September passed quickly – with no new news on Lord Alpha – and soon it came to October and Halloween. Even for the first years the amount of homework was increasing, which meant that Albus and his friends had less and less down time after classes. On the upside, it meant the Quidditch season would be starting soon, as well as the Halloween feast, which Albus couldn’t wait for. According to his family, there would be a whole lot of sweet foods and a lot less savoury stuff than usual.
One night at dinner, the Friday before the first Hogsmeade visit, Dwyer stood up and held out his hands for silence.
“As we all know, at the end of the month is Halloween, so I was thinking of doing something Muggle-ish this year. On Halloween night after dinner you may go round in groups and knock on all the staff room doors. After doing a song or poem or joke or something, the teacher will give you a sweet. Make sure you bring a bag to keep your sweets in. This is what the Muggles call guising and I and the staff think that it will be a fun night. As well as that I will ask each Prefect to remain outside their common room so that you can go to them too. After you've finished guising, I have organised a dance for the fourth, fifth and sixth years at quarter past ten. It’s not compulsory, but I’d advise you to go if you’re old enough. And, of course, costumes are expected from everyone!”
After this announcement, there was a lot of talking and excited whispers in the common room and corridors. Albus was actually glad he didn’t have to go to the dance – dancing was not his strong point – and instead he and his friends concentrated on costumes. Rose immediately decided to go as a china doll – she said she was going to paint cracks on her face and arms and legs – and Dillon decided on a ragdoll. Albus and Severus wanted to go as different things – things as different as the sun and moon – so when Maya suggested a giant and goblin, Severus was seriously considering it.
“No way,” argued Albus. “I am not dressing up as a wrinkly little thing and walking around on my knees for the entire night.”
“Well I can’t be the goblin, I’m taller than you,” said Severus. “Come on, Al, please.”
“Guess what Dominique’s going as?” said Victoire as she sat down, grinning.
“A Veela,” laughed Victoire. “No joke! I don’t know what Mum will say, but she probably won’t find out. I’m going as a kind of mutant-thing. Have you guys decided yet?”
“No,” said Albus. “We want to go as something completely different.”
“Vampire and werewolf!” said Victoire immediately. “They’re huge enemies. Hate each other’s guts.”
“Brilliant,” Albus grinned. “Thanks Victoire.”
“No problem!” said Victoire. She stood up and went to join her seventh year friends.
“Has your dad got back to you yet?” Dillon asked Albus as soon as Victoire left. They had sent a letter to Albus’ dad about Lord Alpha. Seeing as Harry was Deputy Head Auror, Albus and Severus figured he might know something that hadn’t been printed in the Prophet.
“No,” said Severus, “but we only owled him yesterday. I mean, not even Al’s amazing owl can fly that fast.” Severus didn’t like the fact that Albus’s owl was half phoenix, and on top of that Septimus had been chosen over Namath which made him even more annoyed.
“Just because Sep can fly faster than Namath doesn’t mean you have to start this vendetta against him-”
“Guys, please stop arguing. Can we stop talking about Lord Alpha? We need to get our costumes ready for Halloween!” said Daegan.
“Yeah, guys, drop it, at least til Uncle Harry gets back to us,” said Rose. “Daegan, what are you dressing up as? Have you decided yet?”
“Oh, um, I…” Daegan stammered. “I have to go visit my Gran on Halloween. She’s not well and I, uh, have to go visit her. Sorry.”
“Oh no, it’s fine,” said Albus. “Is she a Muggle?”
“Yeah,” nodded Daegan. “She’s got, um, pneumonia. You probably haven’t heard of it. It’s a Muggle disease. It’s not fatal or anything, but I still have to go see her, and then I’m going guising at my house.”
“Well, I hope she gets better,” said Dillon. “That’s a shame you have to go on Halloween.”
The next morning, the post arrived. Albus looked up hopefully and to his delight saw Septimus circling overhead. Slowly the owl lowered and landed neatly beside Albus’ bowl of cornflakes. Albus took the letter from his leg and opened it. Severus, Rose, Dillon and Daegan leaned in to read it over his shoulder.
Dear Al, Sev and Rosie,
I can’t tell you much in this letter, just in case something happens to Septimus. This is a highly confidential case, and I really shouldn’t be telling you anyway. But I decided I can tell you something. I’ll be looking out for your reverse.
Love, Dad/Uncle Harry
“Your reverse?” asked Dillon. “What does that mean?”
