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Chapter 5 : Perry and Billy
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Monday came too early for Albus, and with it was Potions, in which Zabini gave them all boils using a spell he wouldn’t teach them. Albus managed to get rid of his, but instead of shrinking to nothingness right away they turned blue and vibrated for a few seconds before disappearing. That wasn’t as bad as Goyle’s though. Goyle’s boils, which Albus thought made him look better anyway, started to hum ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ before exploding. There was pus all over the Slytherins. “At least it’s green!” yelled Fraser. “It matches your house. Slimy and disgusting.”
This earned Fraser twenty points off Gryffindor and a detention, but they all (except for Rose) agreed it was worth it. Albus remembered seeing Malfoy’s face. He had gone red – well, pinkish – and he looked like he was about to retaliate when the bell rang. Albus was glad that for once, the Gryffindors had the last laugh.
After Potions, they had their first Defence lesson. Albus was very curious to see what Keane was like after he had burst into their Potions lesson. They waited outside, everyone remembering the first Potions lesson and how angry he had been. Albus wondered if he was going to be that angry in the lessons.
Keane arrived five minutes after the bell rang, and angrily told them to get into the classroom and sit down. It looked like he would be that angry.
“Right. I am Professor Keane. I know you will all have some kind of trick to get of class, and to be honest I don’t care whether you’re here or not, but if you miss enough of my classes you will fail the end of year tests. I don’t know what you will do then, but you will probably have to either repeat the year or do summer school, if they even do that here. Today we will be learning about the common-or-garden type of gnomes. Who has ever seen a gnome before?”
Albus, Severus and Rose raised their hands, as well as a few others. “Who can tell me a bit about them? Weasley, what do you know …”
It turned out that Rose knew quite a bit about the gnomes who lived in Nana Molly’s garden. “… and they don’t like woodlice, either,” Rose said as she listed gnomes’ likes and dislikes. Severus added in a whisper that they also didn’t like to be dressed up and stuck at the top of Christmas trees. Dillon and Daegan cracked up over this, but luckily Keane didn’t notice. He was too busy arguing with Maya Emerson (another Gryffindor) about the standard colour of a gnome’s eyes. The homework at the end of class was to sketch a gnome and label the different parts, something that Albus thought he would find easy, having seen so many gnomes at The Burrow.
“He was an odd teacher, wasn’t he,” commented Rose as they walked to Transfiguration.
“He definitely knows his stuff, but it’s like he can’t be bothered to teach it. Like he’s here to do something else …”
Albus shrugged. “He applied for the position, didn’t he? Why would he do that if he didn’t want to teach?”
Rose said nothing, but it was clear she was brooding on it for the rest of the day. At dinner, Rose ate as fast as she could and then jumped up, swinging her bag up so fast she almost hit Dillon in the side of the head. “Oops, sorry. I have to go do some research in the library. See you in the common room!” she shouted over her shoulder as she sprinted out of the Great Hall.
“There is something not quite right about Rose Nymphadora Weasley,” muttered Severus, and Albus couldn’t tell whether he had said it with his mind or mouth.
“Nymphadora?” Daegan asked. “Surely that’s not a real name!”
‘Mouth,’ thought Albus.
‘What?’ asked Severus.
‘Nothing.’ “Nymphadora was something like, oh gosh, my second cousin once removed through marriage or something like that. She preferred to be called by her last name, Tonks, but Rosie Tonks Weasley sounds a bit odd, don’t you think? Tonks died in the Battle of Hogwarts, a few months after Teddy was born. Teddy is Tonks’s and Remus Lupin’s son. Hugo, Rosie’s younger brother, is called Hugo Lupin Weasley. Teddy’s nineteen now and my cousin Victoire is going out with him.”
“But aren’t they like second cousins once removed through marriage or something like that?” asked Dillon.
Severus shrugged. “Try telling them that at Christmas when they’re under the mistletoe.” He pulled a face and added, “They probably wouldn’t hear you, though. The Nargles will have come in and infected their brains or something by then.”
“Nargles?” asked Dillon, laughing. “OK, you got me there. What on earth are Nargles?”
“Ever read The Quibbler?” Albus asked. “Edited by Xenophelius Lovegood. His daughter Luna is a family friend. Her son Lorcan is over there at the Ravenclaw table and his brother Lysander is ten.”
“How big is your family?” demanded Daegan.
Albus and Severus laughed as they explained to a fascinated Dillon and Daegan about their multiple aunts, uncles, cousins et cetera that all somehow managed to fit into The Burrow. Severus suspected it was enlarged by magic each time a new Weasley was born. “Then Malfoy won’t have anything to laugh at, once The Burrow is the same size as Malfoy Manor. We’ll show him.”
