Chapter 37 : Truce
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The boys ran into greenhouse three five minutes late and as soon as they shut the door the entire class looked up from their exams and stared at them. Albus got the distinct feeling that they all knew about last night, whether from rumors or from the Prophet. Professor Longbottom got up from his stool and walked over to them.
“Boys,” he said quietly.
“I'm sorry we're late, sir,” Albus said. “We overslept-”
“Albus, it's okay. I know what happened last night. Just go take your seats. Your exams are already laid out.”
“Thanks,” Albus replied.
Albus was very grateful that Herbology had been the exam he was late for. Longbottom was the most understanding professor in the entire school. Albus settled down and managed to take the exam without falling asleep. While there were a few questions that he wasn't sure about, he was quite confident that he at least passed.
By the time the exam period ended Albus was starving, as were John and Matt. They, along with Rose and Amanda, headed immediately to the Great Hall for lunch. As they walked in, Albus again got the distinct feeling that everyone was staring at them.
“You should've been at breakfast,” Amanda said. “Everyone was talking about it and they kept coming over and asking me questions. There were a bunch of people crowded around Malfoy, too.”
“Do either of you have the Prophet?” Albus asked as they sat down.
“Yeah, here,” Rose said, handing it to him.
Albus unfolded the paper and set it down on his plate. John and Matt sat on either side of him and read over his shoulder.
CONVICTS CAUGHT AT HOGWARTS
Newly appointed Head Auror, Robert
Johnson, received an anonymous tip
late last night that led him and four
other Aurors to Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry. The tip
told Aurors that escaped convicts
Amycus Carrow, Alecto Carrow,
Quinton Willinson, and Dolores
Umbridge could be found in the Chamber
of Secrets deep under Hogwarts School.
The Chamber of Secrets, long since
regarded as a rumored hidden chamber
beneath the school was proven to
exist in mid-1993. The Chamber has
remained empty since then.
All four escaped convicts, along with
Jarrett Willinson, wanted for a year
by the Auror Department, were found in
the Chamber of Secrets by Robert Johnson
and four other Aurors. Amycus Carrow,
Quinton Willinson, and Dolores Umbridge
have been returned to Azkaban prison.
Jarrett Willinson is currently being held
in Azkaban prison without bail. Alecto
Carrow was pronounced dead by Healers
late last night, after the ceiling in
the Chamber collapsed, crushing her
Six Hogwarts students were found in the
Chamber as well. Johnson has released
very little information on this aspect
of the night, but has said that Jarrett
Willinson captured one student with the
intentions of killing her if demands were
not met. The names of the students have
not been released.
It is unknown how the convicts got into
the school. Weaknesses in the protective
wards are currently being addressed. 'We
wish to assure the public that Hogwarts
School remains as safe as ever. The problems
will be addressed quickly. There is no
need to panic.'
“Unknown how the convicts got into the school?” Albus said incredulously. “They've covered the whole thing up!”
“What did you expect, Albus?” Rose asked, shaking her head. “Uncle Harry said it would happen.”
“I bet that new Head Auror is in on it,” Albus muttered. “He'll probably say he investigated but all he'll do is make up stories to cover up what Laurentis did.”
“You're probably right,” Rose said.
“Who's right?” Kaden asked as he sat down.
“Albus,” Rose said.
“Have you seen this rubbish?” Albus asked, holding up the paper.
“Yeah,” Kaden replied. “But honestly, I don't care right now. I just want a sandwich. The divination exam was brutal. I had to tell Trelawney's future in tea leaves.”
John laughed. “What did you say?”
“Told her she was going to meet an untimely death at the hands of a stray Quaffle,” Kaden said.
Rose groaned. “Oh, Kaden, you didn't.”
“She actually liked it,” Kaden said. “Her huge eyes lit up and everything.”
“She likes death, Trelawney,” John said. “Or at least the concept of it.”
“Weird,” Albus muttered.
Albus's remaining exams took place with little fanfare. Despite his mind not being on the material, he thought he did fairly well, and when the marks were released he discovered that he had passed everything. His Transfiguration mark was a bit low, but still passing.
The Hogwarts students, with their short memory spans, soon forgot about the debacle in the Chamber of Secrets and moved on to other topics of discussion such as the summer holiday and the current Quidditch season. Albus certainly didn't mind this because it meant he was no longer the center of attention. Despite the fact that the Prophet never released the names of the students in the Chamber, everyone knew it was Albus, John, Kaden, and Amanda, along with the three Slytherins.
“Look, Laurentis has released a statement about capturing the prisoners,” Rose said at breakfast on their day in the castle.