“He’s talking about the two-way mirrors he got us last Christmas. They’re two mirrors that are connected. Me and Sev have one between us, and I’ve got one with dad. I’ll go get it now – do you think we should do it in the dormitory?” asked Albus. “It’s a bit crowded in here and anyone could hear.”
The group nodded yes and they quietly walked up to the boys’ dormitory. Albus fetched his two-way mirror and made everyone except Rose and Severus stand back, so Harry wouldn’t think the news was getting outside the family.
“Harry Potter,” said Albus confidently, and looked down at his reflection. There were only slight differences – the face in the mirror was older, the eyes wiser, and, of course, there was the lightning-bolt shaped scar upon Harry’s head.
“Hello, dad,” smiled Albus.
Harry’s face crinkled into a smile. “Hello Al, Sev, Rosie. How are you getting on with school?”
“Fine, dad,” said Severus. “What about Lord Alpha?”
Harry sighed, his face serious. “I really shouldn’t be telling you this.” He glanced around as if to check there was no one there. He leaned closer, as if that would make any difference, and lowered his voice slightly. “OK, here’s what I know. I’m not on the case, so it’s not much, but Shacklebolt was talking about it too loudly yesterday. From what I could gather, Lord Alpha is the real deal. He seems to think he’s related to Voldemort – through the Gaunts or something – but-”
“Of course!” yelled Rose, smacking her forehead. “Gaunt! I knew I’d heard the name before. Morfin Gaunt was Voldemort’s uncle!”
“What do you mean, Rosie?” asked Harry. “Has someone been talking about the Gaunts at school?”
“There’s a boy in our year called Omega Gaunt,” said Albus. “Hey, Omega, as in Alpha and Omega. Maybe they’re related in something. Anyway, Gaunt hangs around with Malfoy, Goyle and this mean boy called Robertson. They tried to fight us on the train but Rosie’s cat – you know, Midnight – scared them off. It was pretty funny actually.”
“There’s a Gaunt in your year?” Harry frowned. “I’ll need to tell Shacklebolt about that… And he’s friends with Scorpius Malfoy did you say?”
“Yes, yes dad, but what about Lord Alpha?” said Severus impatiently.
“Oh, right,” said Harry, though he still looked troubled. “Um, Lord Alpha. He’s trying to start some kind of next-generation Death Eater thing, and the eye and MIM are their version of the Dark Mark. We have no idea what it means though. We’ve got a couple of code-crackers working on the acronym. They haven’t had any luck so far. The Hogsmeade thing is the only thing he’s done so far, but we’ve no idea why he was in Honeydukes of all places-”
“Dad!” exclaimed Albus. “Seriously? Twenty years out of Hogwarts and you really don’t remember?”
“There’s a secret passageway to Hogwarts in the Hogsmeade storeroom!” Severus finished for him. “That’s what Alpha was doing there, trying to get to Hogwarts.”
“And Al has a theory on the train-stop thing that happened at the start of term,” said Rose.
“Ah, well, do you remember when those people hijacked the train?” said Albus excitedly. Finally he could tell someone who would understand and be able to do something. “I saw one of the people’s wrists. He had the tattoo – the eye and the MIM.”
“That’s interesting – and of course, the passageway. I can’t believe I forgot. But that means Alpha’s still trying to get to the Hogwarts kids…” Harry froze, and in the background Albus could hear footsteps. “I’ve got to go.”
Harry disappeared from the mirror and Albus was looking at himself. Just to make sure, he winked – the reflection winked back – and tilted his head to the right. The reflection tilted its head too.
Albus looked up at Daegan and Dillon. “Well?” he asked. “What do you think about it?”
Dillon shrugged. “Your dad was obviously very surprised at hearing there was a Gaunt in school. Sorry, but what do the Gaunts have to do with You – with Voldemort?”
“There was this family, called the Gaunts, who were the last direct descendants of Salazar Slytherin, who founded the Slytherin House at Hogwarts. Merope Gaunt, who was a Squib, fell in love with a Muggle, Tom Riddle. She used a love potion on him, and became pregnant with Voldemort. She died after he was born, and called him Tom Marvolo Riddle, after Voldemort’s father and grandfather. He was left in an orphanage and was really mean to the other kids. When he found out about his family, he killed the Muggle side, stole a ring from Morfin – Merope’s sister and his uncle – and then got him sent to Azkaban, which is wizard prison, Daegan.” Albus took a breath. “According to dad, Alpha thinks he’s related to Morfin somehow, which is nuts.”
