Chapter 19 : Punishments, Plots and Plans
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Albus Severus Potter felt, not for the first or second time, an inexplicable ache in the pit of his stomach. Its grip was so painfully constricting against his stomach that for a moment, he wasn’t sure if he could even breathe but that might have been due to the strange, pungent odor in the Potions room.
There were no cauldrons brewing on any stations and Albus suspected that the revolting stench was a rotting corpse stashed between the walls. It would really come as no surprise given the way Zabini was currently glaring a hole into the three of them as they sat in front of his desk, stiff wooden chairs. Professor Longbottom had decided to remain standing, his stance foreboding as he looked at the three of them in amusement, disbelief and disappointment.
Albus was more upset by that last emotion than anything else.
The expression on his face was one that he would see on his parent's and relatives when they found out about what he had gotten he and his friends into. He wasn't sure if he would survive it.
After being ushered into the Potions room to their inevitable doom, Albus had had to sit through a long, vicious tirade on their worthlessness, Zabini sparing no words. They had been forced, despite their horror, to recount what they had done the night before in the Forest.
Professor Longbottom had appeared both horrified and oddly impressed while Zabini's entire face had morphed into something could scare Satan himself. But during the tale, the children had hardly faltered.
Scorpious and Lavender's recount of being chased by pixies after Albus had fled towards the centaurs kept the two men engrossed. While his moody blonde friend hadn't talked overly much and Lavender had omitted smartly the part where Zabini had stolen his Invisibility Cloak, Albus had still felt a brimming anger.
Professor Longbottom's face had been a tad pale but Zabini had appeared almost wistful at the thought of leaving his two friends bumbling around in the Forest. When it had come to be his turn, Albus had shoved his anger aside and recounted what had happened with the centaurs, giving a little shiver as he thought of the female that they'd been about to kill.
“I only made it out because Firenze's son helped me,” Albus finished now, looking between the two men warily for some reaction. Scorpious and Lavender were holding their breath and if he didn't know better, he'd say that they were turning a tad purple in the face and hoped they wouldn't pass out, “we really thought that Hagrid was in trouble,”
Professor Longbottom was pressing his thumb and forefinger against the bridge of his nose now, still looking a tad pale. “I must say that that was perhaps the most dangerous, ridiculous thing that I have ever heard. You three obviously have no idea what sort of danger you were in, do you?”
Scorpious scuffed his feet on the floor while Lavender seemed to recall something. When she spoke, there was a genuine tremor in her voice, “We'll never go into the Forest again, there are too many monsters in there. We'd only heard rumors about the giant spiders—”
Albus found himself saying as well. “And the ghosts—”
Scorpious finished with a terrified shudder. “Yeah and the manticores!” Professor Longbottom and Zabini exchanged a look before his friend went on, “I don't know if you guys knew but there are gyrating unicorns in there. I swear I saw one,” he said and Lavender shot him a look while Albus bit on the inside of his cheek.
It wouldn't look very good if he laughed just now but to his shock, Professor Longbottom choked a little into his fist. Zabini merely heaved a weary sort of sigh, perhaps thinking of mutilating them all on the spot, “I'm not quite sure what to believe, the three of you aren't known for being truthful once you're caught,” the man said through his teeth.
Though Albus had made sure to keep certain things buried, he sensed that the man knew why they had really gone into the Forest last night. But if he admitted that he and his two friends had not only been worried about Hagrid being killed by him and added that they wanted to spy on him, the consequences would be dire.
Albus had the sudden image of the three of them being salted and peppered before being stuffed into the nearest oven and shivered slightly. “We're telling the truth, Professor. Mr. Hagrid is our friend and like we said, there are so many dangerous things in the Forest and we were really worried,” Lavender said with a frown at Zabini.
