Chapter 2 : Chapter Two
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James Potter woke up feeling perfectly normal the next morning after the wedding. The butterbeer he drank the night previously was charmed to make him merely loopy, for the sake of celebration. Otherwise it had no effect in actually making him drunk. This was a good thing, too, seeing as how he would never hear the end of it once he stepped into the halls of Hogwarts with his shiny new Prefect's badge. There was only a week left until the new term at Hogwarts started and the Potters and Weasleys were celebrating everything like mad.
His little sister Lily and cousin Hugo were going to be first years this year, and so they wouldn't take part of today's festivities as they were at Diagon Alley with his mum and Aunt Hermione. Lily would be turning twelve a week after starting Hogwarts and already a majority of the things she needed were given to her as an early birthday gift. That, however, didn't stop the young girl from wanting to shop.
He dragged himself out of bed and pulled on a shirt lying across the back of a chair that he most likely wore a day or two ago without washing it. He pointlessly ran a hand through his mess of dark brown hair, which had a hint of red in it, and grabbed for his rectangular shaped glasses on his bedside table. He remembered being little and wanting to wear glasses like his dad, but decided against it when he started school known as 'Potter's boy through and through!'
With pyjama bottoms still on James made his way downstairs where he found the remaining members of his family and friends eating breakfast. Seeing as it was the weekend, no one had to be at work. So naturally after the wedding they all crashed at his place. His dad was by the stove top, cooking bacon and talking to Uncle Ron about something from work, and everyone else was fighting for the remaining food on the table.
James took a seat next to Rose Weasley, who was desperately trying to start a conversation with Molly. He grabbed the piece of toast from her plate since there wasn't any more anywhere else.
"That's mine!" Rose realised right away and gave up on Molly, who was sulking over her eggs and bacon.
"You could stop talking long enough to realise? I'm shocked," James pretended to get out of her way by sitting as far back in his seat as possible as she reached for her piece of cold toast. "Nice hair this morning by the way, Red." The compliment was for the already bushy wildfire hair on her head that was still untamed from when she woke up. She glared at him and bit at her toast in one quick bite.
"Be nice, James. Rose had a tough night with her boyfriend and all last night." Albus said as he came up from behind him with a plate and gave it to his older brother. He took the seat next to him and smiled cockily at Rose.
James turned to Rose in true shock this time. "What happened between you and your boyfriend?" He asked, shooting a quick glance at Molly and then back to Rose.
"Nothing, you idiot! That was..." She nudged her head behind her, gesturing to Molly.
Albus choked on his tea a little and apologised quickly.
"Sorry! How was I supposed to know? Word may travel quickly, but you lose track of who's being talked about in this family!" He defended himself. Molly started to sob silently and left the table to sulk. She went out of the kitchen and back upstairs.
"Now look what you've done!" Rose griped. James ignored her and took a look at the end of the charmed table to see Noah quietly eating his own breakfast and listening to something Fred II had to say. That probably wasn't a good idea since Fred would be making all the wrong jokes at the wrong time, but James felt it was best not to interrupt.
"Someone's a bit on her high horse seeing as nothing is wrong with her this morning." Albus argued in front of James while trying to make a grab for the older boy's toast. He placed a hand on Albus' face and pushed him away, and when he tried to do it again, James threatened him with a fork.
"Excuse me, but I shared a room with her last night and she spent the whole night crying!" Rose retorted. "So I’m sorry if I'm not an exact charmer for conversation."
"Where's Ted?" James interrupted, feeling like some names would start flying across the room if the conversation went on any further. Rose’s attention went to Albus suddenly, as he insulted her wild hair yet again. She stood up to leave but then she registered James’ question and sat down again with crossed arms.
"He's at the honeymoon. Obviously!" She huffed. She looked down at her nearly empty plate before deciding she was going to stand up again and leave the table. "Excuse me, but I'm going to go and pack."
"We have a week until—"
"Not for school, James. I spent the night here, remember? I don't live here!" Rose rolled her eyes and threw her hands into the air before turning on her heels and leaving.
