Chapter 17 : The Threat of Tomorrow
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The sound of Albus's heart appeared to be the only sound in the world as he tried to wipe the image of Kane from his mind. There would be more than a few nightmares later but at the moment he pressed forward, feeling an overwhelming bite of panic as he thought of Lavender and Scorpious lost in the Forest.
With the centaurs already preparing to possibly murder their own, Albus could only imagine what would happen if they discovered his friends. At the thought of never seeing them again, the panic increased and he glanced at Hagrid's hut, noticing how much like a beacon it appeared before running towards it.
Though it could have only been a few minutes, to him it felt like hours before he was banging on his friend's door. “Hagrid, are you there? Hagrid, its me Albus! Open up!” if he had been a bit braver, he would have gone back into the Forest looking for his friends on his own but he didn't think that that would be a good idea, knowing that Hagrid would be more than enough protection.
With the centaurs roaming about he could only imagine what it would look like if he happened to wander into their midst again. Kane had already warned him not to come back without his father's permission and if he dared to ignore it, Albus was quite sure that the centaur would either shoot him with the nearest arrow or behead him.
Rubbing his neck nervously at the thought, he nearly fell back in surprise as the door was opened and Hagrid's familiar voice asked gruffly. “What are yeh doin' out here at this time of night, Albus? Do yeh know how much trouble yeh can get into if someone finds out yeh've been sneakin' down here after curfew?” he chastised.
Albus took in his massive form quickly, tears of relief threatening to form as he nodded stupidly. “Hagrid, you're all right!” he cried, throwing his arms around him and making him laugh curiously, “I thought—me and Lav and Scorpious thought that something had happened to you but you're all right!”
“Of course I'm all right, what are yeh talkin' about?” Hagrid asked in confusion while giving him a pat on the head. It made Albus feel a thousand times better as he was quickly ushered inside, the door shutting behind them, “how about yeh calm down a bit and tell me what this is all about?”
Albus didn't want to let him go but he eventually did, rubbing at his eyes with the back of his hand and spreading dirt on his cheeks. He could only imagine what he looked like and Hagrid must have taken in the sorry state of his clothes and the paleness of his cheeks because he led him to his table and sat him down. “Hagrid, its Lav and Scorpious, they need our help! Something could have happened to them!”
“What do yeh mean?” Hagrid asked in alarm while pouring him a cup of tea, his teapot and what had to be his dinner already set up. Fang had stood on shaky legs from the fireplace and was now drooling all over Albus's lap, “where are Lavender and Scorpious?”
Albus was vaguely glad that Hagrid hadn't referred to his moody blonde friend by his last name but he didn't dwell on that. He could just picture the giant spiders adding spices and sauces to his friends, “They're in the Forest!” he cried and Hagrid was so startled that he nearly overfilled his cup of tea.
“The Forest?” Hagrid asked in alarm, his eyes going wide. “Alone?” Albus nodded and his friend's face grew stern and unforgiving and he knew that this would not be the best moment for him. But his friends could possibly be dead and that was something that mattered far more than say, getting a furious spanking by his mum when she found out about this, “yeh had better get ter tellin' me everythin' Albus,”
Albus nodded bleakly and after setting his wand down, he lifted his cup of tea after Hagrid added a few lumps of sugar. When he took a sip, it scalded and burnt its way down his throat and after setting it on the table, he went on a detailed description of everything that had happened.
Hagrid had sat himself down, taking calm sips of his tea, though by the end, he had gone a bit pale. Albus swallowed hard before finishing, “And that's what happened! I don't know what happened to them after I left and then Kane dropped me back off here and I didn't know whether you were here or not or—”
“Think we'd better be more go after yer friends and worry about all that later if yeh don' mind, Albus. Forest is a dangerous place ter be, 'specially at night,” Hagrid interrupted firmly and he paled a little as he set down his half empty teacup and stood up, looking rigid.
