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Albus Potter and the Chosen Four by Pheonix Potioneer
Chapter 1: The Prisoner of Darkness
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Darkness covered the sky, shrouding the thick layer of ice in the ground below. There were no small pinpoints of light shining nearby. No sign of civilization. Nothing. Except…
CRACK. The sound expanded and was swallowed by the vastness of the area. The shuffling of feet broke the silence that ensued after the crack.
“Lumos,” said the voices of multiple people, one after another, until there were dots of light at the end of four wands.
“Darren, look at all this ice,” one man said, pointing his wand down at the ground.
“Duh, we’re in Antarctica,” Darren said, snickering. “Antarctica does tend to have quite a bit of ice.”
“I don’t suppose we’ll run into any penguins, while we’re at it?” a third man asked, laughing.
A more monotone, serious man with wind-blown chocolate brown hair, opened his mouth. He hadn’t spoken yet. “The penguins are probably too scared of this place. But not us.”
“It’s a pity Page didn’t want to come. Newman, do you have the parchment?”
“Yes, I have it here, and my wand. We need to go about ten feet further, ” Newman said, the serious man. Wands thrust out, the men swaggered forward, jostling each other. Their laughs filled the void.
“Here we are!” Newman, exclaimed happily. “It’s right beneath us.” He held out his wand, and cracked the ice around them. Three others jumped off the broken piece of ice on which they were previously standing.
“Merlin, you could have given us a warning,” Darren grumbled. A wicked, teasing grin filled Newman’s face.
“Can I destroy it?” a different person asked. “We will have to destroy it eventually.” Receiving a nod in return, the man cried out, “Reducto!” The ice shattered into a thousand pieces, spraying into the air. Dark, icy water lay underneath.
“Do we seriously have to swim down there? I hate swimming,” Darren said.
“Well, at least we have warming charms so we aren’t cold. I dare you to go first.”
“Dare you double.”
“I’ll go first,” another man said. He cast a bubble–head charm on himself, and the others followed his lead. He plunged into the water. The three remaining people glanced around at each other, and then they dived into the water.
Four bursts of light illuminated the black water slightly, so shapes were now distinguishable. Down and down the men swam, until their fingers fumbled on a hatch. One man used his wand to repel the water. All four of the men jumped down, slamming the hatch behind them. They landed in a slightly damp room made of concrete. Mold flourished in the corner. The room was empty except for a dark, black door.
“Talk about dismal,” one person said at last. “Are you sure we should be doing this?”
One of them smiled confidently. “Of course. We’re rescuing the king of all dementors. He’s powerful, and we’ll be his saviors. Just tell him what you want, and he’ll do it for us. He wouldn’t dare hurt the people who saved him. Newman, do you have the incantation?”
“Yep, I do, Parkinson,” Newman said. “Aperiesque ostium. Prope periculum intelligimus.” He spoke slowly, clearly, and concisely. All of them held their breath.
They were rewarded. The loud crunching and grinding of rock made them jump as the stone slid across to form an opening. A narrow stone staircase could be seen, but beyond that? Darkness.
“Lumos,” they all said at the same time. Excitement and eagerness shined on all their faces. They trampled down the staircases, shoving each other into the walls and laughing. Torches once lined the walls, but the wood had long since rotted. Only the rusted, metal holders remained. At the end of the staircase, there was a locked door, identical to the one earlier. They huddled together in the cobweb-infested area.
“Bulstrode, do you have the other piece of paper?” Newman asked. “It’s a different saying to open this door.”
“Got it,” Bulstrode said excitedly. “I’ll read it this time. Aperi. Huc ad terrorem. Consequentia nota.” He raised his wand. “Alohomora.”
The door opened with a click, opening only an inch. Before either of them could raise their hand to push it all the way open, they were briefly blinded with bright red light. The door blast off its hinges. The men froze, unmoving. Sweat glistened on their foreheads. With a terrified glance in front of them, they fell flat on their faces. Their souls entered another spot only three feet away.
In those three feet, a dementor silently glided, but… it was not a normal dementor. It was twice as tall as a dementor, and instead of being purely black, it emitted a faint red glow. Despite the small amount of color, the rest of him was darker than a black hole. To see it was terror all in itself. That didn’t include the power radiating off the dementor, stretching for several miles. The King of Dementors had risen once more. A king that was starving.
The prison itself was not dark. It was built specifically for the Dementor King. Dementors liked the dark, the damp, and the cold. Instead, a beautiful, blue sky was enchanted on the ceiling, with wispy, white clouds. A faint rainbow stretched to the ground. On the walls, near the bottom, there was an image of lush green grass, and dozens of flowers. Lilies, daisies, roses, tulips, daffodils… every type imaginable. Paintings of laughing children rolled on the ground, filling the prison with happiness and life. Everything a dementor despised. The dementor glided up the dark stairs, escaping the world it so hated. It glanced back at the four fallen bodies at the entrance.
Such a pleasant beginning to Albus Potter and the Chosen Four! (That's sarcasm, in case you can't tell.)
If you have not yet read Albus Potter and Slytherin's Office, I urge you to do so at once. This chapter isn't spoiler-y, but if you read on you will receive HUGE spoilers. So do that immediately! *threatening glare*
I hope to upload a chapter about every two weeks or so- that's the plan, anyway. Sometimes I don't follow my plans.
Sorry for the short chapter. There wasn't much else to add! THe next one is much longer, I promise. And from the point of view of Albus.
Read on (if the next chapter is up, that is!) and please leave a review!
Chapter 2: The Quidditch World Cup
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Albus Severus Potter woke up with a start. He panted as he remembered the eerie eyes of Salazar Slytherin staring at him from his dream, laughing in insanity. Last year, Albus had destroyed Salazar Slytherin, although not on purpose. The mysterious Lord Zajecfer had disappeared as well, defeated by his father, the famous Harry Potter. Albus thought about his nerve-wracking first year, in which he came into close encounters with Lord Zajecfer three times, spent hours looking for books in the library, and brewed a deadly potion. He’d had the occasional dream about it this summer, but none for the past few weeks until today. He was slowly getting over his terrifying ordeal.
The year hadn’t been too bad. He’d been sorted into Gryffindor, found three amazing friends, and became the reserve player on the Quidditch team. After being frustrated in his absymal spell-casting skills, Albus overcame that obstacle and excelled in most of his classes. Best of all, Albus had single-handedly won the House Cup for Gryffindor.
Albus exhaled a wistful sigh, glancing out of his window, and pulled his entanglement of white sheets tighter over himself. If only he could lay in this forever… but the sun streamed into his window, lightening the room. He glanced over at the letter sitting on his desk, inviting him to Hogwarts for another year. It was with a list of his required schoolbooks. Gilderoy Lockhart’s entire publications spanned most of the list. James teased Albus about that, since James didn’t have to get any of Lockhart’s books. Gilderoy Lockhart, an old teacher of dad’s, used to be a handsome man, but he was also a fraud and lied frequently throughout his published material.
“Well, obviously our new Defense Against the Dark Arts hates you, since he wanted you to get Lockhart’s books, but not me,” James had said once their booklists came through the mail yesterday during breakfast. “I wonder what this new teacher is like.” Professor Fuchs, their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher the previous year, had left to try and educate young witches and wizards in Africa. Albus didn’t want anyone to replace Professor Fuchs, who had been one of his favorite professors.
“We had quite a bit of trouble finding a person to take the position,” his dad had replied to James’s remark. “There was all the worry of being another curse on the position. Rubbish, really. Fuchs had been in the position since the war ended. But the fear caught aflame, and then we had lots of trouble getting a teacher.”
“Can you tell us who it is?” Albus had begged.
“No,” his dad had said. “But I think you’ll find him very interesting.”
So now Albus had to dwell in the mystery of why second years had to get Lockhart’s books but not third years, and what made the teacher “interesting”. He just received the letter yesterday, so no theories had come into his mind yet.
Albus sat up straight in his bed as he remembered their plans for today. Art was coming to his house! And they were going to the Quidditch World Cup together! All sleepiness forgotten, Albus thrust himself out of his bed to his closet, and began putting clothes on. A few minutes later, Albus hurried down the stairs and slipped himself into a seat.
Once all five of them were downstairs, Albus began shoveling food inside his mouth eagerly. Toast, eggs, bacon… he ate it all and then listened to the conversation.
“James, do you have everything packed?” Mum was saying.
“Yes, why don’t you believe me?” James said, groaning.
“You’re just known for being a bit unreliable on your word. What about you Albus, Lily?” They both nodded.
Once all the bags were downstairs, Albus sat on the lounge chair, restless, as he waited for Art. He thought of the brilliant, legendary city in which the world cup would be held…
“That must be Art!” Albus shouted, upon hearing the doorbell.
“We have a doorbell?” James said, poking his head out of the door of his bedroom. Al didn’t know they had one either, since nobody ever came to their front door. They usually used the floo network to get everywhere, so the front door was rarely ever used.
Mum got to the door first, and greeted Art. A tall, balding muscular man was with him, and Albus assumed that was Art’s dad. They had the same brown, wind-swept hair that brushed their eyes. Both of them were extremely tan as well. Albus stood awkwardly by the door, as mum and Art’s dad discussed arrangements and things. Finally, the man embraced Art for a few moments and then left.
"Hello Art!" Albus said at last, giving his friend a big hug.
"Hey! Can't wait to see this Quidditch World Cup. You seem hyped about it."
"I've been to each one since I was born," Albus said happily. "There was one when I was only seven months old, and I even went to that one! I don't remember it though."
"David would probably love it," Art said.
"I'm sure he would, but David never responded to my letter inviting him," Al said sadly.
"I wonder why," Art said thoughtfully. "Anyway, where's the world cup?"
"Atlantis," Albus replied. Art started.
"But that's like- a legend," Art said, clearly baffled.
“What- you’ve heard of it? You were raised by muggles, and it’s a wizard-only island!” Albus said.
“Well, it’s a big legend among muggles. Like, it used to be this big place, and then it disappeared. Some people think it’s real, and others think it isn’t.”
“It better be real, because that’s where the world cup is this year,” Albus said, grinning.
“Art- Sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing- back in the times of the Ancient Greeks, Atlantis was an actual place,” Albus’s dad explained. “It was a bustling city, and muggles knew about it. But it was mostly wizards who lived there, and then they ended up cutting themselves off, and making their island unplottable and whatnot, and placed muggle-repelling charms around the place, much like Azkaban. So the muggles never found the island again, and it became a legend to them.”
“How’d you know that?” Albus asked. His dad wasn’t the type of person to spew out facts.
“I asked Aunt Hermione about Atlantis, since I had also thought of it as a legend,” Dad said, chuckling. “Being an island entirely made up of wizards, it also makes it an ideal place to host the Quidditch World Cup, since you don’t have to worry about muggles.”
“Wow. It’s so cool that I’ll actually visit the legendary Atlantis!” Art said. “Does it look all Greek and things?”
“I think it looks pretty normal. It was thousands of years ago when the Greeks were around.”
“Oh,” Art said, sounding disappointed.
“I’m pretty sure the native language is Greek, though. Anyhow, we should get ready to go,” Dad said. “We’re taking the floo network to the Burrow, and then from their we’ll go to the Portkey.”
“James, are you coming?” Mum shouted up the stairs.
“Yeah! Just a moment! I can’t find my Germany flag!”
“Wait, what two teams are playing?” Art asked.
“Germany and Portugal,” Albus replied.
“Mum, can we go tour Atlantis and stuff while we’re there?” Lily said. “I heard it’s a really cool city. And apparently it’s beautiful. I’ve seen some pictures. There’s waterfalls, and nothing has to be hidden from muggles so there’s magic all over the place…”
“Yes, we can,” Mum said.
“Correction: you two can,” James said as he came down the stairs. “I don’t plan on sunshine walks. I’m here for Quidditch.”
“We know. There will be stuff for everyone,” Mum said. “Everybody got their things? Harry, you got the tent?”
“Yes mum,” Dad said, rolling his eyes. Al’s mum smacked his arm.
“Then let’s go!” She said. Mum went over to the fireplace, and threw some floo powder into the air.
“Wait- what’s that?” Art said uncertainly. Albus gave a brief, thirty-second explanation about floo powder to Art.
"Well, here goes nothing, I suppose," Art said, prior to throwing floo powder in the air and shouting, "The Burrow!"
Albus went next, and stumbled out of the fireplace at the burrow. He saw all of his relatives and cousins gathered, carrying bags, tents, and Portuguese and German spirit wear.
Once everyone was there (which was about thirty people) they all walked out of the house, to go to the portkey. Luckily, with much effort from the Department of International Magical Cooperation at the Ministry, portkeys could now go internationally. However, that didn’t mean “more” portkeys, so the entire Weasley-Potter family had to walk for a few miles among deserted hills until Uncle Bill finally shouted "It’s here!”. They gathered around a long metal pole stretched on the grass.
"So we all touch it and it transports us to Atlantis?" Art asked.
"Yup," Uncle Bill said. “But not yet. We're still waiting for the Scamanders."
"They're coming this year?" Albus asked eagerly.
"Yeah, Lorcan and Lysander really wanted to come," Uncle Bill said.
Ten minutes later, the Scamanders finally arrived. Luna was carrying an intricately designed walking stick decorated with what seemed to be peacock feathers. Albus gave a small friendly wave to Lorcan and Lysander, whose faces were motionless and blank. Al sighed. The two seven-year-old boys were always like that.
All of them gathered closely around the metal pole. Luckily they all had enough room to touch it comfortably.
"Three... two... one," Uncle Bill said, and Albus felt his leg muscles give an involuntary spasm before he hurtled off. Albus landed it a blue-tinged room. A middle-aged, bald man with a jet-black mustache greeted them, and started speaking what seemed to be Greek.
“English,” Albus’s dad said, and the Greek man pointed a wand to his throat.
“My apologies,” the man said in perfect English. “There’s people from all over the world coming through this room. Wow, there’s a lot of you. What family are you? I have a list here.”
“Weasley,” Aunt Angelina said, stepping forward.
“You have a big lot. Right, so you have 323A, B, C, D, and E. Go outside, and follow the signs.”
“Thank you,” Aunt Angelina said gracefully. They all walked out of the door, and Albus had blinked in the bright sun. As he squinted and his eyes adjusted, his mind was overwhelmed by the shining glass on the side of buildings. Skyscrapers licked the sky, and the bright blue above shone on all of them. Atlantean flags and banners, and various streamers decorating all the buildings, making it look festive and welcoming. They wandered the cobbled streets, following large signs that said (they actually spoke) things like ‘Lots 0-100, this way’. They walked several blocks, until they found a sign that said ‘Lots 300-400, to the left’. When they turned, Albus found that the city atmosphere disappeared to form a huge pasture, with the Quidditch stadium looming in the background.
“Right, here’s our spot,” Al’s dad said after they walked about halfway across the pasture. They had a large amount of space, to hold their multiple tents. Albus had a tent with his parents, James, Lily, and Art. James’s friend John had a separate tent many “blocks” away. The rest of the Weasley family had other few tents a short distance away.
“Wow, this place is huge!” Art said, staring at the two-floored, lavish inside of the tent.
“It’s kind of cramped, actually,” James said. “And there’s like, no privacy, only weird curtains that I bet you could see our shadows through.”
“Big improvement over muggle tents. In those it’s only like room to sleep and that’s about it,” Art said.
“That must be awful,” James said, sounding disgusted. “C’mon guys, let’s go explore! I want to find John’s tent.”
“We’ll come with,” Albus said cheerfully. James, Albus, and Art stepped towards the entrance, but Ginny stopped them.
“If the three of you are going out, then you all have to stick together,” Ginny said. “I want to see none of you wandering off, is that clear? There’s a lot of foreigners around here, and I don’t want you getting in any trouble.”
“Yes,” James said. They left together, and looked around at all the surrounding tents. Albus spotted Fred and Louis wandering around as well, and Fred seemed to have an eye on several Greek-looking girls. Louis chastised Fred.
“You don’t have a chance. You don’t even speak the same language, Fred,” Louis was saying.
“Don’t be a- what’s the phrase? Deedie downer? Decker downer? Whatever the muggle phrase is, don’t be that,” Fred said, grumbling.
When they left their lot, Albus saw so many flags he knew he would never forget the black-red-yellow color scheme on the German flags or the unusual emblem on the Portuguese flags. There were also many displays of the seekers of both teams- both handsome, young men who Albus was sure girls fawned over. Albus felt a bit uneasy walking among so many foreigners. He didn’t hear many English speakers, and those who were spoke with a distinct American accent.
“Hey, there’s John’s tent! He gave me a description of what it looked like,” James said happily. He walked over their tent, while Albus and Art lingered around outside.
"So Rose didn't come?" Art asked.
"Nope. Aunt Hermione, Molly, Lucy, Rose, and Aunt Audrey are visiting Atlantis because apparently it's very historical, but they are going nowhere near all the Quidditch things," Albus explained.
"I'm not huge on Quidditch myself, but you can't miss the World Cup," Art said.
Albus nodded and continued looking around. Hardly any of the tents genuinely looked like tents. Many of them were patterned in various colors, or made of brick and not fabric. One of the tents had a waterfall over the entrance. It looked beautiful.
James was still inside John’s tent, so Albus and Art walked inside with hopes of prying James away. The tent was two floors high, but most of the Shafiq family was gathered around in what seemed to be a living room. James and John were talking near the fireplace. Albus and Art introduced themselves to the Shafiq’s and sat down next to someone who Albus presumed was John’s grandfather.
“You’re a Potter?” John’s grandfather asked, after they had sat down in a couch for a few minutes.
“What? Oh, yes, I am,” Albus said, a little startled.
“Nice family. Never met Lily or James, but I heard about them a few times.”
“Wait- so you were alive when they were?” Albus asked.
“Goodness, yes. First Wizarding War. Voldemort rising to power. Not fun.”