“And plus we didn't see Hagrid at dinner, we thought something had happened to him!” Scorpious added in hastily while Zabini's face turned into one dark mask of disbelief. “We didn't go in there trying to start trouble, pri—”
Professor Longbottom cut over Scorpious's insult sharply and Albus blew out a sigh of relief. But they weren't out of danger yet and he inhaled deeply before coughing a little, the foul stench in the room still rather thick, “No matter the reason, Mr. Malfoy, the three of you have deliberately disobeyed every rule that has ever been designed to keep the students of Hogwarts safe.”
“The three of you should be thankful that you're even alive.” Zabini said and from the tone of his voice, he was very sorry that they were. His dark eyes scanned over Scorpious and Lavender for a longer moment, “and a proper thank you for dragging your ungrateful hides out of the Forest would be more than appreciated.”
Scorpious snapped. “Like hell!”
Professor Longbottom gave him a severe look that was worthy of any superior being, or worse, a parent. “Mr. Malfoy, may I remind you that you three are in enough trouble as it is? This will be my only warning on your language and I do believe, from what Blaise has told me that you and Ms. Patil owe him one big apology,” he ended furiously, making Scorpious fume.
Lavender actually looked thankful, though she was glancing at Zabini with fear and a knowing look. Albus knew that she was thinking of how he'd stolen his Invisibility Cloak but was relieved when she didn't mention it, “Thank you, Professor. I'm sorry that I bit you,”
Albus snickered despite himself and Zabini shot him a withering look that made him think of graveyards. When he turned his attention to Lavender, taking her in the way one might a mildly interesting portrait, he nodded, “You're welcome then, Ms. Patil. I have to say that you're far too smart to be hanging around Malfoy and Potter Jr. but to each his own demise,” he said dryly.
Lavender flushed. “They're my friends and they don't think I'm weird.”
Scorpious opened his mouth to say that he did and had said that she was more than a little odd more than once but Albus managed to send him a glare. Blessedly, he kept his mouth shut, “Yeah, we really don't. And you know, its good not having people mentioning our dads all the time either,” Albus found himself saying.
“Or thinking I'll kill them and that I've got a Dark Mark,” Scorpious muttered to the two men with a frown. His grey eyes sharpened a bit, “or that I'm going to die.”
Professor Longbottom looked touched and nostalgic but Zabini merely said in a crisp voice. “While that's all very sentimental and a complete waste of my time, that doesn't exempt or excuse your atrocious behavior.” The Misfits squirmed uncomfortably in their chairs and Scorpious flinched when the man said acidly, “and I expect that thank you right about now, Malfoy.”
Albus distinctly heard his moody blonde friend snarl under his breath. “Why don't you go stuff it up your (Lavender frowned),” before he said louder to the man, his eyes nothing but grey slits, “Thank you, you were too kind.”
Zabini's jaw twitched at the obvious sarcasm in his voice but after second of Professor Longbottom giving him a warning look, he smiled. Lavender turned her head into Albus's shoulder and he couldn't blame her, there was something about seeing him smile that was just plain wrong, “I'm sure you would be a lot more grateful if I managed to send a letter detailing this disaster to your grandfather, Mr. Malfoy?”
“Wh...what? You wouldn't write to him?!” Scorpious thundered, aghast at the man's nerve. “He's a nutter! He thinks that I'm a pureblood prince that's going to start another revolution—I hate him!” he cried, looking struck with horror.
Professor Lonbottom’s face was alarmed by this and Albus watched as he turned to Zabini curiously. “Is this true?” when the Potions master nodded stiffly, their Herbology teacher went on, “I'm not sure that that would be necessary, Mr. Malfoy is obviously scared of him.”
Scorpious fumed. “I am not!”
Albus could hear the lie and he honestly couldn't blame him for being scared of his mad grandfather. Lavender gave him a pat on the arm and he snatched her hand and started pinching her fingers in retaliation, “Your father, Mr. Malfoy owes me a favor and I only decided to keep an eye on you because of it. He told me that the only way to put the fear of God into you was mentioning your grandfather,” Zabini said with a very satisfied look on his face.
Lavender asked curiously. “Why not write to his brother Benjamin instead?”
