Chapter 34 : The Quidditch Cup
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DEMENTORS TO RETURN TO AZKABAN;
HOGWARTS TO SEE CHANGES
Newly elected Minister of Magic
Patricia Laurentis officially signed
the law that will bring Azkaban back
under the control of the dementors
late last night. Laurentis hopes
to have the dementors back by late
next week. 'This has been a goal
of mine for years and I am very
happy that it is finally happening.
The wizarding world will be far
safer now that our criminals will
be guarded once more by dementors.'
Bringing the dementors back to Azkaban
is the first of many changes the new
minister will be enacting over the
next few weeks. Laurentis's next
plan is to enact changes at Hogwarts.
'Over the next few weeks I will be
sending representatives from the
Department of Magical Education to
observe each professor. Each
professor will be required to submit
their curricula to the representatives
as well.' Professors planning on
retiring at the end of this year
will be exempt from this requirement,
as no changes will take place before
the end of term.
“Well, she's done it,” Albus said as he set the article down. “A week from now Azkaban will have dementors.”
“Mad,” Amanda muttered. “She's mad!”
“And she's sending people to observe the teachers,” Albus said.
Amanda grabbed the article from Albus and scanned it quickly. “Are any of them retiring?”
“I didn't think so,” Albus said. “But a few of them are quite old.”
As if on cue, Professor Kendrick stood up. “May I have your attention? Thank you. Most of you, I am sure, have read the Prophet. Over the next few weeks every professor will be observed during one of his or her classes. I ask you all to ignore the representative and go about class as if they weren't there. That is how the Ministry will best get an understanding of how things work at Hogwarts. Now, Professor Slughorn has an announcement to make.”
Professor Slughorn stood, although he was so short that it hardly made a difference. He looked a bit nervous and Albus got the feeling that he rarely ever addressed the entire student body at once.
“Yes, thank you, Professor Kendrick,” Slughorn said. “I just wanted to tell you all at once that I am going to retire at the end of term. I've enjoyed my time at Hogwarts, but it's high time I retire for good.”
“Ten Galleons says he decided to retire after finding out he had to submit his curricula to the Ministry,” Rose whispered after Slughorn sat back down.
“I'm sure you're right,” Albus agreed. “Dad said he didn't even want to come back when our parents were in school.”
“What about Young?” Kaden asked. “He doesn’t even have a curriculum.”
Albus burst out laughing. “I hadn't even thought of that. Bet he gets sacked.”
“So that'll be two new professors next year,” John said.
Rose groaned. “And in our O.W.L. year, too.”
“Don't say that word!” James, who was sitting about five seats down from Rose, shouted.
Rose raised her eyebrows. “What word?”
“O.W.L,” James said with a shudder. “They're only a month away.”
“Guess you should've started studying earlier,” Rose said.
“Shut up,” James muttered.
James wasn't the only one to have forgotten about O.W.L.s amidst all the election news. There seemed to be more frantic studying than usual, and not just from the fifth and seventh years. The entire castle had neglected to study for their end-of-term exams. Later that night Albus, John, Rose, Amanda, and Kaden joined the throngs of people vying for tables in the library in order to cram in as much studying as possible. Matt couldn't join them, as it was the full moon.
However, Albus had a hard time concentrating. His every thought was focused on the dementors in Azkaban or his dad's job or the Ministry representatives at Hogwarts. Rose, Amanda, and even Kaden were focusing on their studying. John was playing with his quill. Suddenly, he stood up.
“Kaden?” he asked. “Think now would be a good time?”
Kaden grinned, setting down his book. “Yeah, I think so.”
“We'll see you lot later,” John said as Kaden got up. “Don't ask.”
“That was weird,” Rose said once the two boys left.
“It's probably their prank,” Albus pointed out.
Rose groaned. “They're right. I don't want to know.”
Albus had assumed that this would be a prank that would make itself known right away, as most of John and Kaden's pranks worked that way. But by the next morning things seemed perfectly fine at Hogwarts. The Slytherins' hair was still normal colors and everything seemed calm and quiet. John and Kaden kept grinning at each other, so Albus was sure they'd done something.
