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Chapter 19 : Marauder Missions
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And what would happen when Albus’s dad found out? The invisibility cloak was his most valuable possession, after all. It was priceless. His dad had told Albus that the cloak had been in the family for many generations. Now, the magnificent and amazing old family heirloom was probably locked away in Filch’s office.
The four of them settled onto the floor and beds of the boy’s dormitories. Albus wanted more than anything to just collapse into his bed. Not think. But he forced himself to sit up. Not that there was anything to be accomplished by sitting up.
“You realize what we have to do, right?” Rose asked. Albus jerked his face up, staring into her face. She had settled herself onto the floor with her legs crossed. “We have to get it back.”
“How?” David groaned. “We need the cloak to sneak into his office!”
“I don’t know,” Rose muttered. “But we need it quick, so we can get the book out from the library. Any kid who sees the title of the book will immediately know it belongs in the restricted section. I’d say we have a few days to get it out, at the most.”
The tiniest slimmer of hope had replaced the hopeless despair he had a moment before. Al screwed his brain, begging for plots, ideas… a plan began to revolve in his head. A clever one.
“James,” Albus whispered. “We need James.” David, Art, and Rose all stared at Albus in alarm.
“James?” Rose exclaimed. “James Sirius Potter? Why would we ask him for help? He wouldn’t help us. He’d demand that we tell him what we are doing. What do we need his help for, anyway?”
“We don’t need much of his help, we just need something from him,” Albus explained. “Leave it to me.” He didn’t like what he was about to do, but Albus had to do it. With not a single glance at anybody, Albus left the room.
James. James Potter. Now, where would he be? Albus stood in the common room, screwing his eyes. Where did James go the most when he was in Hogwarts, especially for planning? He knew James and John never discussed anything where other students might be listen. Where would fit their needs, and what place did Albus know they had been to dozens of times… Albus’s eyes flew open. Of course! He knew where.
Albus hurried down the stairs, all the way to the bottom floor, past the dungeons, past the room of beloved potions. With a shudder, Albus remembered what had happened the last time he went down there. For a moment Al stood, frozen with terror, remembering that evening when they went to fetch Art’s birthday cupcakes… but he forced his legs to keep going.
He reached the still life, but did not tickle the pear. Instead, he lurked right outside, pressing his ear against it. He didn’t like eavesdropping on his brother, but the knowledge he got would be useful.
“You know what we should do next week?” James said. “Plaster the walls with itching cream in Trelawney’s room. It would be hilarious! Of course, she’d be freaked out and come up with some terrible omen. I wonder what she could make out of that…” James pondered.
“I don’t think we have enough itching cream for that,” John said. “Oh, wait, I know what we could do. Replace all of her crystal balls with pumpkins. Then we wouldn’t have to do crystal balls in class for a little while!”
“Excellent. Next week, Wednesday, middle of the night?” James asked.
“Why not,” John said lazily. “Nothing going on. Hey, Tickly, can I have another chocolate éclair?”
“Of course, Master Shafiq.”
Albus took a deep breath. This was his moment. He tickled the pear, and the still life swung open. Albus stared into the dumbstruck eyes of James.
“What are you doing here, little bro?” James asked. Albus leaned against a table.
“Er-I need a favor,” Albus said rather nervously. He couldn’t mess this up.
“What if I don’t want to help my little brother?” James said coolly. “What then? You’re doomed?” James was smirking just the slightest bit.
“Oh, but you will,” Albus said, his confidence coming back to him. “Unless you want me to tell Longbottom that you’re planning to be switching Trelawney’s crystal balls with pumpkins on Wednesday night. Or, I’m sure Filch would be happy to know this information as well.” Albus’s added a tiny smirk just for good measure. He had James trapped. James looked scared for a moment, and then pulled on a cool face.
“You’re resorting to blackmail, are you?” James murmured. When Albus did nothing, James sighed and said, “Very well. What do you need?”
"Marauder’s Map. Give it to me now. I promise I’ll give it back in time for your little prank.” James scowled, fished into his pockets, and tossed the map to Albus.
“Use it well, little brother,” James said. He was eyeing Albus rather curiously, probably wondering what Albus needed it for. “Create lots of mischief.”
“See you,” Albus told him, and he exited the kitchens.
Once he was out in the corridor, Albus took a few shaky breaths. That was weird. Very weird. He wasn’t used to standing up to James, he didn’t like blackmailing him. Hopefully Albus could amend things soon.
With trembling fingers, Albus unfolded the map, and whispered the words he memorized when his dad first told them about the map, “I solemnly swear I am up to no good.” It was amazing, seeing all the little dots with names, seeing every corridor Albus had never explored. His heart surged with pleasure when he saw his own dot that said Albus Potter. Albus’s eyes trailed back up to the Gryffindor Common room, where he could see Rose, David, and Art’s dots still gathered in the dormitory.