Albus set his teacup down, grabbed his wand and gently pushed Fang away.“I think I know what you mean,” he said gravely as he stood up, his knees nearly knocking together. It had been the most awful experience of his life confessing to what he had gotten his friends into, “I have to go in and help you,”
Hagrid looked simply outraged at the very idea as he strode over to his moleskin overcoat on the wall. After shoving himself into his boots and snatching his crossbow form the floor, he said to Albus, “It won't be good fer yeh ter be walkin' around in the Forest again, yeh've seen more than enough fer one night,”
“But I have to go in there and save them! What if something happened and we get there too late?” Albus demanded angrily, flushing. Hagrid was shrugging into his moleskin coat now and he heard the jangle of various objects in his pockets shifting around with the movement. “Are you going to get the other teachers to come and help?”
Hagrid thumped over towards him and Albus shrank away a little from the look in his eyes, startled when he eventually smiled. “Yer so much like yer dad, Albus but he wouldn' want me ter let yeh tag along after me, he wants ter keep yeh safe.” The fact that he'd already disappointed his father by not minding his own business made an ugly feeling pass through him, “won' be needin' any help findin' yer friends. I know the Forest better than anyone else around and Professor Zabini should be wanderin' around in there somewhere fer that Wolfsbane—”
“What? Zabini?” Albus cried in horror, just now realizing that he hadn't seen any slimy trace of the monster. He quickly looked around for some sign that he had been devouring souls with Hagrid but aside from Sheriff's siblings gnawing on what looked suspiciously like the remains of a full chicken in their tank, there was nothing and he asked, “Kane, Firenze's son told me that you and he had met up with his dad, right?”
Hagrid had been told this but he still looked both startled and a little angry that Albus had had such a run in with the centaurs. “That's right, the Professor stopped by here before dinner, askin' if I would mind goin' into the Forest to chat with Firenze sooner than I'd planned ter. Wanted Firenze ter talk to the Professor in person and get ter know each other a bit better so he wouldn' be seen as an enemy,”
Albus thought that that had been very risky and he couldn't help but feel a slight shiver as he logged the words in. “Why isn't Zabini back at the castle then?”
“Wanted ter get the last bit of Wolfsbane he could, he said. Weren't a lot of time fer them ter still be alive and he said somethin' about runnin' out of time about somethin' but I didn' want ter pry,” Hagrid replied, sounding defensive as Albus shot him a keen look. “Yeh aught ter stop pokin' yer head in his business,”
Albus ignored that, feeling a different sort of panic. If Zabini had gotten the last bit of the Wolfsbane tonight then that meant that he was nearly ready to help his killer friend out there get away with the murders.
Or worse, he was out there now, taking down the wards and waiting for the moment for his friend to sneak into the castle and attack them all. Albus waved his arms around a little, feeling the enormity of this making him ill, “I can't help it! How come Firenze let him still go in there even though that person's taking the wards down?”
Hagrid gave him a stern look before thumping towards the door, where Albus of course followed. Fang whined a little at the sight of his master getting ready to leave but he was too slow to follow after them, “The Professor explained his personal situation ter Firenze in private. The centaurs know all about Wolfsbane and people thinkin' it can cure werewolf bites yeh know,” he explained to Albus.
“And he let Zabini go into the Forest by himself?” Albus demanded.
Hagrid thought about it for a moment before something seemed to strike him, though he didn't look puzzled. “Firenze told him not ter think that whatever he was tryin' ter do would work but the Professor just went on his way, haven't seen him since.”
Albus could only imagine how furious Zabini had been to hear that sort of news and he thought of what Kane had told him, about him being a sad case. “You don't know anything about why he's doing it do you?”
“The Professor made sure ter talk ter Firenze in private about that matter and I didn' want ter interfere.” Hagrid replied stiffly, straightening out his coat. “Got enough secrets ter be holdin' onto, thanks to yer parents and yer aunt and uncle, not lookin' forward ter more,”
Albus wanted to know just what he meant by that but he pushed it aside, thinking of his friends again. Just that brief moment of talk caused him to feel stupid and he strode over to the door, saying to Hagrid, “Well, I've got to make sure that Scorpious and Lavender are all right now. I'm going into the Forest with you!”
Hagrid looked as if he were going to say something to that again, clearly looking disapproving but eventually giving in. After snagging a lantern off a high shelf and turning it on, he sighed, “Too much like yer dad,” before opening the door himself and telling Fang that they'd be back in just a bit, ignoring his whining.