"Oh. Right. Well then, that's a lovely dosage of female drama this morning, wouldn't you say so, Al?" James asked his brother, who was still fuming from before. It wasn't normally a custom for the Potter kids, or the Weasley kids for that matter, to fight with one another very often. Especially not Albus. Since Albus was a Slytherin, he decided a long time ago that it would be pointless to further the stereotypical lie that Slytherins could never get along with anyone else. "You all right, mate?" James asked his little brother.
Albus looked up and sighed.
"Yeah, just... I don't know. Yeah, I'm fine. I just didn't expect her to get so annoyed with me, that’s all. I really didn't know that it was Molly who was having boyfriend trouble last night." He added, hoping someone would side with him on that issue.
"And why, may I ask," someone said directly behind them, "should it matter who is having troubles?"
James and Albus turned around to see Noah looking straight down at them. He wasn't smiling but thank Godric he wasn't angry. He was a bigger person than both James and Albus put together, almost like an Australian replica of their Uncle Charlie.
Albus stumbled for words to come up with a reason but couldn't find them and settled with, "Sorry, Noah," before retreating to his breakfast. The guy wasn't the least bit intimidating, but neither one of the boys wanted to pursue the issue. James finished off what he wanted from his breakfast and made an exit for the bathroom before any awkward couple talk was admitted to the breakfast table.
The fireplace was clean and there was no fire going on inside it. Mainly because it was just September, and the weather was not ready for the heat. The other reason was that fireplace's sole purpose was for Floo use. The fireplace downstairs was what assured any Muggles that the Potters were just a normal everyday family.
As if, thought Molly. The Potters had never been normal and everyone knew that. It mostly started with her Uncle Harry, but his dad had a few great stories here and there as well.
Suddenly, the fireplace lit up and emitted emerald green flames. The fireplace did this four times and each time one of her family members appeared. Molly calmed down a little once she realized it was her Aunt Hermione and Aunt Ginny, along with Hugo and Lily. Most of the time the fireplace produced people from the Ministry, and they weren't normally fun people to be around.
"Daddy! Daddy! Come and look what wand I got from Diagon Alley!" Lily squealed and ran out of the study with her wand extended up in the air.
Ginny chuckled and looked at Hermione, who was squeezing Hugo's shoulders and telling him, "Go on. Go and tell your father what wand you got." Hugo shot out of the room with an all black wand.
The two women embraced each other and began to laugh and talk about their little shopping spree. As they went to follow their children they noticed Molly sitting in the red chair in the middle of the room, trying to hide herself behind a book.
"Molly?" Hermione released Ginny and headed for the chair. "What are you doing up here all by yourself?"
Ginny stood behind her and asked, "Why aren't you celebrating with everyone while they're still here?"
Molly sighed and shut her book.
"I don't know," she answered honestly. Really, she had no idea why she was upset. She couldn't necessarily tell if she was having any real boy problems or not at all, but she knew that at the current moment she couldn't just waltz up to Noah and ask. She couldn't reply to what he said last night, so surely that was the cause for some sort of boy troubles. Wasn't it?
"You've been crying, dear. What is it?" Hermione sat down next to her in the chair and stroked her black curls, which thankfully were not as wild as Rose's. When Molly didn't answer Hermione, Ginny took that as a sign that it was nothing they could help with. Her two aunts shared a very concerned look. "Do you need to speak with your parents?"
"What?" Molly asked, shocked and somewhat horrified with the idea of talking to her father about boy advice. "No. This has been going on since last night. If I needed them, I would have asked them then, but no. I'm all right. I just wanted to read up on a few things while I still had time."
"If you're sure." Ginny said and headed for the door. "We could always go and get—I mean—I can tell your mum to come up."
"No!" Molly said quickly, her face puckering up. Molly would much rather have the 'birds and the bees' talk with her father any day than talk to her mother about simply boy advice. It wasn't that she couldn't stand her mother. Not that anyone really could stand how pompous her mother was. No, Molly just didn't think she would understand.
"Listen, if I promise that I'm absolutely fine and my tears are due to a few things in this book, will you promise not to tell my mother?" Molly asked, hinting at a smile and somewhat of a chuckle.
Hermione and Ginny exchanged glances again and warily agreed to come to terms with Molly. Hermione left Molly in the chair she was sitting in and was about to follow Ginny out the door until the fireplace took light again with the same emerald green flames. This time another family member of Molly's came out, but not to any of her relief.