It took another full day for things to pick up. Albus first noticed it at breakfast, when some of the Slytherins seemed a bit unsettled. They were squirming in their seats and didn't seem able to sit still. But it was only a few of them.
Albus raised his eyebrows questioningly at John and Kaden.
“Should we tell him?” John asked.
“Oh, I suppose now we could,” Kaden said as he leaned over to Albus. “Itching powder in their laundry. The house-elves are very helpful with pranks.”
Albus started laughing. “Seriously?”
Kaden nodded. “Completely untraceable and the effects won't all come at once. It all depends on when they send their laundry out.”
“That's genius,” Albus said. John and Kaden's pranks were most definitely improving over the years.
Albus looked up from his breakfast to see Matt nudging a first year over so that he could sit down in next to John.
“Madam Pomfrey let you out?” Albus asked.
Matt nodded. “Yeah, I think she wanted me to stay longer, but I told her I needed to study. Why are these two geniuses?”
“We did our prank on the Slytherins,” John explained and then lowered his voice. “Itching powder in their laundry. The house-elves helped.”
“Okay, that is pretty awesome,” Matt said. “You won't get caught, either.”
“Nope, it's not likely,” John said. “So, what should we do today?”
Albus looked up once more and saw that this time Rose and Amanda had appeared, both heavily ladened down with books and stacks of parchment. They wore identical looks of determination.
“You're all studying. All day,” Rose continued. “Exams are in a month and none of us are prepared. The election happened, it sucked, but it's over. Nothing can be done. Albus, you've been moping about your dad's job for a week. John, Kaden, I'm determined that you do well this year. Matt, the full moon is over. All four of you are studying from now until exams.”
“Aw, Rose, c'mon-”
“No,” Rose said. “Studying. All of you. Amanda and I are going to get a table in the library and we expect all of you there in fifteen minutes.”
Rose and Amanda left in a flourish of parchment and books, leaving Albus and the other boys to stare at each other open-mouthed. Albus knew his cousin was very academic and placed a high value on her own education, but never before had she staged an intervention for his studying.
“She's lost her mind,” John said. “If she's like this now, what will happen next year for O.W.L.s?”
“Don't say that word!” James shouted from down the table.
“I suppose we haven't got a choice, do we?” Matt asked as he shoved his eggs into his mouth. “Damn, I only just got back.”
That was true, Albus thought. He and his friends quickly finished their breakfast and hurried up to the library, realizing once they arrived that they didn't have any of their books. They ran up to their dormitories to retrieve them and made it to the library five minutes later than Rose insisted they be there.
Rose and Amanda had shoved two tables together and had spread all their books out over them. Madam Pince was sitting behind the circulation desk, looking at them curiously, as if she could not remember a time someone had frequented the library that early. The rest of the tables were deserted.
“What's with the extra chair?” Albus asked as he dumped his books onto the table. “There's only six of us.”
“Oh, that's for Elsie,” Rose said as she set parchment down at each seat.
“As in Elsie Willinson?” Albus replied.
“Yes, that's the only Elsie we know,” Rose said. “She needs help studying and I'm her tutor.”
“But she's Felix Willinson's sister,” John pointed out.
“And she needs help, John,” Rose said with a sigh. “I've been tutoring her all year and I'm not going to stop now.”
Matt nudged John. “It's not a bad thing. Maybe she'll tell us what her brother and Malfoy have been up to all year.”
Albus hadn't thought of that. Of course, Rose hadn't had any luck getting Elsie to talk all year, so chances were slim that he and the other boys would have success.
“Honestly, you lot are far too focused on Malfoy,” Rose said. “You've hardly studied all year. Just sit down and start reviewing Transfiguration. I've made study guides for every subject. You should have them at your spots.”
Albus picked a seat and sat down. Rose was organized to the point of insanity. There were in fact study guides for every subject, organized chronologically, from September until May. Albus was suddenly very grateful for his cousin, despite her obvious insanity. This was going to make studying so much easier.
“Wow, thanks Rose,” Albus said. The rest of the group muttered their agreement.
Rose smiled. “See? It was a good idea. Now, we'll study until lunch and then have a break.”