The sound of his name caused both Professor Longbottom and Zabini to look truly and deeply revolted. Albus could have sworn that his Herbology teacher had shuddered a little, “Ms. Patil, for future reference do not ever speak that things name in this room again.” Zabini said after a beat or two, upper lip raised. “Otherwise, you'll doom us all.”
While Albus wondered what sort of monster he would meet in just a few days, his moody blonde friend practically shouted. “I'm not scared of my grandfather!” he sounded as if the words had ripped from his chest and spat at Zabini, “you know my dad and I'm sure he told you that my grandfather's a nutter,”
“That's enough, Mr. Malfoy,” Professor Longbottom intervened.
Albus saw him bow his head a little with shame and Lavender patted him comfortingly on the arm. “I'm aware of your family situation, Mr. Malfoy. Your father made sure that I understood the stress that it might put on you but my interest in your activities in this school have little to do with actual worry,” Zabini replied without even the slightest bit of empathy.
Their Head of House frowned disapprovingly at the words. “Blaise, there's no need to be harsh. Mr. Malfoy has been under considerable stress this year with the Death Eater murders and I don't believe that your words are going to be able to straighten him up,” he said, a flash of anger entering his eyes.
Zabini appeared mildly amused to see it but he relented after a moment, leaning back in his chair. Albus had never witnessed him very relaxed and doubted if he was just then, there was really no understanding of what could be going on in his mind, “I suppose you're right. But you'll have to pardon me for my lack of patience with the three of them, Mr. Malfoy especially,”
Albus swallowed hard, knowing that he felt that Scorpious's nitpicking and attitude were undeserved. After all, he was reluctantly looking out for him but it didn't necessarily make him look any better in his mind, “What sort of favor does Scorpious's dad owe you anyway?”
“That is none of your concern Potter Jr. and while I'm on that subject, this will be the last time that I warn each of you to stay out of mine.” Zabini answered, a very menacing glare flaring in his dark eyes. Professor Longbottom didn't look very pleased but he didn't take up for them either, “I don't care what sort of lies you've told everyone else but they will not fly by me.”
Lavender frowned, looking angry. “No one is lying! We told you about what happened in the Forest!” she snapped and Albus knew that although that was half true, he had left out Kane's words to him about the Potions Master being a “sad case”.
Whatever that could mean.
Zabini's eyes flared dangerously but before he could say anything and reprimand her for her cheek, Professor Longbottom spoke up. His tone was calm, but firm enough to draw their attention, “I have to say that he's right. It wasn't too long ago that we found the three of you snooping outside of Filch's door and, no, Ms. Patil, I'm not going to believe your excuses this time,” he said when Lavender opened her mouth. “The three of you have it in your minds that Professor Zabini is up to sinister acts,”
Scorpious growled out in exasperation, banishing his earlier anger. “Can you blame us? Look at him!” he cried, tossing a finger at Zabini and causing him to glower at him with intense, burning dislike.
“Pansy and Draco have obviously lacked to teach you the finer points of manners Mr. Malfoy!” Zabini snapped furiously, making Albus and Lavender jump. Scorpious shot the man an acid look, “what I do on my own personal time will never be anyone else's business, and especially not a pack of nosy students.”
The words hung heavily in the air, mixing along with the pungent smell in the room that Albus couldn't get out of his nose. Professor Longbottom wrinkled his nose a little to relieve the pressure, “I think they understand how serious their mistake is Blaise, threats aren't truly necessary.”
Albus swallowed hard, knowing that the moment had come but before he could ask just what would happen to them, he heard a strange sound. It sounded like furious scratching and he turned his head around curiously, “What's the matter, Albus?” Lavender asked curiously as the sound continued, apparently not loud enough to catch her attention.
“Nothing, I thought I heard something, that's all.” Albus said with a shrug while the scratching sound continued. Scorpious frowned, obviously hearing it too but he only scowled, “its probably nothing.”
