Chapter 21 : A Talk With Japser
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In the first class the next day, Charms, Albus discovered Professor Selwyn heard about Albus’s successful binding of Professor Fuchs’s dummy. She asked for Albus to show her the spell without speaking, and Albus succeeded. Beaming, Selwyn gave Albus full participation points for the day, her scoring system apart from exams and homework.
“Phenomenal!” she said. “Phenomenal!”
Albus still didn’t understand. Despite investigating a dark wizard, Albus, too afraid to ask a simple question to his charm teacher, stayed silent. Why? Why could he do this? Somehow, he sensed its oddness. It didn’t make sense. How come Albus took forever learning a normal spell, but able to perform this with ease?
Several days passed, and life passed on as well. They achieved so much in the last few days, and now they became blocked. They didn’t even do anything. The four of them carried on with life, thinking.
In the meantime, Gryffindor started preparing for their match with Ravenclaw, as Slytherin began preparing for their match with Ravenclaw as well. Because of recent snow (the one disadvantage of having Hogwarts near the mountains) the scheduling became messed up and the two matches occurred one weekend apart. Three different teams tried to access the field, so Gryffindor held practice, although not quite as frequently as they should since Ravenclaw and Slytherin needed the field as well.
The match with Slytherin and Ravenclaw commenced first. Ravenclaw’s team amazed everyone this year. It seemed as though all of the Hogwarts teams except Slytherin put together fantastic teams. Because of this, Ravenclaw crushed Slytherin, more than Gryffindor did. The only game left, Ravenclaw versus Gryffindor, determined who moved forward to face Hufflepuff in the cup.
A few days before the match, Albus, David, and Rose ate dinner near the end of the day. Art was doing homework, or so Albus thought. Al found himself wrong, for he eating some pasta when Art came running into the great hall, eager about something.
“Guys!” Art said once he approached their table. Art swung his leg over the bench and sat, squeezed in between Albus and David. Glancing around at the crowdedness of the table, he added, “I need to tell you something, but let’s go up to the dormitory. We won’t be bothered there.” Art departed as quickly as he came, and Albus gave perplexed looks at Rose and David.
“What is up with him?” Albus asked
“Did he figure out how to get demiguise hair?” Rose asked excitedly. “That’s it, isn’t it? Only thing I can think of.”
“Is it the ultimate strategy to win the Quidditch cup?” David exclaimed excitedly. “It has to be that!"
“I really don't think-" Albus began, but he spoke to air. Albus sped out of the great hall, intent upon catching his friends. Albus climbed upstairs and glanced around the dormitory. Rose sat down next to Art on his bed, and David stood up, leaning on his own bed.
“So what is it?” Albus asked. “What did you find out?” Art cleared his throat and talked.
"Well, you know there’s this saying, you know, people who are quiet are really good listeners? Or something of that sort?”
"Yeah..." Albus muttered, wondering the course of the conversation.
"Well, usually I'm pretty quiet so I overhear a lot of conversations, so I have learned about somebody who could help us. There's this Slytherin boy, a fourth year. His name is Jasper. He sort of- I guess a wizarding black market associate, if you wizards know what a black market is- like he'll get you either rare or illegal stuff in return for money."
"How'd you find this out?" David said, looking revolted.
"I'm a good listener, I heard a few boys talking outside the Great Hall, no idea who they are," Art explained. "They weren't discussing about getting anything, just about Jasper and what he does."
"But you said you'd seen him," Rose said. "How'd you find out who he was?"
"Easy. He's the only person in the school named Jasper."
"So are you proposing that we ask Jasper to get us demiguise hair?" Albus asked.
Art nodded. "My thoughts exactly."
Rose cleared her throat. "I'm sorry to ruin your plan, but don't you think Jasper and others will find it a little suspicious that first year Gryffindors are going to him?" Hmm. Unfortunate.
"He's a really quiet boy. I don't think he'll tell. Also, we could ask him outside the Great Hall, where not many people will notice."
"Good plan," Albus said quickly, before Rose could interrupt with another concern. "Right, so, before or after breakfast in a few days maybe?"
"What's wrong with tomorrow?" Rose asked, looking around at Albus. He stared at her. Could Rose be asking that? Not knowing, or caring? Sometimes Albus didn't get his cousin at all.