Lunch was about two hours away. That wasn't too bad. Albus opened his Transfiguration book and settled in with that and the study guide. It took him about a half hour to work through distractions, but soon his mind was only focused on Transfiguration.
Around him, the library quickly filled up. Fifth and seventh years seemed the most frantic about finding tables and searching the stacks, but students from every year and every house were present. Madam Pince spent the morning weaving throughout the tables and looking over everyone's shoulders to make sure they were working on school work. With exams so near, the library was now closed to everyone who wasn't going to revise.
Elsie Willinson showed up a little after eleven. Albus watched as she tentatively made her way over to the table, clearly unsure of studying with so many people. Albus was struck again by how similar she looked to Felix. It always sort of amused Albus when siblings looked so alike, since he didn't really resemble either of his siblings. But Felix and Elsie Willinson were incredibly similar in looks.
Once Rose noticed Elsie, she immediately stood up and beckoned the first year over. Elsie seemed less nervous now that Rose knew she was there, but she still avoided eye contact as she sat down and pulled her books out of her bag. Rose whispered something in her ear and she began reading her charms book.
Albus sighed and returned to his own work. Getting Elsie Willinson to talk was going to be much more difficult than he thought.
Rose's revision sessions continued throughout the month of May. Albus didn't like to admit it out loud, but they were incredibly helpful and he wasn't sure he would pass his exams if it weren't for Rose. As the month progressed, the sessions grew both in length and the number of participants. By the end of the first week their study group had grown to include James, Ben, Cedric, and their friend Nathan, who all now feared failing their O.W.L.s.
Albus and James missed a few sessions for Quidditch practice, but as the Quidditch final drew closer, both of them agreed that Quidditch was just as important as studying. Bradley and Heather were becoming more and more anxious about the final, since it would determine whether Gryffindor won the Quidditch Cup. They were currently only a few points behind Ravenclaw and if they pulled off a win in the final, they would most likely win the cup as well.
The match took place a week before O.W.L.s were scheduled to begin and Albus awoke more nervous than he had been for a Quidditch match in ages. The match itself was going to be bittersweet since it would be the last time he played with Heather and Fred as the other Chasers on Gryffindor's team. Next year he'd have two new Chasers and that was going to be incredibly strange.
Albus headed down to breakfast before his friends and encountered a few particularly itchy Slytherins on his way. Giggling to himself and enjoying the fact that John and Kaden's prank was still going on, weeks later, he entered the Great Hall. On his way to the Gryffindor table, he was distracted by the sight of Malfoy, speaking with Felix Willinson, while carrying an overnight bag.
Deciding that breakfast could wait, Albus crept over to the Slytherin table and attempted to crouch down behind a few seventh years. Unfortunately the Great Hall was too loud for proper eavesdropping, and Albus made a vow to always have an Extendable Ear on his person from now on.
Malfoy stepped away from Felix Willinson and turned, allowing Albus to look at his face. He looked terrible. His eyes were red and it looked like he hadn't slept in days. Very strange, Albus thought, as he rose to follow Malfoy out of the room.
Once in the Entrance Hall, Malfoy immediately ran up the staircase, going far too fast for Albus to follow. Albus stood next to the door to the Great Hall thinking about what Malfoy's actions meant.
He was clearly upset about something, but what was it? The overnight bag implied that he was going to be leaving the castle, but why? Albus thought back to the dueling tournament that Malfoy missed. The two incidents must be connected, and it was quite possible that the letter Albus and Amanda saw Malfoy reading months ago was connected as well.
Albus didn't mention Malfoy to his friends when they came down to breakfast a few minutes later. As much as Albus wanted to discuss it with them, he knew that he needed to put it out of his mind for the duration of the match. If there was ever a match for Albus not to be distracted, this was it.
The nerves on the team were palpable as they stood waiting to walk onto the pitch. Fred didn't even give a speech, since everyone knew how important the match was, both to Fred and Heather.
Ravenclaw had a good Quidditch team. They were easily the best team in the school, although most Gryffindors would disagree. But the Gryffindor team was determined in this match, causing them to play fiercer than ever before.