The air was even chillier from those brief minutes inside and Albus had to stop himself from burrowing into Hagrid's coat. “Dad would do the same thing for his friends you know and its all my fault that Lav and Scorpious are stuck in there,” Albus said to him fiercely.
Hagrid gave him a fond look that made him feel very grown up before he handed him the lantern. Albus took it in one hand, keeping his wand in the other, “Gotta have my hands free if we see anythin' that needs ter be scared away,” the half-giant explained to him and he nodded, “stick closer ter me and don' wander off,”
Albus nodded curtly, feeling his heart about to explode. He had to steel himself though and gripped his wand tightly in his hand while lifting the lantern high, “The centaurs were really creepy Hagrid, how do you hang around them?” he asked, noticing that his friend was already holding his crossbow at the ready.
Hagrid was idly checking his weapon but gave him a little grin at the traumatized look on his face. “Yeh get used ter it after a while, they're not really human but neither am I ter most people,” he explained and Albus frowned.
Albus glanced determinedly at the edge of the Forest as they neared it, the trees bent and twisted. Mist was still heavy and making him wonder if he'd stumbled into someone's twisted version of a horror story, “You're more than human to me,” he replied to Hagrid, gaining a beaming, if not embarrassed smile. “Those centaurs, Firenze's son were going to kill that girl because of what she did.”
Hagrid had listened with particular interest over that part of his ordeal and he now frowned, looking deeply disgusted. “Don' really trust that Kane fellow too much, a bit of a temper on him. Firenze won't like them killin' that female either, they'd have ter go through him before makin' that sort of decision yeh know,”
“I hope so, he was talking about the person going into the Forest too, the one taking the wards down.” Albus found himself saying as he felt a burst of worry for the female centaur, despite what horrible act she had done.
“Kane's ambitious if yeh ask me and not in a good way. Power hungry things like that should never get a taste of what its like,” Hagrid said to him and Albus wasn't quite sure what that meant really but he figured that Death Eaters had gotten rather addicted to the idea of having power when Voldemort had been around.
“Did you see anything though, Hagrid?” Albus asked, thinking that there had been some sort of good news tonight, though he doubted it.
Hagrid shook his head as the Forest loomed only a few feet before them, making the fine hairs on the back of Albus's neck stand up. Something deep in the trees, an animal most likely, crunched and bumped around, “I've been up fer a long while, figured that the person takin' down the wards in the Forest would have ter pass by me ter get back in the castle. But I didn't see anythin', not even after stayin' outside fer a while.”
Albus thought that it was awfully suspicious that Zabini was still inside of the Forest and that there had been no sign of the person taking down the wards. A little too convenient and he couldn't wait to tell Lavender about how wrong she was about the Potions master not having anything to do with that. “Do you think that if we hurry, we'll be able to get to Scorpious and Lavender?”
Hagrid nodded and signaled for him to get a bit closer to him as they started forward, stepping over roots and pushing the mist back. It was even more eerie going back into the Forest and Albus shrugged off his fear and held tightly to his wand, hoping that they would find something that would lead to—
“You get your bloody hands off of me!” a furious voice commanded from up ahead. Trees and boulders were all that he saw and if it wasn't for the lantern that he held up, even that wouldn't have been visible.
“I told you to get your bloody hands off me! You wait until my dad hears about this you son of a b—” the enraged voice was shouting, making a few of what sounded like pixies scatter in the trees above.
Various other animals were reacting to the noise and some of it didn't sound pleasant. The sounds made Albus shiver but Hagrid didn't seem to notice as he motioned for him to raise the lantern higher, illuminating the area even more. Scuffling and scraping and nasty curses followed by a sniffling sound came from up ahead, “You let her go too while you're at it!” the voice cried angrily.
“Its Scorpious and Lavender!” Albus cried to Hagrid, knowing that he would recognize the sound of his voice and Lavender's sniffling anywhere. There was a scuffling noise from up ahead and what sounded like strangled cursing and he started to leave without Hagrid, only to be pushed back. “What are you doing? They could need our help!”
Hagrid was looking far more threatening than he had ever seen him and Albus backed down, knowing that he knew more of what he was doing. For someone who had only been in the Forest once versus a person that went in often, Albus wouldn't have stood a chance, “Show yerself!” the half-giant said warningly, lifting his crossbow easily.