"Ginny, go and get Harry." Percy Weasley commanded his sister. "Hermione, get Ron please. Both of you; hurry!" As he barked his orders, Kingsley Shacklebolt himself came in right behind Molly's father. She was completely unnoticed until he said, "Hello, Miss Weasley."
Percy looked at the same chair Hermione and Molly were sharing moments before and welcomed her with a tight smile.
"Sorry, dear, I didn't see you there. Listen, we're about to have a very important meeting with the Ministry members so if you could—"
"Got it, Dad. All you had to say was ‘leave’." Molly grumbled as she stood to her feet and snapped her book shut. She didn't mean to be so rude, but the fact he didn't even notice she was upset was a little more than upsetting. To make up for it, she went up and pecked his cheek before leaving the room just in time for Ron, Harry, Hermione and Ginny to file past her and enter the study.
"What is it, Percy?" She heard Harry ask just as the door was shut behind her and the locks magically turned to keep her out. The light chatter from downstairs was hesitantly growing back to the roaring conversations they were once before. The occupants of the kitchen were most likely startled from the sudden interruption of their breakfast.
Molly leaned up against the wall and debated whether or not she should just go to her room Aunt Ginny provided her or downstairs, but something caught her attention through the door.
For the greatest wizards of their time, you'd think they'd remember to place silencing enchantments on the door, Molly thought. Something they said had her attention though. In a trice she had her ear glued to the study door. She wasn't planning on missing out on such a top secret Ministry meeting.
Albus found out that having a conversation about girl problems wasn't that bad. Well, at least not as bad as he thought they would be. After James left him awkwardly with Noah, he and the older boy had taken to talking about what happened the night before. He was genuinely surprised that Noah cared that much about his relationship with Molly in the first place. He didn't get a lot of details on what exactly was going on with the older couple, but he did know one thing was for sure, and that was that his cousin was pretty uptight about a lot of minor things.
When his mother and aunt came rushing into the kitchen, however, the entire room went quiet and everyone stared at them. Normally, this wasn’t out of the ordinary for the children, but the adults—at least Aunt Hermione and Albus’ mum Ginny—had never been ones for running urgently around the house.
"Harry, Ron, could you come upstairs please?" Aunt Hermione asked, still holding the door open between the kitchen and the hallway. Neither of the men asked any questions and did as their wives asked. Uncle Charlie took over the cooking and the silence in the room was rather grave. The bacon sizzled and it wasn't until Charlie asked who wanted more food did the conversation pick back up, focusing either on the wedding last night or school.
"And then I got this really cool folding pot that Mum was talking about." Lily had replaced James' spot as soon as she got back and was filling Albus in about her whole shopping trip. The conversation mainly consisted of her wand and robe fittings and how her mum wouldn't let her have any house-coloured clothing because she wasn't sorted yet.
"I'm sorry, Lils, but I've really got to use the loo," Albus interrupted and left the table. Nobody noticed him leave and Lily immediately asked Hugo what house he thought they'd be sorted into.
After all, Albus didn't really lie, as he did need to go to the bathroom, but he also planned on seeing if he could find out what his parents were up to. On his way, however, he saw someone had already beaten him to the punch.
"Molly? What are you doing?" Molly wasn't expecting anyone and she jumped as soon as Albus said her name. With sudden shock she pulled out her wand and cast a silencing charm on the door immediately.
Molly spluttered a combination of four-letter words that would disgust her mother as she realised immediately what she had done. "I'm going to be expelled! I'm going to Azkaban!" She looked so worried as she dropped her wand onto the floor, looking at it as if it were some sort of cursed item.
Albus went and picked it up for her.
"Our family is best mates with the Minister for Magic. I'm sure you're fine." He said and handed her wand back. She rolled her eyes and took it back and placed it in her back pocket. She glanced at the door in hopes that no one heard Albus before she placed the charm and sighed.
"I—I wasn't doing anything." She said. "I heard voices and I wondered who it was. I checked really quickly, and now I'm leaving." She began to turn around but Albus stopped her.
"You just wanted to hear who was in the room? Their little chat about garden gnomes is so intreging that you had to cast a silencing charm on the door? What are they talking about, Molly?" Albus was insistent. Call it a family trait.
