Chapter 3 : The Escape
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“I presume Dad and Lily are still sleeping?” Albus asked, as he plopped down on a chair.
“Actually, no. Lily’s still sleeping, but your father’s at work,” Al’s mum replied.
“But I thought dad was coming with us to Diagon Alley today!” Albus said. That was the plan. They were going to spend two days at the World Cup, the day after that at Diagon Alley, and then Art was going back until school started. But dad was planning to be with them at Diagon Alley.
“He was supposed to come with us, but at an unearthly hour this morning, your father was called into work. A few minutes later, I got a ten-second brief of what was going on.”
“What did he tell you?” James asked eagerly.
“Not telling. They don’t know much yet. As of this morning there was no hardcore evidence.”
“Hardcore evidence of what?” James asked.
“Come on mum, please?” Albus begged. Something that dragged his dad out on the morning of their Diagon Alley trip had to be exciting.
“Sorry. You’ll probably see it in The Evening Prophet tonight anyway.”
“Oooh, so it’s important enough for an edition The Evening Prophet?” James said excitedly. The Evening Prophet was only issued if there was exciting news that happened over the course of the day.
“Possibly. If not, it will definitely be in the news tomorrow morning. Anyway, enough about that, you need to fill up on breakfast for our trip today.”
Knowing that he would not be able to get anything else out of his mum, Albus asked, “We’re meeting Uncle Ron, Aunt Hermione, Rose, and Hugo at the Leaky Cauldron this morning, right?”
“In about two hours, I believe.” Albus nodded.
They ate in silence for the next few minutes. Albus gulped down a large glass of orange juice, and resumed eating his toast.
BANG. Albus immediately looked up, as did James and his mum. The noise had come from their sitting room. The three of them exchanged wary looks. His mum put her fingers to her lips, motioning Albus and James to stay quiet. She drew her wand.
“Sorry about the mess Mrs. Potter; I’ll clean it up later!” yelled the voice of Albus’s cousin, Teddy Lupin. All three of them sighed in relief. Teddy wasn’t actually his cousin, but he acted like one.
“Merlin, Teddy! You terrified us!” Albus’s mum said, glaring angrily at the vivid orange-haired boy that strutted into the room.
“Who do you think knocks everything over whenever he floos to your house?” Teddy asked. “Wotcher, Albus and James. Look, toast!” Teddy grabbed a piece of toast off the table.
Albus grinned in contrast to his mum’s scowl.
“First off, tone your hair down a little, it’s giving me a headache. Also, why are you stealing food yet again?” Teddy’s hair dulled to a boring brown.
“I’ve told you before, I come and steal your food since I’m too lazy to make any food myself.”
“It’s toast!” Al’s mum yelled. “It takes literally two seconds to make! Let me show you: Accio!” She summoned a piece of bread from across the kitchen. Casting a nonverbal spell, the bread immediately turned into a nice crispy piece of toast. “There! It’s that easy!”
“When I do it, it always gets scorched,” Teddy complained. “Anyway, thanks for the breakfast. See you!” Before Teddy could walk away, he was stopped by a hug.
“TEDDY!” Lily exclaimed, hugging him around the waist. “You can’t leave without seeing me!”
“Lily!” Teddy said happily. “I didn’t know you were awake.” Teddy and Lily had always been very close to each other despite the ten year gap, and they hugged affectionately. Albus smiled at them, until they finally let go. “Lily, I’ll see you soon, okay? I need to get to work.”
“I still cannot believe you work in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement,” Al’s mum muttered. “Lily, have some breakfast.” As Lily sat down, Teddy waved and flooed out of the house. Art came down the stairs not long after, yawning. Teddy must have woken up Art.
The five of them ate breakfast, and as they finished they trickled up the stairs. Albus went back to his room and changed into a pair of robes, and Art came up not long after and wore some muggle outfit. Once everyone was dressed and ready, they gathered downstairs near the fireplace.
James grabbed some floo powder first, and shouted, “THE LEAKY CAULDRON!” He vanished in a flash of green flames.
Albus arrived next, and stumbled into the Leaky Cauldron, the pub that was the entrance to Diagon Alley. Art came after him, although he was covered head to toe in soot and coughing every moment. Hannah Longbottom, the landlady, cleaned Art up and handed him some water. A few minutes later, all of them stood in the pub, waiting for the Weasleys. They didn’t have to wait long until Rose popped out of the fireplace, her hair singed.
“Hello Art, Albus! How have you been? It’s a shame Uncle Harry can’t be here.” She ignored her frazzled hair.
“What happened?” Art asked, who was completely out of the loop.
“Some emergency,” Albus told him. “I don’t know anything about it.”
Rose spoke up. “I woke up when dad learned that Uncle Harry couldn’t be here. He sounded a little upset. Apparently Uncle Harry only said that something escaped.”
“Something escaped? From Azkaban, maybe?” Albus asked. That would be an emergency. Azkaban prison lay on an island fortress, heavily protected.
“But then it would be someone, not something. Anyway, things don’t escape. People may escape with things, but things don’t escape by themselves,” Art said, interjecting.
“I’m just telling you what dad said,” Rose said, shrugging. “But it was in the middle of the night, so he probably was not thinking straight.”
“We’ll find out tonight,” Albus said. “But for now, hopefully we can get our school things. Did you guys have to get Lockhart’s books too?” They both nodded.