“I think Alpha is nuts,” said Daegan heartily. “I’m not sure I got all of that, but I understood most of it. So, if Alpha’s right, would that make Omega Gaunt the last descendant of Slytherin?”
“Yeah, I suppose it would,” said Rose. “I bet he’s a Parseltongue. That is, if he really is a Gaunt.”
“That would be cool, wouldn’t it, being able to talk to animals,” said Severus. “Don’t you think, Daegan?”
Daegan shuffled his feet and look at the ground. “Um, yeah, I guess it would.” He said it as a half-question, as if looking for the right answer.
“It would make Care of Magical Creatures loads easier,” said Severus fervently, unaware of Daegan’s discomfort. “I know we don’t do it yet, but I will, and by third year I plan to be able to talk to animals.”
“You can talk to Al, can’t you?” said Dillon with a grin. “I mean, that’s a start.”
“Hey!” yelled Albus and lightly punched Dillon on the shoulder. “Speaking of animals, Sev, I’m being the werewolf for Halloween.”
“All right, fine. I wanted to be a vampire anyway. The dripping blood, the fangs – absolute coolness,” said Severus enthusiastically. He jumped on Rose and pretended to bite her neck. “You’re a vampire now!”
Rose pushed Severus off. “Get off, Sev. Ew, I have Potter slobber on my neck.”
“Where are we going to get a wolf costume, anyway?” Albus asked.
“A wolf?” Daegan asked sharply. “You want to get a wolf?”
“No!” Albus laughed. “A wolf costume. Or a werewolf costume, it doesn’t really matter. What’s the difference, anyway?”
“Werewolves have bigger tails, or fluffier ones, I can’t remember,” answered Daegan immediately, “and possibly longer snouts. You know, I can’t actually remember, but it’s something like that.”
“How do you know all this stuff?” asked Rose. Albus thought she sounded slightly suspicious, but he couldn’t be sure.
Daegan shrugged. “I was in Flourish and Blott’s in Diagon Alley and I saw a book on vampires and werewolves. I thought it looked quite good, so I bought it. I guess I managed to remember some of the stuff.”
“Ah.” Rose nodded, but she didn’t look entirely satisfied. She watched Daegan as they walked back down into the common room, and this time Albus definitely saw suspicion in her eyes. “Did you know it’s the full moon on Halloween, Daegan? That’ll work quite well with Al’s werewolf costume, don’t you think?”
Daegan looked at Rose out of the corner of his eyes. “Um, yeah, I did know that,” he said oddly. Then, brightly and fake-sounding, “Hey Al, couldn’t you ask James to get you something from Hogsmeade? Like, grey clothes and maybe a wolf mask if he can find one.”
“Yeah, I could. Thanks for the idea, Daegan,” said Al. “He could get Sev a cape, and Rosie and Dillon some paint…”
“You’d have to give him the money for this, of course,” said James as he sat himself down at their table. “You were planning on that, right?”
“Of course,” said Rose.
“As long as you don’t spend it on other stuff, like Lucy,” said Severus, raising an eyebrow.
“Well why wouldn’t I spend money on Lucy?” asked James. “She deserves it more than you do.”
Lucy Edison was a Ravenclaw third year who was going out with James. They had started going out a week ago.
“I don’t trust him…” said Albus.
“Promise on Dad’s, Mum’s and Lucy’s lives that you won’t waste our money and you will give us absolutely all of our change,” said Severus. “No, don’t promise, swear it.”
“Fine,” James rolled his eyes. “I swear on Dad’s, Mum’s and Lucy’s lives that I won’t waste your money and I will give you guys absolutely all of your change. Happy?”
“I suppose so,” said Albus.
“When’s the next Hogsmeade weekend?” asked Rose.
“Weekend before Halloween,” said James. “The notice went up yesterday.”
“So if I write you a list of stuff to get, do you think you could get it?” Rose asked.
“I could try,” James shrugged. “Depends on what the weather’s like. Not all the shops are open if it’s raining or freezing cold. I probably won’t go if it’s raining or freezing cold.”
“We’ll just have to hope for good weather, then,” said Dillon determinedly.
A/N: I've switched browser and suddenly my editing bar has come back! :) Thanks for reading this guys, please tell me what you think.