"Rose, tomorrow is the Quidditch match," David said uncertainly, staring at Rose as if he'd never seen her before. "You're not telling me you forgot about that?"
"Well, how come that means we can’t do it on that day? The Quidditch match doesn’t take place during breakfast, silly.”
“Rose, trust me. Wait one more day,” Albus said. “Besides, who knows, I could even be playing that day.”
“Even so, all minds have to be directed towards Quidditch,” David interjected. “No distractions.”
“Fine,” Rose muttered, defeated. “One day.”
The next day proved to be a nerve-wracking day for all Gryffindors. If Gryffindor won by enough points, they would go to meet Hufflepuff in the Quidditch Cup, and hopefully win. If they lost, or even won by less than thirty points, Gryffindor didn’t have a chance for the Quidditch Cup. They wouldn’t even make it to the Final Match.
The players, all in peak condition, could play that day. Albus joined Art, David and Rose in the stands, as they waited for the game to start. Louis commentated again.
“On the Ravenclaw team, we have Alexander Stretton, Vixen Burrow and Grant Davies as chasers. Hogwarts seems to have phenomenal chasers this year, with Ravenclaw’s chasers proving to be higher than the Preece brothers in Hufflepuff, which is a spectacular feat. Gryffindor has pretty good chasers as well, but let’s just hope they prove equal to the team Ravenclaw has pulled together this year. It looks like it will be either Hufflepuff and Gryffindor competing for the cup, or Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.
“We also have Ravenclaw players Carina Davies, sister of Grant Davies, as keeper. Then we have their two beaters, Bilius Selwyn and Roger Green, and their seeker, Charity Tao.” The seeker, a short Asian girl, darted quickly around the field, her eyes flickering.
“Right, so now we have Gryffindor players, lovely Gryffindors, I hope you cream the Ravenclaws- Yes, I know I’m not supposed to be biased, but hey, I’m a Gryffindor. I’d have to be nuts in order not to be biased. Anyhow… Chasers Van Malden, Potter, and Mikk of Gryffindor are taking the field, as well as Weasley and Romo, our smashing beaters- get the joke, smashing? Ha ha… and Peakes as keeper and Renehan as seeker. And now we go over to the Fred and Louis show of Quidditch statistics, and our new Ravenclaw buddy, Newt Chang. Bless him. Newt?” A little Asian boy with thick glasses took the megaphone from Louis.
“I have calculated the statistics of today’s game by measuring previous performances by Hogwarts teams. I have also calculated the individual scores of players compared to other Quidditch players at Hogwarts, and then the team overall. Using the data, I can conclude that Gryffindor has a 53.59% chance of beating Ravenclaw, and so Ravenclaw has a 46.41% of winning. However, there is a 43.04% chance, according to my calculations, of Gryffindor being able to get enough points to face Hufflepuff in the Quidditch final. So there is a 10.56% chance of Gryffindor winning but not getting enough points to go to the Quidditch Final. Also, if Gryffindor goes to the Quidditch final, there is a 42.29% chance of them beating Hufflepuff. Meanwhile, if Ravenclaw went to the cup, they would have a 39.64% chance of beating Hufflepuff. So, as of this moment, Gryffindor has a 18.2% chance of winning the cup. Meanwhile, Ravenclaw has a 56% chance of going onto the Quidditch fin-“
“-Sorry Newt,” Louis interrupted. “The statistics are fascinating and all, but the game has started and the Ravenclaws have already made two goals. All the Hogwarts chasers are FANTASTIC this year. Quidditch historians have been saying that this generation has the best Quidditch players ever. Okay, okay, now to the match- Gryffindor just made goal, brilliant job by Van Malden- and now Ravenclaw has just made another goal…” Albus groaned. Gryffindor and Ravenclaw both possessed skilled teams. Which would win?