Though he knew Hogwarts had mice, he couldn't remember ever having spotted a mouse in the Potions room. Perhaps they liked to stay out of his way as much as possible and Albus listened harder before concluding that the noise was coming from behind Zabini's desk. There was a shelf of flooded to the brim with books and vials and for a moment he swore that the sounds resembled the desperate press of nails against stone and he shuddered, knowing that even the mice were hoping to get away from him.
“Probably just mice,” Scorpious said with a frown, having noticed Albus's thoughtful expression. After a moment, the scratching sound quieted but left him feeling envious for the mice that were able to escape from Zabini whenever they could.
Professor Longbottom spoke up then before Albus could voice this out in a whisper to Lavender and he stiffened. “I think that for now, instead of scaring them, we should let the three of them know their punishment. Breakfast will be over shortly and I have to prepare for my first lesson sometime today, ” he said tightly to Zabini and for the first time, the man looked only marginally apologetic.
Albus figured that it would be difficult to find the courage to run out of the room with his friends with his arms waving around his head. It was oddly tempting but he saved that thought for later, “Are you going to tell Headmistress McGonagall about all this?” he asked, hoping that his voice didn't sound as panicked as he thought.
“That is what's troubling you just now, Potter Jr.?” Zabini asked snidely.
Albus ignored him, surprised that she wasn't here and that Hagrid hadn't thumped into the room in their defense, though he didn't think that he would be much help. “I mean, there's not many points that can be taken from Gryffindor.”
Professor Longbottom appeared very grieved by this news but it was the truth and Albus felt his heart break. “Headmistress McGonagall is far too busy to take care of this issue herself, though I made certain to tell her.”
Scorpious broke the silence by asking sharply. “What's she doing that's so important anyway? Is she getting our parents or something?”
Zabini's eyes had narrowed into warning slits and Scorpious recoiled a little as the man informed. “Headmistress McGonagall and several teachers are trying to solve a rather peculiar crime in the Forbidden Forest.”
Albus knew that he meant the person taking down the wards but it was Lavender that asked in confusion. “Like what?”
Professor Longbottom shook this off as it meant nothing, and Albus wondered if it were really something to ignore. “Apparently someone has been sneaking into the Forest without permission,” he made sure the emphasize this as the three of them shot a glance at Zabini, “and taking down some wards that protect the school. Its nothing but a prank but the Headmistress wants to be careful.”
Albus figured that Hagrid would capture the person eventually but it made him nervous thinking about it. “Oh, okay,” Lavender murmured, brow furrowed.
“So...she's not contacting our parents to come get us?” Scorpious asked hopefully. Their Head of House gave them each a very pitying look before saying in a very stern voice. “I'm afraid that they have been notified, Mr. Malfoy, this is very serious. Hagrid came to me shortly before Professor Zabini did this morning, worried that the three of you wouldn't learn your lesson if you weren't properly punished.”
Albus's jaw dropped and Lavender pushed it back up for him, though he hardly noticed. Scorpious was grumbling furious curses under his breath, “But...but he told us he wouldn't tell the teachers! He said that he was only going to notify our parents!”
“Honestly, Potter Jr., with the mess that you three leave whenever you breathe, you shouldn't have believed that from Hagrid, family friend or not.” Zabini said with a very patronizing sneer. Albus glared at him, “and I promised that I would take care of the three of you last night, didn't I?”
The words were spoken softly but Albus and his friends recoiled from it and sank into their seats. Their story would surely spread throughout the school and if they were expelled, Albus was sure that people would making fun of them for years and the room fell into a very heavy silence. Added with that odd smell in the air and it was perhaps the most uncomfortable moments of his life aside from when his parents had told him where babies had really come from.
Scorpious and Lavender had gone as silent as a grave, their skin paling. A clock on the far wall ticked, and he knew that they were trying to remain calm even though he could see them growing more nervous as time passed. The strangest urge to run around in circles screaming his head off flashed through his mind and he knew that it was only because the two teachers were staring at them so heavily while they were forced to remain seated.