“What did you hear about them?” Albus said. He never really knew what his grandparents were like, since they died when dad was a baby. He heard what his dad had accumulated, of course, but he didn’t hear much about anyone who was actually alive during that time.
“Well, my friends, the McKinnons, knew about them. They were in the Order together. Phil and Marlene McKinnon weren’t close friends with the Potters, but they were comrades. Phil mentioned the family from time to time. Apparently they were extremely skilled, even though they were so young.”
“If I remember correctly- didn’t the McKinnons die?” Albus asked. He had heard Grandma Weasley mention the families who died fighting against Voldemort when he was younger, and the name sounded familiar.
“Yes, Marlene and Phil McKinnon died in July of 1981. It’s presumed that their baby died as well.”
“What do you mean, ‘presumed’?” Albus asked.
“They never found the body of Marlene and Phil’s son. It’s presumed that their son died in the attack, since he was never seen again. He was probably left mangled in the rubble. Some people say Fabian Prewett saved the boy. But the Prewetts died a few weeks later, so if they did save the McKinnon’s son and they sent him off somewhere, we’ll probably never know.”
“How old was their son?”
“Under a year old at the time. Born in January of 1981. Around the same age as your parents, so that will make him in his late thirties. Assuming he’s alive, of course. Nobody really thinks he is, they just didn’t find the body so of course there had to be speculation.”
“Interesting,” Albus said. He liked hearing war stories, and even better, mysteries. “Do you have any stories about yourself from the war?”
“Me? Goodness no. The Shafiq family is famous for keeping their heads out of every war. We’ve been Hufflepuffs for many generations. John’s the first Gryffindor in the family. I hope he doesn’t get caught up in anything dangerous.”
“Well, thanks for telling me all of this,” Albus said.
“Oh, I always enjoy an interested lad. Nobody in this family seems to enjoy stories. It’s a shame. Seeming how my grandson is best friends with your brother, I suppose we’ll see each other around sometime.”
The rest of the day was mostly spent wandering around and exploring. Albus joined in a few little Quidditch games with a bunch of foreign kids around his age (Which Al was sure mum would not approve of). He played a few games as chaser, and as the sun set Albus, Art, and James waved goodbye and headed back towards the tent.
“You two are okay? Thank goodness. It’s easy to get lost in this place,” Mum said once they got back. The all gathered around the dinner table, eating some food. Dad had wanted for them to try Atlantean food, which was basically seafood. Atlantis was an interesting place, Albus decided. They were a completely magical island, but they did things like eating seafood, which wasn’t even necessary since all wizards could just create any type of food they wanted. It was a magical place acting muggle-like. Interesting.
When Albus awoke the next day, he leapt out of bed the moment he saw the sun. Today was the day! Today was the Quidditch World Cup final! It would never cease to excite him. This only happened every four years.
Once they were all decked out in their robes, the Potter family and Art headed to their seats in the Top Box. Albus loved it. There were so many famous and important people sitting up there. Of course, Albus supposed “Harry Potter” was famous and important as well, but seeming how he saw dad every day that wasn’t very exciting.
The stands around the Quidditch pitch were blue, and large tridents stuck out at the ends of each row. The entire place had a sort of underwater-y, ocean-y feel, as though the game was actually taking place underwater instead of in the air. He had never seen a Quidditch pitch like this before.
The commentator began announcing the mascots of each team. “Let us welcome the German mascots- Granian horses! They are winged horses, grey, you should see them coming onto the field now- and Merlin, are they fast! Look at them fly around the pitch- why, the horses could be a replacement for broomsticks. No doubt their speed and agility does its best to represent the strengths of the German team- which is, of course, speed and agility.” Albus watched the horses fly all around the pitch. They were majestic and graceful. If they were human, Albus would have said that they looked a bit arrogant. “And the horses are lowering back to the ground at the sound of the whistle from their caretaker- and now, it looks as though Portugal is bringing up their mascot- a manticore! It has the head of a man, the body of a lion, and tail of a scorpion. They are extremely dangerous creatures.” Albus’s mouth fell open as the manticore walked onto the center of the pitch. About twenty wizards were surrounding the manticore, holding its legs with chains. Its face was human- but a human gone wild. Albus picked up his omnioculars and zoomed in on the manticore’s face. It wasn’t wise and intelligent like a centaur. Its eyes were savage and beast-like, and at an animal’s level of intelligence. Albus turned his omnioculars away. It was frightening to see a human face look like that.
When the game finally began, Albus stared in awe at the players darting all over the field. They were a whirlwind of color. Thousands of people lifted their omnioculars, but Albus didn’t raise his back up. He preferred to watch the action at this speed. This was real Quidditch. Hogwarts’s Quidditch was like child’s play compared to this. At this speed, Albus couldn’t tell who had the quaffle, the passes, or anything. He kept his eye on the score, and looked back and forth between the players.
Albus glanced over to Art, who was staring at the players in wonder. Art’s mouth was hanging open. Albus was used to the Quidditch World Cup, since he’d been to everyone since he was born and a few games in between, but Art had never been to a professional Quidditch match. He must be in even more in awe than Al.
The score grew steadily higher as the first few hours passed. 30-10 Portugal... 50-20 Portugal... 50-50 Germany…
“Heidrich and Kneller pass the quaffle around, safely keeping it away from the Portuguese seeker- it seems Germany is trying to turn the game around. They didn’t get off to a good start, but Germany seems to be on a roll now…”
“Mrs. Potter?” Art asked about halfway through the game. Albus curiously tore his eyes away from the match, even though following each player was quite an addicting practice.
“Er, the man who is commentating- well, he’s saying things, but his mouth doesn’t form the same words he’s saying or anything. It doesn’t make sense.”
“He’s speaking a language other than English,” Al’s mum explained. “He’s an Atlantean native I believe, so he’s probably speaking Greek. He’s speaking into a microphone, that to Germans, for example, will sound German, and to us sounds English. The microphone translates what he is saying into every single language and I think our brain picks up on what language we are familiar with- not sure exactly how it works. Hermione would know. The translating microphone is extremely expensive, but this is the Quidditch World Cup, so they can get money.”
“That makes sense,” Art said. “What if someone is bilingual?”
“Bi- what?” Albus asked.
“If you can speak two languages,” Art said.
“I suppose it will translate itself into whatever language you are most comfortable with, or your native language,” Albus’s mum, said shrugging. Albus turned his head back to the game. It was nice to have her watching with them this year, he had to admit. Last World Cup, she was doing things for work, since she was a Quidditch writer. But this year she was sitting with the rest of them.
When the score got to 240-190 Germany, the Portuguese seeker hurtled towards the ground, and the German seeker followed. Only a few seconds later the German seeker rose up with the snitch curled around his fingers, his fist pumped into the air. A tremendous amount of cheers lifted all around the stadium. “That’s the game, folks! Germany had the snitch, so the score is now 390-190 Germany. That’s quite a turnaround from the beginning of the match, when Portugal was in the lead! Germany wins the 2018 Quidditch World Cup!”
Al's ears started to hurt because of the cheering. Despite this, Albus smiled as German flags were waved all across the stands. The beautiful Granian horses soared across the pitch in celebration. A passing peddler selling German flags was crying in celebration.
“Here’s two sickles…” Albus said, and twenty seconds later he was waving a German flag as well. He had been mostly neutral during the match, but amidst all the celebration he could not be happy. As the stands began to clear out, Albus walked out with a grin plastered on his face, flag held high.
Wow, this chapter was long- by my standards, anyway.
I hope you all enjoyed the chapter! This chapter was actually a last-minute thing, since I originally wasn't planning on writing about the Quidditch World Cup.
Chapter 3: The Escape
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Albus shifted under his blankets. He untangled his leg from his sheet (how did that happen?), and sat up in his bed as sunlight streamed through his window. He glanced down at Art, who was sleeping soundly in a sleeping bag on the floor. How was it that the person on the ground had the best sleep? Albus felt sweaty and uncomfortable. His neck ached slightly. He must have slept on it funny. Al got up and crept downstairs, to where Mum and James were eating breakfast. It was his ordinary, boring house- they had left Atlantis yesterday, after spending a day touring the city.
“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.
Chapter 4: The Hogwarts Express
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“Albus, you eavesdropped?” Rose said in disbelief. Albus, Rose, and Art whispered among each other about the exciting news Albus had just unveiled: a dementor had escaped from a prison of some sort. Aunt Hermione, Al’s mum, James, Lily, and Hugo were nearby, so Albus had to converse in whispers as they walked back to the Leaky Cauldron. Luckily, Aunt Hermione and Al's mum were talking together, Lily was talking to Hugo, and James was whispering excitedly to John, who they had run into at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
“I didn't exactly eavesdrop,” Albus whispered. “They weren't trying to keep their voices down. Plus, I'll probably learn much more in the Prophet tonight than a special type of dementor was released from some prison.”
“It could be classified,” Art pointed out.
“If it was, Aunt Ginny wouldn't know. Plus, the media would figure out something was going on. The Auror Office will have to tell them something,” Rose stated in her smart, matter-of-factly way.
“Hey, er, Albus...” Art began. “What exactly is a dementor?”
“Oh, I forgot you wouldn't know! It's a creature like thing er, well...” Albus dropped his cheerful tone. “It is a creature that makes every happy thought sad. It can bring back bad memories, and if you're around it long enough it can drive you insane. Sometimes it will "kiss" you, very rarely, meaning it sort of, well, sucks out your soul." Art looked horrified. Albus turned away his glance, and shifted his feet uncomfortably. Albus had always known about dementors, so it wasn't anything new, but it must be a horrifying concept to a muggle-born.
If the regular type of dementor was bad, how bad was the "special" type of dementor? The Auror department did not demand every member if it was anything but bad. So what made it special? Was it more powerful? Could it travel quicker? Could it kiss entire towns? Even a regular dementor was terrifying. How many Azkaban prisoners had gone insane when the dementors were in charge of the prison? Almost all of them.
With these dark thoughts, Albus said goodbye to his friends in the Leaky Cauldron. Art's mum came the muggle way (through some device called The Tube) and finally just Albus, James, Lily, and their mum were left. After saying goodbye to Hannah Longbottom, the landlady, they stepped into the fireplace and flooed home.
Albus ate his dinner in record time but stayed seated at the table, and flickered his eyes frequently to the window in search of an owl. Normally Al didn't really care about the newspaper, but today he did. James and their mum kept glancing at the window too. Only Lily seemed to be completely unconcerned and unaware.
A little while later, when only Lily was still picking at her food, a brown owl, distant but distinguishable, appeared in the evening sky. All of them except Lily jumped up out of their seats towards the window. James kept trying to elbow Albus out of the way. Albus scrowled at him and gabbed his elbow into James's side.
Their mum, the tallest and with the longest arm, grabbed the newspaper first. Al opened his mouth to protest, but his mum interrupted.
“Calm down you two, I’ll put a duplication charm on the newspaper. Geminio!” Two more newspapers were produced right underneath the original. James and Albus dived towards them, and Albus snatched up one of them and quickly scanned the headline. It stated: POWERFUL DEMENTOR ILLEGALLY RELEASED FROM "ETERNAL" PRISON. That sounded bad. Albus read the following article.
On Friday afternoon, the Argentine’s government's tracing spells detected a source of dark magic in central Antarctica. Teams from Argentina and Australia, each with ten members, apparated to the pinpointed spot, and all returned to their respective countries less than a minute later, shaking with fear. They all reported the same thing: there was a fearsome dementor unlike anything they had seen before.
"The dementor was much larger than usual," one of the Australians on the scene reported, who wished to be unnamed. "The dementor was almost twice the size than normal. It glowed an eerie red, nearly blinding us. But that's not even close to what made it scary. The second we landed we were all blasted backwards by a violent burst of energy. All of us felt sick. Some of us actually did become sick, and not because of the apparation. It was the dementor. It made me feel so depressed in those brief seconds, much worse than a normal dementor. I apparated back, but I was so weak I splinched myself. It was a narrow escape. If we'd stayed a moment longer, we probably would have all been kissed. I think we took it by surprise, which is why it didn't attack the second it could.”
All of the members of the team are currently being held in the Australian Magical Illnesses & Injuries Research Center, one of the best hospitals in the world. Four unnamed members have been reported to be in a coma, but everyone else is in stable condition, most due to be released tomorrow.
“Last night I had a violent nightmare of all my worst memories," Daniel Killingston said, one of the Australians on the scene in Antarctica. "Unless you get kissed or are around dementors frequently, usually all a dementor can do is scare you a little bit. This dementor is having after-effects on me, which normally doesn't happen unless you lead a life with many bad memories.”
This morning, a team made up of investigators from Britain, America, Argentina, Chile, Russia, and Canada, fifty in total, traveled to the spot in Antarctica where the dementor was first detected. Head Auror Harry Potter spoke about what the investigators discovered in a formal statement this afternoon.
“The spot where the dementor was first detected was underwater, underneath the ice. When the team arrived on the ice before their plunge underwater, there was already a gaping hole in the ice. Investigators looked at the residue and determined that it was magically created, and that it was made about ten minutes before the Argentine government first noticed the dementor. Once investigators reached the spot of original detection, they discovered it was in the doorway of an underwater prison. Four bodies were found, but their identities are currently unknown. They were put under the dementor’s kiss."
The International Confederation of Wizards has classified this unusual dementor as ‘deadly’, and has identified it as a severe threat in areas within a 20 mile radius.
"Wow," Albus said, once he put the newspaper down. "Dad's been busy."
"Whazgoinon?" Lily asked through a small mouthful of food. Albus tossed her the newspaper.
"Mysterious," James said, as he tossed the newspaper aside. "I wouldn't be too worried about it though. It's all the way in Antarctica. That's all the way across the world from here.
"What if it comes here though?" Albus asked. "I'm sure it has some sort of purpose."
"It wants what every dementor wants: food, and as soon as possible," his mum replied. "It doesn't need to come to England to get that. It can get souls anywhere."
"But it's a different type of dementor," Albus argued.
"But it still kissed those four people," James pointed out. "It's just stronger than most dementors."
"Who gave Lily the newspaper?" their mum asked, who was looking at Lily's wide and terrified eyes as she read. She quickly snatched the newspaper out of her hands. Lily looked on the verge of tears.
“Mummy…” she whispered.
“It’s just a silly little article, and the dementor is thousands of miles away. Your father and other fantastic people will catch it really soon,” their mum whispered soothingly. She glared at James and Albus, as if to say, ‘Look what you’ve done’, and then turned a comforting gaze towards Lily and carried her to bed.
“Are you a scared-y pants like Lily?” James asked Albus.
“No,” Albus whispered. He was more worried for other people than himself. He had a nasty suspicion that the Auror office was underestimating this dementor. It was unlike anything they had seen before, after all. What was it capable of? What was its limits? How did it come to be? Why was it in prison in the first place? Who put it there? How long ago was the prison made?
Albus lay stretched back on his bed, his school supplies forgotten. After a while of staring at the ceiling, his mind blank, Albus heard intense coughing from downstairs. That type of coughing meant someone had just used the floo network, and the only person who would be using it now would be dad. He was home!
“Dad!” Albus yelled running downstairs to hug his father. The famous Harry Potter looked worn, and it looked like he was about to fall asleep any moment.
“Hey Albus,” his dad said, exhausted but happy. “How was your day?”
“Okay,” Albus said. “Not much happened, but I did read the newspaper.”
“Albus, I’m sorry, but I can’t talk to you about that right now. That’s been the only topic all day, and it’s been driving me insane. Sorry.” He sounded genuinely sincere.
“Okay,” Albus said, slightly disappointed. He wanted his dad to answer some questions. The newspaper seemed too vague.
“Harry!” Al’s mum exclaimed, as she dashed into the sitting room. “How are you?”
“Okay,” he replied, just like Al’s response a minute earlier. “I’m going to head to bed now, after I say goodnight to the kids.”
“It’s only eight thirty,” Albus pointed out.
“It’s been a long day. Goodnight kiddo,” Al’s dad replied, and he gripped Albus tight. After he let go of Albus, he left to go say good night to James and Lily.
Albus stomped back to his room and layed back on his bed again, frusturated. He didn’t blame his dad for not wanting to talk about it, but that didn’t make Al feel any better. He climbed into his pajamas, despite it being only eight thirty, and switched of his light.
Over the course of the next week, Albus scoured the newspaper for more information about the mysterious dementor. Little news trickled its way onto the newspaper, and most of the articles were speculation on the identity of the dementor and its threat to the wizarding world. Many retired aurors were interviewed on their opinions of the matter. Albus’s dad was still at work often because of the ongoing investigation. One night, Albus’s curiosity burst and he begged his dad for information. All Albus got was an apology and an explanation that all information was classified. Rotten government.
When the last agonizing week of summer vacation was over, Albus was finally relieved to be getting back to school, where he could open speculation about the matter among David, Rose, and Art. Even though Rose was a genius all by herself, they seemed to solve mysteries better when all four of them were together.
Albus and his family pulled all their trunks into the back of the borrowed Ministry cars, and Albus wedged himself in the middle seat of the car, with James on his left and Lily on his right. Everyone was tense and silent most of the trip to the station. James sat with his arms crossed staring grumpily out the window. He’d complained earlier in the morning how summer vacation was over. Meanwhile, Lily also had crossed arms, no doubt for the same reason as James, except reverse: going to the platform reminded her that she couldn’t go to Hogwarts yet. Al’s dad didn’t talk either as he drove the car. The corner of his eyelids were a bit crusty. Albus’s mum, desperate to make conversation, broke the silence.
“So, Harry, how’s work coming along?” Albus pretended to look out the window.
“Okay. We think we might have been able to identify what exactly the dementor is, and if it’s true then the world is in for some trouble.”
“How did you identify it?” Albus asked, unable to resist. His dad glanced at Albus through the rearview mirror.
“We brought in a historian who specializes in the history of dark creatures, which includes dementors. Based on the list of qualities the dementor had and the description of its prison, she was able to bring us some books about a certain dementor that resembled the one currently on the loose, and she provided us with additional information, including its creation.”
