Chapter 22 : The Hidden Room
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Rose tried to make Albus useful. “Albus, can’t you start on that potion while we wait?” she asked, one day when they were sitting on couches in the common room. Albus was entertaining himself by lazily raising his wand and setting various pieces of parchment on fire. He hoped none of them were his homework. Rose was on the couch opposite him, reading a book. Like usual.
“No,” Albus snapped, who had already read the potion instructions. “There are different points that you have to do at different times. It doesn’t work like that; I can’t just stop for a few days while I wait for the demiguise hair. The timing must be very, very careful.”
“Fine,” Rose grumbled. “How about you figure out where to brew the potion?”
“Where?” Albus said blankly.
“Well, we can’t have it simmering and releasing smoke in your dormitory. We’ve already discussed this. And obviously you have nothing better to do.”
“Okay,” Albus mumbled. He didn’t have any ideas at the moment, so he decided to go to the greenhouses and see what Art was up to. Art loved that place, which baffled Al. The greenhouse stank. Still, it was better than sitting here being annoyed by Rose. David was off someplace, and Albus had no idea where. Probably the kitchens.
“I’m going to look around the school for ideas,” Albus lied, standing up.
“Okay,” Rose murmured, without looking up from her book. Her legs were sprawled across the couch, and a stack of pillows propped up her neck.
Albus wandered over to the massive wooden doors of the school, pushing them open and shivering in the blast of cool March air. He stepped out, wishing he’d thought to put on another layer. It was chilly, even though spring was coming.
Albus took the long, winding path down to the greenhouses. Along the way, he spotted smoke from Hagrid’s place, and he decided to stop by the hut. Hagrid eagerly greeted him, while Fang slobbered all over Albus. Hagrid poured some tea, and they had a short conversation about the most recent news at Hogwarts, like the upcoming exams. After a little bit, Al hugged Hagrid goodbye, and left.
Now approaching the greenhouses, Albus observed that the stench traveled pretty far. Regretting his decision to leave Hagrid’s, Albus stepped inside the greenhouse, trying to resist the impulse to pinch his nose. He didn’t want to look totally rude.
Art and Professor Longbottom were inside, putting some silver things around a horrible, gnarled looking plant. It had spikes, with its roots twisted in odd ways. The leaves weren’t even green; they were purple. However, Art seemed to be enjoying himself, humming as he stuck some silver lumps in the dirt surrounding the potted plant.
“Albus!” Professor Longbottom shouted, noticing Albus at last.
“Hey!” Art shouted, looking over at Albus. “Want to join?”
“Um, no thanks,” Albus said hastily. “What are you doing?”
“We’re sticking some manure from a unicorn in the dirt in order to stimulate its growth,” Art said simply, as though that was pretty normal.
“Um…” Albus said, at loss of what to say.
“Anyhow,” Longbottom said, snapping out of his phase, “How have you been? Anything going on with you, or your family?”
“Nothing much,” Albus said. Art glanced up and gave Albus a knowing look, before sticking his hands into the dirt again.
“Well, I expect you’ll start studying for your exams soon,” Longbottom absentmindedly. “I know it’s a few months away still, but time will go by faster than you know it. In a blink of an eye, your entire life can change. For the better or the worse.” Albus let this sink into his mind. Yes, the year was moving quickly. Only several months ago, he was a terrified little boy worried about Hogwarts, who had not even met David or Art. “Speaking of which, I probably need to start planning the exam,” Longbottom said, completely ruining the moment. “I suppose you two will be okay in here?” Quick as a flash, Longbottom left the greenhouse, presumably heading for his office. Albus strolled over to Art, who was pulling out one of the plant’s many roots.
“There’s usually more people here,” Art said. “Lindsay’s down here frequently, since she likes learning about all the different uses of plants. She’s fascinated about all the things the plants can do.”
“Lindsay Jones,” Art said. “She’s in our Herbology class, remember? A Hufflepuff?
“I’m not great with names…”
“Well, as long as you know the Gryffindor’s,” Art sighed. Albus nervously scratched his head. Truth was, Albus didn’t know all the Gryffindor’s. He was terrible with names. Besides himself, there was Albus, Art, David, Marc, and Rob, so at least he knew the boys. Then there was Rose, and Nicole, who tried out for the Quidditch team, and he was pretty sure there was a girl named Hannah and maybe another named Emma…
Albus decided it was safer just to change the topic.
“Do you actually like it in here?” Albus asked.
“Yes,” Art said, closing his eyes for a moment. “The warm, sweet scent of the Earth around you… the plants quivering in your wake… don’t you feel it? It’s magical.”