Albus groaned. “This can't be good. Let's hear it.”
“'I wish to applaud the Auror Department for their work in recapturing the remaining escaped criminals. The timely recapture after the reorganization of the Department only reinforces how important a decision it was to reorganize. With the new regulations and policies in the Auror Department, organized by Robert Johnson, the Aurors were able to capture the felons immediately after receiving the tip. We can most assuredly look forward to more successes from the Auror Department.'”
“What a load of crap,” Albus said. “Of course they were able to recapture them quickly after receiving that tip. They organized for the convicts to be in the Chamber in the first place.”
“It's like your dad said, though,” Matt began. “Everything will get revealed eventually. That's not an easy secret to keep, what they did.”
“Hey, it looks like Embry's going to make a speech,” Kaden said, gesturing toward the staff table.
Professor Embry stood up and raised his hands for silence. This did nothing, of course. “Quiet!” Embry shouted. “I have something I'd like to say.
“Thank you,” he said, after everyone stopped talking. “I just want to say what a pleasure it has been to teach you all this year. I never expected to teach and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you enjoyed taking my class as much as I enjoyed teaching it, and I hope you all have a greater appreciation and understanding of our government. Today is my last day at Hogwarts, as the politics course will not continue next year, and I am once again needed at the Ministry. Please don't hesitate to owl me if you wish to receive a tour of the Ministry for academic purposes. I daresay that a few of you might have careers in politics yourselves.”
Embry sat back down and the entire room burst into applause. Albus wasn't sure if the applause was for Embry or for the fact that politics would no longer be a class. Albus hadn't minded the class, but one fewer class was to be appreciated.
“I learned something about politics this year, all right,” John muttered as the applause settled down. “And that's that I never want to be a politician.”
“Me, too,” Albus agreed.
“Cheers to that!” James shouted from a few seats down.
“Oh, I don't know.” Amanda shrugged. “I think it might be interesting.”
Albus wasn't at all surprised to hear Amanda say that. If any of his friends were to become politicians, it would be Amanda.
Later that day Albus found himself at yet another Hogwarts graduation ceremony. He and Rose had attended every single graduation ceremony since starting Hogwarts, and one the year before, too. It had gotten to the point where he didn't pay much attention to the speeches because they all sounded very similar to the ones he'd heard before. During this ceremony, the only part Albus paid attention to was the part where Fred and Heather accepted their diplomas, which took all of two minutes.
“Well, we survived,” Albus said to Georgia after the ceremony ended and everyone was milling around.
Georgia grinned. “That we did. It's kind of surreal, to be honest. Dad didn't win, so things are no different than they were this time last year, really.”
Albus nodded. “How is Uncle Percy doing?”
Georgia shrugged. “I'm not sure. He doesn't talk about it much. Actually, the weird thing is that whenever I go over there for dinner he spends a lot of time asking about Quidditch. I think it's mostly to keep me from asking about his lack of employment, but I'm not going to complain. Maybe he'll even learn to like it. The Quidditch, I mean, not the lack of employment.”
“He still hasn't found a job?” Albus asked.
“No. He could go back to the Ministry but he'd have to do something where he's not an actual politician, since Laurentis wouldn't take him. I don't think he wants to do that. He's been helping Uncle George with the shop, but I don't think Uncle George really likes that. Says Dad's too obsessive. But he's too nice to tell Dad he can't help.”
“Albus!” Rose shouted. “We've got to go. The carriages are leaving.”
Albus nodded to Rose and then turned back to Georgia. “I'd better go. Let me know when your next match is. I want to go.”
Georgia grinned. “Sure thing. See you soon, Al.”
“Bye, Georgia,” Albus said as he turned to follow Rose back to the castle, where they would catch the thestral-drawn carriages back to Hogsmeade.
“I say we go to John's house this year,” Matt said as the Hogwarts Express hurtled back to London.
“Are you mad?” John asked, unwrapping a Chocolate Frog. “I mean, really, are you? You want to come to my house, where I have three crazy little sisters running about?”
Matt shrugged. “They can't be that bad.”
“Says he who is the youngest in his family,” John said, looking at Albus for support.
“He's right,” Albus agreed. “And I've only got one little sister. Wait a minute, Matt's the only one of us who doesn't have younger siblings, isn't he?”
The others nodded. “All right,” John said. “Let's give Matt a real sense of what having lots of siblings is like. I'll owl you and let you know when.”
“Exploding Snap?” Kaden asked, holding up a deck of cards.
“Sure,” Matt said. Everyone else nodded.