A tense moment followed, animals still slithering, walking and hunting around them. For a second or two, it felt as if Albus couldn't breathe properly as he watched a tall, dark, shape come into the lantern light, holding onto two struggling forms by the arms.
Scorpious was kicking, punching and apparently gnawing on his captor's arm while Lavender struggled on the other side. “Let us go!” Albus's moody blonde friend snarled, his hair standing on end and dirt covering every inch of him. “I swear you'll regret this!”
Though Albus should have known that, with his luck that things could only get worse before they got even more disastrous, he still wasn't prepared for the sight of Zabini. The man appeared as if he had crawled out of the deepest pit of Hell, “Mr. Malfoy if you say one more thing to me I will personally skin you alive, is that understood?!” he asked venomously to his friend.
Scorpious paled and Lavender, who had been trying to break free turned her tear stained face up to his. “Don't do that! Who's going to pinch my cheeks if you kill Scorpious?!” she sobbed, looking just as filthy.
Zabini's jaw twisted oddly and he seemed to recoil in disgust at the sight of her misery. “Quiet, Ms. Patil! The real tears haven't even begun and by the time that I'm done with you two you'll be hoping anyone will want to pinch your cheeks!” he cried furiously, his voice like thunder.
From anyone else, Albus would have laughed at the words but Zabini spoke them as kindly as he would to a piece of rotting meat. The threat was a real and heavy one and the consequences of tonight would most likely get him the reddest, most bruised bottom from a mother in the history of parenting.
Just thinking about it made his butt tense up. “Everythin' all right there Professor?” Hagrid asked cryptically, breaking off Albus's terrified thoughts of his mother coming at him with her favorite paddle.
Albus saw his two friends brighten at the sight of him and try to jerk free of the man's grasp but Zabini didn't exactly look as if he would be releasing them any time soon. “Hold fire, Hagrid.” the creature said, coming to a halt a few feet from them.
Scorpious watched in disbelief as Hagrid lowered his crossbow and cried, waving his other arm around wildly. “We've been kidnapped and he stole from us!” and Lavender eyed Zabini warily, tears streaming down her cheeks as one of his eyes twitched. “Save us, Hagrid!”
“You have not been kidnapped you miserable excuse for a boy!” Zabini roared to Scorpious, who seemed to shrivel. Albus winced a little and tried to step forward but the Potions master, sensing him the way a wolf would a small, cute bunny, shot him a viciously evil look and he went rigid. “I caught these two fools bumbling around in the Forest not too long ago, Hagrid. I believe that getting them to the castle—”
Hagrid held up a hand to interrupt Zabini, looking concerned as he took in the state of his two Misfit friends. With Albus just as dirty and traumatized, he couldn't blame him for sounding a little wary, “How'd they get all banged up like that if yeh don' mind me askin' Professor?”
Zabini's dark eyes narrowed a little and Albus held up his lantern higher, noticing that he was covered in little scratches. Apparently Scorpious and Lavender had given him quite the battle, “They were already like this when I found them unless you're trying to assume that I would actually waste my time playing with my food?”
Hagrid didn't appreciate the joke. “I think I'd better take them ter the castle on my own, Professor. Yeh'll be needin' ter go about yer business, won' yeh?” he asked with a trace of anger that made Albus glance up at him in surprise. It was rare for him to be rude to a teacher and Zabini's lips tightened as if he found something quite unfair about this predicament, “I'll make sure that they get ter Gryffindor tower in one piece.”
Scorpious and Lavender were looking up at Zabini hopefully, either wishing that he would burst into flame or release them. The Potions teacher thrust them roughly forward, not even bothering to help as they stumbled a bit, though Scorpious practically dragged Lavender by the arm towards Albus.
“Take them, I don't have time for this foolishness. I'm sure you and Neville will make the proper excuses for them so that they won't be punished but I'll be taking the discipline in my own hands come morning.” Zabini replied smoothly, his eyes taking the three of them in with contempt.
Before Hagrid could even begin to say anything to that, Zabini turned sharply on his heel and vanished back into the trees. Albus saw him take out his wand, flick it and hold it out before him, disappearing along with the silvery glow, that threat hanging unpleasantly in the night.