It was horrible, waiting to know what they would do to them and Albus was certain that they were about to be expelled. He hoped that his parents wouldn't get rid of him immediately when his traumatized form wandered back into the house and was sentenced to the worst spanking in history.
James would only find it funny and poor Lily would be so upset that she wouldn't be able to play Exploding Snap with him anymore— “No need to look so grim, Potter Jr. no one, sadly, is going to get rid of you permanently.” Zabini's cold voice said, intruding into his thoughts like a nightmare. “Neville and Hagrid convinced me, after a very long few hours that the three of you should receive your second and last chance to redeem yourselves.”
Albus was stunned by the words and he saw Scorpious's jaw drop a little while Lavender let out a sigh of relief. He wondered if she had even been worried about getting expelled as much as disappointing either Madame Brown or Hagrid and he couldn't be sure, “What?” he asked in surprise.
Professor Longbottom looked a little amused by their expressions but he spoke up after a second, looking very grim. “It took a lot of convincing not to expel the three of you and Headmistress McGonagall felt that, given the current circumstances that that might not be the best tactic,” he didn't need to say what sort when Albus knew that the Death Eater murders had caused quite a few people a bit of fear.
“The three of you won't be expelled but will be severely punished.” Zabini said between his teeth and Albus knew that he hadn't been very pleased to know this and felt, rather than knew that Professor Longbottom had had that conversation with the Headmistress on his own. He felt extremely thankful, “not that you wouldn't have been sooner or later.”
Scorpious appeared alarmed. “What are you talking about?” he demanded.
A very nasty look entered Zabini's eyes and Albus thought that it matched the stinky smell in the room really well. “Do you not recall stealing the Sorting Hat along with Ms. Weasley and Corner, Mr. Malfoy?” he asked.
Albus felt as if the whole world was teetering and he felt himself spluttering, knowing that the man had been waiting to remind them of that. Lavender blinked owlishly, having had nothing really to do with that incident, “Yeah...” Scorpious said stupidly, looking horror struck.
“I had been meaning to punish the five of you for that but considering your actions for last night, I've decided to tweak my punishment just a bit.” Zabini said with a very pleased smile on his face that made Professor Longbottom frown, “of course, considering that I'm not your Head of House I wasn't able to do as much as I liked but it seemed to work out in the end.”
Albus thought of running out of the room as quickly as he could with his two friends thrown over his back. But he didn't think he was strong enough and would he look manly if he tried? “Blaise, enough.” Professor Longbottom intervened wearily before Zabini could go on. “We've decided that along with Ms. Weasley and Corner that the three of you will be banned from Quidditch games and try-outs until your third year.”
“What?!” Scorpious and Albus cried.
Lavender's entire face went blank. “But I have a game this weekend!” she cried in a panic, her eyes going very wide, “I promised Roxanne Weasley that I'd beat her!” Zabini's lips, if Albus didn't know any better, had twitched at the sound of her name.
“Perhaps you should have thought of that before you went out after curfew and snuck into the Forbidden Forest?” Professor Longbottom asked lightly, sounding very regretful. “Because you're already on the team, Headmistress McGonagall will allow you to finish this season but come next year, you will not be able to participate.”
Lavender's shoulders shrank with misery but Albus was still gawping, unable to believe it. Scorpious had gone into a coma, his eyes looking as if they had rolled into the back of his head, “No need to thank us.” Zabini said in a hissing sort of voice that made Albus think of snakes, “added onto that, we've also decided that you all will be staying home for the holidays.”
Scorpious let out a slew of curses and Professor Longbottom snapped. “Mr. Malfoy! Five points from Gryffindor!” while Albus and Lavender shot one another looks of shock, knowing that both of his friends had wanted to spend the holidays with him over his house, their moody blonde friend turned redder and redder.
“What are we supposed to do here for the entire holiday? Everyone else will be gone!” Scorpious cried in a fury, face bright red. Lavender gave him a pat on the arm and he hissed at her, “my parents aren't going to let you keep me here!”
