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Chapter 12 : Canceled Class
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“No, I really can’t,” Albus muttered. He’d just told John and Matt that he’d been scheduled for prefect rounds the night John, Kaden, James, and whoever else were going to be doing their huge prank.
“Great, though, isn’t it?” John continued, grinning. “I’ll know when you’re done so we’ll be able to get started.”
“I’m doing the early shift,” Albus reminded him. “There will be seventh years patrolling after me.”
“But still, we can do all the prep work early,” John said.
Albus sighed as they rounded the corner near the Defense classroom just as the bell rang. “Just don’t let me see you. Now come on, we’re already late.”
“You’re late,” Young said as they walked in the classroom two minutes later.
“Sorry, my fault,” Matt muttered as they hurried to take their seats.
Young glowered at them and waited by the chalkboard until all three were seated. Albus took a cursory glance of the room and noticed none of his fellow students had worksheets in front of them.
“As I was saying,” Young said as he tapped the chalkboard with his wand, “there will be no worksheets today.”
There was a collective groan from the Gryffindors and Ravenclaws assembled in the room. All of them, even the Ravenclaws, enjoyed the fact that Young never taught. The worksheets didn’t take long to complete and the rest of the time served as a useful study hall, especially given the fact that fifth year had more work than any year yet. Still, Albus was curious about how Young would choose to actually teach. And why, for that matter.
“Household protective charms,” Young said as he tapped the chalkboard again. This time the board mimicked what he said. “You should be writing this down, by the way.”
Everyone in the room scrambled for parchment, ink, and quills. None of them were used to taking notes in Defense anymore. They hadn’t had to do so since third year, and even then it was rare given Balladanis’s lack of lectures.
“Household protective charms are very important,” Young continued. “Not only will they be on your O.W.L.s, they’re necessary for life in the wizarding world. They are the first defense against intruders in a dwelling and can stop not only theft and burglary, but more violent crimes as well. Who can name a few common charms?”
Rose, Matt, and a smattering of Ravenclaws raised their hands.
“Mr. Eckerton,” Young said.
“The alert charm, anti-Apparition charm, Portkey disengagement charm, and the temporary stun charm are the most common,” Matt answered. “But there are also the invisibility charm, the unplottable charm, and the Muggle confusion charm. Then the Fidelius charm, of course.”
“Impressive,” Young said. “Yes, those are the most common charms. Most wizards use one or two of the first grouping Mr. Eckerton mentioned. First, we have the alert charm…”
For the remainder of the period Young spoke in great detail about every single charm Matt had named. He described where each charm came from, why they were useful, and how to cast them. He then gave them the last five minutes of class to practice the incantations. There were no worksheets and he assigned no homework on the topic, nor did he explain why he decided to teach that day.
“That was weird,” Albus said as he and his friends left the classroom and headed to Herbology.
“I bet MacDougal told him he needs to actually teach,” Rose pointed out.
“That makes sense,” Albus replied. He hadn’t even thought of that.
“Why’d he pick this topic, though?” Amanda asked. “You could’ve taught the class, Matt, knowing all those charms.”
Matt shrugged. “We’ve got all those charms on my house. Plus, we’re not hooked up to the Floo Network.”
“You think he’ll teach again?” John asked.
“Probably only if MacDougal shows up,” Rose said with a laugh.
The group continued on toward Herbology, which was completely ordinary, unlike Defense. The class cared for their mandrakes and then Neville lectured about the magical properties of mandrake leaves as opposed to their roots. The next class would be spent trimming the leaves on all the mandrakes and drying them for use in potions. Albus much preferred the leaves to the roots since they didn’t require earmuffs.
However, after lunch, Herbology proved to be Albus’s only normal class of the day. When he and his friends arrived at the dungeons for double potions, they found the door shut, locked, and bearing a sign declaring class canceled. None of their classmates were in sight.
“Canceled?” Rose said, her brow furrowing.
“Can he even do that?” Amanda asked.
“I guess, if he’s ill…” Rose said.