“How was it created? And what information did she give?” Albus asked. But he had gone too far.
“Sorry, Albus, that’s classified. I shouldn’t even have told you that much. Don’t spread any rumors around Hogwarts, alright Albus, James?”
“Okay,” James mumbled, who still stared grumpily out the window. Albus realized all along, he was only pretending to be uninterested.
Once the arrived at King’s Cross Station, James’s grumpiness returned away, to be replaced by teasing.
“Lily, Albus and I are going off on the magical train, to have lovely adventures, have delicious feast in the Great Hall… did I ever tell you how it has twinkling stars on the ceiling, and glowing candles-”
“Stop it! Stop trying to make me jealous. I’ll be there next year.”
“But you’ll have to suffer an entire year first…”
“STOP IT!” Lily stormed towards the platform barrier leading to platform 9 ¾ and disappeared. Albus stepped forward, and the next moment he was surrounding by billowing steam. Sometimes using modern Muggle trains would be easier, but the Hogwarts Express sure looked a lot cooler.
“Albus!” He turned around, and he saw Rose running towards him. The next moment, Al felt her arms wrapped tightly around him.
“Uh, Rose?” Albus said, feeling a tiny bit awkward. “I just saw you a few days ago.” Rose released him and stood a several inches away.
“Hmm. I guess I did,” Rose said, looking surprised at that fact. “Oh, well. Hugs are good.” Albus personally thought hugs were a tad bit embarrassing, but he decided he wasn’t in the mood to argue.
“Let’s go find a compartment,” Albus said. Rose squinted at Albus.
“Albus, before you go on the train you have to say goodbye to your parents.”
“Oh, yeah,” Albus said. Last year he’d been terrified of leaving them, but once the year started they took up the back part of his mind. It was nice not to have parents to order you around.
Over the next ten minutes, there were a lot of hugs exchanged. Albus had to hug Uncle Ron, Aunt Hermione, Hugo, Lily, his mum, and dad. And they all hugged him at least twice. Albus was surprised that Hugo and Lily looked almost happy. What did they do all year when James, Albus, and Rose were gone?
Finally Albus managed to escape onto the Hogwarts Express, and he had to walk quickly to go along with the flow of students.
“Now let’s find an empty compartment,” Rose said, and she marched them down the train until there was one completely empty. It took a few minutes to find one, and Albus happily sank into the cushioning seat.
“Should we go look for David or Art or something?”
“They’ll probably find us, don’t worry.” And they did. Art arrived a few minutes later, still looking like a shrimp, and then David arrived.
“David!” Albus exclaimed. He hadn’t seen David since the end of last year. “I haven’t seen you in ages! You never replied to my letter inviting you over.”
“I hate writing letters,” David groaned. Albus frowned a little bit, but dropped the subject for now.
“So… how was your summer?”
“Pretty boring,” David said, shrugging. “So I’m glad to be back.”
“Then you should have come over at least once! My parents would have been delighted to meet you.”
“Yeah, well, um…” David stammered. “Oh, wait, there’s Marc!” Albus stared at David in confusion. They weren’t even friends with Marc. Sure, Albus had talked to him at the feast at the beginning of last year, but that was the extent of their friendship. He was that odd kid who somehow wound up in Gryffindor, who read books about useless things like all the greatest potion fails in history.
David left the compartment briefly to catch Marc, who was walking by, and then both of them came back to the compartment.
“You don’t mind if Marc sits with us, do you?” David asked. Well, now that Marc was standing right there, how could he refuse?
“Have a seat Marc,” Art offered, patting one of the cushions. Beaming, Marc sat down. Albus silently studied David’s face. It looked as bright and cheerful as ever, but Albus couldn’t help thinking about Rose’s theory that David might be hiding something. Was he?
“Thanks guys,” Marc said. He then, of course, pulled out a book.
“Marc, where’s Rob?” Rob was the other Gryffindor boy in Albus’s year, and he thought the two were friends. Though he wasn’t sure of that.
“Oh, he’s with the Ravenclaws,” Marc said. As Albus thought, distant memories resurfaced of Rob sitting with the Ravenclaws during classes instead of Marc. Albus felt small amount of pity for Marc, but it was hard to pity a friendless person who didn't make much effort to get a friend in the first place.
For the next hour or so, Albus, David, and Art discussed Hogwarts Quidditch, and who they'd think would win this year. Gryffindor had nobody graduating, which was a plus, but the undefeatable Preece brothers in Hufflepuff were still around too. Only Ravenclaw and Slytherin had team members leaving.
Albus really wanted to have a discussion about the weird dementor in the newspaper, but Marc was sitting in their compartment. Could he trust him? Well, Marc didn't exactly have a long attention span. And what was the harm if Marc caught onto a sentence here or there? He decided to go for it. If they didn't discuss it now, then they wouldn't talk about the dementor until at least tomorrow.
"David, do you get the Daily Prophet?" Albus asked. He might have already read the article about the dementor.
"Yeah, we get it. I don't read it though, if that's what you're implying."
"Well, there was this article about some strange dementor thing..." Albus explained what the article said about the dementor. Art didn't get the Daily Prophet either, so he listened in with David. He then told them what dad had slipped in the car, which nobody, not even Rose, knew yet.
"A historian?" said Rose. "Well, that means this dementor isn't some new creation, and if a historian was able to find what the dementor was, then we should be able to look it up too. The Hogwarts library is one of the best libraries in England."
"Great," David said sarcastically. "Another year spent in the library. I got sick of that place last year when we spent like two months looking up that potion. How long do you think this will take?"
"Hopefully not that long," Art said. "A historian managed to find the dementor in a week, though that is an expert, I suppose..." Albus glanced over at Marc. He was reading a book, completely oblivious to their conversation. That was good.
"The newspapers might dig something up," Rose suggested. "But it would be better if we knew about it before the journalists."
"We could look that up tomorrow," Albus suggested. "We have a day before classes starts, since today's Saturday." Once that was confirmed, they moved onto more pleasant topics, like who the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was.
"We have to get all Lockhart books, who everyone knows is a fraud, and James didn't have to get anything from Lockhart! Is this new teacher insane, or what?" Albus said.
"Oh, apparently Fred and Louis had to get those awful Ministry textbooks that were used when Umbridge were teaching," Rose said. "I really don't like this teacher's taste in books."
"You shouldn't really judge a teacher based on books," Art pointed out.
"We can wait and see, but I have a feeling I won't like whoever it is," Albus replied.
When they finally arrived at Hogsmeade station, Albus realized this would be the first time they'd be taking the carriages to school, not the boats. They were amateurs now. When Albus walked up to the carriages, he got a bit of a shock. There were some sort of black horse, with rough leathery skin and wings hooked up to the carriage. Were they thestrals? But they were invisible... right?
"Rose, why are the thestrals visible?"
"What do you mean?" Rose said, glancing over at Albus as she hoisted herself up onto the carriage.
"That big leathery winged horse thing that's pulling the carriage."
"Oh, the thestrals! They're invisible unless-" Rose stopped for a moment, and looked at Albus like she was trying to figure something out.
"What?" he said.
“Albus did you see Slytherin die, when you were fighting in his office last year?" He thought, and remembered Slytherin's limbs snapping together, and his lifeless eyes.
"Yes," Albus whispered, his gaze following older students were climbing into carriages, laughing and endless chattering filling the air, all completely oblivious to the creatures that were inches away.
"Thestrals are invisible to everyone except those who have seen someone die," Rose said. "And, well... you have."
Albus shifted his feet uneasily as he stared at the thestrals. He hated them. The only reason Albus could see them was because he had seen someone kick the bucket. Stupid. He looked at it a bit longer, and his mind lingered on Slytherin’s motionless eyes… dead eyes…
"Albus, jump in the carriage," Rose said. "We're going to be late." Albus heaved himself onto the carriage, which already contained Rose, Art, David, and Marc.
"I personally think it's cool that you can see thestrals," Art said. He must have sensed Albus's anger. "I'm curious what they look like."
"Looks like dark creatures are friends of Albus," David joked. "Just hope that dementor down in Antarctica doesn't try to come to Hogwarts. The thestrals might have competition."
Thestrals, dementors... this year was going to be a whopper.
Chapter 5: The First Day (And Night)
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Inside the Great Hall, the first-years lined up, ready to be sorted. Albus didn’t really focus his mind on the first-years. None of his cousins were being sorted, so why should he pay attention? Albus’s mind drifted over to thestrals. They were so creepy looking, like Albus was staring into the face of death itself. He remembered James’s taunts about the thestrals before he came to Hogwarts last year. Luckily, he wouldn’t have to see them until the end of the year, when they went back to Hogsmeade station. Wait, what about Christmas, if he went home? Would they use the carriages then?
Before Albus could ask Rose, he was interrupted by the singing of the sorting hat inside the silence of the great hall.
Once upon a time
Over twenty years ago
The Hogwarts houses united
To defeat a common foe.
Gryffindor, the house of the brave,
Valiantly arose to the task
While the kind-hearted Hufflepuffs
Removed their shy mask.
The sharp-witted Ravenclaws
Performed every spell within their means
And several Slytherins
Fought behind the scenes.
So wherever you go,
Do not be afraid,
For each house has some good
Even though with time their acts might fade.
As everyone started clapping, Albus glanced over at the Slytherin table. Really? They fought for good during the Battle of Hogwarts? He assumed the hat must be thinking of Severus Snape, who ultimately changed the outcome of the battle even though he didn’t do much actual fighting. But were their other Slytherins as well, who did behind-the-scene fighting? Albus never thought about that before. Snape‘s acts stuck out like a sore thumb in Slytherin house. Snape was the only one against the death eaters, right? But the sorting hat said "several Slytherins". Who else fought? Did they make the ultimate sacrifice, like Severus Snape, or did they survive and disappear back into the shadows? Overall, Slytherin seemed like one of the most mysterious houses.
“Psst, Albus,” James whispered to him across the table as the first few names were called.
“What?” Albus hissed.
“This is the first year in ages where none of our cousins have been sorted. Victoire graduated last year, now Dominique’s in her seventh year, Molly and Lucy are in their sixth, Louis and Fred are in their fifth, Roxanne is in her fourth, I’m in third year, and you and Rose are in your second year."
“Wow,” Albus whispered, as “Brooks, Tanya!” was called. “Lily and Hugo are coming next year, though. That’ll be terrifying: Lily at Hogwarts. She’d go nuts living her greatest dream since she was two.”
Professor Selwyn called another name. Brought out of his thoughts, Albus remembered that Professor Fuchs, who was deputy headmaster, now had left Hogwarts, so his good friend Professor Selwyn, the charms teacher, was now deputy headmistress. Albus instinctively looked over at the staff table to see who replaced Fuchs as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. A man with messy black hair was seated up at the staff table. He was wearing staff robes, so it was difficult to tell much else about him. His hair looked strangely like Albus’s own hair. Same shade and everything. Weird.
The new teacher was wearing a wide, almost satanic, grin as he stared down at the Great Hall. The man’s eyes flickered briefly, until he locked eyes with Albus. Al instinctively moved his eyes away. Albus pretended to pay attention to the small blonde girl who was being sorted, instead of looking at the new teacher. Once the sorting hat shouted, “HUFFLEPUFF!” Albus took a quick glance back at the new teacher. He was still staring right at Albus. That was so creepy.
“Rose?” Albus whispered.
“What?” she whispered. Her voice was so soft Albus was almost lip-reading.
“That new teacher at the staff table- he’s staring right at me.” Rose looked skeptical, and turned around towards the staff table. Albus didn’t dare look, and instead gazed at the sorting hat, his eyes glossing over.
“That is so weird,” Rose said. “He was staring at you so intently, and looked like he might explode from happiness. Then he spotted me looking, and he glanced at me, looking more joyful by the second.” David and Art, who sat across from them, both looked at the new professor.
“He’s now alternating between you and James, I think,” Art whispered. “It’s difficult to tell. But he seems oblivious to the fact that I’m staring right at him.”
“Is this the same guy who assigned us all the Lockhart books?” David whispered.
“I think so,” Albus replied. “But James didn’t have to get the Lockhart books. It might be some mistake.”
“Possibly,” Rose said, shrugging. “What type of teacher would give kids in different years a completely different set of books?”
“An insane one,” David whispered. “And that grin looks kind of insane. And he’s still looking at you, Albus, so don’t turn around.”
“Shhh!” Albus’s cousin, Molly, hissed, louder than their small conversation was. She silently glared at them. Albus glanced back at the sorting hat, knowing he couldn’t go back to talking. Molly was keeping a close eye on them now.
“Green, Agatha!” Professor Selwyn shouted. Albus’s eyes flickered over the clearly terrified first-years. Was that really him last year? He supposed it was. Since when had he gained so much confidence? Even James’s teasing didn’t have much of an effect anymore.
Well, he was given the opportunity for independence last year, with no parents around, and a brother who he rarely interacted with at school. And then, everything massively changed at the end of the year…. even now, Albus’s knowledge that he defeated Slytherin was like a talisman against his heart. Things like a new professor seemed trivial, almost unworrisome.
Except for the creepy stare. Could the new professor be working for Lord Zajecfer? He didn’t have a body anymore, but he certainly wasn’t dead.
When the sorting was finally over, Professor Flitwick allowed them all to eat, and once they were done they could await further announcements. Flitwick seemed slightly paler, and his confidence seemed to be lacking. It made sense. Flitwick was under the Imperius curse for almost an entire year. Albus couldn’t even begin to fathom what that would be like. Worst still, he was the headmaster, and Flitwick’s duty was to protect the students. He’d failed so abysmally at that fact last year.
Albus cut some of his turkey, and pushed the fork into his mouth, still wallowing in his disappointing thoughts. But this year would be okay, right? Well, except for the fact that some scary dementor was on the loose, but that was all the way in Antarctica. He had nothing to fear… right? And surely that new professor wouldn’t hurt him? He never would have been hired if he was insane.
“Albus, that new teacher is staring at me,” James said, walking over to Albus from further down the Gryffindor table. “He was staring at you earlier.”
“I know,” Albus said. “But if he were dangerous, he wouldn’t have been hired,” Albus said.
“Well, remember how dad said that they were having trouble getting a new Defense instructor, because of the rumors of the position being cursed again and all of that?” James said. Albus let out a small groan. Why couldn’t Professor Fuchs come back? He was wonderful teacher. Better yet, he had helped Albus when he had trouble performing spells, and showed him that he could do the spells perfectly when not saying the words at all. Albus wished he had asked Professor Fuchs more about it. Why could he perform nonverbal magic with ease? That surely wasn’t common?
When the food at last disappeared from the tables, Professor Flitwick climbed up to the podium. He still looked pale.
“First, I’d like to introduce our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Rupert Unglesbee.” Unglesbee ran his fingers through his hair briefly, stood up, smiled at everyone, and sat back down. “Now, for the usual reminders, which will not be usual for the first years. All students are banned from the Forbidden Forest. And Mr. Filch’s list of banned items has been extended. You may see the full list on the door of his office. Finally, we have a speech from Lindsay Jones, a second-year Hufflepuff.” A girl from Hufflepuff table stood up. Her long, brown hair was pulled up in a messy ponytail. Albus vaguely recognized her from his Herbology classes. Wasn’t she the girl who was as fascinated with Herbology as Art? She stood up and walked towards the front of the Great Hall. She shyly tucked a small piece of hair behind her ear. But when she spoke, it was loud and confident.
“For those of you who don’t know, my name is Lindsay Jones. When I was a little girl, I always loved learning about the environment. Trees and plants were my friends. But I was heartbroken that such wonderful, peaceful places were being torn away by pollution, and forests were being cut down. I wanted do something about it, but I didn’t know what.
“When I was eleven, I was introduced to magic for the first time. I saw how easily wizards could accomplish anything. Muggles have put hard labor into cleaning up rivers, yet wizards could get rid of this massive problem quickly and easily. But they didn’t. They left the muggles to their own devices, sat back, and said it wasn’t their problem. It was the muggles’ fault, so the muggles had to fix it. Or so they say. But we damage the environment too. Take a look at your wands, for example. Every single one of you have one. Did you ever wonder where exactly they came from? Did they just magically appear in Ollivander’s Wand Shop? No, they did not. They were all a result of cutting down trees. It used to be that wandmakers would just take a small branch, but now entire trees are being slaughtered as the wizarding population grows and grows. Do they replant the trees? No, they do not.
“Now muggles are cleaning up some of our mistakes. Don’t we owe them? Shouldn’t we help them? And it’s not just wand trees, either. Twenty years ago, when death eaters ruled the country, they would slaughter animals just for fun. Giants trampled entire forests. They destroyed so much. Yet, when the war was over, the only wildlife we fixed up was the Forbidden Forest. We payed no attention to any muggle things the death eaters destroyed. We were selfish, and only thought about ourselves. Even once the war was over, we still didn’t help. When I was introduced to this world, I wondered why wizards were so narrow-minded. None of them want anything to do with muggles, even though our actions makes a huge footprint on the muggle world.
“So we have to repay the muggles. We share this Earth with them, whether we like it or not. We have to help clean up this world, just like the muggles are doing. Even if wizards aren’t directly related to an event, can’t we help through the kindness of our hearts? Shouldn’t we extend hospitality to our brethren?
“So many of us are focused on OWLS, or NEWTS, or daily gossip. Have you ever thought about broadening your minds, to help change the world? Me, I want to change the world. How about you? Will you join me?”
On that note, Lindsay sat back down at the Hufflepuff table. Albus clapped his hands, but only about half of the hall did. A lot of people had troubled faces. Albus thought the same thing they were thinking. Are muggles better than wizards? Sure, wizards had their faults, and so did muggles, but almost every wizard, some point in their life, recognized that they were superior to muggles. After all, they had magic. Was that really the case? Were wizards lacking in certain qualities that muggles cherished?