With a whisper, Albus said, “Mischief Managed,” and stared at awe as everything was magically wiped clean off the parchment. He then tucked it into his pocket, and proceeded back to the common room.
David, Rose, and Art were whispering among themselves, but when they saw Albus, they immediately stopped talking and instead looked up at him.
“What happened to you?” David asked. “And what were you doing?”
“I got what we needed to break into Filch’s office,” Albus grinned. He fished around in his pockets, and pulled the parchment out. “I solemnly swear I am up to no good,” Albus whispered, and stared as writing came onto the map.
“Whoa,” Art whispered in awe.
“What the- WICKED!” David yelled, first in surprise than delight. “What is this thing?”
“The Marauder’s Map?” Rose exclaimed, staring up at Al. “I thought Uncle Harry had it!”
“He did,” Albus confirmed. “Until the end of last summer, when James stole it. That’s the reason dad gave me the invisibility cloak in the first place.”
“What is it?” David asked curiously, staring at all the little dots.
“A map of Hogwarts,” Albus said. “It shows every passageway and corridor, every room, and every secret passageway in the castle. It also shows each and every person in the castle, and where they are right this very second.”
“Wha- How-“ Art began, staring at the map. Albus realized he would have to explain further.
“My grandfather and his friends created it,” Albus explained. “James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew,” he continued. “They were smart, gifted, and were pranksters. The map got confiscated; however, at some point by Mr. Filch. Many years later, Uncle Fred and Uncle George broke into Mr. Filch’s confiscated items drawer, and got the Marauder’s Map. Several years later, they passed it onto my dad.” David and Art were both silent, staring at the map.
Rose paused a second, and then asked, “How did you get James to give the map to you?” Albus paused. He didn’t want to say he had blackmailed James.
“Er- I told James we were going to use it for a really good prank,” Albus hastily lied. Rose narrowed her eyes a little, but didn’t say anything else.
“Your uncles must have been brave, Albus, stealing this from Filch’s office,” Art sighed.
“Well, we’ll have to do that, won’t we?” Rose said. “That’s the whole reason Albus got the map, in the first place. So we can make sure Filch is nowhere in sight when we steal back the invisibility cloak.” They all froze where they were sitting. Somehow, the awe of the map had caused them not to think about the frightening thing they had to do.
“When?” Albus asked.
“We need it done as quickly as possible…” Rose muttered, staring at the wall. “I’d say we do it today, the moment Filch is out of his office.”
“Today?” Albus squeaked. Rose narrowed her eyes at Albus.
“We need the book as quickly as possible, don’t we?” she said. “Yes, today.”
“He’s out of his office right now,” Art said, pointing at the map. “Chasing around Peeves on the seventh floor.”
“Excellent,” Rose said. “Come on, let’s go,” she said, opening the door.
“Right now?” Albus exclaimed.
“Any reason why we can’t?” she said sharply, turning around to face Albus.
“No,” he lied. In truth, he wanted a private word with Rose. He didn’t want to bring David and Art with him. They were the ones who lost him the invisibility cloak in the first place, after all.
Rose, Art, and David all quickly departed. Albus sighed, having no choice but to trudge on behind them. They all skirted in the corridors, not stopping until they had reached the door of Filch’s office.
“Now,” Rose said, turning to David and Art. “Do you know where he put the cloak?”
“We both do,” David said, nodding. “We both saw him put it away.”
“Very well,” Rose said. She then turned to Art, who was still holding the map. “Can you stand outside and watch Filch on the map, and warn us if he is coming?” Art nodded quickly.
“Don’t you want to do that Rose?” Albus said hastily. They had already lost the cloak, and Al knew James would kill him if he lost the map as well. Rose, however, raised her eyebrows at Albus.
“Art can do it,” she said, once again sounding very curious. “Come on, let’s get the cloak.” She pulled the handle on Mr. Filch’s office. It didn’t budge. Sighing, she lifted her wand out, and whispered “Alohomora”. There was a tiny click, and the door opened. It was black inside.
“Blimey, doesn’t he have any windows in here?” David said. “It’s daytime! Lumos.”
Albus had never been inside the office before. It was extremely tiny, and there was this awful smell hanging around the place. There were wooden filing cabinets on the walls.
“Is that chains?” Albus heard David say. Al looked up. David was certainly right- chains were hanging from the walls. “Ugh, why does he have them?”
“Beats me,” Rose said with a shudder. “Come on, get the invisibility cloak and let’s get out of here.”
