormitory. Almost instantly, Scorpius Malfoy came down. Spotting Albus, he hesitantly walked over to where he was sitting. Albus had heard a lot about the Malfoys, and he thought Scorpius looked exactly like one. He had that haughty face and distinctive platinum-blond hair that Albus had heard all Malfoys posessed. He was quite tall; in fact he seemed to be taller than Albus. His grey eyes had a slightly lazy look in them, and his lips were thin. He held his head slightly high, as though he might consider himself more superior than others.
“Hi,” he mumbled. Upon closer inspection, though, Albus realized that he was really worried. His face was rather gloomy, and his brows were drawn into a frown. His eyes were droopy and had bags under them, as though he hadn't slept properly.
“Hey, Scorpius,” Albus replied. He motioned to Scorpius to take the seat in front of him. “How are you?”
“Not good, really.” He shook his head. “I’m not worried about my parents, but my Granddad won’t be too pleased at me for being a Gryffindor. I am the first in my family to break the tradition of being in Slytherin.”
“That’s really bad,” Albus said, feeling slightly sorry for the kid. “Your family have that thing, that all Purebloods are only worth noticing, isn’t it? Your family hates Muggles, right?”
Scorpius nodded. “But not my Mum and Dad though. Everyone else at home says that being a Pureblood makes you practically royal, and that all Purebloods ought to be in Slytherin. They say that non-Slytherin Purebloods are all Blood-traitors. But I think that that’s all codswallop. I mean, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw were probably Purebloods too, or atleast Half-bloods, but they created different houses, didn’t they? So why should all Purebloods be in Slytherin? My grandparents told me that Muggles are bad and dirty, and that they are very stupid. But my parents say different; they say that Muggles aren’t bad. I've seen Muggles, and they seemed normal to me… I’ve no idea why Grandfather says all that, but I don’t believe any of it. Mum tells me not to think lowly of Muggles, because whatever they are, they are still humans.”
Albus was still having trouble to believe that a Malfoy could say such things. But he seemed really sincere. He then remembered that his father’s Godfather, Sirius, had been a Gryffindor whereas his entire clan had been Slytherins. Maybe this was the case with Scorpius too?
“My grandfather will know,” Scorpius sighed. “And when he does, I’ll have to expect more than a Howler.”
Just then, Rose came down. She saw Albus, and then saw Scorpius and a frown knitted between her brows. She came over to Albus and whispered, “I want a word with you.” She motioned out of the common room.
Albus followed her out of the Portrait-hole and into the corridor outside, where Rose asked, “Al, do you think he’s good? I mean, is he like a typical snobbish Malfoy Dad told us about, or…”
“I dunno,” Al replied. “I’m wondering that too… but do you know what he said last night?” Albus told her everything that the blond boy had told them in their common room.
When he finished, Rose looked doubtful. “Well, I guess…well, we’ll have to keep an eye on him for the next few days.”
Albus nodded. “I was thinking the same too… but who knows? I think that he’s a good kid.”
“Yeah, well… anyways, let’s go inside.” They climbed back into the common room, where Scorpius was waiting for them, looking confused. They talked for some time, with Rose asking questions about Scorpius’s life all along. Andrew came down soon, and then they went to breakfast together.
The Great Hall was buzzing; it seemed that the thought of being back had robbed everyone of their sleep. Albus, Rose, Andrew and Scorpius went and sat down at the Gryffindor Table. Albus looked towards the Staff Table. All the teachers were sitting there, some of them reading the Daily Prophet, while others were picking at their breakfast. He saw Hagrid waving at them, and he waved back. At the middle of the table was Professor McGonagall, and she was talking to a very short teacher who came barely up to her elbows. Albus then looked at Professor Longbottom, who was walking along the gap between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables, handing out timetables to the students. Albus smiled. When he came up to them, Professor Longbottom said, “Al, Rose, how are you two today?”
“Fine Uncle Neville – oh sorry, Professor Longbottom.” Albus grinned. Even though Professor Longbottom was not really his uncle, he had called him ‘Uncle Neville’ ever since he remembered. Professor Longbottom chuckled and handed them over their time-tables, then went away to hand the rest out. Albus looked at his timetable; they had Defence Against the Dark Arts first.
“So what’s this subject about?” Andrew asked from behind.
“Oh, this is about how to defend yourself from dark wizards,” he tried to explain. “You know, the evil ones?”
James and Louis arrived with smirks on their faces and sat down beside them. “Hello there, young Malfoy!” James announced. James had slightly brown hair, and brown eyes like their mother. His eyes had an odd, mischievous glint in them. Louis, on the other hand, had blond hair, which he had inherited from his mother. He had blue eyes, and like James, he seemed pretty impish too.
“Er… hi,” Scorpius mumbled.
“Would you like a chocolate frog, Mr Malfoy?” Louis asked him… a bit too politely, Albus thought. He narrowed his eyes and wondered whether this was a prank. Louie handed Scorpius the chocolate, looking jovial.