After Hugo, Aunt Hermione, and Uncle Ron arrived, they tapped the bricks that led to the famous Diagon Alley. Albus blinked, his eyes adjusting from the dimness of The Leaky Cauldron to the brightness of Diagon Alley. The difference was astonishing. Every sign and shop window glinted in the sunlight that was beaming down its hot rays.
“Let’s get your books first,” Ginny said. “Hopefully this visit will be short, since none of you are entering Hogwarts for your first time.” Hugo pouted, grumbling how he had to go to a bookstore and didn’t need any books. Albus had felt the same when James started school two years ago. Lily, on the other hand, was the first person into the store, and poured over the various books in awe. That was so wrong. With a slight groan, he walked into the store, with Rose and Art tagging along behind him.
He walked into the store, breathing in the scent of books. At least bookstores smelled good, which was the only thing Albus liked about the place. Using his list, he hunted around, getting all of his Hogwarts books. He didn’t have to look long, since many of his school books were on display for incoming Hogwarts students. The only thing that took a while was Gilderoy Lockhart’s books. Finally he found them, tucked away in a small corner of Flourish & Blotts. It was hardly noticeable, behind some far more interesting books. The price was marked down at only two sickles per book. That was cheap. Art and Rose each picked up their books too. They were mostly silent, hardly talking.
“I wish David was here,” Art said. “Then this trip would be a lot more fun.”
“I’ve only gotten one letter from him this summer,” Albus said. “How about you?”
“Same, I’ve only gotten one. He doesn’t like writing very much, so it doesn’t surprise me.”
“I think there might be another reason,” Rose spoke. Albus and Art both turned their heads towards her. “Do any of you think David’s hiding something? For example, when we got off the train, he disappeared without even saying goodbye.”
“He might of lost us in the crowd,” Albus said defensively.
“Maybe. But did you notice that the few times he talks about his family, he gets all embarrassed? Or that he seemed happy when we all stayed for Christmas? And the fact that he hid his Christmas present from his parents?” Albus realized that she had a point. Each time something weird like that happened, Al had dismissed it as quickly as an irksome fly.
Why didn’t David trust them? He and Art were his best friends. They’d known David for a year. Albus had confided in him so many times, ever since the beginning of last year when he came back dazed after the encounter with the fearsome Lord Zajecfer. Then, in January, David and Albus had both seen Zajecfer disappear behind a wall, when Rose and Art hadn’t. Albus thought they were friends. But now, upon reflection, he realized there was something David was hiding from them. What was it? And why didn’t he want to tell him?
Albus stomped his foot in frustration. Wouldn't the world be less confusing if no one held secrets? Albus violently grabbed the Lockhart books off the shelf and stormed up to the store clerk to pay for them. Art and Rose trailed behind, looking a little wary. Probably because of his temper.
Once everyone had their books, and they managed to drag Lily out of the store, they headed to Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. This year, nobody needed robes, or a wand, or anything of that sort. When they arrived, and greeted Uncle George, they looked around the shop. Products with bright, flashy labels were stacked up to the ceiling. In every nook and cranny there was something with a price tag slapped on it. Albus blinked, absorbing all the colors. The store was much more packed than last year.
Albus wandered around the store, quickly losing sight of his family and friends. He picked up things with legs, wheels, or spinners. He could not even begin to think about buying anything. It all overwhelmed him, so he didn't pull out the jingling galleons in his pockets.
"Hey, Albus," Uncle George said, approaching Albus with a stack of boxes. "Where's your dad? I don't remember seeing him."
"He didn't come. Something came up at work and he left before I even woke up."
"Really? Wow, it must be really important. He wouldn't miss this trip for just anything. He loves you kids."
"I know. Mum knows what's going on, but she won't tell us."
"I'll go talk to her then," Uncle George replied. "See you around."
"See you." Albus stood still for moment, as Uncle George shoved boxes in crannies and then walked away. Albus thought for a brief second and then followed, staying far enough away so Uncle George wouldn't see him following. Uncle George had said he'd talk to his mum, so maybe Albus could listen and find out what was going on with dad.
"Hello Ginny," Uncle George said, approaching her. Albus slipped behind a shelf. If he was caught, he'd be in big trouble...
"Hey George. How's the shop going? You've got so many things."
"Yeah. I've got this flying spider around here somewhere... Oh, there it is, it's right above your hair." Albus couldn't see them, but he heard his mum shriek and a small smack seconds later. Uncle George roared with laughter.
"George, I cannot believe I fell for that!"
"You always fall for things like that, baby sis," Uncle George joked.
"Are you asking to be hexed? I know I haven't in years, but you never know..."
"Oh, I'm scared," Uncle George said mockingly. "But believe it or not, I didn't come over here just to scare you. Albus told me that for some reason Harry couldn't come today. Something at work. What's up?" Albus listened excitedly. This was it!
"I don't know much. Harry had to leave pretty early. He said there was some special type of dementor that escaped from some prison. That's all I know, but it sounds pretty worrying."
"Wow. Interesting," Uncle George stated.
"Hopefully it'll be in The Evening Prophet tonight. I didn't tell the kids about it since I'd rather they get it from a legit news source rather than my little bit. I don't even know if that was right, since Harry told me seconds after he left for work. He sent me a patronus."
"Thanks for the news..." Uncle George started teasing her, so Albus walked away. That had been interesting. There was some different type of dementor. Albus hadn't known there were different types of dementors. And what prison? He remembered from his dad that dementors used to guard Azkaban, but that was years ago. And they were guards, not prisoners. He knew for sure that he would check the news tonight.
Thank you to ALL reviewers. I'd like a particular shout-out to MargaretLane, who always writes wonderful reviews.
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