“Have any of the professors ever canceled before?” John asked.
“Not unless you count Defense professors after they leave,” Albus said. “Except Longbottom after his wife had a baby.”
“But why?” Amanda mused.
Albus wondered the same thing. Burke didn’t seem to be the type of professor to cancel class if he was ill; he’d probably just teach anyway. His love for potions seemed to overcome anything, illness included.
“I don’t care why,” Matt said, stifling a yawn. “I’m going to go take a nap.”
“You’re tired already?” Rose asked. “Isn’t it not until Saturday?”
Matt nodded. “Anyone else want to come to the Den?”
“Sure,” John said. “Might as well do that Charms essay that’s due tomorrow.”
“You haven’t started it?” Amanda replied. “Come on. I’ve got to finish mine. Albus, Rose?”
“You go,” Rose said as she peered into the classroom through the small window in the door. “Albus and I will meet you there.”
Matt, John, and Amanda left and Albus looked at his cousin curiously. “What’s going on?”
“Something’s off,” Rose said as she turned toward him. “I can’t see Burke just canceling class randomly, or even if he’s ill.”
“That’s what I thought, but what exactly are you planning on doing?” Albus asked.
A few Slytherins ran down the hall toward the potions room, clearly thinking they were late for class. They stopped at the door, read the sign, shrugged, and continued down the hall toward their common room, neither of them taking any notice of Albus or Rose.
“I think he’s in the brewing room,” Rose said as she led Albus to the next door. “What’s the one thing that would take a higher priority than teaching us to love potions as much as he does?”
“Brewing,” Albus said.
“Right,” Rose said, nodding. “Come on.”
Albus wasn’t too sure about this. He and Rose may have been Burke’s research assistants, but if Burke canceled class he probably wanted to be alone. What would he do if they interrupted him? Albus wasn’t too sure he wanted to find out, but Rose clearly did.
Rose paused in front of the door to Burke’s brewing room, took a deep breath, and knocked loudly. She glanced nervously at Albus and gave him a small smile. Albus’s heart was pounding so fast he couldn’t even offer a fake smile in return.
The door opened, revealing Burke in a cloud of smoke, who looked like he just broke out of Azkaban. His hair was crazier than usual, sticking up all over his head at odd angles, and his jumper bore scorch marks. A burn was festering on his cheek and his hands were covered in some sort of yellow powder.
“Albus?” he questioned as he wiped his hands on his jumper. “Rose?”
“Er,” Rose began. “Just wondering why you canceled class.”
Burke nodded. “Yes, yes, had to cancel. Lots to do here. The potion…the potion…I might be onto something. Must continue…can’t stop.” He turned and looked back into the room. “Class had to wait…”
“Okay,” Rose said. “Do you…need help with anything?”
Burke’s eyes grew large. “No! No. No. Not with this…not with this potion, no. Not a potion for students to work on. No indeed not. Come back tomorrow. Or Friday. Yes, Friday would be best. Tell Kaden, too. I’ll be ready for your help on Friday.” He shut the door without another word, leaving Albus and Rose standing in the hall amidst the dissipating smoke.
“What?” Albus exclaimed. “Did that make any sense to you?”
Rose said nothing. Instead she sped down the hall and stopped in front of the potions classroom. She pulled out her wand and aimed it at the doorknob.
“Rose!” Albus seethed. “What are you doing?”
“Shhh! I just have to check something.” She glanced up and down the hallway, but it was thankfully empty. She muttered a spell and pushed the door opened.
“What’s the point in locking it if Alohomora will open it?” Albus wondered aloud as they walked inside.
“That wasn’t Alohomora,” Rose answered. She paused just inside the door. “Notice anything?”
“Er, not really,” Albus said. “It’s an empty classroom.”
“The smoke. It’s gone.”
Albus blinked. Rose was right. The air in the classroom was cleaner than it had been all year, with no smoke at all. “And the cauldron’s gone,” he pointed out.
