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Chapter 6 : Patrolling and Tutoring
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“But he’s a genius!” Kaden exclaimed.
“Most geniuses tend to also be mad,” Matt commented from his spot on his bed.
The boys were currently in their dormitory, Albus, John, and Kaden having gone there immediately after dinner in order to see Matt before he left for the Shrieking Shack. To their surprise, Matt was awake. Ill, but awake. So, they took the opportunity to fill him in on the day’s lessons.
“I don’t know,” John said. “I think he might wreck the dungeons before the year is up, judging by all that smoke.”
“You just don’t like that he called you up to help with the experiment,” Albus pointed out.
“I guess,” he muttered. “He could’ve killed someone when he knocked that potion bottle out of my hand.”
“I hope he lets my class make chocolate,” Kaden said, ignoring John’s comment.
“I still can’t believe you made chocolate,” Matt replied, sighing. “He should’ve waited on that.”
“You can have some of mine,” Albus offered.
“Maybe tomorrow,” Matt said. “I don’t think chocolate would be a good idea right now. What about Defense and Herbology? Anything exciting happen?”
“Amanda, Janie, and a few of the Hufflepuffs passed out after Longbottom knocked a mandrake onto the ground and its pot broke,” Albus told him.
Matt groaned. “Glad I wasn’t there. I don’t miss mandrakes.”
“That’s too bad. Longbottom told us we’re learning about them again this year. We have to grow them from the start,” John explained.
“Are you kidding me?” Matt exclaimed as he pulled the covers over his head.
“Nope,” John said. “They take forever to mature, so we’re starting next class and it’s going to be an all-year project.”
“Bloody fantastic,” Matt muttered from under the blankets. “When do we next have Herbology?”
Albus dug his schedule out of his bag. “Monday morning.”
“Great. I’ll have the whole weekend to worry about it.”
“You don’t think it’ll be better this year?” Kaden asked.
“Not likely,” Matt said. “Second year we only repotted them for two lessons and both times I wound up in the hospital wing.”
“This time Longbottom just let everyone wake up on their own,” John said.
Matt sighed. “He’ll send me to the hospital wing. I’m sure of it.”
“It’ll be weekss before they’re ready for repotting,” Albus pointed out.
Matt threw the covers off and half sat up. “That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that.” He sat up the rest of the way and winced. “I should get going.”
“Want the cloak?” Albus asked as he got up and walked to his trunk. He opened it, dug around, and produced the Invisibility Cloak.
Matt smiled. “Thanks. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, we’ll come visit during lunch,” Albus assured him.
Matt nodded, got out of bed, and threw the cloak over himself. He disappeared and soon his footsteps quieted to nothing and Albus, John, and Kaden were the only ones left in the dormitory.
“When do you have to patrol?” Kaden asked.
Albus checked his watch. “In an hour or so.”
“Exploding Snap?” Kaden suggested.
Albus and John agreed. John grabbed a deck of cards from his trunk and the three boys went to the common room in order to find a few more people to play with, including Rose and Amanda. They were also joined by a few of Albus’s cousins, and Janie Creevey. By the time Albus had to leave for patrol, he was completely covered in soot, as was everyone except Kaden.
At five minutes to eight Albus left the common room and headed to the Entrance Hall to meet Meg Johnson, the girl he was scheduled to patrol with. He couldn’t remember what she looked like, but when he arrived there was only one other person there, dressed in Ravenclaw robes, so he assumed she was Meg.
“Albus,” she said as he walked toward her. “I’m Meg.”
She was tall, only an inch or so shorter than Albus, and she had very long, sleek blonde hair. And she was very pretty.
“So, for the most part, this is really easy,” Meg said as they walked up to the second floor corridor. “All we have to do is wander around until 9:15 or so to make sure all the third and fourth years are in their common rooms. First and second years have to be in their common rooms by eight. Third and fourth years by nine. Fifth through seventh by ten, although you should know that. Two other prefects patrol from 9:15 until 10:15. They usually have the seventh years do that round.”
“Are you in sixth or seventh year?” Albus asked.
“Sixth,” Meg said. “Same as your brother.”
“You know James?”
“Sort of. We’ve had some classes together.”
Albus nodded. They walked in silence down the second floor corridor and Albus hoped the silence wasn’t nearly as awkward for Meg as it was for himself. He just couldn’t think of anything to talk about with her. The only thing he could think of was Quidditch and he had no idea if she liked Quidditch.
“So, if you find anyone out of bed,” Meg said suddenly, as if just remembering she was there to teach him how to patrol, “you just tell them to get back to their common room. Most of them will listen, but if they don’t you can dock points or tell them you’re handing their name in to their head of house for detention. Usually they just haven’t kept track of the time. But sometimes you’ll find people snogging and that’s always awkward. But, same drill.”