His mind buzzing, Albus barely talked as he walked up to Gryffindor tower. Was this how he felt last year too? Did most students worry about dementors, seeing thestrals, unusual speeches, and frightening teachers on their first day back?
Albus didn’t think so.
"ALBUS! EARTH TO ALBUS!" David shouted. Albus blushed slightly.
"Sorry mate, I was thinking. What is it?"
"Well I was thinking… first day of term, haven't seen each other all term… want to pull an all-nighter? It'll be fun. Besides, we don't have class tomorrow."
"Sure, why not?" Albus replied. "That'll be fun. We should invite the entire dorm, and Rose too."
"No thanks!" Rose shouted. Albus hadn't realized that she had been listening.
"Why not?" Albus asked curiously.
"I was hoping to meet up with the girls in my dormitory. I've seen you all summer, and then David and Art at the feast, but I haven't seen them since last year."
"Like… who? Who are you friends with?" Albus asked, feeling extremely stupid. Of course she would have friends. He was such an idiot. Why would he think that her only friends were three boys?
"Well, there's Nicole Chandler, whose friends are in Ravenclaw so we hang out when she's not around them, and the other girls are nice too. Albus, you really ought to try making more than three friends. And I barely count, since I'm your cousin."
"Hmm." Albus said, deep in thought. What friends did he have besides his cousins and David and Art? For a moment his mind jumped to Marc Mysticus and Rob Kim, both in his dormitory, but how much did he know about them really? He barely even talked to them.
So when the Gryffindor boys tried to pull an all-nighter and have a little fun, Albus paid extra attention to Marc and Rob.
At two in the morning, after several hours of talking- looking back Albus would barely remember what they talked about- and eating fudge David stealthily stole from the kitchens, they finally broke out the exploding snap cards.
"So, Marc, you're muggleborn right?" Albus said during his game. "It must have been weird learning about Hogwarts and wizards and such."
"Yeah, it was a bit, but it my parents always knew something was weird- OUCH!" Marc yelped as a card burned his finger upon its explosion.
"Wicked," Rob said. "You alright, mate?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Anyway, Albus, as I was saying-"
"What in the blazes is going on here?" a heavily annoyed face said, peeking into their dormitory. Albus didn't recognize him, but it was clearly an older student. He was wearing boxer shorts and some muggle sport jersey, and looked extremely tired and irritated. "Playing exploding snap in the middle of the night? What the hell? It's only my first bleedin' day as prefect, and if things weren't bad enough with Louis and Fred constantly causing a ruckus in my dormitory, the entire house is being woke up by some stupid second-years messing around? Playing exploding snap, the loudest game that has ever existed? Did you even think?"
The five of them look guiltily at the ground. "No, we're sorry," Albus muttered.
"Fine. If you guys stop I won't assign detention. Mainly because I'm too tired to organize it. So just shut up," the Prefect said, and left.
The five of them put Albus's cards away, but they were still to hyper to sleep so they just talked in low voices, sitting on a circle on the ground. Somehow the topic turned to their lives before Hogwarts.
Rob started talking. "Well, as I've said before, I live in Northern England with my sisters, who mainly just leave me alone. Mum had me go to muggle primary school because she said she didn't want me to be a wizard ignorant about muggles- she's muggleborn- and it wasn't too bad. I made a few friends, but they could never come to my house because it was all magicked up. So yeah, I was wizard, so I never really experienced any surprise at opening my Hogwarts letter," Rob said.
"I bet Art sure did," Albus said, grinning at his muggleborn friend.
"Actually, it was a surprise, but not as much as it could have. Accidental magic burst out of me lots of times- I remember, when I was seven, I accidentally blew up my dad's tractor. I was really upset about it, since it cost a lot of money and stuff. I just went to my dad and started crying," Art said.
"Was he mad?" Albus asked.
"No, he told me it wasn't my fault and went into some big explanation of how the gasoline probably cause an explosion or something like that. We didn't believe in magic, like most muggles, so dad didn't think I had done it. I knew, though. I didn't understand how I blew it up, but I knew I did."
"Wow, I don't think I've ever blown anything up," Rob said in awe.
Art flushed. "It isn't exactly something to be proud of."
"David, hey- David?" Albus looked over at his friend, who was slumped over, leaning against the leg of his bed, and had his eyes closed. He didn't respond.
"He isn't asleep. His breathing isn't right," Marc said matter-of-factly.
"Well, looks like you got that wrong, since he sure seems asleep to me. David?" Albus said, nudging his friend's shoulder.
"Hmm?" David said sleepily.
"Get into bed mate, you fell asleep. In fact, we should all probably get to bed. What time is it?"
"Three o'clock," Marc said.
"Then we should all head to bed."
Albus lay in bed, feeling weary. After several minutes, he heard the soft snores deep breathing from Art, Marc, and Rob around him. After being in a dorm with them for a year, he could tell the noises apart. Albus stole a quick glance as David. How come he didn't hear David's usual snores yet? He was, after all, the one who fell asleep during the conversation. Had Marc been right?
But his mind started going blank of tangible thought, and when Albus woke up in the morning, he barely remembered the incident.
Chapter 6: Unglesbee's Class
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Classes didn’t start until Monday, which meant they had an entire day before classes started. David wanted to just have fun all day, but Rose had a different idea.
“Let’s go to the library,” she said. “We’ll have the library to ourselves, since nobody has homework, so we can talk freely. We can search the shelves for that dementor Uncle Harry mentioned.” Albus was in favor in this plan. The dementor interested him. That is, until he actually went to the library and he saw all the books on dementors.
“We’re going to die of book-y-ness,” David moaned. “There’s an entire shelf of books on dementors!”
“We’ll live. Besides, book-y-ness isn’t even a word. C’mon, let’s start cracking open some novels,” Rose said. Albus pulled The Beginning of the Dementors off the shelf. He cracked open the book, and read Chapter One. It was all about the reign of Emeric the Evil during the early middle ages. Albus skipped most of it, since nothing about dementors were mentioned. He skipped to chapter two, and read from there.
Even though Emeric the Evil had conquered almost all of southern England, one thing he lacked was an army. He had several followers, who could duel ten wizards at once, but they were few in number. Instead of recruiting more followers, Emeric retreated to his home, where it was widely rumored he was at work trying to create the foulest creature in existence, one that would ensure his control over the country.
This creature, of course, was the dementor. It is unknown exactly how he created the monster, except that he used an extensive amount of dark sorcery. Five years later, wizards began reporting of a fearsome creature that caused them to mellow in misery. The reign of the dementors had begun.
Emeric was clever in designing these creatures, because as long as fear was around, the dementors could breed quickly. They began to infest the rest of the world, until they occupied every continent, spreading fear. The time of their creation was also the time when they were most prosperous, and thousands and then millions formed across the world. Even muggles, who could not see the dementors, could feel their effects and named this period of time as the “Dark Ages”.
What few people know is that the first dementor Emeric created was drastically different from dementors today. The first dementor ever created by Emeric was called “The Dementor King” and was born to be the commander to all future dementors. Emeric put more time into this lone dementor than all the other millions of dementors combined.
There are several differences between the King of Dementors and normal dementors. The most drastic, and most important, was that when the King of Dementors “kissed” a person, he had the power to examine their soul, and all of their memories. Emeric believed that the King of Dementors could therefore learn from each person he attacked, and become the ultimate military commander. In addition, this dementor of many names, among those the "God of Darkness", reeked so much despair people could feel it for miles around.
One of the most peculiar things, however, was that it had a distinct red glow. Throughout history, the color red has been associated with emotion. The dementor, by altering ones emotion, represents the color red, so it is perhaps not coincidental that it shows this color.
This dementor led the regime against the world, and organized the otherwise unorganizable dementors. The dementors were very influential throughout history during this time, increasing everyone's fear of everyone. This is part of the reason the Vikings were so greatly feared.
When Emeric the Evil was nearing a hundred fifty years old, his hold on England was deteriorating. Finally, the wizard know simply as “Egbert” entered a massive duel with Emeric, one that lasted nearly half a day. Emeric lost, and ultimately paid with his life. But while Emeric had died, the Dementor King was still at large. Thirty years later, a force of four hundred wizards managed to corner the dementor and capture him for the time being. Once he was captured, the wizards were unsure what to do with the Dementor King. How could you lock up a cunning, fearful creature that radiated power?
After several wizarding quarrels, the urgency of the situation allowed them to come to an agreement. They built a prison far, far away, exiled in an unknown location. This was quite revolutionary at the time, since wizards typically did not travel very far from their hometown. After consulting several magical experts, a wizard, his name unknown, suggested to make the prison the happiest place possible: paint rainbows on the walls, unicorns, everything that symboled beauty and love and purity. Some wizards left the convention at this outrageous idea, but most of the wizards approved. They put the prison underwater in the location, with many enchantments so it would be incredibly difficult for any wizard to free the dementor.
It is rumored that the dementor lays down there, cold and forgotten, to this day. Dementors do not die, they simply diminish and become so small they barely exist. However, the Dementor King, being extremely powerful, probably would not fade with time.
Several wizarding archeologists have attempted to locate the prison, but the wizards performed their spells well. Fear drove them to put hundreds and thousands of spells around the prison, and only a truly talented wizard, one who put in hours and hours of time each day, could even have a chance of breaking all the enchantments.
The chapter ended there. Albus glanced it over again. This was most definitely the dementor that escaped a few weeks ago. But who could take down thousands of enchantments? That must have been incredibly difficult. And whoever took those enchantments down would have spent hours upon hours finding its location, and then figuring out which enchantments were used…
Albus realized that he hadn’t told Rose, David, or Art his revelation, all who were searching hard through the books.
“Hey guys,” Albus said. They looked up at him. “Found it.” Albus sat back in his chair as they read the chapter in the book. Well, it certainly was an accomplished day, and it wasn’t even lunchtime. He stared out in space, thinking. To be honest, a dementor from all the way back in the middle ages was absolutely fascinating. Terrifying, but fascinating. There wasn't anyone who could talk about times back then, unless you counted portraits and ghosts.
When David reached the end of the paragraph he cursed under his breath. "Are you kidding me? That dementor… do we really need more trouble this year?"
"What I'm curious about, is who could release a dementor from all those enchantments," Rose said. "Hundreds, maybe even thousands of enchantments? That would be the equivalent of taking down all of the wards around Hogwarts, which is practically impossible! Voldemort couldn’t even do that.”
“Did he ever try, though?” Albus asked. “Voldemort had control of the school, back when he was in power. He had two death eaters stationed there. He never had any reason to take down the wards protecting the school.”
“I suppose…” Rose said, sighing. “It’s not something just you or I could do, however. Or any normal person.”
“Agreed,” Albus said.
“Let’s think on this,” Art said. “I mean, we know what it is now, but it’s not like we can do much about this Dementor King, right? What do we do with this information?”
“No idea,” Albus admitted. He had no idea what he would do about him. “I’ll send a letter to my dad about him, I suppose.”
“Alright then,” Art said.
The rest of the day passed relaxingly, as everyone was just playing around before the first day of classes started. Albus, Art, Rose, and David all went to the lake, where they lounged back on the grass and laughed at the attempts of older students to find the giant squid. Between the four of them, however, there was an unspoken tension; an unspoken fear. None of them wanted to admit how afraid they were of this new dementor.
Albus just hoped that classes the next day would be enough to distract them.
The very first class Monday morning was Defense Against the Dark Arts. In an effort to stop thinking about the Dementor King, Albus thought about how Professor Unglesbee kept staring at him in the Great Hall. He was not eager for that class. He knew he ought to reserve judgement and wait until he actually has the class, but… he couldn't help feeling apprehensive.
When Albus and the rest of the Gryffindors in their year entered the Defense classroom, Albus stopped abruptly in the doorway. Hundreds of Harry Potters stared down at him from the wall. Not a single inch of the normally beige wall could be seen. Posters and pictures of Harry, from his time at Hogwarts until present-day, smiled vividly at Albus. He, meanwhile, stared up in horror. Would he have to see this practically every day? This was going to be the worst year ever! And why was it even there?
“Albus Severus Potter!” Professor Unglesbee said, immediately shaking Albus’s hand and practically bouncing on his feet with excitement. “Pleasure to meet you, pleasure, pleasure. Did Harry Potter actually escape from Gringotts on a dragon? And what is he like as a father? Is he nice in person? What was his childhood like? That always seems to be shrouded over.”
“Er…” Albus said, overwhelmed. So Professor Unglesbee wasn't a dark lord or anything, he was just… a Harry Potter fanboy?
Albus would rather have a dark lord.
“Oh, and can you introduce me sometime? I mean, you probably are good contact, since you’re his son! You’ll see him at Christmas, won’t you? I’d love to come!" Unglesbee said.
“Er, I don’t really know…” Albus said a little shakily. He really did not want this guy at his house for Christmas. Having a professor he barely knew at Christmas would be extremely strange anyhow.
“Grandma Weasley always likes to know who’s coming for Christmas in late summer,” Rose lied. “You know, preparations and things.”
“Well, I can come next year then!” said Unglesbee, still smiling. “And you must be Rose Caroline Weasley! Daughter of Ronald Bilius Weasley and Hermione Jean Granger, Harry Potter’s best friends! I can call him Harry, can’t I? I do know you two, after all!”
“Er, I suppose,” Albus said. “Anyway, er, I suppose we better, er, get our seats,” Albus said. He cautiously slipped away, sparing a quick glance at a rattling covered cage at the front of the room, and slipped next to David and Art. “He’s completely bonkers,” Albus whispered, keeping his voice low so Unglesbee didn’t hear.
“I can tell,” David whispered, grimacing.
“Let’s see how he teaches first,” Art suggested. “It is the first day, after all. We shouldn’t really be making judgements yet, but so far I agree.”
“Hello!” Unglesbee said, shaking bounding over to where they sat. “You two lads must be the best friends of Harry Potter's son!”
"I suppose, yeah," Art said. David remained silent.
"What are your two names?"
"I'm Art Gambeski." Albus and Art both looked at David, who was silent, looking like his mind wasn't even present. Since when did David space out? "And he's David Haid," Art said quickly.
"Pleasure to meet you two!" Unglesbee said, shaking both of their hands. David looked like he wanted to sink into the floor, which was unusual for him, but Albus was dying of embarrassment as well. He slouched so low his seat that his face was barely visible above the desk.
"Albus," Rose whispered. He looked behind him, where Rose was sitting. "Stop slouching. That's terrible manners."
"If I go under my desk nobody will be able to see me," Albus muttered. "I hate this."
"It could be worse," David said, finally pulled out of his dream-like state. "You dad is known for being a hero, not because he did anything bad. He's famous, not infamous."
"But it would be different if he set low expectations, because then I can overcome them easily. But he set such high expectations, so I can never compare. How do you compete with killing Voldemort?"
"Look, Albus. If you were the son of a death eater, you'd feel ashamed of them every single day. You'd be even more determined to overthrow the reputation they set. The reputation your dad set for you isn't a bad one."
"I suppose," Albus mumbled. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Scorpius Malfoy staring at him and David. Scorpius's dad was a former death eater...
Unglesbee clapped his hands at the front of the room. "Hello class! I'm pleased to see your wonderful, happy faces. Today we are going to take a short quiz, to see if you picked up anything from Lockhart's books." Albus wrung his hands together. He hadn't even looked at the Lockhart books. This was so unfair. Couldn't he at least given them a day to study?
Unglesbee gave them the list of questions. Albus scanned them.
What is Gilderoy Lockhart's favorite color?
What is Gilderoy Lockhart's greatest life ambition?
What is Gilderoy Lockhart’s favorite gift?
What is Gilderoy Lockhart’s envision for the future?
There were fifty questions in total. Albus scanned the paper. He didn’t know any of this. None of it. Well, he’d make up a color. Smirking slightly, Albus scribbled down hot pink…
Once the test was finished and collected, Unglesbee stood at the front of the room and looked over the tests.
"Unfortunately there were no perfect scores in this class, or even close to perfect, but Mr. Marc Mysticus and…" -here his eyes widened- "Ms. Rose Weasley tied for the highest score!" Unglesbee's smile dazzled the students as he looked upon Rose. "Of course Rose Weasley would have the brains of her mother! You know, Hermione Weasley, Rose's mother, was one of the brightest students Hogwarts ever had! She accomplished many extraordinary feats of magic while still in school, and then once she graduated she almost single-handedly reformed the Ministry of Magic with Kingsley Shacklebolt…" Rose blushed as Unglesbee rambled on about Aunt Hermione.
After Unglesbee finally finished talking, he strode up to the front desk, where there was a white cloth covering what appeared to be a cage. It shook and rattled, and Albus wondered what sort of creature was in there.
"Now class, I present to you… Cornish Pixies!" Unglesbee shouted, and whipped the cloth of the cage to reveal rapidly flying pixies, who were flying so fast in their cages that they kept crashing into each other. They looked like fairies, except they had a mischievous grin that unnerved Albus. "On the count of three, I will unleash the pixies, and you all have to get them back into the cage. It will be a test of what abilities you have acquired. One… two… three…!"
Chaos ensued. Within about ten seconds, Albus was engaged in a wrestling match with a pixie for his wand, highly annoyed. Rose shrieked in pain as several pixies pulled her hair different directions. A few Slytherin girls were shrieking slapping the pixies with their hands. Scorpius Malfoy also had a few pixies attached to his wand. In an attempt to get them off, he accidentally rammed into David. The two boys glared at each other, and only stopped when more pixies fluttered around them, distracting them. The scene blurred before Albus's eyes, as everyone was moving so fast. Desks were knocked over by panicked students, and Professor Unglesbee was nowhere in sight. The written test they had just took on Lockhart scattered to every corner of the room.
"GET OFF!" Albus shouted at the three pixies who were trying to grab Albus's wand from his hand. After several attempts to pry them off, he finally smacked them hard against the wall, and they fainted. But while three were out of the way, dozens remained buzzing all around the classroom.