Albus looked around the greenhouse, which struck him as very un-magical. It was just a room with plants, but maybe others felt the same way about potions. Albus felt the potions classroom was magical. A potion was a miracle, simmering under the beautiful hot fire...
Art was done nearly half an hour later, which was a half an hour of boredom to Albus. They left the room swiftly and silently, and stepped into the beauty of the Hogwarts grounds. Once they were inside, and started walking up the stairway, they started talking about– what else? – Quidditch. Art’s skinny self bounded up the stairs, full of life and energy despite the exhausting day behind them. Albus grinned as Art stepped up another step, but then the grin dropped from his face in an instant. Art was falling– he fell through the staircase. Was that possible? A step forward, and then Art was suddenly falling. The only reaction from Art was a brief scream followed by a soft thud.
“ART!” Albus yelled, running forward. He paused precisely at the step Art had fallen through. Standing on one foot, Albus cautiously used his other foot to press down on the stair. Albus’s foot slipped right through the stair, confirming that the stair wasn’t solid at all. It was a trick stair, pretending to be a nice solid stair until your foot fell through. Albus noticed that he was on a rarely used staircase; no wonder they had been unprepared.
“Albus! I’m okay!” Art yelled.
“Where are you?” Albus yelled. It looked like the staircase was directly on top of a floor. Had Art simply fallen to the level below?
“I’m in a room, it’s perfect! Come down!”
“What! You’re insane!” Albus hollered back. “You need someone to get you back up!”
“We’ll be fine!” Art yelled. “Just lower yourself down!” Albus nervously looked around the corridors. They were deserted.
“Here goes nothing,” Albus murmured. With one arm on each of the opposite steps, Albus slowly lowered himself down, and then finally jumped. To his great surprise, Albus landed solidly on the ground. The fall wasn’t much, only by about six feet once he was lowered himself.
Albus was standing in a small room. Unlike most of Hogwarts, which was made of stone, wooden planks and firm wooden walls surrounded Al. It appeared to be a classroom with very narrow ceilings. It appeared as though the room had been used once, but it had been stripped of its belongings since then. He was staring at an empty, deserted room with splinters poking up out of the floor. The walls were painted a simple buttery yellow, which was worn and ripped with nails sticking out. Every surface was thick with dust.
While Albus was staring around, Art began to talk. “It looks as though the room was boarded up,” Art said, gesturing towards the area where the door should be. “Probably this used to be used as a classroom centuries ago, but was boarded up and the rest of the school was built up around it. We might even standing at the origin of Hogwarts right now, lost and forgotten. Doubt it, but possibly.”
“It’s perfect,” Albus whispered. “Perfect.”
“For what?” Art asked.
“Brewing the potion,” Albus replied. “We needed a place where nobody would be, where I could brew without interruptions. Where I could leave the potion simmering away without anyone finding it. Does it look like anybody’s been here recently?”
“No,” Art replied, examining the dust. “There are some… safety hazards though.”
“We could clean this place up,” Albus said. “Take the nails out, get rid of the splinters… Rose could come up with something. Only problem is, how would we get out?”
“Easy,” Art replied, as though it were the simplest question in the world. “We levitate ourselves up.”
An hour later, David and Rose were in the room too, examining it from head to toe. It had proven difficult to find the whereabouts of David, who they finally found up in the dormitory. Then Rose had to find a good stop in her book, so it was an hour later before all four were in the room, the tattered room that meant so much to Albus.
“It looks a bit dangerous. I might be able to find a spell to fix that,” Rose said. “Other than that, I think it could work. Nobody knows about it, or there wouldn’t be all this dust.” Rose sneezed.
“It’s great!” David exclaimed. “You could stash anything in here.”
“Not fudge,” Albus said quickly. “I am not allowing you to have a stash of fudge in here.”
“Aw,” David said, pouting.
“I need to go to the library to look for simple spells that we could fix this place up with,” Rose said hastily. She levitated herself up and out of the room.
“I guess we should go too, if Rose is putting her decorating skills to the test,” David suggested.
“Yep, out of here,” Albus said, not wishing to hang around and be ordered around by Rose later. He levitated himself out of the room. It was tricky, since Al had to have very careful balance to go up on the certain area of the stair, but he managed it.
Once Albus got back to the dormitory, he laid backwards on his bed, setting a stack of parchment on the ground near him on fire. He simply watched as the fire slowly crumbled the parchment into a pile of ashes. After a little while, Rose came back, looking very happy with herself.
“I found it!” she squealed.
“Found what?” Albus asked.