“Don’t take it,” Albus muttered in Scorpius’ ear.
“Why? It looks okay,” Scorpius whispered back, popping the chocolate in his mouth. Albus reached over to knock the chocolate out of his hand, but Scorpius had already eaten it. Instantly, he jumped… high. Albus and the others looked on as Scorpius rose as high as the ceiling and landed back on his chair with a thump. He looked unhurt, but visibly shaken and alarmed.
The Great Hall burst out laughing, except Albus and Rose, but they couldn’t help but snigger. James and Louis were rolling on the floor, they were laughing so hard.
“What’s going on here?” a voice said loudly. Albus looked up to see Professor Longbottom, with his hands folded across his chest.
“Oh, h-hello, Pr-Professor,” Louis stammered in between laughs. “How are you?”
Professor Longbottom, however, didn’t seem amused. “I didn’t expect this, boys. Ten points from Gryffindor.”
James and Louie stopped laughing instantly and looked at Longbottom with identical horrified expressions on their faces. “But- but why?”
“Because you harassed Mr Malfoy,” the professor said matter-of-factly. “I won’t tolerate that in my house.”
He finished and walked away. Though Neville Longbottom was a very high-spirited person at home, he could never tolerate pranks that hurt others in school. Albus suspected it was because of his own childhood.
Albus turned to Scorpius. “I told you not to eat it,” he said exasperatedly.
“Just what I needed,” Scorpius mumbled gloomily, crossing his arms on the table and resting his chin on them. “More people who dislike me.”
“It’s not like that,” Albus tried to console him. “James loves to play pranks, that’s all. He’ll come round soon.”
Scorpius smiled dully in response.
There was a loud racket above. Albus looked up and saw many owls, all of different shapes and sizes. He knew that they were delivering mail, but Andrew yelled, “Whoa! Look at all those owls! What are they doing?” Albus quickly explained that they delivered mail, at which Andrew was awed, as usual. Albus didn’t expect to receive any mail so early, since he had sent the letter only last night, so he was surprised to see an owl land in front of them. But soon it became clear that the owl wasn’t looking for him; it hopped towards Scorpius, holding something red in its beak.
“Uh oh…” Albus said, looking worried. “Scorpius? I think that someone sent you a Howler.” He picked it up carefully and gave it to his blond friend.
“Open it, quick!” Rose urged, looking at the Howler with wide eyes. “It’ll be a lot worse if you don’t.”
Scorpius gulped as he picked up the letter, holding as though it was something contagious. Gingerly, he tore open the letter. It immediately started shrieking, the sender’s voice magnified to a hundred times its original pitch.
"SCORPIUS HYPERION MALFOY, HOW DARE YOU BE SORTED INTO GRYFFINDOR AND BREAK THE FAMILY TRADITION? HAVE YOU NO RESPECT FOR THE NOBLE NAME OF MALFOY? ALL MALFOYS HAVE BEEN IN SLYTHERIN, ALL EXCEPT YOU! YOUR GRANDMOTHER AND I ARE EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED WITH YOU, FOR WE CANNOT BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVE TURNED OUT TO BE A BLOOD-TRAITOR! DO NOT DARE TO COME TO OUR HOME AFTER THIS, FOR WE NO LONGER CONSIDER YOU A GRANDSON OF OURS! GOOD BYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE!"
The letter immediately burst into flames. Everyone looked at Scorpius. Albus and Rose had plugged their ears with their fingers when the Howler started yelling. Andrew seemed totally dumbstruck upon hearing a letter yell and burn itself like that. Scorpius on the other hand, was totally calm and unruffled. All he did was pick up the scorched pieces and throw them away, saying, “I don’t care what you do, Grandfather. I don’t want to be a part of your so-called noble family anymore.”
Everyone in the great hall seemed to be staring at him. Then, after a few seconds, the entire Great Hall started buzzing like a swarm of bees. Everyone was pointing at Scorpius, or atleast indicating towards him in some other way. Surprisingly, no one seemed to be making snide or rude comments; on the contrary, they were... smiling at him. Albus beamed; Scorpius had finally proven himself good to everyone.
But his share of letters weren’t over yet; another owl came soaring through the air towards him, this time a large Eagle Owl. Scorpius opened the letter, while Albus read over his shoulders:
How are you? We heard that you had been sorted to Gryffindor. It is not exactly what we expected, but if that is what you wanted, then so be it. We do not have any problems.
I believe your Granddad has sent you a Howler already. He sent me one too, about how I failed to raise you properly, about how I was a bad father and so on. He almost disinherited me, though it doesn’t really matter. If I were you, I’d not pay any attention to any Howler he sends.
The house is really empty without you, you know? We remember you a lot. Your mum had cried herself to sleep last night; she really misses you, and so do I.
Anyways, I have to leave now. Take care of yourself. We love you.
“At least something’s good.” Scorpius smiled, folding the letter and putting it in his robes.