“… Fortune seems to be going against the Gryffindors today, as Ravenclaw is in top form with, it appears, a strategy. Every time the Gryffindors even get close to the goal, the two beaters immediately fire beaters at the chasers- poor Roxanne and Brad have to dive down to defend each time- with, surprisingly, their seeker darting in and out of the chasers, befuddling them, and the Ravenclaw chasers practically attacking the Gryffindor ones. Well, it certainly is working, quite efficiently as well. They do say Ravenclaws are wise…”
Ravenclaw scored goal after goal with their strategy. Every time the Gryffindors caught on, and tried something different, Ravenclaw just edited their strategy a little bit just enough to throw the Gryffindors off again. This match had been planned very, very well. At the beginning of every game, Gryffindor barged in after lots of practice, hoping for the best. Since when had Gryffindor had a strategy such as this? Never. And the Ravenclaws knew that as well.
“… Now Ravenclaw has scored another goal, so it’s now 150-30 Ravenclaw. And so Gryffindor back in possession again, with Potter attempting to dodge the other chasers and- wait! Olivia’s hurtling towards the ground- she must have spotted the snitch! And she pulls forward… Renehan has caught the snitch! I repeat, Renehan has caught the snitch! Gryffindor wins!” Albus grinned, and gave David a high five. But- the depressing thought just crossed his mind- would it be enough? Did Gryffindor secure enough points to go onto the final?
“Gryffindor wins, 180-150. But- wait- Gryffindor did not get enough points to go onto the Quidditch final! Gryffindor won, but Ravenclaw goes onto the final!” Now the Gryffindor cheers diminished, and became replaced by Ravenclaw cheers. That must be a Hogwarts record, surely?
The common room became dismal once the Gryffindors trudged up there. People plopped down onto the chairs, defeated. The common room became full of people sulking. The curtains draped across the windows, frequently bright, sagged and drooped towards the floor.
Albus laid down on his bed, his head pointed towards the ceiling. Silence. Except…
“Albus,” Rose said poking him rather annoyingly. “Stop it, we have stuff to do.”
“Tomorrow,” David grunted from the other side of the room. David laid down.
“I can’t believe you two,” Rose exclaimed, rather angrily. “You do realize we have to do important stuff, don’t you?”
“It’s Quidditch, Rose,” Art said, walking over towards her. “What did you expect?”
“At least to be able to think about something other than Quidditch,” Rose said. “Come on, Albus, I really can’t believe you. You’re insane. You stumble upon this dark wizard twice and you’re totally disinterested?”
“I’m interested,” Albus muttered. “I just don’t face things head on like you do. I prefer to… get distracted.” Albus intended to explain how he felt scared and wanted to be at home with his father running his fingers through Al’s hair. That never came out of Albus’s mouth.
“Come on, all three of you!” Rose said. “We should head down to the great hall so we can find Jasper and bargain with him. Stop being a grouch. Oh, and all of you, bring your money. Not sure how much we’ll need, but bring all of it.”
“Right-o,” David sighed. Albus and Art nodded.
“How much money do you think we’ll need?” Art asked, rummaging through his trunk.
“Dunno,” Albus said. “Depends how rare demiguise hair is, I guess. But we better bring a lot, since Rose spent most of her money on the other ingredients.”
The three of them went inside the still depressing common room, but Rose motioned them to go outside, out into the corridor.
“That’s better,” Rose said, once they stood in a deserted corridor. “That common room was just full of people sulking about the match. Don’t they have anything else to do besides to grumble around?”
“No,” Albus replied. “Sulking about Quidditch is a good use of time.” Rose sighed, deciding not even to try and argue.
“How much have we got?” Rose asked, as they pooled their money into Rose’s hand. She cupped the money in one of her hands, and the other shifted through it. “Looks like we’ve got about twenty-five galleons. Not too bad. So keep that in mind, that we can pay twenty-five galleons, but let’s try to get it cheaper if we can.”
“So… what do we do now?” Art asked.
“I suppose we hover outside the great hall until we spot Jasper, I guess,” Rose said, slipping their twenty-five galleons into the pockets in her robes. “But Art, you’ll have to keep a good lookout, since you’re the only one knows what Jasper looks like.” Art nodded, acknowledging that he understood.
“Come on, let’s go right outside the Great Hall.”
“But it isn’t even dinnertime yet,” Albus protested.
“Jasper eats early,” Art replied, before Rose even opened her mouth. “Come on.” They walked towards the great hall, with Albus and David dragging behind.
“Why are the two of them so serious?” David whispered in Al’s ear.