There had to be a spell for this. Something to stop the pixies, or slow them down. Albus tried to remember the various spells he had heard mum and dad use. What could slow something down…
Impedimenta. Mum used that spell whenever James knocked something off a shelf, and mum used that spell to slow down the objects so they wouldn't crash on the floor.
Impedimenta, Albus thought, pointing his wand at the pixies in the room. Impedimenta. Chaos continued. It wasn't working! Was he thinking the wrong words? Or was it just too difficult?
Several pixies beelined for his outstretched wand. Albus tried to hit them off.
Impedimenta! He was really starting to panic now. Why did Unglesbee have to do this to them on the first day of class! What sane teacher would unleash dozens of Cornish pixies on a classroom?
IMPEDIMENTA! Albus thought, channeling all of his thought into his wand, his magic, his power.
The blinding flash of blue erupted from his wall, the jet wider than anything he'd ever seen before, and it bounced off every wall in the room. Within seconds, everybody and everything in the room seemed to be in slow-motion. Cornish pixies floated in the air, struggling and seemingly bewildered at their lack of speed. The students were also slowed, still moving, but their legs moved slower than snails.
Albus froze in the middle of it all, astounded. He had never produced anything like that before. It was amazing but… what would his fellow classmates say? That he was some powerful freak? And he knew they would rush up to him at the end of class, asking him how he did it… and he wouldn't know the answer. He didn't want their attention…
Obscuro, Albus thought, without twitching a muscle, and blindfolds covered everyone's eyes. Then, free and unseen, Albus hurried around the room, grabbing pixies and stuffing them into the cage. He was just quick enough-the spell wore off everyone right after the cage was closed. He thought Finite Incantatem, and the blindfolds were removed from everyone's faces.
Albus held his breath as everyone burst into babble.
"What was that light? Who cast it? I didn't see anything, did you?" Nicole was asking Rose.
"No, I didn't," Rose said.
While everyone was talking, Albus looked around for Professor Unglesbee. He wasn't back in the room yet, so Albus strode to the door and opened it. Unglesbee stood, looking slightly disheveled but otherwise perfectly okay. He beamed at Albus, and said, "Wow, everyone got them back into the cage? Good job!"
"Someone did. I don't know who; we were blinded," Albus lied. But Unglesbee didn't seem to care. He continued smiling at Albus, probably pleased that he was the one who retrieved him.
"Excellent work, everyone! Twenty points to both Gryffindor and Slytherin! We'll see how the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs fare tomorrow. Good work! Class dismissed!"
When class finally finished Albus hurried out of class faster than a cheetah. He did not want to linger. He was still a bit angry about the stupid test on Lockhart, and having to fight a bunch of pixies. He didn't care how much praise was heaped on them.
“That was the worst test ever!” Albus exclaimed. “Is he a fan of Gilderoy Lockhart too or something? Seriously, what educational value did that give us?”
“I knew a lot of the questions, since I read the books beforehand,” Rose said. “But you have a point Albus. Those were the worst question choices in history.”
“I think I failed,” Art moaned. “No, scratch that, I know I failed.”
Albus hoped they’d all do better on the next one, even I-don’t-study-David. And speaking of David, where was he?
“SHUT UP Malfoy!” David was yelling. He was clutching his fists, staring at Scorpius Malfoy, who bore a small smirk.
“I can’t believe you haven’t yet, David, that’s all. I’m shocked you got into Gryffindor. You’re being a coward. Maybe you have a point, because he won’t forgive you after an entire year.” Malfoy grinned in satisfaction. David raised his arm to punch…
“DAVID!” Albus yelled, right as something-no someone-whizzed past him. Art had quickly restrained David before he could punch Malfoy.
“Scorpius!” someone shouted. A small, dark-skinned boy with a puffy afro put his arm over Malfoy’s shoulder. “Leave him. He isn’t worth it.”
“He gets away with it,” Scorpius muttered. “I don’t.” With a glare at David, Scorpius and his fellow Slytherin friend walked away.
David stood panting in the middle of the corridor, Art still holding back David’s arm.
“David?” Albus whispered cautiously. “What’s going on?”
“Malfoy was being a Slytherin bully, that’s what,” David said. “I so wished I had punched him.”
“And what would that accomplish? A detention?” Art said, slowly letting go of David’s arm. “You’re better than that.”
“David, what was Malfoy talking about?” Albus asked.
“Oh, nothing,” David said scowling, picking up his books that he had thrown on the ground. “Just forget about it, alright? We need to get to Potions class, or we’re going to be late.” He began walking swiftly away from Albus.
“David, wait!” Albus shouted. “You can’t just pass that off as nothing!” David didn’t reply, and instead disappeared around the corner.
Albus, feeling rather helpless looked around at Art and Rose. Art shrugged at Albus, looking just as confused. Rose’s face was impassive and deep in thought, like she barely noticed what happened.
Albus picked up his bag from the ground and walked towards Potion class. When he arrived, he saw David already setting the Potion ingredients. Al hovered near the doorway, unsure what to do. The four of them usually worked together…
“I’ll partner with David, and you can be with Rose,” Art whispered in Albus’s ear.
“Thanks,” he whispered, and walked over to a few tables away. He didn’t want to go all the way across the room, because that would be way too mean and obvious.
As the first Potion class of the year started, Albus barely thought as he brew. Rose just ordered him around, and Albus obeyed like a mindless dummy. In reality, Al’s mind was whirring, just not focused on the task at hand.
Did Scorpius and David know each other from outside of school? And what were they fighting about? David obviously hated Malfoy’s guts, but why? What was Malfoy taunting David about? Albus couldn’t help remembering what Rose briefly mentioned in Diagon Alley, “I think’s he hiding something from us”. Last year, David seemed embarrassed when meeting Hagrid, he hid whatever his parents sent him, and then disappeared when they arrived at Platform 9 ¾, and didn’t even bother to make arrangements to meet up during the summer…
But, even more than knowing what David’s secret was, Albus wanted the rift between them to mend. Sure, the rift was only going for about ten minutes, but Albus hated it. A lot.
Weird. This was taking up more of his mind than the dementor thing that escaped from Antarctica. And the crazy new Professor was a big fanboy of his dad. Couldn’t this year be simple? Couldn’t he just worry about Quidditch and homework?
At the end of class, Albus cautiously approached the table where David and Art were working. Art gave him a friendly smile, while David was bending over the cauldron, hiding his face and pretending to do something to the cauldron even though class was over.
“Do you want to walk to Charms together?” Albus said, acting like nothing was wrong. David’s head snapped up abruptly, hitting the side of the cauldron.
“I hate that thing,” David grumbled, rubbing the back of his head. “And yeah, sure.”
As Albus, Art and David walked out (Rose had gone on ahead), Art asked, “So, what did you think of the new Defense professor?”
“Oh Merlin,” Albus said, groaning. David let out a small snort.
Things were improving.
It's been... let's see... nearly two years since the last update? Wow.
I know I haven't been around since forever, but before I quit updating I had finished the second book. And I figured that it was a waste to have the entire second book on my computer and not up here. So... here you go! Think of it as a Christmas present.
Chapter 7: Solving Unglesbee's System
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By the end of the week, everyone in the school had their first Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Much to his surprise, the only thing the different year’s classes seemed to have in common was that Unglesbee was a fan of Harry Potter.
“Other than the whole ‘It’s Harry Potter’s son so I think I might faint’ thing, class was actually pretty good,” James said, as he took a bite of his muffin. “We learned the Ridikulus spell to repel boggarts, and even got to face an actual boggart. It was great.”
“Really?” Albus said, skeptical. “You didn’t have to take a quiz about Gilderoy Lockhart?”
“Only loser second years do that,” James said, hitting Albus’s shoulders.
Maybe the “loser” part was incorrect, but James did have a point. In each year, the students had a completely different curriculum.
“We just had to read from a stupid textbook by some Slinkhard person,” Louis said. “It was awful. I really hope we don’t have to do that the rest of the year.”
When the fourth years, who had Defense right before dinner, finally arrived, many of them were extremely pale, even Roxanne. That was shocking, since Roxanne was the toughest person Albus knew. She scared the pants off every Slytherin and every Quidditch player with or without her beater’s bat.
“What happened?” Albus said urgently.
“Well, we got a lovely demonstration of the killing curse, the Imperius Curse, and the Cruciactus Curse,” Roxanne said, her voice thin and timid.
“What!?” Albus said. David looked dumbfounded as well.
“Is that even legal?” David asked.
“Probably not,” Roxanne said. “And since I can see the question in your eyes, Albus, they weren’t performed on any people. Just spiders. But it still was scary.”
“Is our teacher insane?” Albus asked.
“Yes, but, he has a 'method to his madness',” Rose cut in.
“What do you mean? It seems random,” Albus said.
“Albus, I know Uncle Harry doesn’t tell many stories, but my dad loves to tell them. He’s told Hugo and I about his various Defense Against the Dark Arts classes. In second year, they had Gilderoy Lockhart, who was rubbish, in third year they had Professor Lupin, who was amazing, in fourth year, they had Mad-Eye Moody, who showed them the unforgivable curses in class, fifth year, they had Umbridge, who only let them read from a textbook, and so on. Don’t you see? We’re in our second year, so Unglesbee is teaching it like Lockhart did. James said his class was brilliant, which makes sense because Professor Lupin was brilliant. Then Mad-Eye Moody showed the class unforgivable curses, which explains Roxanne and all the pale fourth years, and then Umbridge had them read from a textbook all year. Don’t you see? He’s basically giving them the exact same classes as Uncle Harry.”
“But why? Dad hated most of those teachers!” Albus exclaimed.
“He must think, ‘If they have the same classes as Harry Potter then they’ll be brilliant just like Harry Potter’ or something along those lines,” Rose said.
“But that doesn’t make sense! The only reason Dad was brilliant was because of stuff like natural talent, facing Voldemort and things, and teaching Defense in his fifth year.”
“I know it doesn’t make sense Al, I’m just trying to make you see along his line of thinking. I don’t agree with it either.”
“Maybe if we asked dad to talk to him, Unglesbee might change. If he treats me like a celebrity, than he’ll probably get on his hands and knees for the famous Harry Potter. If dad tells him to teach normally, he might change.”
“That’s… actually not a bad idea,” Rose said.
“I’ll send him a letter right now! I haven’t sent him a letter yet since I got back to Hogwarts, anyway. See you guys later then,” Albus said cheerfully waving goodbye. He left the Great Hall and walked upstairs, to the Gryffindor common room. As he sat down on one of the plush couches, Albus smiled. He had missed this place over the summer.
School’s going well, so far. We have a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Unglesbee. His classroom is covered with pictures of you. He went totally nuts when he saw me. I think he’s insane.
Anyhow, at dinner today we found out that for each year, he’s teaching us like you were taught. Like today, since I’m a second year, he gave us a quiz on Gilderoy Lockhart and had us fight pixies (it was terrible). James got to see a boggart (lucky him) and the fifth years only got to read from a textbook. Rose had an idea that he might stop if you were to talk to him. After all, he is really big fan of you. Could you do that, please?
Thestrals look really creepy. I saw them pulling the school carriages.
Yesterday I went to the library (With Rose, of course) and looked up the history of dementors. One of the books mentioned some “King of Dementors”. Is that what escaped from the prison in Antarctica? It seems so, but the book mentioned that there are thousands of enchantments on the prison, and scores of archeologists couldn’t even find the prison. How did it escape, then?
I haven’t visited Hagrid yet, but I think I might do so once I finish this letter.
For a brief second Albus considered mentioning David’s peculiar behavior and argument with Malfoy, but he decided against it. David certainly didn’t want any attention drawn to it, so informing Harry Potter, who was also Head Auror, was probably unwise. So he sealed the letter, and left the common room to go to the Owlery.
“Here you go, Godric,” Albus said, putting it in Godric’s beak. Godric stared at Albus for a moment, and then lifted up into the sky. He soared across the mountains edge until he was swallowed up by the blue sky.
Albus walked back down the stairs, thinking to himself. The professor has once again left his mind, to be replaced by thoughts of David. Could their friendship be patched up? It improved over the course of the day, certainly, and they were back to normal, but was forgetting really the right option?
It was for now.
Next evening, Godric came swooping in during dinnertime for the evening post, with a letter in his beak labeled Albus. Al patted Godric’s head, who hooted happily and took off flying into the night. Albus ripped the letter open eagerly.
I will certainly try to talk to the new teacher. Hopefully it won’t be too awkward to meet with him. James wrote to me yesterday about him too. He seems to be teaching James fine, since third year was my best, but unfortunately you’ll have to suffer most of the year if I don’t talk to Unglesbee. I’ve experienced some quite crazy fans, so I hope I’ll be prepared for him.
I know you didn’t mention this, but I’m sorry you had to experience this teacher, whom you are only “Harry Potter’s son”. I can only imagine how embarrassing this must be, especially with all the pictures. We had trouble getting a new teacher, since Fuchs’s resignation sparked a panic among people that the position could be cursed again. Rubbish, really, but it meant Flitwick had a very limited choice of options. Actually, only one option: Rupert Unglesbee.
You can see thestrals now? I suppose this is because of Slytherin’s death? Albus, I’m sorry you have to deal with this. Thestrals are gentle and misunderstood, but it’s really the psychological reason for seeing them that I’m worried about. If you need any consolation, talk to Hagrid. He’s seen quite a few deaths in his time, and can see thestrals as well. He’s a tough man, Hagrid, but gentler than a fly.
The dementor issue will be articulated more in tomorrow’s issue of The Daily Prophet. (Which is why I wanted this to get to you before then!) I’ll explain a little bit of this issue to you right now. Yes, it is called the “King of Dementors”. Unfortunately, it was in Britain where it first formed, so Britain currently has an unspoken obligation to try and stop it. As for the spells: I honestly don’t know who took them down. There were definitely four gentlemen who released the dementor (You’ve probably already read about them in the Prophet) but they weren’t particularly bright. I doubt they took the spells down themselves. They probably just did the dirty work for someone else. Who that is, I don’t know.
Keep in mind, throughout all of this make sure to pay attention to your lessons. I sometimes wish I had paid more attention to my lessons at times when I was too busy worrying about Voldemort.
Have fun at school.
Albus re-read the section about the Dementor King. So not even dad knew how the spells were taken down. That was... worrying. Very worrying. Who would have that power? Another skimmed look at the letter made Albus remember something. He had completely forgotten to visit Hagrid yesterday! Well, he supposed he should go now.
"Guys, do you want to go visit Hagrid with me?" Albus asked.
"Yeah!" David said, leaping up.
"Yup," Art said.
"Why not?" Rose replied.
"We should go under the cloak though, since I don't think we're allowed on the grounds this late at night," David pointed out.
"Can we all fit?" Albus speculated.
"Let's try. Albus get the cloak, and them we can try it out," David said. Albus dashed up to the dormitory, quickly opened the lid of his trunk, and buried his fingers underneath his robes until he felt the soft, fluid material. Albus pulled it out, unfolding all of his other clothes in the process. Oh well.
The four of them barely fit under the cloak. The difficult part was walking. How were four people supposed to walk, well, it was more like crawling, without tripping over each other’s feet?
“Left, right. Left, right,” Albus whispered as they left the common room. “Left,” he whispered, as they all stepped forward with their left foot, “Right.”
It took them ages to finally sneak out the front doors out onto the grounds. They quickly hurried down to Hagrid’s hut, tripping the entire way. The grounds were a lot harder to walk on than the smooth stone floors inside Hogwarts.
“Ow,” David moaned. “There’s a rock in my shoe.”
“Poor you, such terrible suffering you face,” Rose said sarcastically.
Albus couldn’t see David’s face as they continued to inch further, but he imagined he must be wincing. Albus took a step forward- he saw Rose give a slight lurch- and all four of them started tumbling down the hill.
When they had finally tumbled all the way down to Hagrid’s hut, the invisibility cloak was clutched in Albus’s hands, but none of them were wearing it. They all had leaves and grass in their hair, and Art’s hair looked like a nest. Albus exchanged looks with all of them, and each of his friends gave him a sort of stunned look, and Albus couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing. A few moments later, David joined in, and then Art, and then Rose.
“Whaddaya doin’?” Hagrid questioned. “You really shoulda been under the cloak…” Albus just burst into even more giggles.
“Hagrid, we were, but then Rose tripped and we all tumbled down here,” Albus said, laughing so much he barely got his sentence out. He didn’t even know why he was laughing. Maybe it was because there was so much tension the past few days that he didn’t have any time for laughing. But it felt wonderful. Really wonderful.
“Albie, let’s get yerself up…” Hagrid said, as his enormous hands picked Albus up from the ground like an enormous rag doll. This just made him laugh harder.
Rose, who had stopped laughing, finally stood up and walked into the cabin. Art and David did as well, though they were both chortling. Albus however, couldn’t stop. He really needed to breathe, but laughing does restrict that ability.
“Sometimes, I kind of think boys are insane,” Rose said. Albus laughed some more. She was completely right.
The next few weeks passed by in a breeze. Quidditch practice started up at the end of the first week. Nobody on the Gryffindor team graduated last year, so there was no need for Quidditch try-outs.
"That improves our chances of winning the Quidditch Cup this year. This way, we don't have to waste time training new players," Chris Van Malden, the captain, had said.
The rest of his classes were like how they were last year. Professor Selwyn had taken a liking to Albus ever since halfway through last year, when he started using nonverbal magic. He excelled in her class. Even Transfiguration was improving slightly, though Professor Dire was still a miserable teacher. After an entire year of being in his presence, Albus's nerves had begun to settle. His overall confidence had taken a boost from last year. Potions, of course, was still one of his favorite subjects, and Professor Fawley's constant joyous mood had helped as well. Herbology with Professor Longbottom was a very laid-back, simple class.
The only class that was terrible at the moment was Defense class. Each day, Professor Unglesbee had them act out parts in the books, and perform little skits in groups. Each day Albus missed Professor Fuchs more and more. On the upside, there was very little homework and during class there was plenty of time for socialization when they were supposed to be practicing their skits.