“I hope yeh three have learned yer lesson about pokin' yer heads around in places they don' belong,” Albus heard Hagrid telling the three of them as he trooped them in what felt like a vicious way across the grounds towards Hogwarts. The half-giant was holding the lantern he'd given Albus earlier, though he was still carrying his crossbow in the other hand as he ushered them forward.
The nights events were still bouncing around nastily in his skull and he couldn't seem to stop flinching a little whenever a strong wind blew and ruffled his hair. It made him think of ghosts playing in the strands, “You don't have to rub it in you know,” Scorpious muttered on Albus's left, though he flushed a bit pink when Hagrid shot him a glance.
Lavender had linked arms with Albus on his right and had practically glued herself to his side. “We're really sorry Mr. Hagrid,” she said earnestly, her eyes so big that Albus worried that they might pop out, “I'll never go into the Forest again.”
That had Albus and Scorpious nodding in agreement and while he knew that he would get more information on what they had experienced later, he couldn't help but nudge his blonde friend. “What happened when I ran off towards the screaming?”
The question was asked in a whisper as Lavender chatted to Hagrid, finally releasing him after what had felt like a century and jogging to his side. Albus had given her about a million hugs since Zabini had released them and he didn't think that he'd ever blushed or glared at Scorpious so much for his teasing, “So it wasn't Hagrid, huh?” his friend asked in an equally low whisper.
Albus shook his head and went in a detailed, though shortened version of what he had experienced with the centaurs. He would have to tell Lavender about it later on, not wanting to interrupt her conversation (That apparently had something to do with Sheriff of course) with Hagrid, “I only made it out because Kane helped me.”
“Sounds like a sneaky bloke if you ask me,” Scorpious replied grimly while wiping at his eyes, spreading more dirt. He was ghostly pale, even paler than usual and Albus wondered if any of them would be able to sleep for the rest of the night, “after you ran off, me and Lav tried to follow you but we couldn't keep up. After a while, we just wandered around trying to find our way back out, we couldn't find Hagrid's tracks,”
Albus felt even guiltier now and nodded as they tripped over what could only be a gnome hole. Scorpious helped him out of it, “Thanks,” he said distractedly before he motioned for him to continue, “but how did Zabini catch you? What was he even doing when he did find you?”
Scorpious hesitated for a moment before he answered, looking as if he had seen many strange and unusual things. “Me and Lav got real lost and we ran into pixies! They can see under the Cloak!” he said, sounding flabbergasted by that sort of news that Albus knew Lavender had probably found fascinating.
“Did they chase you then?” Albus asked worriedly.
Scorpious nodded firmly, his lips tightening. “Yeah, they did. We only got away from them because we fell down this hill and got all banged up and it took us such a long time to get the Cloak,” he glanced at Albus nervously then.
Albus had noticed that neither of them had his father's gift and he felt something worrisome go through his blood. “Scorpious, where's my Cloak?” Scorpious swallowed hard and the truth of it was written all over his face and he cried angrily, “you lost my Cloak?!”
“No, we didn't lose it, Zabini stole it!” Scorpious cried defensively, gaining a look from Hagrid as he peered back at them. Lavender said something before trooping back to them, noticing from the look on Albus's face and frowning miserably, “it took us forever to find it on the ground, I swear we had gotten it!”
Albus couldn't believe this and he was so furious that he couldn't even think straight. But before he could say something to Scorpious, it was Lavender that calmed him, “We really did get it for you, Albus, we wouldn't have left it out there like that!”
Scorpious glowered at him warily, looking as if he had been preparing to fight him a little. Their wands were still in decent condition from what he'd seen but he couldn't even imagine what Zabini was doing to his Cloak...perhaps burning it or drying his stinky feet, “Not like we'd do something like that to you, okay? We're sorry,”
Albus felt his anger dissipate and nodded, feeling a little ashamed of himself before drawing them into a hug. Scorpious groaned in disgust and Hagrid, who'd paused to see what they were up to, grinned a little as Lavender sighed happily, “Its all right, I'm just happy that you guys are okay.”