“Some spells we can use to fix that thing up,” Rose said, waving a book. “They’re basic spells, so I can use them. I thought this charm would be helpful, all it does is flatten bumps and such, so it is simple enough for me to do. And then we could use a color-changing spell to change the color of the walls. We aren’t supposed to learn it until next year, but I could probably manage it. And Albus, you should bring down all your potions stuff. Maybe put it all under the invisibility cloak so it doesn’t look weird. Oh, and posters too. Those walls are boring. I’ll go down now, and you can meet me with your stuff. See you there!” she said quickly. As fast as she had come, Rose bounded back down the stairs.
“What did she just say?” David asked.
“Um… she spoke kind of fast,” Albus muttered.
“She wants you to go there with your potion things, concealed under your invisibility cloak,” Art said. “And maybe brings some posters to decorate too.”
“Thanks,” Albus told him. He took out the cloak, and the various potion things. “Now how am I supposed to look like I’m not carrying anything?” Albus wondered out loud. “I suppose I’ll just make myself completely invisible. And I’ll probably have to make a few trips to bring all these things down.”
“Need help?” Art asked. “How about you get your arms full with stuff, and I’ll throw the cloak on top of you.”
“Okay, thanks,” Albus said. He filled his arms with as much he could carry, and Art threw the cloak over him.
Wandering down the corridors, Albus received no difficulty of any type. Nobody came close to bumping into him, and Albus reached the room with ease. It was a little difficult jumping down, but luckily the fall wasn’t far. In the room, Rose was pointing her wand, muttering.
“Looks good,” Albus told her, as the walls were now a light green, the color of a celery stick. All bumps, splinters, and nails were gone, making the room look a hundred times better. The room looked like an empty house when a family moves to a new home. Stripped.
Al made several trips back and forth between this place and his dormitory, and he glanced around proudly once he was finished. In one corner was all the potion ingredients needed for the potion, with his cauldron and heater next to it. David insisted on putting Gryffindor decor around the room to contradict the green of the walls. Albus added an unusual addition, a pillow, since the floor was as hard as bricks. Al had a nasty feeling that he was going to be spending a lot of time down there.
“Perfect,” Rose said, grinning. “This will do fine.”
“I hope,” Albus muttered. “Now we have to get that demiguise hair.”
Albus only had to wait a few more days. Art and Albus were both walking down an empty corridor on the way to breakfast when Jasper appeared silently and stealthily, like a cat. He slipped Albus the demiguise hair in a small bag.
“Thank you.” Jasper gave a nod in response, and then vanished quicker than a ghost.
“We got it!” Art whispered triumphantly. “Come on, let’s go put it in the room. Maybe you could even start it today!” Albus stood still, holding the bag. They’d been waiting for the demiguise hair, and he suddenly had it. As quick as that. Al was in disbelief.
The two of them ran to the staircase, and jumped down into their room. Albus quickly put the demiguise hair next to the other ingredients. There were small jars of roots, bottles of liquids, about every dried plant imaginable…
Art and Albus ran excitedly to the Great Hall, bursting through the doors, full of energy. Rose was silently reading a thick novel, while eating her breakfast, and David was twirling his thin ham on his fork. Albus and Art, beaming, told them the good news.
“That’s terrific!” Rose exclaimed, hugging Albus. David was grinning happily, and briefly exchanged a look with Albus. “Now Albus, you have to start it after our classes today.” Albus nodded, but inside his happiness disappeared, replaced by fear. He couldn’t make this potion. What if he messed up? He knew he was good, but not that good. He couldn’t brew an above N.E.W.T. level potion. As if she sensed Albus’s concern, Rose said, “You’ll be fine; Aunt Hermione brewed Polyjuice Potion in her second year, and she wasn’t even a potion’s genius.” Albus calmed down slightly.
After their last class of the day, which was intolerable History of Magic, Albus entered the room, alone. Glancing at the Gryffindor hangings that proudly gleamed with its courageous and strong lion, Albus sat down next to the cauldron, and pulled out the book.
Pour in two splashes of Honeywater. Albus could do that. He went through all the bottles he had, until he found Honeywater. After throwing in two splashes, he read the next line. Pour in five splashes of Horklump juice, and then heat the cauldron to medium for three minutes. Albus successfully did so, and read the next few instructions. Cut the dragon liver into cubic pebble-sized pieces. Toss into cauldron. Albus pulled out the knife, at the very beginning of this tedious potion making. Which could take anywhere from five days to five years. Albus didn’t know, he just blindly followed instructions.
Five hours later, Albus read that the potion had to stew for twenty-two hours. He lay down on the hard wooden floor, staring up at the ceiling, exhausted. This was only the beginning.
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