Kaden began to deal the cards, but before he finished, the compartment door slid open. Albus, expecting one of his cousins, turned to the door. It slid open the rest of the way and Malfoy stood on the threshold, looking a bit unsure of himself. He was alone. Albus wondered where Felix was.
“What do you want?” John asked.
“Er, can I just talk to you lot?” he asked quietly, stepping inside and sliding the door behind him.
“Where's Willinson?” Albus asked, standing up.
“He's no longer speaking to me,” Malfoy explained. “After I hexed his uncle and as he put it, 'joined the other side.'”
“What about Elsie?” Rose asked, clearly concerned about the girl.
Malfoy shrugged. “She's always with Felix. She never said much around me.”
“Is she really a parselmouth?” John asked. “I assume she's the one who got you into the Chamber?”
“Yeah, she did, but she's not a parselmouth. She's just really good with languages so she was able to fake it,” Malfoy explained.
There were a few moments of awkward silence. Malfoy shifted his weight and leaned against the door.
“So,” Albus said. “Why are you here, exactly?”
Malfoy sighed. “This year sucked and I got caught up in a lot of things that I didn't want to do, which is exactly what happened to my dad when he was at Hogwarts.”
Albus was utterly confused as to why Malfoy was telling them all of this. He exchanged looks with Matt and then focused on Malfoy once more.
“But it's just not worth it anymore,” Malfoy continued. “Hating you lot. I know it was you who somehow got itching powder into all the Slytherins' laundry-”
“That wasn't us,” Kaden said quickly, a little too quickly.
“And we know you put the goat in the common room,” John added.
Malfoy nodded. “As I was saying, it just doesn't matter. Any of it.” He turned to Matt. “And I don't care that you're a werewolf. Really. Sure, it's weird and I have no idea why Kendrick even lets you be here-”
“I won't hesitate to hex you, you know,” John said, reaching into his robes for his wand.
Malfoy held up his hands. “No, don't. I guess what I'm saying is that I think we should call a truce.”
“A truce?” Albus asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Yeah, a truce,” Malfoy said. “You all know my grandfather died this year. It makes all this fighting we do seem really stupid.”
“You're not saying we should be friends, are you?” John asked incredulously.
Malfoy screwed up his face. “God no. I'm saying you lot stop only pranking the Slytherins, don't tell anyone that I dueled on your side in the Chamber, and I won't tell anyone Eckerton is a werewolf. I'll really promise that, without any threats of expulsion.”
Albus was skeptical. Could the death of Lucius Malfoy really prompt this change in Scorpius?
“C'mon, truce?” Scorpius asked, sticking his hand out to Albus.
“Oh, just do it, Albus,” Rose said. “We've got O.W.L.s next year. You don't need this stupid feud distracting you. Or any of us.”
“Fine, truce,” Albus said, shaking Scorpius's hand.
Malfoy nodded. “I guess I'll go, then. See you around, Potter.”
Malfoy turned and left the compartment. Albus didn't move for a full minute. “That was the strangest thing I've ever seen,” he finally said, resuming his seat.
“I don't think any of us will ever full understand what happened there,” Rose said. “But I think it's a good thing.”
“Weird, though,” Matt said. “You think he means it?”
The weirder thing was, was that Albus did actually believe him. There had been something in Malfoy's eyes that Albus hadn't seen before. It was like Malfoy seemed older somehow. He was no longer a kid, whose biggest worry was arguing with Albus over stupid things. Somehow, Malfoy had grown up.
Albus supposed they'd all grown up that year. They were going to be fifth years now, and Kaden would be a fourth year, and that meant they were the older students in the school. They were growing up. All of them. Even Malfoy.
“Makes me wonder what next year will be like,” Amanda mused. “Everything about this year has been strange.”
“We've got Laurentis reforming Hogwarts,” Rose reminded them. “I think it'll be plenty strange.”
Albus had nearly forgotten about that. He didn't want Hogwarts to change. Despite all that was going on in the outside world, Hogwarts had always remained the same. But now it wasn't. Hogwarts was going to change.
Albus leaned back in his seat and stared out the window, watching the countryside fly by. He didn't know what changes Hogwarts would see in the following year, but he didn't want to think about it just yet. There was still a whole summer before that would happen, and Albus intended to enjoy it.
A/N: Thank you so much for all the support and reviews for this story! You guys are amazing. I will be taking a break before continuing with this series as I have other stories floating around in my head (not to mention NaNoWriMo), but I'll eventually come back to Albus. I've no idea how long it'll be, though.
In the meantime, please check out my Marauders Era story, Between Here and Somewhere! And keep checking back for my review responses, because I will get to them.