The identity of the mysterious dementor as the "Dementor King" became common knowledge by the end of the second week of school. Each Daily Prophet issue had a small section focused purely on the Dementor King, and everything known about him. Unfortunately, there was very little that wasn't already mentioned in the chapter of the book Al had read, so Albus mostly read about what was happening currently. For several days the Dementor King kissed entire villages near the coast in Argentina, and then it moved to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Its reasons for this was under debate, but most experts concluded that the dementor was smart, and decided it was better off in the ocean then say, the city, where hundreds of Aurors lived.
One definite thing about the Dementor King was known: it was moving north. Not fast, since it could only move slightly faster than the average human, but it was moving north, like it was passing by South America and Africa at the moment. The Dementor King had the mind of a military commander, which allowed it to see past its need for basic things like food, which was how most dementors determined their loyalties. But the motive for the Dementor King was unknown. So nobody could predict what his next act might be.
One morning near the end of September, Albus spread out the Daily Prophet on the breakfast table. He had recently gotten a subscription to the Daily Prophet, mostly because Rose yelled at him last week for always taking her newspaper.
Albus skipped most of the front headline article. Who cared if the Head of the Department of Magical Transportation had an affair? Further down on the front page, Albus found an article about the Dementor King. Yesterday, the Dementor King had attacked another coastal town in Argentina.
“Reading about that some more?” Art said, sitting down next to Albus. “It is slightly worrying, but it’s all the way in Argentina. Besides, even if it doesn’t come close to England, the Aurors will take care of it.”
“I know, I just find it interesting,” Albus said. “This doesn’t happen every day.”
“I suppose you’ve got a point,” Art said. “Warn me when it comes to Hogwarts, will ya?” Albus laughed. It could come to England, since it was made there after all, but there was no reason for it to come to Hogwarts.
Defense Against the Dark Arts was the first class today, and Professor Unglesbee didn’t seem to care that Albus was doodling a dementor on his parchment. That was the plus of having a professor who was nuts about you. Albus had failed all of his tests, but somehow had a passing grade in his class. Albus suspected some cheating on Unglesbee’s part was in play.
Albus didn’t really pay attention to the story about the fearsome vampire Gilderoy Lockhart had defeated. He thought about the Dementor King some more. At first, the idea that is could be coming to England was just silly. But now he that knew it had ties with England… He glanced back up at Professor Unglesbee for a moment. Now Unglesbee was talking about Lockhart’s tackle in some amazing feat.
He couldn’t have been happier when the bell rang.
Chapter 8: The Fight
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The school year was passing dizzily, almost too fast for Albus to keep up. September disappeared quickly, and soon October was there. Students started planning their Halloween costumes, and Albus wondered what he should be for Halloween. Last year he hadn’t dressed up since he didn’t know how Hogwarts halloweens were celebrated, but this year he was thinking about dressing up like some of the other students. Preferably himself, David, Art, and Rose could all be something similar.
“Could I be a dementor?” Albus wondered out loud one DADA class when they were supposed to be practicing their vampire skits. Professor Unglesbee had them all coming up with skits acting out Gilderoy Lockhart's greatest deeds. Albus had to put on a skit showing how Lockhart defeated a vampire, but he wasn't thinking about that right now. Halloween costume planning was much more interesting.
“Being a dementor isn't a bad idea,” David said. “If we do it realistic enough, we could scare some of the students away. That’d be great.”
“A lot of the professors have bad memories of dementors from the war. They won’t like it,” Rose said.
“Way to spoil the fun, Rose,” David said teasingly.
“Hmmm. Death Eaters?” Albus suggested.
“Don’t,” David said, groaning.
“Albus, I think that’s even worse,” Rose said.
“Could we be one of those long Chinese dragons?” Art suggested. Albus looked at Art blankly. What did he mean? “You must have seen them before. Like a dragon with a really long body, so like twenty people are under it? Except with us, it would only be four.”
“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” David said bluntly.
“Alright, so maybe we could be regular dragons?” Art suggested.
“We could be the four dragons in the Triwizard Tournament,” Albus suggested.
“Or the four wizards in the Triwizard Tournament. Krum, Diggory, Aunt Fleur, and Uncle Harry,” Rose suggested.
“Ugh, I don’t want someone dressed up as my dad,” Albus said. “Or worse, me. Let’s stick with the dragon idea.”
“I call the Hungarian Horntail,” David immediately said. “They are so epic.”
“What are the other dragons?” Art asked.
“Um, there’s the Welsh Green, the Swedish Short-Snout, the Hungarian Horntail, and the Chinese Fireball,” Rose listed, probably recalling Uncle Ron's stories.
“I already called the Horntail,” David butted in.
“I’ll have the Welsh Green,” Rose said.
“Which one do you want, Albus? I don’t care,” Art said.
“Um… I’ll have the Fireball,” Albus said. He didn’t know much about dragon types, but 'fireball' sounded much cooler than 'short-snout'. “Art, you okay with the short-snout?”
“Yup,” Art said happily.
“That’s settled then,” Rose said. “I cannot believe we didn’t do this last year.”
“We didn’t know people would be dressing up,” Art pointed out.
When the bell rang, Albus walked with Rose, as they were discussing ways to create their costumes and Rose was their expert in different charms. She knew how to do most spells in the second year textbook already. They walked into the Great Hall for lunch, where they found Headmaster Flitwick talking to some old lady. He didn't think much of it, until he heard the muuttering of some older students.
"Headmistress McGonagall!" Molly Weasley said joyfully as she put her books on the table.
"Who's she?" Art asked as he filled his plate.
"She used to be the Headmistress before Professor Flitwick took over. She left at the end of my second year," Molly informed Art.
"She was my dad's Transfiguration teacher, and also fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. She's a pretty awesome person," Albus told Art, remembering when his dad complimented McGonagall multiple times.
"It's a pity she retired," Molly said, sighing. "She famously retired at the end of Fred and Louis's first year, declaring that she could not deal with another copy of the Weasley twins for six more years. Then she added that another Potter was coming in a year, and she couldn't deal with any more trouble."
"I'm not that bad," James complained, as he has sat down next to Molly a few minutes earlier.
"Yes you are, you get detention every week. And besides, Albus is certainly a troublesome Potter. I don't blame her,” Molly added.
"Hey!" Albus said, feeling a little insulted. "I don't go causing trouble."
"Come on Albus, everyone knows you got into some sort of mess at the end of last year. And I must say, Flitwick hasn't looked nearly as healthy as he looked before you came. I expect you, James, Fred, and Louis have probably put a lot of stress on the poor man."
It was true to say that Flitwick was rather subdued since last year. Albus felt a little guilty, even though he knew it was Lord Zajecfer's fault and not his own. He couldn't imagine having to deal with being under the Imperius curse for an entire year, and then having to go back to your normal duties shortly afterwards. It was no wonder, really, that Flitwick wasn't nearly as jolly as he used to be.
“Albus, Rose, what happened to David? I only just noticed that he wasn't here. I thought he followed us out at the end of Defense, but I guess not.” Art said.
“Maybe he had to go to the bathroom or something?” Albus said.
“But he usually tells us,” Art said. “It’s like he disappeared into thin air after the end of Defense.”
“Wow, David’s capable of apparition,” Rose said jokingly.
“Should we look for him?" Albus said worriedly. He knew David could handle himself, but like Art said, David usually let them know if he was going somewhere.
"Oh no- Albus, Rose we have to go back to Defense now!" Art said, and in a panic he ran out of the Great Hall.
"Art- wait! WAIT!" Albus shouted as he too ran out of the hall, barely avoiding running into the other students, and he distantly heard Rose shouting apologies to the students as they ran past.
Art was an incredibly fast runner, and Albus barely caught up to him.
"What… is… it…" Albus said in between breaths.
Art was barely panting. "At the end of Defense when you and Rose were talking about charms and whatnot, I noticed that David had gotten into a small argument with Scorpius Malfoy. I didn't really think anything of it at the time, but what if it spiralled further after we left?"
Albus didn't answer, and instead just kept running with Art to the Defense corridor. He couldn't recall David getting into an argument with anyone before. He just wasn't the type. David's cheeriness was infectious, and he turned every insult into a joke. What could bother David so much that he couldn't just laugh it off?
Albus remembered Rose suggesting to Albus and Art during the summer that David was hiding something. Could it be related to this? And why wouldn't David tell them? Albus couldn't help but feel a small ripple of anger. He told everything to him last year when they were involved in the whole Lord Zajecfer mess. Why wouldn't David trust him back?
Albus halted once he reached the Defense corridor and saw flashes of light. As Art had suspected, David was in control of one of the waving wands. David’s eyes didn’t even see Albus, since he was so locked in concentration. Scorpius Malfoy was on the receiving end.
He saw Art and Rose standing by David, yelling at him to stop. But Albus didn't try to break up the duel. He stood there, letting the waves of fury splash over every calm thought in his mind. Fact: David was hiding something from Albus. Fact: David didn't trust him. Fact: David wasn't a good friend.
“Boys! Stop dueling!” someone shouted. It was Professor Unglesbee. Despite the fact that he was a generally laid-back man, David and Scorpius stopped immediately. Unglesbee was a teacher, after all. “Who is this, Scorpius Malfoy and David Haid? I’m afraid I’ll have to give you two boys detention.” Unglesbee glanced at Albus, and then said, “I’ll let you off with a stern warning Mr. Haid, but I expect to see Mr. Malfoy in my office this evening."
“What?” Malfoy blurted out. “He gets detention, but I don’t? How is that in any way fair? We were both dueling! Is it because he’s the best friend of Albus Potter?” Malfoy glared at Albus, who glared right back.
“Professor, if you’re going to let David off, let Scorpius off as well,” Rose begged. "They are both equally guilty of dueling, so it would be really unfair if Scorpius had detention, and David did not."
Professor Unglesbee stared intently at Rose's stony face, with the combination of Uncle Ron's stubborn nature and Aunt Hermione's fierce determination. “Alright, but I’m going to talk to you boys in my office for a few moments." Unglesbee, David, and Malfoy disappeared into the office.
“What do you think is happening?” Art whispered.
“They’re getting a scolding, I’ll bet, but Unlgesbee probably didn’t want me and Albus to hear- you know, since he's awed by our famous parents and all of that,” Rose replied. The three of them stood outside for several more minutes, waiting for David and Malfoy to come out.
Albus thought hard about what David and Malfoy were dueling about. He’d put the incident with Malfoy from the first week in the school in the back of his mind, but now it was at the forefront. He hadn't explained why he had fought with Malfoy then, and why would he now? Did he think Albus was a stupid idiot who couldn't be trusted with valuable information? How wrong he was. Albus wouldn't let David get away with lies this time.
At last David and Malfoy emerged from Unglebee’s office. Malfoy marched away without a glance at any of them, and David walked towards them gloomily.
“How’d it go?” Art asked, whispering slightly.
“Alright, I suppose. He yelled at us for a little bit, but that was about it. C’mon, let’s go to lunch.”
Albus's raged spiked. “David! You can’t just not tell us anything!”
“Unlgesbee only yelled at us! That’s all that happened!” David said, his voice raised.
“The duel, I mean the duel! Why were you and Malfoy dueling?” Albus tried to calm down his anger. Unsuccessfully.
“He insulted me, so we dueled! That was all there was to it!” David shouted.
“You’ve never dueled anyone here before! You are the most level-headed person I know. He must have done something pretty bad to get you riled up!”
“Oh, like you know everything about me,” David said scathingly.
“Well, if not me, then who does? Your other secret best friend besides Art and I?” David remained silent. Both of them were extremely tense. Albus glared at David. He had finally snapped. Both of them had snapped.
“The two of you are being complete idiots,” Rose said. “What’s wrong with the two of you?”
“Guys, just calm down. I’m sure David will tell you when he’s ready, Albus,” Art said, his voice wavering.
“Like he’s told you,” Albus snapped. He felt slightly bad for yelling at Art, who was only trying to help, but Art was in the way.
“He has, actually. He told me a few weeks ago,” Art said, his voice coming out so quietly it was barely audible. But Albus heard his words quite clearly. Al looked at David, who had a guilty look on his face.
“You trusted him, but not me?” Albus said, his voiced dropped to a whisper. A disbelieving whisper.
“It’s not exactly like that Al,” David said, sounding sincerely sorry. “Look, Art is a muggle-born, and he just got introduced to the wizarding world a year ago, so he didn’t…” David said, trailing off when Albus glared at him. Al could only imagine what his face must look like, but it felt pretty scary.
He was at a loss for words. What do you say when you find out one of your best friends doesn’t trust you? What do you say? Albus felt crushed, like his entire friendship with David was a lie. He was betrayed.
Albus drew his wand. "Albus, don't," Rose whimpered.
"Why?" Albus said, forcing his voice to mimic calmness.
David raised his own wand in a panic. Albus watched David's face flash through numerous emotions, until it finally landed on hatred. "I thought I could trust you!"
"You never trusted me, that's the point! Petrificus Totalus!" Albus shouted. David dodged the spell.
"Locomotor Mortis!" David yelled back. Albus heard Art and Rose shouting at them, but Albus was so furious that he barely heard them.
"Stupefy!" Albus shouted. He had never tried a stunner before. But the spell whizzed past David's head, so Albus didn't know whether it would have worked or not.
"Locomotor Mortis!" David shouted. Albus attempted to cast several successive body-binds, which were dodged, and then David attempted to send a line of leg-locker curses. The two of them fired off curses at a more rapid pace, dodging and trying to catch the other off-guard.
"STOP IT!" Art shouted, and Albus was about to ignore him, when he felt rumbling under his feet. A few seconds later, Albus felt himself being blasted backwards, and he fell roughly into a pile of rubble. The stone floor had been turned into a crater. It seemed that David had also been blasted backwards.
Albus heard the echo of the explosion bouncing off every wall, through every floor. The entirety of Hogwarts had heard that. Teachers would surely be here any minute.
Standing in the center of it all was Art. For a moment all three of them- Albus, David, and Rose- stared at Art, who seemed to be looking in shock at the crater he made. Art bolted.
"ART!" David shouted, who then began running as well.
Rose and Albus, the only two remaining, looked at each other. Rose had an astonished expression on her face, and Al was sure his face contained a similar expression. Had Art performed accidental magic? Albus recalled Art's story from their first night back about blowing up his dad's tractor.
Uh oh. He heard the distant stomping of feet in the corridors. He couldn't be found here. Then he would have to explain what had happened, and he just… couldn't. Albus swiftly pulled the invisibility cloak, which was stored in his robes, over himself. He scurried over the cracked stone and ran down several flights of stairs.
Unsure where to go, Albus walked through the massive front doors outside. He saw Hagrid’s hut, but Albus didn’t want to go there right now. He wanted to be alone. He wandered around, without any sort of idea where he was going. His feet led him to a large gate that read, Battle of Hogwarts Cemetery, and he realized that’s where he was walking all along without knowing it. Albus sat inside the enclosed area, the eerie silence broken only by a few birds.
His anger had quite evaporated. That had been traded in for worry. How much trouble was he in? Dueling was, of course, forbidden. And how much trouble was Art in? Where was he, anyway?
And David… Albus, didn't regret dueling him, no matter what, he could not. He wouldn't accept any more of David's lies. But not only had he severed things with David, but Art and Rose were surely mad at Albus too. After all, Albus was the one who started the duel.
He was friendless. Utterly, completely friendless. He didn't have any friends besides David, Art, and Rose.
With this realization, Albus let the tears fall.
Chapter 9: Rising From the Ashes
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Albus Potter wasn't sure how long he sat in the grass of the Hogwarts Cemetery, hidden under the invisibility cloak, tears falling down his cheeks. It could have been only two minutes. Or two hours. Or even two days. He didn't care about anything anymore, least of all time.
So when Albus woke up, having fallen asleep on a patch of grass by the gate, he was surprised to sense something next to him. Albus didn’t dare move, his heart pumping rapidly. If anybody saw him in this state, he would die from embarrassment. Albus slowly turned his head.
It was a bird. And not just any bird, either. It was about a fourth of the size of himself.
The bird was a beautiful, flaming crimson color, with golden talons. Its feathers were the beautiful combination of yellow, red, and orange, closely resembling a sunset. Its eyes were a bright green, the same shade as his. The bird sat proudly, like it knew something he didn’t.
Albus cautiously removed his invisibility cloak. The bird didn't seem surprised at the reveal. Had the bird sensed him somehow, despite the fact that Albus had been under the cloak?
“Hello?” Albus said, carefully and quietly. His anguish from earlier was replaced with complete awe. Was this a phoenix? It was beautiful. No, beautiful couldn’t describe it. The phoenix was stunningly handsome.
The phoenix pierced Albus with its gaze, and it seemed to be trying to tell Albus something with its eyes. It stepped closer and closer to him, until the phoenix was an inch away from touching Albus. He cautiously put his hand forward until it touched one of its feathers. The phoenix seemed to relax slightly. Encouraged, Albus slowly stroked some of its feathers, like he was petting a cat. But this was so much more intelligent and rare than a cat.
Albus’s hand shook slightly when a noise pierced his ears. But it was pleasant and peaceful, not loud and abrasive. It sounded, to Albus, like a song of love and beauty. It made him feel so warm and satisfied with the world, not lonely at all.
The music slowly died down, and Albus wished it would continue. The phoenix ruffled its wings and flew away. Away and away it flew, until it was a tiny crimson speck above a mountain. Al stayed perfectly still, not moving, hoping to preserve the moment. But the moment was nearly over.
Albus looked briefly at the ground, where a tiny feather lay. Albus picked it up. He couldn’t identify its color, because it seemed to be golden and red and yellow and orange all at once. Albus softly held it in his hand, but was interrupted from a shower of sparks coming from his own wand. He eyed his wand curiously. It had a phoenix feather in its core, he knew. Was it recognizing its kin? Or was the feather lodged inside his wand from the very phoenix that had sat beside him? He supposed he would never know.