“Okay,” Albus said.
They turned a corner and came upon two boys who didn’t even look old enough to be in Hogwarts talking to one of the portraits. As Albus and Meg neared them, Albus noticed they were Hufflepuffs.
“Curfew was ten minutes ago,” Meg announced.
The two boys jumped and turned around. Their eyes grew large and they exchanged glances.
“Don’t worry,” Meg continued. “Just get back to your common room and remember, curfew is at eight every night.”
Both boys nodded and took off for the nearest staircase. Meg laughed as soon as they disappeared. “The first years are always so afraid when they get here.”
Albus didn’t remember being that scared when he was a first year, or that small for that matter. But he must’ve been. Matt certainly had been, especially considering now he was the height of a tall second year or average height third year.
“So, is James still dating Gabby Ellis?” Meg asked fifteen minutes later, as they wandered down the fourth floor corridor.
Albus, who had just been getting used to the silence, turned to look at Meg. She looked uncertain, as if she was regretting asking the question.
“Uh, yeah, he is,” Albus answered. “Why?”
“Oh,” Meg said, clearly disappointed. “Never mind.”
Albus shrugged and they continued walking. They hardly spoke for the rest of the patrol, only doing so when they encountered students out of bed. But the silence wasn’t awkward anymore, so Albus didn’t care. He was still confused as to why Meg cared whether James was dating Gabby Ellis, but Meg didn’t seem inclined to explain. At 9:15 they parted ways on the sixth floor corridor and Albus headed back to Gryffindor, while Meg headed back to Ravenclaw. While patrolling with her hadn’t been that bad, Albus hoped most of his future patrols would be with Rose.
“Are you really that dense, Albus?” Rose asked as they made their way to the hospital wing with John and Amanda before lunch the next day.
“What?” Albus replied. “Why should she care whether James is still going out with Gabby Ellis?” Albus had just told the group about his patrol with Meg Johnson the previous night.
Rose groaned and Amanda laughed. Albus exchanged a look with John, who shrugged.
“You really are,” Rose said, sighing. “Let me spell it out for you. For both of you,” she said, after glancing at John. “Meg Johnson has a crush on James.”
Now it was Albus’s turn to burst out laughing. He paused in front of a suit of armor and rested his right arm on it, still laughing. It really was a funny premise, Meg Johnson having a crush on James of all people. Albus had been surprised when he managed to get one girlfriend, but the thought of a second girl at Hogwarts wanting to go out with him was just too much.
“Really, Albus?” Rose said.
“What? Last year you thought it was gross that James went to Hogsmeade with Gabby Ellis.”
Rose groaned again and shook her head. “No, I thought it was gross that he was snogging her pressed up against Honeydukes. It’s really not that surprising that girls like him, Albus. He’s funny, a great Quidditch player, tall-”
“And very muscular,” Amanda added with a grin.
That put a stop to Albus’s laughter. He put his hands over his ears and started walking toward the hospital wing once more. “Nope, not hearing anymore of this. You cannot like James, Amanda.”
Amanda laughed. “He’s an attractive bloke, Albus.”
“Yeah, Albus, he’s an attractive bloke,” John imitated.
Albus glared at him. “Shut up, John.”
John grinned, but didn’t say a word more on the subject. For the first time ever Albus was jealous of John and the fact that he has three younger sisters instead of an older brother. But then he remembered just how annoying little sisters were and was once again grateful he only had one.
Amanda’s laughter had subsided by the time they reached the hospital wing, and it was a good thing, too, because otherwise Madam Pomfrey would’ve kicked them out. A queue of students were near her desk when Albus and his friends entered and the nurse herself looked ready to murder someone. She seemed somewhat relieved to see them, and Albus could only imagine that it was because none of them needed her services.
Three of the beds were occupied but Albus took a guess that Matt would be in his usual one and he was right. John pulled back the curtains and the group filed in to find Kaden was already there. Matt was awake, but looked tired.
“It’s a madhouse in here,” Rose commented once John had shut the curtains once more. She pulled out her wand and cast a quick Muffliato.
Matt nodded. “It’s because it’s the second day back. People are trying to get out of class.”
“On the second day?” Rose asked incredulously.
“Not everyone is as anxious to get back to school as you are,” Matt replied. “Mostly they just use skiving snackboxes and Madam Pomfrey can pick those out from a mile away. But there’s been a few homesick first years, and right now the issue is Kaden’s potions class.”
Albus turned to Kaden. “What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything,” Kaden answered. “I’m good at potions.”