David walked over to the furthest cabinet, labeled Confiscated Items. Albus peered inside. There was tons of rubbish. It looked like a trash can. Al could distinguish tons of little Weasley products, as well as other little trinkets. But right on the top, was his invisibility cloak. Albus took it out and hugged it; he was afraid he had lost the cloak forever.
“Let’s go,” David said, with a look of disgust on his face. “It’s creeping me out.”
When they steeped out of the room, they approached Art.
“It’s okay, Filch is still pretty far away,” Art told them.
“Right, so are we going to the library now?” Rose told them.
“Now?” Albus gaped.
“Yes, now,” Rose snapped. “The more time we wait, the greater chance there is of it being moved. It’s obvious from the title that belongs in the Restricted Section.” Albus raised his eyebrows. It looked like somebody was in a crabby mood. But, he realized, she got very little sleep last night, and was immensely tired.
All four of them went under the invisibility cloak, and then navigated the corridors to the library. Luckily, the corridors were not very crowded, so they got to the library with ease. Once they were in the library, Rose guided them towards the right aisle to retrieve the book. Albus was glad she remembered, because he sure didn’t. Once they arrived, Albus heard them all breathe a sigh of relief that the book was still there, sitting in the same exact spot as they had left it.
After hurriedly looking to make sure nobody was watching, Rose snatched the book off the shelf and stuffed it inside the cloak. They then shuffled out the door of the library, and took the cloak off.
“Whew!” David exclaimed. “That’s a relief.”
“I’m the one who got the book in the first place,” Rose said. “I’m the only one who remembered where it was.”
“Come on, let’s read it!” Albus exclaimed, bursting with curiosity. They had just got the book, and they were bickering?
“Up in the dormitory, we don’t want to read it out here,” Rose said. “Come on.” Quick as a flash, she was flying up the stairs.
“Why is she always so fast?” David groaned beginning to climb the stairs.
“Because she knows you’re slow,” Albus told him. “Come on.” Art and Rose were already two flights above them.
Once they arrived in the dormitory, Albus bounded up the stairs to their dormitory to find- Marc, sitting in there, reading a book.
“Hi Marc,” Rose said. “What are you doing?”
“Reading,” Marc said, a book propped up on his bed. Rose exchanged a worried glance with Albus. He grimaced. They couldn’t explore an illegal book if Marc was in the dormitory.
“Come on,” Rose mouthed to them, and she led Albus, Art, and David downstairs to the bustling common room. Students brushed them as they walked past, many sitting down on the tables and doing homework.
“What now?” David hurriedly hissed into Rose’s ear. She led them out of the hallway to the corridor beyond.
“Let’s try the kitchens,” she said. “The few times that we’ve been in there, only house-elves have been present.”
But, as Albus realized later, the few times they had been, it was the middle of the night. When they arrived, they found that there were quite a few other students in the kitchens, most of them Hufflepuffs. Once upon a time, like in his father’s time, the kitchens were a little-known place. But over time, more and more people learned about it, liked it, and began to go to the kitchens frequently.
Luckily, most of the students were in one corner, sampling sweets for the elves. And the kitchens were a vast place that had hundreds of elves.
“We can go to the corner,” Rose decided. “We won’t stick out to the students in a sea of elves.
She was right. As long as they stayed in the corner, they were unnoticed, except by the house-elves. They went back and forth, giving them food, even though Albus was full. The other students paid no attention to them.
“We can read it now,” Rose whispered. She opened the hard cover of the ancient book. It was dusty, and had yellowing pages. It also had some potion stains, blotting out some of the words. The pages were also brittle, and a few pages were stuck together. Because of this, it took a while to find page 52, which was the page with the Invisible Poison.
Finally they found the page. Luckily, it looked like no student had ever attempted this potion, because the pages were unstained, clean, and easy to read.
“Let’s look at what ingredients we need,” Rose suggested. She scanned the list. Most of the potions Albus had brewed in potions class only had about 5 ingredients. This potion had nearly fifty ingredients. Albus felt faint just reading that. Rose was gulping.
“Um okay… it looks like we’ll have to borrow some ingredients…” Rose mumbled, her voice cracking.
“From where?” Art asked. “This stuff won’t be in the student cupboard.”
“From…” Rose said.
“…The Apothecary?” David suggested.
“No, we can’t,” Rose said. “There are restrictions on it nowadays. You can only get some ingredients- some of the ones on this list you aren’t allowed to buy if you aren’t of age. Security and all of that. Then we must get the ingredients from…”
“…Professor Fawley’s storage,” Albus whispered. Rose, Art, and David all stared at him.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while now,” Albus continued. “We should be able to sneak into Fawley’s stores using the invisibility cloak. And then we can get one of my cousins to borrow my potion things I got for my birthday to brew it.” Albus felt a bit more confident. It seemed like a good plan.
“No,” Rose said.