Albus tucked the phoenix feather into his pocket, like a lucky talisman that would protect him. Albus threw the invisibility cloak back over himself and promptly left the graveyard, feeling refreshed, even though he was crying not too long ago. The sun was beginning to set, turning a multitude of colors like orange and yellow, very much like the phoenix that had knelt next to him not even ten minutes ago. He crept back into the common room and the first person he saw was Rose. She was sitting on the chair, near the fire, and it looked like she had been crying.
The feeling of peaceful bliss that Albus had been feeling since the arrival of the phoenix evaporated on the spot. Rose looked so heartbroken. Cautiously, Albus removed the invisibility cloak and sat down next to her. He carefully watched as Rose's expression turned from fear and sadness to relief and finally, fury.
"Albus Severus Potter," she hissed, staring at him intently. Her eyes were narrowed, her forehead crinkled, and to Albus's great surprise, she pulled him into a tight hug. "Don't ever do that again."
"I-" Albus started, but before he could continue, Rose released him and broke him off with a look. She grabbed his shoulder and steered him up to the boys' dormitories which was thankfully, empty.
"Albus Severus Potter, you left for hours-hours! You run off to the grounds for practically the entire day, and I had no idea where you were, for all I know you could have been eaten in the Forbidden Forest. What the hell were you thinking?" Rose kept her fury to a low voice, which honestly was more terrifying that if she had shouted.
"I-" Albus began, but once more, Rose cut him off.
"And bloody hell Albus, what on Earth drew you to duel one of your best friends? I know he wasn't being honest with either of us, but that is no excuse. And then you just run away, leaving me next to a freaking crater, all alone! What the hell, Albus! And when the teachers finally came along, all they saw was me next to a giant crater. Obviously I had to tell them that I had done it by accident, because what else could I say? You and David and Art were gone! I'm lucky I only got two weeks of detention! As far as I'm considered, the three of you should have a year of detention."
"They gave you detention?" Albus said, horrified.
"Obviously," Rose hissed.
"Rose, I'm sorry-" Albus began, but she cut him off once more.
"I'm not accepting any apologies, Albus, until you apologize to both Art and David and are all friends again. Then feel free to come find me. Honestly, you and David are both acting like complete idiots right now."
"Me? Yeah, sure, I understand why running away pissed you off, but David's been hiding something from us! This whole time! Doesn't that bother you?" Albus said, some of his own anger seeping out once more.
"Do I look like I care?" Rose asked. She sighed. "Look, David's entitled to his secrets. Am I curious? Sure. But does that mean I need to know? No. David has the right to keep from me whatever the damn well he pleases. That doesn't change who he is. He's still the same guy, our friend. I'm confident that he'll tell us when he's ready, whether that be tomorrow or ten years from now. And honestly, Albus, do you really think that dueling him is the way to get information out of him?"
Rose sighed, spared one last glare for Albus, and left down the stairs. Leaving him with only feelings of shame. She was right, of course. Rose was always right. The fight over David's secrets wasn't worth sacrificing their friendship. And Art… poor Art. Albus had barely spared Art a thought. Poor Art hadn't wanted to see his two best friends fighting, and it obviously upset him so much that he blasted the floor using accidental magic. At the time, Albus had just been thinking of him and David. He didn't contemplate how his decisions would affect Art and Rose. Now Art felt terrible for destroying school property, and Rose was stuck with two weeks worth of detention. It wasn't fair. It wasn't right.
Albus pulled the curtains around his bed shut when he heard people entering, so he could feign sleep. He heard David and Art enter, and Marc and Rob. Albus contemplated what to do. Rose didn't want to be friends with him until he made up with everyone else. And after what had just happened, it was clear that Art or David wouldn't want to be friends with him either. With this last, depressing thought, Albus drifted off to a dreamless sleep.
In the morning, Albus’s still felt confused over what he should do. As a result, he left the dormitory for breakfast without bothering to wake up Art or David.
Albus started eating breakfast alone. He never ate breakfast alone. It was extremely early in the morning, so the only other person at the breakfast table was Marc.
"Hello," Albus said, trying to sound cheerful.
"Oh, hello Albus," Marc said, crunching his mouth on some bread. Crumbs lined his face, making him look like a slob. They spent the next few minutes in silence, as they both ate. "Why are you up early?" Marc asked. Albus looked up, slightly startled and alarmed to see Marc staring right at him. Marc was always absorbed in some book, and rarely spoke. Albus hadn't spoke to him much at all since the first night of September. That was a month and a half ago.
"Oh, um I suppose I had a little bit of a fight with my friends yesterday," Albus explained.
"Why?" Marc asked.
"David dueled Scorpius Malfoy, but he refused to tell me why. He's hiding something from me, I think."
"Okay," Marc said, and went back to eating. Albus stared at him for a moment. Just "okay"? Nothing else? How unusual.
He studied Marc for a few more minutes. He seemed so… content. Despite not talking to anyone, he seemed to take pride in his solitude. As someone who had friends and family around him for his entire life, this befuddled Albus.
"Do you normally eat breakfast alone?" Albus asked.
"Yes," Marc replied, looking back at his plate.
"Why?" Albus asked. "You could eat with the rest of us."
Marc looked up at Albus and smiled. "Thank you, Albus, but I'm used to being alone." He sounded more mature than his twelve years. When Albus didn't prompt further, but continued to look at Marc, he sighed and continued. "Back in primary school, I was always the strange one. Here, I am a little less strange, so I'm happy."
"It must have been difficult growing up in the muggle world, being the only wizard," Albus remarked. "I always wondered what it would be like to be muggle-born."
"I can tell you what it's like to grow up in the muggle world. But muggle-born? I'm not sure I can."
Albus frowned. "What do you mean? You've told me numerous times that you're muggle-born."
Marc sighed. "I'm not so sure. I thought I was muggle-born. But I might never know the truth. I was adopted. My parents found me on their steps when I was a baby, and they took me in. I might've had muggle parents or wizard parents."
"You were abandoned?" Albus said, surprised.
"Yes," Marc said. He paused for a moment. "Hold your family close, Albus. You have no idea how lucky you are. And for that matter, hold your friends close as well. Make up with them." With that last statement, having finished his food, Marc got up from the table.
"Thanks Marc," Albus said. "For both the company and the advice." Marc waved him away, as if to say ‘no problem’ and left. Shortly after, Albus got up as well.
He was unsure what to do with himself. The first class of the day was Herbology, and Albus knew that Art spent lots of free time down there. There was the possibility that Art would show up there a while before class started, and Albus wanted to apologize to him first. Art hadn't done anything wrong. He had just been trying to stop his two friends from fighting.
When he opened the door to the greenhouse, Al was surprised to find he wasn’t the first person there. Longbottom was helping Lindsay Jones, the girl who made the speech about the environment at the opening feast, pot some blue-leafed plant.
“Albus!” Professor Longbottom said in surprise. “What are you doing here so early?”
“I was bored,” Albus replied, which was the truth. He was just leaving out some essential parts.
“Have the two of you been introduced?” Longbottom asked, looking between Albus and Lindsay.
“Not formally, but I know who she is,” Albus said.
“Same. You’re Albus Potter, right?” Lindsay said.
“Yes. And you’re Lindsay Jones. I really liked your speech at the opening feast.”
“Really?” Lindsay said, beaming. Albus smiled at her, since her grin was contagious. “So do you like try to protect the environment and stuff too?” Lindsay said.
“Well, I haven’t done anything. I just thought that many of the points you brought up in your speech, like our natural thinking that we don’t affect muggles, were true.” Albus shifted his feet under her intense gaze.
“Oh, yes. My parents are muggles, and they still remember the fear in the years of 1996 to 1998, even though at the time they had no idea what made those years so depressing and chaotic.” Professor Longbottom left the greenhouse briefly, muttering about getting something.
“So you’re muggle-born? Come to think of it, I seem to remember you mentioning that in your speech…”
“Yeah, I am,” Lindsay said, humming to herself as she ruffled the blue leaves of the plant. It squirted something into her eye and she shrieked, dropping the plant. “Oh, come on! Holy cannoli, that hurts!” Albus could hold back a laugh, but not his grin. “And it’s not funny!”
“Holy cannoli?” Albus said, finally letting out his laugh.
“Hey, would you rather I cursed?” Lindsay said. “And cannolis are pretty good.”
“They are,” Albus said in agreement.
“Professor Longbottom, sorry I’m a little later than usual, I had trouble sleeping la-” Art cut short as he spotted Albus. They both stared at each other. Art clearly wasn't expecting to see him here. Lindsay was looking at Al and Art curiously.
"Can I…?” Art motioned towards the door.
"Yes," Albus replied, hearing the unspoken question. Art wanted to talk outside, alone, about everything that had happened yesterday.
Once they were outside the greenhouse. Albus opened his mouth to speak, but Art spoke first.
"Listen, Albus, I know that you feel betrayed by David. I get it. But avoiding him isn't going to work, since we all share the same dormitory and we have all our classes together. You have to make up with him. Please. I’m not going to say you were stupid, because you had every right to be angry. But being friends doesn’t always mean knowing everything about the other person. You can trust David. His actions are not a lie. You are friends, and you’re good ones. He’s just scared, even though he doesn’t admit it. He’s scared that if he tells you his secret, you won’t like him anymore. And your recent reaction hasn’t exactly helped that fear. And he misses you. I know that because he was extremely crabby yesterday and this morning. That means he’s sulking. So please, please just forgive him. We’re all unhappy like this, even Rose." Art was wringing his hands, clearly nervous about this confrontation, and he looked worriedly into Albus's eyes.
Albus responded by hugging his friend. With their arms wrapped around each other, Albus said, "I forgive him. But first, I owe an apology to you. I'm sorry I put you into a position where you had to use accidental magic to break up David and I.”
Art waved the apology away. "That whole crater thing was my own fault. And I already apologized to Rose. Come on, we’re going to be late for class.”
“Right,” Albus whispered, as they let go and he took the invisibility cloak off. They wearily walked back to the Herbology greenhouse, and class began.
Albus was distracted all class, planning what he was going to say to David. He cut himself with the shears by mistake as he was pruning the shrivelfig. It was a very long class, and he couldn’t concentrate. He was thinking about everything that Rose, Marc, and Art had told him over the past day. He knew what he had to do. Finally, after class, he was able to pull David aside outside the greenhouse. Everyone else quickly left, leaving the two of them alone.
David took a deep breath. “Look, Albus. I’m sorry, I should have told you about me, I should have told you from the day I met you. I-“
“-No.” Albus interrupted. “No, David, don’t tell me. Look, I-I realized today that honestly, it doesn’t really matter what your secrets are to me. You’re my friend, and that trust between the two of us are all I need. I’d feel honored if you’d tell me, but… you don’t need to. And I shouldn’t have made you. I know that you were going to tell me just to get us to be friends again. You shouldn’t have to. You should tell me on your own time, when you genuinely want to. And that certainly is not today.” Albus looked into his friends’s eyes, and found surprise staring right back at him.
“I-yeah-okay, I suppose,” David stammered out, still looking bewildered. “I-I’m sorry for dueling you yesterday.”
Albus gave his friend a small smile. “I’m the one who started it.”
David smiled back. “I’m sorry anyway.”
“I’m sorry too.” Albus and David walked back up to the castle together, each with a small bounce in their step. They were friends again, and their bond was stronger than ever before.
Chapter 10: The Four Dragons
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Despite fighting for only a day, Albus was delighted to reunite with David, Rose, and Art. He felt that, despite everything, despite the conflicts and secrets, they were stronger than they were before. The day after they all apologized, Albus, Art, and David approached Professor Longbottom and explained how Rose had covered up for them. Rose got off detention, and Albus and David each got a week of detention for dueling. Art only lost ten points for the crater, because to quote Professor Longbottom, “It was an accident.” Albus had never been more relieved to have such a laid-back Head of House. The week of detention went by pretty quickly.
And it was a good thing too, because Halloween was approaching and they needed all the time they could get to make their dragon costumes. The four of them ordered fake dragon hide through owl order, and then they set their preparations of creating their masks. They borrowed a view spikes from James for the Hungarian horntail (Albus didn’t even want to know why James had spikes) and the rest of the head was to be created from the fake dragon hide. But they had plenty of preparations to make in the meantime. David had an idea that they could somewhere make them breathe fire.
“It would be so cool to breathe fire on people!” David said excitedly one evening.
“There’s got to be some spell that would allow us to breathe fire! And I don’t care if that means we have to research it in the library, we just have to do it! Please?” David put on a really cute looking puppy face as he faced Rose. Albus chuckled at Rose’s bewildered expression.
“You actually want to go to the library? Well, I suppose we could,” Rose said. So they all started, once again, to do research. But it didn’t even take an hour: apparently a common spell was already in use to make various creatures and humans breathe fire. Luckily there was a counter-charm too, usually used on dragons so they didn’t burn you.
“This is a fourth-year level charm,” David said worriedly.
“I’ll try it, and if none of us can do it we can ask some older student,” Rose said. She pointed her wand in the direction of her mouth. “Incendio efflo!” Rose shouted. A few sparks flew into her mouth, causing her to shriek.
“Are you okay?” Albus asked. She nodded, even though her eyes were watering slightly. Albus reflected that this spell was a lot like the fire charm. He’d had trouble with it when he first learned it, but once he started using nonverbal magic, he’d done the spell perfectly.
Albus turned his back to his friends, curious to see of this would work. He took a deep breath, and thought “Incendio efflo!”, thinking of his mouth exhaling flame. Surprisingly, when Albus exhaled a burst of flame flew out, the edges nearly licking the nearest bookshelf. “I did it!” Albus shouted, exhaling more flame.
“I didn’t hear you say anything,” Art said, sounding confused.
“Oh, I whispered the words pretty softly,” Albus said, lying. Art still looked a bit skeptical.
“Can you do it to the rest of us?” David asked.
“Sure,” Albus said, casting the spell on Art, David, and Rose. He made sure to mouth the words this time, so he could pretend he was just whispering.
“This is so cool!” David exclaimed, exhaling a really long trail of fire.
“Don’t burn us!” Albus said, alarmed.
“You know I wouldn’t,” David said. They all laughed together for several minutes as they breathed fire into the air.
“I wish I could to do something like those smoke rings Gandalf did in the Lord of the Rings,” Art said.
“What?” Albus said.
“Oh, never mind, it’s a muggle thing,” Art said, and left it at that.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!” Madam Pince screamed once she walked around the corner and saw the four of them. “ARE YOU SERIOUSLY AS STUPID AS TO BREATHE FIRE ON FLAMMABLE BOOKS! HOW DARE YOU!” Madam Pince yanked the book of different dragon charms from Albus’s hands. “I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THE FOUR OF YOU! YOU’RE BANNED FROM THE LIBRARY FOREVER!” The four of them ran before Madam Pince could do something horrendous to them. They arrived outside the Gryffindor Common room, panting.
“Don’t breathe fire on me, you fools!” The Fat Lady said, shrieking as fire brushed the edge of her portrait. “I’m not letting you in!”
“But the password is treacle tart!” Albus said, exasperated.
“Oh, alright,” the Fat Lady said grumpily, and she swung open.
“Madam Pince took the book with the counter-charm! Are we going to be like this forever?” Rose asked.
“We just need to ask one of our cousins to perform it,” Albus said. “Are any of them here?”
“There’s Dominique, sitting on the biggest, plushiest chair,” Art noted.
“I don’t know if we should ask Dominique,” Rose said. “She’s kind of a brat and extremely selfish.”
“Let’s ask her anyway,” Albus said. He cautiously approached her. She was busy reading a book on human transfiguration. “Er, Dominque?”
“What?” Dominique said crabbily, as she looked up from her book. “And don’t breathe fire on me.”
“Yeah, that’s why we’re here. We just got banned from the library, and we need the counter-charm to stop breathing fire. Can you help us?”
“It’s your own damned fault that you got banned from the library. And don’t bother me with something stupid again,” Dominique said, turning her head back to her book. Albus stood frozen for a moment, feeling as though he had just been slapped in the face, and walked away. How could she be practically the polar opposite of Victoire? He wished she hadn’t graduated last year, since she would have been a big help.
“Who else can we ask?” Albus asked desperately.
“Well, Molly and Lucy wouldn’t approve us of getting banned from the library,” Rose said. “I suppose our next option is Louis and Fred, though I don’t think Madam Pince exactly likes them either…” Rose said. As soon as she said that, almost one cue, Fred and Louis walked into the common room from their dormitory, laughing.
“Fred! Louis!” Albus yelled. As they walked over, admiring the flames coming from their direction, Albus quickly explained the situation.
“Sorry, Madam Pince banned the two of us from the library as well, since we set up a prank in there once,” Louis said.
“You mean you did. I had nothing to do with it,” Fred interjected.
“Yeah, but Madam Pince banned both us for the sake of it. Point is, we can’t help you. Sorry,” Louis said.
“What about Roxanne?” Rose said.
“She dueled Vincent Rosier in there once, so Madam Pince banned her too. They destroyed half the library; it was a pretty epic fight actually,” Fred said. “Sorry guys. And good luck.”
Once Albus said goodbye, he turned to Rose and desperately said, “Do you think James is banned too?”
“Probably, but we can try him,” Rose said. “Come on, let’s go to the third year dormitories.” They climbed the spiraling stairs, and luckily James was sitting there with his friend John.
“Woah, are you breathing fire?” James said, sounding impressed.
“That is so epic,” John said.
“Yeah, but we can’t stop breathing fire,” Albus said, and explained the situation once more.
“Well, I’m banned from the library, but John isn’t.”
“What’s the title of the book again?” John asked.
“Dragon Charms,” Rose said. “Simple enough.”
“Alright, I’ll get it. You four, stay here.”
“Thanks John,” Albus said.