“Exactly,” Rose said as she ushered Albus out of the room and shut the door behind her. She muttered another spell at the knob to lock it. “The potion he’s working on in the brewing room is the same one he keeps in the classroom all the time. And it’s one he doesn’t want us helping with.”
“He won’t even tell us what it is.”
Rose nodded. “Because it’s not a normal potion. He told us about all his other experiments, but he won’t tell us about that one. Whatever it is, he doesn’t want word getting around what it does.”
“It can’t be a good potion. No one would have any reason to hide a good potion.”
“That’s what I was thinking,” Rose said.
“Should we tell Kendrick?”
“I don’t know,” Rose said. “I want to figure out what it is first, but we haven’t got any clues.”
“Then let’s get some,” Albus said. “I want to know what it is just as much as you do.”
Rose grinned. “See? I told you being Burke’s research assistants would come in handy.”
Potions remained canceled for the rest of the week, despite Burke’s claim that he would be back to teaching on Friday. Kaden, without his mentor, was somewhat at a loss during these three days, and on Friday evening when he went to the dungeons he was turned away, Burke claiming that he wouldn’t be ready until Monday.
As far as Albus could tell, he and his friends were the only ones who ones who knew the real reason Burke had canceled his classes. Albus and Rose had told the rest of the group as soon as they’d returned to the Marauder’s Den on Wednesday, after speaking with Burke. The rest of the castle, in true Hogwarts fashion, made up their own reasons as to why the potions master had canceled his classes. Rumors flew for the remainder of the week, each one more ridiculous than the previous. A few Hufflepuffs even speculated that Burke was a werewolf after noticing that the full moon was on Saturday, and when Albus and Kaden overheard that rumor in the Great Hall on Friday morning, Albus swore Kaden to secrecy, making him promise not to mention it in front of Matt. The most prevalent rumor stated that Burke had had a mental breakdown and given his behavior while speaking with Albus and Rose on Wednesday, the rumor wasn’t far off.
“Do you think maybe if I went down to see Burke tomorrow he’d let me help him?” Kaden asked in the common room Friday night.
“Kaden, he just told you to wait until Monday,” Albus said.
“But what if he changes his mind?”
“Tomorrow is Hogsmeade,” John pointed out as he twirled his quill around his fingers. “Matt is already not going, so you can’t skip out.”
“Kaden.” Rose sighed as she looked up from her Arithmancy book. “Just leave him alone. He might be a genius, but he’s also a bit mad. Give him time. If he’s back to teaching on Monday, go help him then. And don’t skip Hogsmeade just to brew potions.”
Kaden’s jaw fell open and he stared at Rose. Albus stifled a laugh. Kaden most likely thought he’d have an ally in Rose, and was now realizing that if even Rose was telling him to leave it alone, he should probably leave it alone.
“Where is Matt, anyway?” Amanda asked. “I haven’t seen him all day.”
“Still in the dormitory,” Albus answered. “He woke up with a migraine and went back to bed. He was still asleep before dinner.”
Rose closed her book. “Come on, Al, we should go check on him if he’s been up there that long.”
“He’s probably asleep,” Albus pointed out.
“Still,” Rose said as she got up. “Let’s go.”
Albus got up and followed Rose up the stairs to the fifth year boys’ dormitory. He didn’t really see the point in checking on Matt because he knew he’d be asleep, but sometimes Rose seemed to have Nana Molly moments and feel the need to take care of people.
The dormitory was completely dark and silent when Albus and Rose entered. Albus followed as his cousin headed straight to Matt’s bed and slowly pulled back the hangings. His eyes adjusted to the darkness and he just made out Matt’s figure, lying in bed, his eyes closed.
“Matt,” Rose whispered.
“Hmm?” Matt replied, without opening his eyes.
“Just checking to make sure you’re okay,” Rose said quietly. “We haven’t seen you all day.”
“Head hurts,” he mumbled.
Rose sat on the edge of the bed. “Are you sure that potion of Burke’s isn’t making things worse? You got ill days earlier than you usually do and you seem much worse.”