“Yeah … hey, look, he’s coming over now!” said Albus, pointing at the Slytherin table, where Malfoy and Gaunt were standing and looking at the Potters and their friends.
Daegan, Dillon, Severus and Albus watched as Malfoy made his way over to the Gryffindor table. “What do you want?” Daegan asked him scathingly. Evidently the incident in the train had not been forgotten by anyone.
Malfoy glared at Daegan. “I’m not here for you, Mudblood. Potter,” he said, turning to Albus and Severus. “Which of you is a better dueller?”
Albus glanced at Severus. Neither of them had ever duelled each other, and they didn’t know any fighting magic apart from Expelliarmus. “We’re about equal,” supplied Severus.
“Meet me tonight, in the Defence classroom at eleven. Bring your wands – and make sure you say goodbye to your friends first.” Sneering, Malfoy left to go back to the Slytherin table. Gaunt glared at Albus before sauntering after Malfoy.
“You’re not going to go, are you?” asked Dillon immediately. “You know you’ll get caught. He said the Defence classroom – what do you think Keane would do if he caught you?”
“Judging by the way he went on in class, he’ll probably just give us more spells to use against each other,” said Severus. “Obviously we’re going to go! Yeah, Al?”
“Yeah,” said Albus. “Can you imagine Malfoy’s face when we actually turn up? I mean, it was obvious he never expected us to come.”
“Can I come and watch?” asked Daegan. “I’ve never seen a wizard duel before.”
Albus snorted. “It won’t be a duel. None of us know enough spells. Malfoy’s in our Defence class and we can hardly use gnomes against each other can we? Keane hasn’t taught us any offensive spells yet.”
“What are you going to do then?” asked Daegan as they walked up to Gryffindor tower.
“Dunno,” said Albus, shrugging. “Send insults at each other and wave our wands around.”
That night, at quarter to eleven, Albus and Severus got up and left the Gryffindor tower. ‘This would be so much easier if we had Dad’s cloak,’ grumbled Severus.
‘Or if we knew Disillusionment Charms,’ agreed Albus. ‘Still, it’s pretty dark and we’re wearing black.’
Albus could just make out Severus’s shrug as they walked up to the Defence classroom. After a pause, Severus pushed open the door and they stepped inside.
There was nobody there.
A single torch burned in a bracket on the wall. It illuminated most of the classroom and Albus saw the chairs and desks exactly as they had been in the lesson. Malfoy was nowhere to be seen.
“Where is he?” Severus said angrily, out loud, and there was a jubilant shout from the corridor.
“We’ve got ‘em! Come on, Billy, they’re in there! Get ‘em!”
It was the voice of the caretaker, Howard Perry. Billy was the large black rat that Perry kept and used to chase out naughty students. (Albus had found that when his cousins said Perry was nice, they were all lying.)
There was a scratching sound on the floor as the door to the classroom opened a crack. Albus and Severus immediately ducked down under the desks, each wondering what to do.
‘The door to the supply cupboard!’ thought Albus. Severus agreed and the two of them sprinted towards the small door, shielding their faces so that Perry couldn’t see them. They burst into it and through the door that led into the next classroom. From there they ran out into the corridor. Luckily Perry and Billy were both inside the first classroom and Severus and Albus sprinted past and ran until they reached the Gryffindor tower.
“Felix – Felicis,” gasped Albus. The Fat Lady raised an eyebrow but swung forward to let them in anyway.
The common room was deserted. The fire was burning low in the grate, casting wildly dancing shadows around the room. It looked eerie, and to make it even spookier there wasn’t a sound except for Albus’ and Severus’s ragged breathing.
‘Let’s go to bed,’ thought Albus.
Without a (spoken) word, the twins walked up the stairs to their dormitory. Albus could hear Fraser and Patrick’s snoring but from Daegan’s bed came an odd snuffling sound. Slowly he walked towards his friend’s bed, ready to pull apart the hangings, when-
‘What are you doing, Al?’
‘Nothing, Sev,’ said Albus. He quickly walked over to his own bed and got inside it, falling asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
“I bet he got that trick from his dad,” said Severus in Transfiguration the next day. “Remember the time that dad first saw Fluffy, it was because Draco challenged him to a duel and never showed, and then he told Filch? That’s exactly what happened today.”
“Only, you guys didn’t run into a massive three-headed dog guarding a ridiculously important thing that was being sought out by Voldemort,” said Rose, grinning.