"I told you," she said, "I was just startled. I'm going to go and get ready to go home. Um, why don't you go and tell James I'm sorry about earlier?" And with that, she turned around and ran down the hallway. He stared at the corner of the hall that she turned at and then at the door. He took is own wand out of his back pocket and took the silencing charm off the door before leaning in and placing his ear against it.
Soon he forgot all about Molly, the wedding, school, and what he was supposed to tell James later.
"Listen, Harry. Ginny. We think it'd be a lot easier if we could send a spy or two and see what becomes of this. With Albus, it'd be a lot easier." The voice sounded like Uncle Percy's and Albus found his ear was beginning to get very warm for how tightly he was pressed against the door to hear.
"I am not sending my son into something like this, Percy!" That was his mum. She sounded worried, but not angry. "Tell him, Harry! We can't do something like this. They're just children! It might not even be anything worth meddling with."
There was silence in the room for a moment before his dad answered. He sounded close, like he was right next to the door.
"Ginny, I think Percy has a point. They may be just kids, but you remember how Voldemort started. He was just a child, too. We can't underestimate children, dear. What say you, Kingsley?"
"As much as I agree we do need spies to check in on these children periodically, I can't say that I believe sending more children into this is a good idea. At least, not your son, Harry."
Percy spoke again. "But, Minister, Albus would fit right in! He's a pure-blood wizard, and by the sounds of it, that's who these children are recruiting."
"Don't go offering my own children as bait, Percy!" Ginny half shouted.
"I'm only saying, Ginny, that if we could send Albus into investigate—"
"No, Kingsley is right." Hermione interrupted suddenly. The room went silent. "If we send Albus in, they'll see something is up. Albus is the son of Harry Potter and Harry is the Head of the Auror Department. We'd be committing murder doing something so foolish. We do need spies, however. I can—I can investigate. I could see to it that the animals at Hogwarts are being treated fairly for a period of time. Every weekend should be about right, don't you think? Ron?"
"Yeah, and Harry and I could go in every once in a while to make sure everything's in order. We could say we heard some rumours going around outside Hogwarts and we need to keep things straight at the school. That should put a stop to whatever these kids are up to, right?" Ron suggested, agreeing with his wife.
Albus gulped. His hands were sweaty and his glasses were slipping from the end of his nose. Hogwarts was in danger. Last year there were some issues with bullies, but they never did anything major. What could be going on that they needed spies for? If they wanted Albus as a spy, it must have meant that whoever they were expecting it to be was a Slytherin.
"That's it then, isn't it?" Ginny asked hopefully. "If we can make sure that everything is going smoothly at Hogwarts ourselves, then there is no reason to get Albus into this. There’s no reason to get any of the children into this."
"I'm not sure if adult spies will completely do, Ginny but," Percy said matter-of-factly, "it should do for a while at least."
"If everything seems settled by the Christmas holidays, then we can resign, but until then I will need all of you, and a few of the staff members, to go along with this. You can’t tell anyone, especially your children," Kingsley said, his voice deep and authoritative yet soft at the same time.
"OK," Harry said. "I'll ask my top Aurors and see what they have to say. I'll have them start as soon as the term starts."
"We mustn't rush into this, Harry." Percy interrupted again. Albus was finding that his hands were shaking and immediately let go of the door frame to hold them behind his back. His uncle was definitely pissing him off, but he couldn't pry his ear from the door as easily as his hands. "If we do, they will assume something is up. I'm sure you can remember when we were in school and there were Aurors running around all over the place."
"That was different." Harry said, sounding off-beat and almost sad. "Everyone knew that Sirius was an escaped convict then and we needed the protection."
"The rumours are out there, Harry. Soon, even the children will know, but we mustn't rush them." Said Kingsley. He too sounded as if he was close to the door now and Albus realised that this little meeting would be over soon. Right before he left his spot of the past ten minutes, however, he heard his Uncle Ron's voice again.
"Just like old times, eh mate?" There was a thud and Albus was pretty sure that Ron had just clapped his dad on the back.
"Yes," his dad said solemnly, "but it isn't a good thing."
With those last words, Albus ran at the sound of the locks being turned. His legs had lost all feeling due to standing and shaking for so long, but he made them run anyway. He ran all the way up to his room and shut the door behind him. All the while, he was hoping to Godric himself that no one saw him.
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