“Yeah, all right—I get it, now get your arms from around me!” Scorpious snarled angrily, sounding a tad embarrassed. Lavender hugged them both all the tighter and while Albus spluttered with laughter, it only made their moody blonde friend more miserable, “argh, knock it off, would you Lav?!”
Hagrid broke up the moment by reminding them in a stern voice that faltered as he continued to smile. “Yeh three, hurry up now, we don' want yeh out here catchin' yer death,” and Scorpious took Albus's moment of distraction to smack him away.
Lavender was all pink in the face as they continued on their way, unthinkingly linking arms. “Why'd Zabini take my Cloak?” Albus demanded angrily to them, wondering just how soon he would be able to take it right back.
Scorpious explained after blowing in Lavender's ear and making her glare at him annoyingly. “We had it with us when we had to crawl up that hill we fell down. The two of us were walking around, trying to get out when he snuck up on us and I swear that he came out of the ground.”
“I don't think he did—” Lavender started to interrupt.
Scorpious ignored her. “He must have heard us or saw our wand light or something because he came at us really quick. Before I could get us under the Cloak and run away, he snatched it from me and stuffed it into his robes, saying that we weren't going to be sneaking up on him anymore and listening to his business,”
Lavender nodded, looking grim and a little mad herself. Albus thought it was awfully scary, “He said a lot of mean things too. I don't think he likes that we've been trying to figure him out,”
“Why would he though?” Scorpious interrupted.
Albus ignored his question. “Well, that doesn't give him any right to steal my Cloak! My dad gave me that and I'm going to get it back. I don't care what I have to do,” he said furiously and Lavender got a spark of determination in her eye.
Scorpious was nodding, sounding just as angry. “He's such a git! If he weren't so creepy, walking around looking for Wolfsbane—”
“Did you see any?” Albus asked curiously.
Lavender shook her head. “No, I think we were making too much noise for him to get to it. He said something about him not having time for this sort of you, uhm, naughty word stuff,” she said, looking embarrassed.
Albus raised his brows, noticing only dimly that they were going up the steps of Hogwarts already. Hagrid made it there before them and pushed open the entrance doors, the lantern light casting an eerie little glow around him, “What sort of naughty words?”
Scorpious repeated them with a fluidity that was both impressive and disturbing and Lavender frowned at him disapprovingly. “Yeah, all that stuff. My brother talks like that all the time so I'm used to it,”
Albus had a feeling that Benjamin Malfoy wasn't the only one that had a potty mouth at their house. “You know the centaur Kane told me that he's a sad case and that he can't cure the creature's evil or something,” he said suddenly and his two friend's eyes widened, though Scorpious shot Lavender a smug look. “Hagrid told me Zabini had said the Wolfsbane is almost gone or something,”
Lavender had gone a bit pale, apparently having not thought that Zabini could really be up to anything as dangerous as she'd thought. “So he is going out there helping that thing kill Death Eater kids then? I just can't believe it, we're missing something and I want to know what it is!”
Scorpious groaned in aggravation and said to her. “Just admit that you're wrong, Lav!” and she shook her head furiously, making Albus laugh. “That thing out there killing kids can't be human or anything you know, its been taking blood and flesh out of them—its got to be a werewolf and Zabini wants the cure—”
“To make it human again so no one will ever know,” Albus finished firmly, believing to be fact. There were still quite a few things that he'd like to know about Zabini but everything was pointing in his direction, “its that simple.”
Lavender shook her head, sending bits of dirt everywhere. “That's not it at all! We don't know what he's really needing it for, we're missing something. I keep telling you guys that!” she cried vehemently. “Until Halloween, we can't say Zabini is the cause of everything.”
“Of course we can.” Scorpious retorted stubbornly and Albus nodded, making Lavender roll her eyes a little. “And Halloween is next week you know, we've got to do something about Zabini or else we'll run out of time! That's our only chance to sneak into his office while he's not there!”
Hagrid cut off whatever else he had been about to say and Albus was startled to realize that in their whispered discussion that he'd led them all the way to Gryffindor Tower. The Fat Lady was in front of them, sleeping soundly and holding what looked like a romance novel in her lap, “Yeh three were so busy chatterin' that yeh didn' even notice where we were. Too much like the three of them, I tell yeh,” he said.