“It was almost the same,” said Severus, waving his wand absentmindedly. His pencil, which he meant to be turning into a stick insect, gave a violent jerk, grew three legs and a tail and jumped off the desk and scurried out of sight. “Oops?” Severus tried. “Professor Ibbotson? Um, I need a new pencil.”
Ibbotson rolled her eyes and took a pencil out of the box, handing it over to Severus. “Be more careful with this one,” she warned him. “On you go.”
“Oh! Um – Scipincello!” Severus waved his wand dramatically and poked Daegan in the eye. “Sorry!”
The pencil did the same thing as the last one and scurried around the classroom, followed by squeaks and squeals. Ibbotson sighed and walked up to the front of the classroom.
“For your homework,” she said, “I want you to practise this spell. Scipincello,” she said, and all the pencils in the front row turned to perfect stick insects. Then the bell rang and they all trouped out of Transfiguration and across the lawns to Herbology, where Albus handed in his rushed essay on the Backwards Stanlp. He hoped it was enough as he sat down to listen to Neville give a lecture. At the end of it his hand was sore from writing.
That night in the common room Rose came up to Albus, who was doing homework, and silently handed him a copy of The Evening Prophet. She shook her head slightly and opened it to page thirteen.
Hogsmeade Break-in Committed by
Mysterious ‘Lord Alpha’, read the title. Albus gulped and continued reading.
Last night at 10:36PM, the Hogsmeade branch of
Honeydukes was broken into. Nobody was in the
shop but the owner, Theodore Hughes, lives in the
flat above and heard noises. He walked into the
shop to find nothing stolen but the front door open
and a lot of sweets knocked off their shelves.
‘I could hear someone moving around in the
storeroom, so I went to have a look,’ said Theodore
to one of our reporters. ‘I opened the door and saw a
figure in black. He was hunched down, running his
hands over the floor. When he saw me he lifted up
his wand and pointed it. Next thing I knew, I was
lying on the ground surrounded by my next-door
According to Hogsmeade villagers, a man
in black dragged the unconscious Theodore out-
side the shop and propped him up on the wall. He
then proceeded to write on the wall of Honeydukes,
‘I am Lord Alpha. I am the next Voldemort. Fear me.’
Underneath this were an eye and the letters MIM.
What does this mean and what will the Aurors do
about it? So far, the Ministry appear to be doing
nothing. They have declined to comment and are
ignoring our reporters. The Ministry will not
answer the questions of the public. What is going
Albus closed the paper and looked up at Rose. “‘I am the next Voldemort’?”
Rose nodded. “The thing is, I can’t work out whether it’s for real or not. Lord Alpha does sound like someone who’s serious, but it could all be someone’s stupid idea of a joke.”
“But knocking out a man for a joke?” asked Severus sceptically. He had read the article over Albus’s shoulder. “That’s a bit much, don’t you think?”
“I suppose…” said Rose thoughtfully.
Albus gasped. “That eye! The eye and the letters MIM! That was what the person who stopped the train had on his arm! Remember, I pointed it out and you all thought MIM stood for – stood for his mum’s name or something-”
“Oh, I remember,” said Dillon. “Hey, did the Prophet ever do an article on that?”
“If they did, we didn’t see it,” said Daegan. “But back to this Lord Alpha guy, do you think he’s genuine? The Daily Prophet obviously doesn’t. I mean, if they did it would be front-page stuff. It is a bit weird, though, how the Ministry aren’t commenting on it.”
“How do you know all this stuff, Daegan?” asked Rose. “You sound like you really understand the media – which is practically impossible.”
Daegan shrugged. “My aunt and uncle are both journalists. They always tell me stuff about how people write newspapers. I guess some of it stuck.”
“But anyway, we all know how stupid the Ministry are about stuff like this. I mean, with Voldemort they never put anything about him in at all! First Lord Alpha tried to stop the Hogwarts train – probably to kidnap someone or something,” said Albus excitedly “, and now he broke into Honeydukes. I reckon he’s for real and the Ministry just doesn’t want us to worry.”
“Why Honeydukes, though?” asked Dillon. “I mean, there’s a big difference between trying to ‘kidnap someone’, as Al said, and stealing some sweets.”
“Maybe he was hungry?” suggested Daegan.
“But nothing was stolen… the passageway!” said Severus, jumping to his feet. “In the Honeydukes storeroom, there’s a secret passageway to Hogwarts!”
“In the storeroom…” Albus grabbed the paper and opened it. “‘I could hear someone moving around in the storeroom’!”
“Lord Alpha’s trying to get to Hogwarts,” said Dillon, scared. “His kidnap attempt is still going on.”
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