“It’s the blue moon,” Matt said as he cracked his eyes open. “They’re always worse. I got bitten on a blue moon. Healer Sterling thinks it’s all psychological because there’s no astronomical difference between a blue moon and a regular full moon. Calendar dates are just something man made up and are arbitrary. At least, that’s what he said. But they’re still worse.”
“Oh,” Rose said. “Do you need anything? Have you eaten anything today?”
“You sound like my mum,” Matt said.
“She sounds like Nana Molly,” Albus added.
“Well, he’s ill!” Rose exclaimed.
Matt groaned. “Do you have to shout?”
“Sorry,” Rose whispered. “You should go see Madam Pomfrey.”
“I don’t want to get up,” he said. “Every time I sit up the room spins.”
“All the more reason to go,” Rose said as she stood up.
“I just need to sleep.”
“If you’ve had a migraine for this long you need to see Madam Pomfrey,” Rose argued. “And you know that. What’s going on?”
Matt sighed. “I don’t know.”
Rose lowered her voice. “Come on, you can tell us.”
Albus sat on the side of the bed and turned from Matt to Rose and back again. Somehow Rose always knew what to say, no matter the situation.
“I guess I just wanted to go to Hogsmeade tomorrow,” Matt said quietly. “If I go to the hospital wing Madam Pomfrey won’t let me.”
“But you know you can’t go to Hogsmeade,” Rose pointed out. “The full moon is tomorrow night.”
“I know. It’s stupid. Just look at what happened when I wanted to go to the welcome feast. But there’s still a chance, if I stay here.”
Albus didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t imagine not being able to go to Hogsmeade. Hogsmeade trips were the thing everyone at Hogwarts looked forward to throughout the year. Third years and up, that is. And to miss Hogsmeade, even once, would be awful.
Rose sighed. “I have prefect rounds now, but if you’re still this ill when I get back in a few hours, I’m taking you to the hospital wing. And if you refuse to go I’ll go get Madam Pomfrey and bring her here.”
“No, don’t do that,” Matt said. “I’ll go after you’re back. When the common room has emptied out a bit.”
“Okay, that’s fair,” Rose agreed. “I do hope you’re feeling better by then.”
“Me, too,” Albus said, knowing full well Matt would most likely only feel worse.
The two cousins left the dormitory, shutting the door after them. Rose hurried off for her rounds while Albus returned to the table where John, Amanda, and Kaden were still seated. No sooner had Albus sat down that James arrived and took Rose’s vacated seat.
“Hey, Al,” James said as he picked up Rose’s Arithmancy book, opened it, grimaced, and shut it once more.
“What’s up, James?” Albus asked. Usually James only spoke with him in the common room if he needed something.
“Not much. Going to Hogsmeade tomorrow?”
“Of course,” Albus said. “It’s Lily and Hugo’s first time. Well, first time while at Hogwarts.”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot,” James said. “Listen, Al, what do you know about Meg Johnson? She said she’s patrolled with you.”
Albus raised his eyebrows. The only thing he knew about Meg Johnson was that she had a huge crush on James, something that bewildered Albus to no end. “Why?”
“I’m going to Hogsmeade with her tomorrow. One of her friends set it up.”
“I’ve patrolled with her twice,” Albus said. “I don’t really know anything about her.”
James shrugged. “Guess I’ll find out tomorrow. I hope she’s not clingy like Gabby was.”
“I’m sure she’s not,” Albus said. He sort of doubted Gabby was clingy, either.
“I’ll see you around,” James said as he got up. “John, Kaden, don’t forget the stuff tomorrow.”
“We won’t,” John assured him.
“What stuff?” Albus asked after James left.
John and Kaden exchanged mischievous grins. John opened his mouth to speak, but Albus cut him off. “You know what? I don’t want to know.”
“Probably a good choice,” John said as he pulled out a pack of cards. “Exploding Snap?”
Albus, Amanda, and Kaden readily agreed. They played for an hour, at which point Kaden’s face was covered in so much ash that he didn’t even resemble himself anymore.