“Sorry?” Albus asked, startled. What was wrong with his plan?
“Well, the first part, the part about getting the ingredients from Professor Fawley’s storage is fine,” Rose said. “I’m just saying no to the last part. Who could we trust to brew it?”
“Um, our cousins,” Albus said.
“Have you really though about it?” Rose asked. “Potions is Victoire’s worst subject. She barely scraped an Acceptable for Potions in her O.W.L. Dominique is a grump, she’d never do it. Molly and Lucy are both good potioneers, but they think too much about the rules. This is a deadly potion we’d be asking them to brew. Plus, they have been studying for their O.W.L.s nonstop. I’d laugh at the idea of Fred or Louis brewing a potion outside of class. Roxanne has actually been failing class lately; she only cares about Quidditch and beating up Vincent Rosier. And James brewing it is just a laugh. So, I think our only other option is to have you brew it, Albus. You’re the best potioneer out of all of us.”
“Wha- What?” Albus sputtered.
“It’s true,” Art nodded.
“You’re better than me,” Rose added.
“Wait, wait,” Albus exclaimed. “You want me to brew the potion?”
“No, duh, she wants you to blow it up,” David said sarcastically. “Of course she wants you to brew it! We all want you to brew it!”
“You’re the person I’d trust the most with brewing it,” Art added.
“But- how?” Albus asked. “This potion is beyond N.E.W.T. level!” Albus began to silently panic. “I can’t!” Albus felt himself suddenly being shaken around the shoulders by Rose.
“You can,” she whispered. “If you think about it, potion making is really about having a clever mind, a natural ability, and following instructions,” she whispered in his ear. “Lots and lots of natural ability. You have that. I don’t. I try and study, and follow directions, but somehow I never have the touch that you do. Uncle Harry may succeed because of a special potion book, but you don’t need that. Your middle name is Severus. Draw that brilliance Severus Snape had.” Albus shut his eyes. And thought for a few minutes. He could hear the shouts and the laughter of students in the kitchen, which their conversation had been shrouded in. He thought. He thought long and hard. His eyes popped open.
“Right,” he said. “First, we have to get our hands on those potion ingredients. My best plan is to distract Professor Fawley by asking him some sort of question at the end of class, so one of you can sneak into the storage room under my cloak. Of course, first we should get the ingredients we can from the student cupboard, the few ingredients I have, and the apothecary first. We can do the exact details of sneaking into the storage room later.
“Now, we also have to figure out where to brew this potion- someplace we won’t get caught, someplace we can leave the potion undisturbed. I can’t think of anyplace where students don’t go, we need someplace abandoned… Any ideas?”
“What about that room thing that you and your cousins went on Christmas?” David suggested. “The room of requirement?”
“No,” Rose was saying. “Years ago, the answer would have been yes. But it’s not really unknown anymore, and so many students want to use it. A room that can turn into anything you’d like! So you have to book it nowadays. That’s what Fred and Louis did. And it was hard getting a spot. No, we need someplace nobody else goes to.”
“Shrieking Shack?” Albus suggested.
“No.” It was Art who said this. “I’ve seen many students try to break into that place. Too many students lurk around there.”
“We’ll find some way.” David said. “What should our first course of action be?”
“Get the ingredients we can from the students cupboard, which is very few, and then mail requests for the ingredients we can get from the Apothecary,” Albus said, taking charge. “I think I have a pamphlet buried in my trunk somewhere of the ingredients under-aged students can access.”
“Um this may be a stupid question, but… we’re ordering this through mail. Can’t we just pretend to be overage?” Art asked. Rose was already shaking her head.
“The order forms are probably laced with protection spells. We don’t want to risk it.”
“Wait!” Albus yelled. “Filch is checking the mail. How will it get through?”
“Students order potion ingredients all the time,” Rose said. “There’s nothing suspicious about that. Plus, he must know about all the potion things you got for your birthday; he must know that you’d want more ingredients.”
“Okay,” Albus said glancing around the kitchens. “Let’s go back to the dormitory, so I can get the pamphlet.”
“David and I can check the student cupboard too, we just need to know what ingredients we’re looking for.”
“Then I’ll take the book right now, go up to my dormitory to get ink and parchment, and make a copy,” Rose said. “Let’s go.”
“We would make good detectives,” Art whispered.
“Definitely,” Albus said, cracking a grin. “The first-year detectives. That sounds like a good title. Investigating mysteries.” He bounded out of the kitchens, and took the stairs up from the kitchen two at a time. Al kept his mind trained on getting the pamphlet. Everything that had happened to him, and everything that was going to happen to him, Albus blocked from his mind.
He was too scared to think about everything else.
This probably won't get get validated by January 12th, but Happy Birthday to my version of Albus Potter!
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