“Well, it is a pretty serious matter.”
“But I’m terrible at being serious,” David said. “Sometimes I’ll just start randomly start laughing when a teacher is talking.”
“I know,” Albus said, grinning at the fond memory when David burst out laughing at Astronomy the other day while Professor Sinistra told them where to find the constellation of Orion. “Why were you laughing?”
“Not sure. I think it had something to do with a strand of her hair or something.”
“A strand of hair?”
“Boys!” Rose exclaimed, snapping her fingers in front of their faces. They had arrived at the great hall. “Concentrate.”
“It’s okay,” Art said to Rose. “I’ll watch, you guys can talk. It might be a little while.”
They stood outside of the great hall and talked for a little bit, about a variety of things. Albus and David debated a little bit about Quidditch, but soon changed the conversation.
“Can you believe Easter break is only a few weeks away?” David asked. “It’s awesome. I don’t think we’ll get to leave school, since we couldn’t for Christmas, but I mean, no school. That’s great.”
“Yeah. I wish I could visit home.” He missed his mum, dad, and even annoying little Lily. “I’ll get to see them in the summer though.”
“Speaking of that-” Art began, but Rose interrupted.
“Art, you’re supposed to be watching!”
“I am!” Art interjected. I can watch and talk at the same time.” Art faced away from them, pointed towards the entrance to the Great Hall. “Anyway, what I’ve been thinking is, what is Flitwick going to do about the summer? He can’t keep Albus here forever. Al is going home to his dad for the summer.” All four of them stayed in silence for a few minutes as they pondered this. None of them originally thought of that. Summer seemed ages away.
Albus spoke. “Maybe Zajecfer will be finished whatever he’s doing here by then. He’ll leave. Think about it, if he leaves, there’s almost no chance of anyone finding him.”
“But what is he doing?” David asked. Albus waited. After an eternity of silence, staying there with worried and glum faces, Art spoke up.
“I see Jasper. He’s here, about to enter the Great Hall.” Albus straightened up, and Art pointed to where Jasper stood right outside the Great Hall.
“Ready?” Albus asked, looking around at his friends. He received nods in return.
They walked forward, all four of them, in perfect step with each other through the crowds of bustling students, not having to dodge or step out of anyone’s way. They approached the Slytherin boy, the solver of their problems.
Once they stood nearly two feet away from Jasper, Albus came to a stop. Jasper’s eyes darted around, quickly surveying the four of them. They must seem pretty pathetic to him, being first years. Jasper shuffled through the pile of books in his hands, until he emerged with a notebook and a quill.
“What do you need?” Jasper asked, straightforward and blunt. Jasper obviously did this type of thing often.
“Um, I need five strands of demiguise hair,” Albus told him. Jasper nodded, and jotted the information down in his notebook.
“Demiguise hair is rare, although not illegal or impossible, and you only need five strands so I’d say… about twenty galleons is what I need.” Albus gulped. Did they even have twenty galleons? He forgot what number Rose told him. But… could Albus make a bargain? Could this be a bargaining moment?
“Ten galleons,” Albus said.
“Twenty,” Jasper responded.
“Fifteen? We’ll meet in the middle.”
Jasper nodded in agreement. “Fifteen it is.” Rose pulled out an assortment of galleons, sickles, and knuts, and she counted until she reached fifteen galleons. She handed it over to Jasper.
“When should we have it by?” Rose asked.
“Not sure, a few weeks maybe. But first, I need one of your names.”
“Albus Potter,” he said, regretting the words that spilled out of his mouth. Jasper must find it suspicious that Harry Potter’s son wanted demiguise hair, but he scribbled the name down. Jasper must not ask many questions.
After Jasper left, Albus found himself standing there, staring at nothing. That it? The bargaining part scared him, but it seemed much easier than Al thought.
“Albus, you were good!” David exclaimed, punching him in the shoulder.
“Yeah,” Art said in awe.
“Um…” Albus stammered. What should he say? Thanks?
“C’mon, let’s eat,” Rose groaned, yanking Albus jerkily the arm. “I’m hungry.”
“I thought boys are usually the hungry ones,” Al muttered under his breath. To his surprise, Rose heard him.
“You got that wrong.”
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