“It was Professor Burke, anyway,” Matt explained.
“Already?” Amanda asked. “He’s been here two days!”
“Apparently he’s quite clumsy,” Matt said. “I’ll let Kaden tell it. He was there.”
“He’s still a genius,” Kaden began. “Geniuses can be clumsy, too.”
“Why thank you,” Matt said with a grin.
“I wasn’t talking about you. You’re crap potions,” Kaden said. “Anyway, he was doing that demonstration with the purple light and after he finished he accidentally knocked a bottle of a solution of erumpant horn into the cauldron and, well, erumpant horns are highly explosive. Everyone at the front three tables got hit. I think there were ten of them. Only one got hit really badly, though. He’s in the bed on the end. But even he’s going to be okay.”
“Did you get hit?” Albus asked.
Kaden shook his head. “Burke had me take everyone up here. Worked out nicely since I was coming here after all.”
Albus had to admit that a clumsy potions master was pretty funny, especially now that he knew everyone would be all right. Still, it wasn’t an auspicious start for the new professor. Even if he was a genius as Kaden claimed, if he continually landed students in the hospital wing, he wouldn’t last long. Especially if Madam Pomfrey had anything to do with it.
“Oh, I got a reply from your sister,” Kaden said suddenly as he pulled a piece of parchment out of his robes. “She’s jealous Burke wasn’t here when she was in school and told me to take advantage of any extra lessons he wants to give. She’s met him a few times and says he likes to pick favorites.”
“Just like Slughorn,” Matt said. “She say anything else?”
Kaden handed Matt the letter. “Just wanted me to tell you she hopes you’re feeling better soon.”
Matt scanned the letter and gave it back to Kaden. “Thanks. Did the rest of you have an eventful morning?”
“Not really,” John said. “Charms and Transfiguration. More lectures on why we need to start studying for our O.W.L.s now, even though no one actually will, except Rose.”
“Well, you should,” Rose muttered.
“Oh, here’s your schedule,” Albus said. He dug into his bag until he found it, and handed the parchment to Matt.
“Thanks,” Matt said and glanced at it. “History of Magic after lunch. Tough break. Glad I’m missing that. And care of magical creatures. Guess I’ll miss that, too.”
“When do you get to leave?” Amanda asked.
“Yeah, it’s almost our first weekend back. We’ve got to plan a prank,” John added.
Albus and Rose exchanged glances. This was the part of being a prefect Albus was looking forward to the least. John and Kaden were quite the pranksters and the last thing he wanted to do was report them.
“Tonight or tomorrow morning,” Matt said. “I hope I’ll be back for dinner.”
John glanced at his watch. “Well, we should get going if we want lunch. Are you going to sleep all afternoon?”
Matt sighed. “Probably. But I’ll meet you for dinner if I can.”
Rose removed the Muffliato charm and they bade goodbye to Matt. The hospital wing had emptied out, with only Matt and the other two occupants of the beds remaining. Madam Pomfrey bustled toward them carrying a tray of soup and bread. She sighed when she reached Matt’s bed. “Potions explosion on the second day,” she muttered. “This is going to be a long year.”
“She must be retiring soon,” Kaden commented after they left the hospital wing. “Madam Pomfrey, I mean.”
“I dunno,” Albus said. “I know she was here when my grandparents were here.”
“She won’t retire until Matt’s done with school,” Rose said. “She promised him that in first or second year, I think.”
“Still, it’s got to be exhausting,” Kaden said.
“Yeah, and anyone who takes a fever fudge and then goes to the hospital wing is an idiot,” John said. “The point of those are to get you out of class, not get you into the hospital wing.”
“You’d know, wouldn’t you, John?” Amanda said, laughing.
John grinned. “I keep Albus’s uncle George in business.”
The remainder of the week went by fast, despite the multiple talks on O.W.L.s Albus and his friends had to sit through. Matt returned from the hospital wing in time for classes on Thursday, although he did fall asleep in History of Magic. To be fair, so did John, and Albus felt his eyelids droop more than once during that class. The only thing worse than a Binns lecture on history was a Binns lecture on why O.W.L.s are important. The only professor who didn’t give a talk on O.W.L.s was Hagrid, who spent the time introducing them to his three hippogriffs. It was much more desirable than a lecture. Friday was an easy day, with only Defense and Ancient Runes in the morning, and then the afternoon was free. Albus spent the free time walking around the lake with Matt, John, and Amanda. Kaden and Rose had class.