Professor Longbottom looked as if his patience was wearing thin and Albus shot Scorpious a warning look to shut his mouth. It couldn't get any worse than this, “After I inform your parents of what you have done, I'm sure they would.”
Scorpious fumed and Lavender started wringing her hands and he knew that she was thinking of how disappointed her sisters would be. The first Gryffindor to make the House team in their first year had meant a lot to her even though she hadn't said it and Albus felt his stomach knot. This was all this fault, “No need to look so glum. Over the holidays, the five of you will be spending that time cleaning, cataloging and suffering with Filch.”
Albus was speechless. He had been hoping and praying that the holidays would come by sooner so he would be able to introduce his friends to his family and be away from Hogwarts for a while. But now they would be stuck here while his brother and cousins went home...he wouldn't be able to see his parents, “All through the holiday?” he asked in a tense voice, knowing that it wouldn't be pleasant.
“Yes, Potter Jr., the entire holiday.” Zabini assured him with a malicious gleam in his eyes that made Albus want to scoop up his friends and rush from the room. If there had ever been a time for an outrageous distraction, he could have used it now, “but that's not nearly all.”
Scorpious was holding Lavender's hand in his lap and while Albus wasn't sure why he was squeezing it so hard, he listened to him ask. “What else can you do to us? Do Corner and Weasley even know about all this?”
Professor Longbottom gave them each a very disappointed look and Albus squirmed in his seat. “Professor Chang will most likely inform them sometime during the day. But as for your final punishment, and it was a hard decision or me to make, I've decided that the five of you will not be attending the Halloween Feast.”
The final blow.
Albus gawped at his Head of House, unable to believe what he was hearing and he heard Lavender give a little gasp. It wasn't so much for the food or the celebration, though that was always something to look forward to, the plan that they had slaved away all morning suddenly meant nothing.
They had been intent on using the Halloween Feast as a way to sneak into Zabini's office, find his room and discover his secrets in any way that they could but now....now there was no hope for that. “The five of you will be spending your Halloween Feast with Professor Smith, who happily volunteered to chaperone you all for the rest of the night.” Zabini said with a soothing tone of his voice, his eyes warm and giving Albus chills.
“I'm sorry that we had to take such drastic measures but you three, aside from Ms. Corner and Weasley who seem to be better behaved (Scorpious gave a derisive snort),” Professor Longbottom said with a weary sigh, “need to be taught a lesson and this is the best and only way to ensure that you have learned your lesson.”
Albus felt as if the world was ending and his heart fluttered in a panic, knowing that this was simply the worst moment of his life. So far, at least. Everything had changed and their plans for Halloween seemed to fade and vanish before his eyes.
“This is all your fault, you know that don't you?” Sue Corner hissed viciously at the three of them as they headed to the library after dinner, the Misfits hardly being able to stop themselves from collapsing. The entire day had been a complete disaster and Albus wasn't sure what had been worse, Zabini mocking them openly in Potions and giving them the hardest poison yet to further torture them or having to stop Rose from nearly choking Scorpious to death in the Great Hall. Apparently, Professor Chang had told the two girls their fate sometime after Herbology but his cousin's rage had boiled and boiled until finally, having spotted the three of them wandering into the Great Hall, it had frothed over.
While the entire Gryffindor House had roared with laughter at the sight of Albus having to lift his cousin bodily off of his friend, whom she'd leapt on like a crazed cat—Lavender had hexed her on reflex. So now, coupled with a horrible temper, Rose now had a gigantic boil in the middle of her forehead that had even made Goyle feel quite pleased as he'd taunted them, saying, “Now you're fit to join the circus!”
Lavender had rushed after him down the corridor after he'd fled. Albus wasn't sure what she had done to him when she caught him but he was pretty sure that he wouldn't be seeing Goyle anytime soon, “We already know its our fault, Corner, you don't need to bloody rub it in!” Scorpious snarled angrily at the girl.