Albus was sure that the comparisons to his father and his friends would annoy him sooner or later but he sort of smiled. “Sorry, Hagrid and thanks for leading us all this way. Are you going to write my mum and dad?”
“Gonna have ter. If I don' yeh all won' learn yer lesson,” Hagrid said and the three of them paled a bit. “Might take a while fer me ter do it, since Halloween is comin' up and Lavender's Quidditch game,” he said thoughtfully.
Albus prayed that he would forget about it. “And you'll still send it? What if we promise not to go in there again?” he asked hopefully.
Hagrid seemed to mull that over but then his face hardened a little, making them all frown with misery. The Fat Lady snored louder in her sleep, “Yer parents have ter know about this, Albus. They've got so much ter worry about already with those murders and the Ministry nutters—”
“Who cares about crazy people at the Ministry?” Scorpious growled.
“Been causin' some trouble fer a while now. Nutters talkin' about all sorts of crazy things but anyway, yeh three,” Hagrid said as he suddenly remembered who he was talking to and tapped on the Fat Lady's portrait. She jerked awake, looking truly furious as she glowered down at the Misfits, “better be headin' up ter bed. I already did yeh a favor by not tellin' the other teachers about this,”
But Zabini knew and Albus didn't think he'd let them forget about it. The thought made him a little nervous but he wasn't going to let that creep keep his Cloak for long and knew that as soon as he got the opportunity, he was going to take it back, “All right, Hagrid. We'll try not to get into anymore trouble,” Albus said to him.
The Fat Lady snorted.
Hagrid gave them a warm smile before patting them each on the head, nearly making them cave into the floor. “All righ' then. Now if yeh all don' mind, I've got ter be headin' back down, been a crazy night fer all of us, eh?” he asked teasingly before walking off, the lantern swaying in his grip.
Scorpious rubbed at his head a little as if he couldn't understand why he'd gotten a pat too before asking them. “Are you two going to bed right away?” Albus wanted to take a long hot bath but he didn't think that their dorm mates would appreciate the noise and Lavender shook her head, “good.”
“Why?” Albus asked him curiously.
The Fat Lady barked. “If you don't give me the password, I won't let you in!” and Lavender spat the password at her and the portrait hole swung open, though Albus was sure that it had almost hit them on purpose.
When they scrambled inside, the common room was eerily quiet and the fire had gone down hours ago. “I've gotta go get some parchment and quills,” Scorpious surprised them by saying, finally freeing his arm from theirs.
“What for?” Albus asked curiously, feeling a yawn coming on. Lavender disentangled herself from him and stretched a little, her eyes hooding dangerously, “we all know you're not going to do your Charms homework,”
Scorpious glared at him a little before reminding him seriously. “Look, I want to get your Cloak back and I want to come up with something for Halloween,” Lavender looked impressed by his sudden determination and he flushed a little.
“I tried to get you to come up with a plan a while ago but you didn't want to do it,” Lavender reminded him pointedly while shooting Albus a look. The two of them usually didn't like doing any bit of their homework and the thought of actually working with Corner made Albus ill, “what's changed your mind?”
Scorpious glowered at her a little but he couldn't deny the truth of her words and Albus watched him say, grey eyes sparking. “Its not just Professor Longbottom that's watching us now you know.” Albus had nearly forgotten about him. “Zabini's on to us, even more than he was and we'll need to stay at least five steps ahead of him.”
It sounded easier said than done.
“Scorpious, you're just so brave and smart. If only Weasley and that Corner girl were around to see it” Lavender said with beaming pride. It made Albus nod in agreement even while he dreaded telling his cousin all that they had gotten into, “I'll bring a few blankets, we'll probably be at this for a while,” she said before heading towards the dorms.
Albus gave his friend a weak, confident smile and Scorpious shrugged uncomfortably, even though he was grinning a little. “Thanks, we'll figure something out sooner or later.”
Scorpious nodded, looking a tad grim. “Sooner would be better, we don't have much time till Halloween.” Albus had to agree with him on that but for now, there was nothing they could do but wait, tomorrow had its own share of problems.
Thanks for reading! Up next is my girly-angsty story "Abandon" and until next time, much love. And please stay away from the Forest. And Zabini in general. ;)
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