By the time Rose returned John and Kaden were playing chess while Albus and Amanda paid vague attention as they worked on homework. Rose took one look at the game of chess, moved Kaden’s queen five spaces diagonally and put John in checkmate, before sitting down and groaning loudly.
“Hey, thanks!” John exclaimed.
“Not fair!” Kaden shouted. “You didn’t really win.”
“What’s wrong, Rose?” Amanda asked.
“You’d think seventh years wouldn’t be stupid enough to snog each other behind suits of armor. Half the second years know you’re not completely hidden. How difficult is it to find an empty classroom?”
Albus smirked. “Have a good patrol, Rose?”
“Oh, just lovely, thanks,” Rose replied. “As if the snogging seventh years weren’t enough, Peter Wayland and I had to physically separate two first years dueling like Muggles in front of the Charms classroom. They’ve got detention every Saturday for a month now, courtesy of Professor Cedonia.”
“Is she the new Head of Slytherin?” Kaden asked.
“No, but she walked out of her office to see what the fuss was about and handed them detention on the spot. They were a Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw, actually.”
“Who is the new Head of Slytherin?” John said. “Burke?”
“Burke wasn’t in Slytherin,” Kaden said. “He didn’t even go to Hogwarts. He was homeschooled.”
“How did he learn so much about potions, then?” John asked.
“He’s a genius, so he learned fast. And he attended the Holland Institute of Brewing at the age of sixteen, and it’s next to impossible to get in there,” Kaden explained.
“It’s kind of creepy you know all that,” John said, shaking his head.
Kaden shrugged. “It’s all public knowledge.”
“Albus, we’ve got to go check on Matt,” Rose said as she stood up. “I nearly forgot.”
Albus, who had explained what had transpired in the dormitory earlier to the rest of the group after Rose went on patrol, stood and followed Rose upstairs.
“I went to see Madam Pomfrey before patrolling,” Rose said. “She said if he doesn’t show up at the hospital wing by nine-thirty she’s coming to get him.”
“What time is it now?”
The dormitory was still dark and quiet. Bilius and Ethan were in the common room and would probably remain there until they were ready to go to bed. Despite the fact that they didn’t know why Matt got ill so often, they always gave him the dormitory to sleep when he needed it.
“Matt,” Rose whispered as she pulled back the curtains on Matt’s bed. “Come on, wake up. You’ve got to go to the hospital wing.
“Matt groaned and rolled over. “Is the common room empty?”
Albus and Rose exchanged a glance. “Not really,” Rose said. “It’s Friday night. Everyone’s still up.”
“Then I’ll wait,” Matt said as he pulled the covers over his head.
“You can’t wait. You can’t convince us you’re better than you were before.”
“Then here,” Albus said as he walked over to his trunk. He opened it, rummaged around, and pulled out the Invisibility Cloak. “Wear this.”
“Oh, that will look real natural as we have to keep him from falling over,” Rose muttered.
Albus glared at her. “Not helping.”
Matt slowly got up out of bed and wrapped the Cloak around himself. He was very unsteady on his feet and Albus grabbed hold of his arm before he fell over. Albus glanced at Rose, who looked incredibly worried. The three of them left the dormitory and Albus had a feeling Rose was right. It probably looked very weird that the he and Rose seemed to be supporting an invisible person between them.
Luckily no one in the common room noticed them, with the exception of John, Kaden, and Amanda. Once they left Gryffindor Tower, Albus pulled the Cloak off his friend and they hurried to the hospital wing, where Madam Pomfrey was waiting. She rushed Matt into bed and immediately began to prepare a cocktail of potions. Albus and Rose left with nods to the nurse and walked back to the common room.
All the while Albus wondered if it really was the blue moon that made this full moon so much worse, or if the potion Burke made him was making things worse. Albus couldn’t imagine the genius Burke creating a potion that had the opposite effect that it intended, but what else could explain it?
A/N: Thanks for all your lovely reviews! It's time once again for the Dobbys. Nominations are now closed, but I was nominated for a few categories. Keep an eye on the forums so you can vote when voting opens! Remember to read the rules!
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