Rose was seething, her face turning red. The boil on her forehead was covered with a very big headband but Albus knew just one look at it later tonight when she went to bed would infuriate her all the more, “I can't believe what you all have gotten us into!”
Albus groaned in aggravation and rubbed at his neck, where she'd latched onto him after her fury had died down. She'd nearly squeezed the life out of him when she'd burst into tears on his shoulder and he wasn't sure if he forgave her for it or not, “We know, Rose! Merlin, its not like we're happy about it! All of our plans for Halloween are useless!”
“What was your plan in the first place? I demand to look at it.” Rose said furiously, glaring at him. Lavender sighed, and, pausing with them in the corridor, she took out some parchment and handed it over, watching as Albus's cousin looked through it, Sue Corner looking over her arm. “This...this...you wouldn't have seriously thought that this would have worked!”
Albus felt a prick of irritation. They had stayed up well past morning to come up with those ideas, Scorpious being the one to make most of them, “What's wrong with that idea?!”
“I'm not sure if you know this Potter but I'm sure everyone would have been able to notice us not at the Feast!” Sue Corner spat at him in exasperation.
Scorpious looked especially furious. “And that's why you two were supposed to wait until we were able to give the signal. We assumed that we would somehow get Albus's Cloak back and that no one would notice us when we got up!”
“What?” Rose asked in confusion, looking over the parchment with narrowed brown eyes. Lavender's handwriting was very neat but apparently his cousin had merely skimmed over the general idea of their plot, which made him very annoyed, “how on earth would you have gotten fireworks there?” she asked after reading.
Albus and his friends had decided that the best way to slip out of the Feast was to have the loudest, craziest distraction possible. So of course they'd immediately thought of using one of his Uncle George's best products for such a thing, “We were going to have James and Mason light them under the table and toss them.” He said to his cousin.
“And then what?” Sue Corner demanded sharply.
Scorpious said harshly. “While everyone was panicking about the fireworks, we'd use some of Albus's uncle's Decoy Detonators and let them get loose. Everyone would have been so panicked about that they wouldn't have noticed us running around to get away!”
Albus picked up defensively after his friend, knowing that Rose looked slightly impressed despite herself. “We would have given you guys a signal, made sure you were following and slipped under the Cloak,”
Sue Corner quirked one of her dark brows. “May I remind you that you don't have a Cloak anymore, Potter?” she asked acidly.
“I have an Invisibility Cloak, Corner. I would have loaned you my Cloak on Halloween and after getting our signal, you were to follow us out of the Great Hall.” Lavender said furiously, losing her patience.
Rose looked perplexed. “And what was this signal supposed to be?”
At the question, the Misfits exchanged a look. “Don't you know anything Weasley?” Scorpious drawled lazily. “We were going to toss in some Dungbombs around for good measure and the smell would have alerted you because you're so full of sh—”
Albus intervened hastily while Rose's mouth hang open in fury. “We had it all worked out, all right? But now there's no point! We'll be stuck with Smith, Roxanne needs to get my Cloak for me—” when his cousin's eyes narrowed and Sue Corner appeared very expectant, he went into detail about what their older cousin had promised to do for them.
“What if Roxanne gets into trouble?” Rose hissed while looking at her wristwatch. “Is thirty minutes after nine now. We should go and make sure that that works out.”
Albus felt himself growing a little annoyed with his cousin. “No, you guys tell us what happened with you going to look up stuff about Wolfsbane. Did you write your mum about the wards, Rose?” he demanded. He had gotten the nastiest Howler from his mother earlier in Defense Against the Dark Arts with his two friends and he would never get Sally Creevey's gloating sneer out of his mind.
Rose looked taken aback by his tone but then gave him an apologetic look and gave him a reassuring smile. “I wrote my mum but still have to mail my letter.”