Albus flew faster than he ever had before. He, Fred, and Heather had always worked very well together, but during this match it almost seemed like they were one entity, sharing one brain. Albus's entire mind was focused on Quidditch and Quidditch only. Gone were the thoughts of his dad's job, Laurentis, and Malfoy.
The match only lasted an hour. Albus hadn't even realized that James caught the Snitch until the whistle was blown. Gryffindor won 420-260, their best win yet that year.
“We did it!” Fred shouted as he landed. “We've won the Cup!”
Albus couldn't even hear the commentary over the thunderous applause of the spectators. Professor Longbottom was holding the Quidditch Cup high over his head and was making his way through the crowd to Fred. Fred took the Cup and held it out to Heather. Each held one side and raised it up. The Gryffindors were storming the pitch and Albus was sept up in the crowd, making it difficult to reach his team. Once he did, somebody snapped their picture.
Albus was the happiest he'd felt in weeks, ever since his team won the Dueling Tournament. It was his third year on the Quidditch team and they finally won the Cup. But he was even more happy for Fred and Heather than he was for himself since they'd both been on the team since their second year and had never won the Cup.
Heather had tears streaming down her face and Fred was grinning wider than Albus had ever seen him. While neither of them were pursuing a career in Quidditch, Quidditch had been their lives for the past six years. Winning the Cup in their seventh year seemed more poignant than it would have winning it any other year. Albus hoped that Gryffindor's team was still as good as it was now when he got to seventh year. Winning again in his last year would be the best feeling in the world.
“Malfoy really did leave the castle,” Amanda announced at breakfast the next day.
“How did you find that out?” Albus asked.
“Weirdly enough, Moaning Myrtle.”
“How would she know?”
“I've no idea,” Amanda said as she grabbed a few slices of toast. “I didn't ask.”
“Well, I just found out why he left,” Rose said as she set down the Prophet. “His grandfather passed away.”
“As in Lucius Malfoy?” Albus said, taking the paper. “The ex-Death Eater?”
“One in the same,” Rose said. “His obituary is in there.”
“Why were you reading the obituaries?” Matt asked.
“I wasn't trying to. I was flipping through and happened to see it. It says he's been ill for a while,” Rose explained.
“That explains why he's been acting so odd all year,” Amanda said.
“And that howler he got months ago,” Kaden added.
Albus glanced at the obituary but didn't read it. As much as he disliked Malfoy, he couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Albus couldn't imagine what it would be like to lose his grandfather, and despite Lucius Malfoy's obvious faults, he was still Scorpius's grandfather.
“I feel sort of bad for yelling at him about skipping that dueling tournament,” Albus muttered.
“You didn't know,” John said. “And it's not like he explained.”
“Isn't anyone else a bit preoccupied with the fact that Moaning Myrtle knew about him leaving the castle?” Matt asked. “She never leaves her loo. We saw Malfoy going into her loo a few weeks ago. Doesn't that seem a bit too coincidental?”
“You think he's gotten chummy with Moaning Myrtle?” Albus asked.
Matt shrugged. “It looks like he has. Why else would she know about it?”
“But why would he go into a girl's loo?” John asked, wrinkling his nose. “That's just bloody insane.”
“Sounds like we need to pay a visit to Myrtle,” Albus said.
Rose groaned. “Really, Al? He just lost his grandfather for God's sake.”
“We're not going to bother Malfoy,” Albus said. “We're just going to talk to Myrtle.”
“Count me out,” Rose said, shaking her head.
“But you're a girl,” Albus pointed out. “You could get in there so much easier. Amanda?”
“Sorry, Albus, but I've really got to study,” Amanda said.
“We'll go at night, then,” Albus decided. “John, Kaden, Matt? Which of you is going with me?”
“Not me,” Matt said immediately.
“I'll go,” John said.
“You're both mad,” Rose said quietly. “Mad.”
Albus may have been mad, but he couldn't let this mystery go. His gut was telling him that Malfoy was up to something, despite his grandfather's passing, and Albus was determined to find out what it was.
A/N: Sorry that the update is a day late! I was really busy yesterday and didn't have a chance to update. Thanks for all the lovely reviews! I am very behind on answering them, but I'll finish eventually!
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