They quickly finished eating and went up to the common room to get their bags and then went back down to the first floor for their first class. They had nearly got lost a few times, but thankfully they had been ‘rescued’ by the older students. Finally, when they reached their destination, they were all extremely exhausted. They stood outside in line with the other students, catching their breaths, and at last they went inside when the teacher came.
The room was very big and bright, with lots of windows. A huge, iron chandelier hung from above, holding enchanted candles that seemed to last forever. Albus and the others seated themselves at a table together in the middle of the classroom, took out their books and faced front.
“Good morning, all of you,” the Professor told them after they had all settled down. He was a fair-skinned, middle-aged man, and had long, black hair that was tied into a ponytail. He was wearing a set of dark-red robes. His face was deeply scarred, and his eyes looked exhausted and wary, yet very sharp, as though he knew something would happen, but was tired of facing it. He rather reminded Albus of his father’s colleagues.
“Good morning, Professor,” the class mumbled a hasty greeting.
“I’m Professor Sean Parkers, your Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” he continued, ignoring the not-so-enthusiastic greeting of the students. “In this class you’ll be learning about how to defend yourselves in a time of crisis. Although we haven’t faced much trouble since the Second Wizarding War, it doesn’t hurt to be on alert all the time, now, does it? As a very famous Auror used to say, ‘Constant Vigilance’.
He took a deep breath, looking suddenly sombre. “Dark Wizards and Witches are all around us. Even though they don’t attack us as frequently as they used to do, they still exist, and someday, when they get the chance, they’re going to attack.” The Professor became very serious, his eyes sweeping the whole class. All the students had gone silent, and they hung onto each word he said. “And when they do, you need to defend yourselves. You need to know how to do that. That’s what I’m here for. Now, can anyone tell me how to stop your opponent from casting a spell at you?”
Rose raised her hand faster than anyone. “Yes, Ms Weasley?” Professor Parkers said, looking at her.
“You need to disarm your opponent first,” she stated confidently.
“Very good,” the Professor smiled, making his face look even more lined. “Five points to Gryffindor! Can anyone tell me the incantation?”
Once again Rose raised her hand, and this time Albus did too. “Yes, Mr Potter?” Professor Parkers asked, picking him this time instead.
“The spell is Expelliarmus,” Albus replied, feeling quite confident. His father had told him about this spell a lot.
“Very good! That’s correct, Mr Potter, so take five points. You need to point your wand at your opponent and say Expelliarmus in order to disarm him. That way, he wouldn’t be able to curse you. Now, here are a few notes on how to perform the spell. Copy them down.” He waved his wand at the blackboard and writing appeared on them. They wrote them down hurriedly, and when they were all done, Professor Parkers announced, “Next class you’ll all be casting that Spell for me, so learn the theory. Class dismissed!” The bell rang a few seconds later, and they all hurried out.
“Rose, do you know everything?” Scorpius asked as they hurried over to charms, which was on the third floor.
“Excuse me?” Rose said, looking confused.
“Well, you raised your hand to every question the guy asked,” Scorpius clarified.
Albus laughed. “That’s what she does. She’s a know-it-all. A good one, though!” he added, catching the murderous look Rose cast at him.
They managed to get to Charms without getting lost, for once. They went inside as soon as the bell rang. The class was quite large, and had a big window at the back. The four took a table at the back. Albus looked out of the window and saw a view of the front drive.
Presently, the teacher came in. He was a very short man - in fact, Albus thought he was a dwarf. He looked really old, as though one blow would cause him to topple over. His face was heavily wrinkled, and all his hair - even the ones coming out of his small ears - were white.
"Whoa, look at the shortie," Andrew whispered, as the teacher walked over to his desk.
The teacher, whose name turned out to be Professor Flitwick, first started the class by taking their attendance. When he reached Albus’ name, his face lit up with excitement, and he beamed at Albus. After that was over, he spoke a bit about their class pattern, and then moved onto the main subject. Most of the class passed in copying down notes, and when the bell rang they headed off to the Great Hall for lunch.
By the time they reached the Great Hall, the tables were already full of food. They went and seated themselves at the Gryffindor Table and immediately started wolfing down their lunch. A few moments later, James and Louis appeared.
“Hey, cousins and their friends!” announced James happily, taking a seat beside Albus and hitting him on the head. “How are you finding the first day of school?”
“Nothing like you said it’d be!” replied Albus, glaring at James as he massaged his throbbing head. “Remember, you said that we’d have the Unforgivable curses used on us at the first DADA lesson? Like that’d ever happen.”
“Well, you believed us, little bro!” smirked James. “You were whimpering at that time!”
“You wait,” Louis declared. “You are gonna be under serious load soon. We were almost killed during our first year!”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Rose snapped. “Go away now, let us eat.”
James gave her a highly affronted look and said to Louis, “Come, Louis, looks like we’re not wanted here! Let go and annoy our other favourite cousins!”
“You’re right, James, let’s leave these kids alone!” And they went away, with identical poignant looks on their faces.
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