Albus was relieved as Sue continued to inform them. “We did look up more about Wolfsbane and you won't believe its not only poisonous but its known for having the worst smells once you start boiling it. The Ministry uses it for crowd control,”
“Zabini had a smell in his room today that was really bad, I've never smelt it before. Do you think that was the Wolfsbane?” Albus asked eagerly. In Potions earlier, the stench had still been thick and more than one student had had to walk out, “but if he's been getting Wolfsbane all this time, why is he just now using them?”
“Maybe his other samples died. I was reading in the book of Poisonous Herbs, Weed and Fungi that they don't last very long and that grinding them into a powder is the best way to keep them in stock.” Rose said importantly, making Albus wonder just how he had missed such a stench before, “Zabini might be trying to find his cure for werewolf bites a lot sooner for a reason.”
“Did you find out if it does? I never found any genuine cases of it curing werewolf bites,” Lavender said with a frown, folding her arms.
Sue Corner looked disappointed. “There wasn't any cases that we found, just a lot of rumors and nonsense. Wolfsbane when you look at it isn't anything special, it looks a lot like poison ivy, only its blood red, that might be where the entire werewolf thing came from since they like eating human flesh.” She ended with a disgruntled sigh.
Albus was disappointed by this news but found himself asking his cousin. “Why do you think Zabini would be making the Wolfsbane sooner?” he had a sick feeling in his stomach at the reason.
“Well, I can't believe that neither I, Sue or Patil didn't see it sooner but I checked my Lunar Calendar.” Rose said, looking very nervous. Albus swallowed hard and as they stood in the corridor, there was a chill and he looked around, spotting Peeves making his way down the corridor (He was wearing sexy red panties that he had made a while ago), splashing cold water in every direction.
Ignoring him, Albus heard Scorpious ask. “What did you nerds find out that's so important?” Lavender pinched him in the arm but he only smirked. “Were you trying to see when Uranus was in our orbit?”
Albus snickered. Rose shot him a look, “Oh, honestly, Albus!” she cried and he quieted, though Scorpious was snorting with laughter. Sue Corner glowered at the two of them impatiently, “The next full moon starts the day before Halloween when we're supposed to meet Malfoy's brother! Zabini's preparing that Wolfsbane for his friend, obviously!”
Albus felt nothing but panic at the words but before he or either of his friends could comment, Peeves came over to them. After dumping his remaining water on Rose and Sue Corner, causing them to splutter and squeal, the parchment turning to mush in his cousin's hands, he spat, “What do you want?!”
Peeves was grinning happily as Rose and Sue Corner wiped water off of their sopping hair, Scorpious roaring with laughter. Lavender shot him a dark look as she offered to dry the girl's off with her wand, “Lady Weasley has asked me to give the Misfit Oddities a message!”
Albus knew that he meant Roxanne and stared up at the ghoul, watching as he turned his bucket upside down. After fitting it onto his head and flipping Scorpious a rather nasty finger action, he asked, “What's going on?”
Scorpious was threatening to hex the ghost, and while Lavender was too busy drying off Rose and Sue Corner, he might have. Albus managed to lower his wand arm just in time though, “Lady Weasley has told me that your plan has failed! Failed, failed, failed! No sleepy for Zabini!” Peeves crowed madly, eyes bugging out of his skull.
It was a very horrible sight and Albus shot him a wary look before he found himself snapping at Lavender, who was still drying off his cousin and her friend. “That's going to have to wait!”
“Why?” Lavender asked while blowing air into Rose's flushed face. Her hair was about five times its normal size, she and Sue's robes still damp, “what's going on?”
Albus fumed as Scorpious jogged in place. “We've got to go down by the Potions room and figure out what's going on! Is Roxanne waiting for us?” he snarled up at Peeves, who had started to do a happy dance at their misfortune.
“Yes, yes! She said to hurry, hurry!” Peeves sneered down at them meanly and Albus and his friends didn't need to be told twice. “Boom! Boom! Gonna make a big BOOM!” the ghoul cried evilly after them as they rushed, panic underneath every step.
Thanks for reading! A Force of Wills is next!
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