Rose and Amanda holed up in their dormitory after dinner on Friday night, leaving the boys to their own devices. They spent the time in the Marauder’s Den watching the Map, playing games, and planning pranks. Well, John and Kaden did the prank planning while Matt beat Albus at chess. Albus had informed John and Kaden that he wanted absolutely nothing to do with the pranking since he didn’t want to feel as if he had to turn them in. Like most of their pranks, it wasn’t completely planned that night and Albus imagined it would take them a few weeks to finish and execute it.
Saturday was Albus’s first day of tutoring, although he didn’t think anyone would show up. Half the castle probably hadn’t even had Defense yet, but Kendrick wanted the program to start early so that students could get in the habit of going early. So after lunch, Albus walked to the library and found it deserted except for the new librarian. This wasn’t at all surprising since it was a warm, sunny day and most of the population of Hogwarts was outside.
“Hello, Albus,” Miss Walsh said from behind the circulation desk.
Albus nearly jumped out of his skin at her greeting. He wasn’t used to being greeted when he entered the library, let alone greeted by name. Madam Pince reserved her voice for yelling at students, and only greeted them with a glare from behind her spectacles. Miss Walsh apparently not only said hello to students, but memorized their names before she even met them.
“Sorry,” she said, smiling. “Didn’t mean to startle you. You’re Albus Potter, right?”
“Er, yeah,” Albus said as he walked to the desk. She looked even younger up close and Albus wondered if she’d been a seventh year when he was a first year. He’d have to ask Victoire or Teddy whether the name was familiar.
She smiled again. “Nice to meet you. You’re tutoring Defense Against the Dark Arts, right?”
“The tutoring table is to my right,” Miss Walsh said, pointing to a large, rectangular table to Albus’s left. It had a big sign on it that read ‘Drop-In Tutoring’ and then gave a list of times for each subject. “The last prefect left early because no one showed up.”
“Thanks,” Albus said. He walked to the table, feeling very happy that he decided to bring some of his own Defense homework.
Albus settled down to finish the second round of Defense reading of the year, as well as the new worksheet Young had assigned for homework the previous day. He wasn’t kidding about stepping up the work for their O.W.L. year. But as the hour progressed, Albus realized just how much work he could get done in an empty library. He finished the Defense homework at the end of the first hour and then got to work on Transfiguration.
The door to the library opened when he was partway done with the chapter in his transfiguration book. He looked up and saw none other than Elsie Willinson, looking as small and timid as ever. She paused after shutting the door and gazed around the library.
“Hello!” Miss Walsh greeted her. “I’m Miss Walsh, the new librarian. What’s your name?”
Huh, Albus thought. Apparently she didn’t know everyone’s name. She probably only knew his because he was Harry Potter’s son.
Elsie walked slowly to the circulation desk, clutching her books tightly to her chest. “Elsie,” she whispered. “Elsie Willinson.”
“Nice to meet you, Elsie. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions about research or homework or just need to talk.”
Elsie nodded, but said nothing else. Instead, she turned to Albus. He met her gaze and then looked back to his Transfiguration book. But instead of going to another table, Elsie sat down across from him. Did she actually want tutoring?
“Um,” Albus began. “Do you need help with Defense?”
Elsie glanced at the sign and her eyes grew large, as if she hadn’t noticed it, despite its size. “Oh, no. I haven’t had Defense yet. Sorry.” She made to get up.
“Er, you can stay, if you’d like,” Albus said. “No one has showed up for tutoring.”
Elsie nodded and set her books down. She opened up the top one —Potions— and began to read.
Albus stared at his own book but didn’t read. Instead his mind raced with questions of why Elsie chose to sit by him in the library. He wasn’t sure what was weirder, that Elsie was sitting with him or that she wasn’t with Felix. He didn’t think he’d ever seen her without her brother, except for when Rose tutored her one-on-one. Where was Felix? And why did she choose Albus’s table out of all the tables in the library?
Albus’s Transfiguration book remained on the same page for the majority of his tutoring session. He couldn’t concentrate with Elsie sitting there across from him. More than anything, he wanted to ask her where Felix was, what he was up to, and whether he was still friends with Scorpius Malfoy. But Elsie was so shy and hadn’t looked up from her work since she arrived. Part of Albus thought she’d get up and leave if he bombarded her with questions, no matter how gently he did so.
In the end, Albus kept his mouth shut and when three o’clock arrived, he packed up his stuff and said a quick goodbye to Elsie and Miss Walsh before leaving. Elsie didn’t take much notice of his departure, but Miss Walsh gave him another smile and said she hoped to see him soon. Having a nice, helpful librarian was definitely going to take some getting used to, Albus thought as he left.
A/N: Thanks for all the lovely reviews! I am now back from vacation and updates should come more regularly. In case you're curious, I was at LeakyCon in Portland! It was such a fantastic event!
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