“Who’s he?” David whispered.
“John Shafiq. James’s best friend,” Albus explained. They stood there awkwardly for a few minutes, as James was stretched out on a bed completely ignoring them.
“Hey, Albus can you go get me some food from the kitchens?” James asked. Albus opened his mouth to complain, but realized that James and John were doing him a big favor, so Albus turned around to go out the dormitory. As he walked out, Albus was suddenly soaked, head to toe, in ice cold water.
“JAMES!” Albus yelled, as James laughed loudly. “What was that for?”
“Nothing at all,” James said, still laughing. “Except for my own enjoyment at your horrified expression.”
“It does look pretty funny,” David said, beginning to laugh, but stopping when Albus glared at him.
“But John just walked through that, and he didn’t get wet. How did you do it?” Rose asked, her curiosity leaking through.
“Everything was already set up, I just needed to say a spell to activate it, and I whispered it as Albus walked underneath. I was actually planning to do it on Blake later today, but I can’t lose a missed opportunity.
“So I presume you don’t need food from the kitchens?” Albus said, shivering.
“Well, it would be nice…”
“Not in your wildest dreams,” Albus said, and James chuckled. Albus was about to say a retort, but John walked in brandishing the book.
“Got it!” John said. “I can’t do the spell, but here’s the book,” John said. He handed the book to a shaking Albus. “Oh, you did it to him, James? Nice job!”
“Thanks mate,” James said, as they gave each other a high five. Albus scowled at them, despite holding the book that they had helped him get.
“I’m going to try the spell,” Rose said quickly, grabbing the book. She probably felt a little jealous, since Albus had actually done a spell she couldn’t, for once.
Rose tried the spell a few times, and on the third try, the fire was finally extinguished.”Third time’s the charm,” she said happily, as she performed the counter spell on all of them.
“When’s the dragon hide coming in?” Albus asked.
“4-5 business days,” Rose replied.
“You’re buying dragon hide? How much money do you have!?” James shouted, looking at them in awe.
“Don’t be silly, it’s fake dragon hide,” Rose said.
“Rose, you just ruined a great opportunity,” Albus said.
“I have better friends,” James said, grinning.
Halloween was a blast. The four of them entered as the four Triwizard dragons, breathing fire on everything. However, they were nowhere near the greatest costumes, as a lot of the seventh years transfigured parts of themselves. Human Transfiguration wouldn’t come until their sixth and seventh year, so everyone younger than that had to make do. It was still pretty fun. They ended up taking the breathing fire charm off during the feast, since it was hard to eat something when you kept accidentally scorching it.
The next Quidditch match was only a few weeks into November. Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin already had a few Quidditch matches, but this was going to be the first one for Gryffindor. The game was Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw. Luckily, Albus didn’t have to play, since none of the players got injured. Louis and Fred were commentating again this year. Everyone seemed to love their commentary.
“I’m surprised they haven’t been banned yet,” Rose said on the matter. The teachers probably didn’t ban them because half of the school would be in uproar if they did.
“And here comes those really awesome amazing Gryffindors that should totally win except I’m not being biased!” Louis yelled over the megaphone as the Gryffindor team flew out onto the Quidditch pitch. “We have Captain Chris Van Malden as chaser, as well as James Potter and Caroline Mitt! Then we have our two superb beaters, Roxanne Weasley and Brad Romo! Then keeper Matthew Peakes and seeker Olivia Renehan!”
“Seeming how Roxanne gets so many detentions for picking fights, I’m impressed she’s still on the team, and hasn’t been banned,” Fred said. “Oh well, but it’s my duty as an older brother to tell her how many howlers mum sent her this year. I think it was seventeen, if I counted correctly. And if I embarrass her long enough, it’ll probably become eighteen. We send you our love Roxanne!” Albus could see Roxanne shouting something, but he couldn’t tell what it was since she was too far away. It was probably good he couldn’t hear, since it probably wasn’t anything pleasant.
“And here comes the claws!” Fred shouted. “This year they’re made up of a lot of girls, a total of five on the team! Wow! That might even be a Hogwarts record or something. And they’re hot too. Louis, what is your opinion of their hotness?”
“I dunno Fred, I kind of like Gryffindor girls better,” Louis said.
“Oh, well, I know you have a crush on a certain Gryffindor girl,” Fred said teasingly.
“Fred, the entire school didn’t need to know that,” Louis said.
“And her name-”
“FRED! SHUT UP!” Louis yelled. Albus was laughing really hard. This was great. “Besides we’re supposed to calling the Ravenclaw people. So, the chasers are Arwen Mullen, Vixen Burrow, and Grant Davies. The keeper is Carina Davies, and their seeker is Charity Tao. Finally, their two beaters are Haley McLaggen and Doris Tinker.”
“That’s five hot girls,” Fred said. “I personally think Carina Davies is kind of cute-oh look, now she’s glaring at me, that’s always a good sign.”
“Fred, that means she doesn’t want people to talk about how cute she is in front of like, every student in the school,” Louis said.
“Well, I’ll find her later, and see if she’s any nicer,” Fred said. “Anyhow, Madam Hooch is now blowing the whistle, and the game begins! Hooray! Davies grabs the ball- that’s Grant Davies, not super hot Carina Davies- and passes it to Mullen, who passes it to Burrow, who passes it back to Davies, who passes it back to Mullen, back to Burrow, then back to Davies- really, can you be any more predictable? Oh, is she trying to get the quaffle into the left goal? That spices things up a bit. She throws- and Peakes saves it! Yes!”
“Let’s hope the Gryffindors keep this up,” Louis said. “The statistics are currently on their side. They were all on the team last year, so they didn’t have to train any newbies, while Ravenclaw gained three new players. However, next year three players from the Gryffindor team are leaving, while only two from Ravenclaw. So next year may be a different story. Who do you think will fill up those empty slots for the Gryffindors? They will need two chasers and one seeker.”
“Well Louis, there’s a high possibility that Albus Potter, currently the reserve player, could get onto the main team. Whether he becomes seeker or chaser is unknown. But he made a pretty nice performance as keeper last year, when the current keeper, Matthew Peakes, became sick.” Albus grinned because of the praise, while David clapped him happily on the back.
“Fred, don’t you think we should commentate about what’s happening on the field?”
“Why Louis, I do. Thou art shalt commentate.”
“Fred, that bit of Middle English or whatever was terrible. I’m pretty sure that grammar was wrong.”
“Whatever. Anyhow, Gryffindor has the quaffle, and Mitt and Van Malden are currently passing it between each other- oh, look Mitt passes it to Potter, nice to see they still remember him- and Potter fakes to the left, and scores in the right goalpost! I take all the credit for that, since I gave James all of my Quidditch skills.”
“You don’t have any Quidditch skills,” Louis said.
“I do too. So, Ravenclaw has the quaffle now…” The rest of the game passed rather unevently, with both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw making goals constantly, until they were tied 240-240 with no signs of the snitch.
“Fred, I’m getting tired of either cheering or booing every minute,” Louis complained. “Can’t they stop scoring? Or maybe Olivia can find the snitch. That’d be nice.”
“Well, I think- oh, Gryffindor scores again!”
“Excellent. Now we’re ahead by one goal. Oh, look! Renehan is beelining towards the ground!” Louis shouted. “She has to make it! I know she can! Tao is hurtling towards the snitch as well- GET IT RENEHAN!”
“And Renehan is hurtling towards the ground- YES, I THINK SHE CAUGHT IT!”
“But Renehan isn’t stopping in time- she smashed into the ground- OLIVIA!” Louis abandoned the stands and climbed down towards the pitch, where many people were already gathering.
“Is she okay?” Albus asked cautiously.
“She’s tough, she’ll be fine,” Art said, though he didn’t sound very confident.
“The Gryffindor team is probably meeting in the hospital wing, so I’m going there,” Albus said.
“See you later, Albus,” Rose said.
When Albus finally arrived in the hospital wing, Olivia was stretched out on the bed, unconscious. The rest of the team was already by her bedside. Some girls Albus assumed were Olivia’s friends were there as well. But the one person who Albus’s eyes were drawn to was Louis. He was a mess. His hair stuck up all of the place like he was trying to uproot his hair. His eyes looked blotchy.
“He’s liked her for a while,” Fred explained in an undertone to Albus. His mind jumped back to last year, when Olivia caught the snitch and crashed. Louis had been just as distraught then, but she became conscious pretty quickly. Unlike now.
“Move, everyone move! There are only six people allowed at a time, you know,” Madam Pomfrey said, scowling at them all. They shifted away from her bedside, but none of them left the room. She poured a small drop of a potion on her tongue. Olivia let out a weak cough.
“Olivia?” Louis said, dashing next to her, and ignoring Madam Pomfrey’s shouts of protests. “Are you alright?”
“Of course I’m alright,” Olivia said. “We won, didn’t we?” Everyone one in the room cheered. When she first crashed, it was a bit worrisome if she would survive.
“I was too chicken to do this last year when you crashed,” Louis said. “But this year…” Louis bent down, very slowly, and kissed her softly on the lips.
“Go Louis!” Fred shouted. Albus laughed and joined in the cheering.
“I’m afraid a lot of you have to leave, since only six people are allowed in here,” Madam Pomfrey said sternly, but there was a small smile tugging at her lips.
Everyone slowly filed out over the next five minutes, as Olivia and Louis snogged very intently, seemingly oblivious to the rest of the people in the room. Madam Pomfrey declared breaking the two of them up was a lost cause, and busied herself up with caring for other patients in the room.
Albus was smiling as he left. It was good to have a little love in the world.
Chapter 11: Fire and Water
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November crept by slowly, and Albus has barely thought about the upcoming holiday season until he woke up on morning, on the first of December, and he saw a wreath hanging on the dormitory door. More changes were evident as he walked down the stairs to the common room. There was a tree in the corner, and even a mistletoe by the fireplace. It seemed that the entire castle had been decorated overnight, probably by the house-elves.
Albus was eager to go back home this Christmas, since this year the Hogwarts students could go home. With the mess that Lord Zajecfer made last year, Albus hadn't been able to go home last year. He was glad that, so far, this seemed to be a mostly normal school year. Anything strange was occurring far away from Hogwarts, like that mess with the Dementor King. He hadn't thought about it recently, but the latest report was that the Dementor King was still making its way north from the Atlantic Ocean. It was still far from them. For the past few months, it remained in the middle of the ocean, not bothering anyone, not even muggle boats. It was strange.
“What are your holiday plans?” Albus asked Art and Rose during dinner that day. “Rose and I are going to Grandma Weasley’s place, the Burrow. What about you two?”
“Well, I’m going to my parents’s place,” Art said. “Mum is really happy I’ll be able to go there this year, instead of staying here.”
“What about you, David?” Albus asked. David looked up from stirring his soup.
“I think I’m probably staying here.”
“Wait- you’re staying at Hogwarts?” Albus said. He was on the verge of asking why David wouldn’t just go stay at his parents’ house, and then remembered that David probably didn’t want to talk about it. After their fight just a few months ago, Albus didn't want to spark anything up again. He had decided that he would just let David tell him when he was ready. He was sticking by that decision. “Hogwarts Christmases are really good,” David said. “Don’t you remember last year? The place was decorated like crazy. And the house-elves really outdid themselves this year." David motioned around to all the decorations in the Great Hall, from the lights to the magicked snow falling from the ceiling.
“But- you’ll be all alone. Without any friends. Or family," Albus protested.
“I’ll be fine, Albus.”
“You should come to the Burrow with us!” Albus said, the idea coming to him just now. He knew his cousins invited school friends to Christmas all the time, so why shouldn't he?
“I wouldn’t want to intrude on your family,” David said, as he started stirring his soup.
“It wouldn’t be a problem! A lot of the people there aren’t even family. Andromeda Tonks and Teddy Lupin spend the entire break with us, and then Hagrid is there, and the Longbottoms and Scamanders usually come around one of the days, and then I think Louis is already trying to get permission for Olivia to come over, and then I think John will be coming around for New Year’s… adding you won’t be a problem at all!”
“Look, Albus, I’ll be fine.”
“But why not?” Albus said. “Look, I get that you might not want to go home, but at least come to our place.”
“Albus, I’’ll be fine!” David shouted. “Look, just go have a fun Christmas with your wonderful, delightful happy family, and forget about me, okay!” David shouted. Albus stared at David. He rarely had outbursts like that. Could Albus’s family possibly have made him… jealous? “I’m not really hungry anymore,” David muttered, pushing his bowl of soup away. He stood up, and walked away. Albus stared after him, and sighed. He knew he shouldn't have pushed the topic… but he wanted David to have a good Christmas with them. Was that too much to ask?
“I’ll go talk to him,” Art said. “He’s still a bit cautious about the two of you,” Art said, gesturing to him and Rose.
“What’s wrong with us?” Albus said, looking at Rose once Art left.
“For once, I’m almost just as clueless as you are,” Rose said.
Albus sat in his chair, frustrated by all the secrets. It was making their lives confusing. He couldn't understand David's strange behavior. Albus watched Rose as she read her fiction book, and he wondered what Art and David were talking about. What was Art saying? Finally, unable to bear it any longer, Albus walked upstairs to the Gryffindor Common room, up to the dormitory, and listened at the door. He felt terrible about eavesdropping, but he was dying with curiosity.
“David, I understand you’re nervous,” Art was saying. “But you deserve a good Christmas. What, do you think they'll chuck you out into the snow? You're a good person, and Albus's friend. Look, I met Harry Potter this summer. He’s a really nice guy. You'll be fine.”
“Oh, alright,” David said. “I don’t really want to spend Christmas by myself. Last year was better, since everyone stayed so I didn’t look like the odd one out. But yes, I’ll take Albus’s offer. I’ll go. It does sound funner than mine would be.”
Albus opened the door, pretending that he just got there. “How’s it going?”
“Albus, I’ve made my decision: I’m coming to the Burrow with you for Christmas.”
“Excellent!” Albus exclaimed. He was so happy he hugged David tightly, and then hugged Art. “I don’t know what you did, but thank you,” Albus whispered into Art’s ear, soft enough so David couldn’t hear. It wasn't a complete lie: Albus was still sort of confused on how exactly Art had convinced David, one of the most stubborn people Albus knew, to come to the Burrow for Christmas. And he certainly was thankful.
“You’re welcome,” Art whispered back.
As December progressed, the cool temperatures of fall plunged down to the chilly ones of winter. The great lake was still as bits and pieces began to freeze to form a thin, glossy layer of ice less than an inch thick. It froze later than usual this year. Lindsay Jones said in Herbology class said that the weather was acting up because of something called “Global Warming”. Albus wasn’t sure what that meant, but it didn’t sound good.
One place remained hot, however: the greenhouses. Professor Longbottom needed it to stay warm for the plants, and boy, was it hot.
“I am so going to jump in the lake after class is over,” David said longingly, as his hot red face gazed longingly out the window.
“Don’t be silly, that’s freezing!” Rose said.
“Exactly, I’ll cool down,” David said.
“You’re insane, David!” Rose said. But no matter how much she tried to talk him out of it, David remained extremely stubborn: he was going to jump in the lake. No backing out.
“Isn’t it all frozen, anyway?” Albus asked.
“No, there’s a small patch that isn’t,” David argued.
“We’ll laugh at you later when you’re shivering,” Albus replied.
“Okay!” Once class finished, David ran out like the speed of lightning. Most of the class walked out into the refreshing cold air and stood, peacefully, but David was running.
“What is the point of jumping into the lake?” Rose said.
“He’s got it in his head that he has to, and he’s too stubborn to back out,” Art replied. “Let’s go after him, come on.” The three of them reluctantly jogged behind David, going at a much slower pace.
David stood at the edge of the lake, and waited a few moments as Albus, Art, and Rose caught up.
“David, is it really necessary?” Albus asked, panting slightly.
“It’ll be great, you’ll see. Cannonball!” David tucked his knees together and jumped.
The splash seemed to draw eyes from every student wandering the Hogwarts grounds. Who, they must be thinking, would be foolish enough to jump into the Great Lake at this time of year? They had a pretty good point, as a matter of fact. Only David, and maybe James, Fred, and Louis, would be foolish enough to do a thing like that.
David resurfaced a few seconds later, and seemingly rocketed out from the water, onto the grass at Albus’s feet. He was huddled into a tight ball, and was shivering.
“The w-w-water’s c-cold,” David said, his teeth chattering. Despite the situation, Albus laughed. Didn’t they say it would be cold?
“How foolish are you?” someone asked. It was Albus’s cousin, Molly.
“I think we established long ago that David is the definition of ‘foolish’,” Rose said to Molly. Probably to make herself look better in Molly’s eyes.
“Can you help him warm up?” Art asked.
“I suppose,” Molly said, who seemed to be thinking about how everyone in the world were idiots. She waved her wand, and a steady stream of warm air flowed out, warming up David. He sighed and stretched out a little bit, and then stood up. He was still shivering, but it wasn’t as bad.
“Thank you,” Albus said gratefully.
“Just don’t do it again!” Molly said threateningly, wagging her finger as she walked away.
As they slowly walked up back to the castle, with David muttering words like, “Blankets,” and “Hot chocolate,” Rose and Albus stepped behind as Art helped along a hobbling David.
“Fire and water. Or fire and ice? No, fire and water.”
“Huh?” Albus said, confused by Rose’s statement.
“You and David are like fire and water,” Rose said. “I’ve noticed, anyway. His favorite drink is water. Haven’t you noticed? And he likes swimming, I can tell. Even when he came out of the water shivering, he still looked joyful. And then you Albus- you performed that fire-breathing charm with ease. Once you mastered Incendio, you could have burned down the whole school if you wished. You're like fire. You and David are opposites, in that way.”
“Interesting,” Albus said. Yet it did seem to fit. He remembered that phoenix that came to him a while ago. That certainly represented fire. He wished it would come back; it was beautiful. As Albus thought of it, his eyes focused on a faint crimson dot in the sky. No… it couldn’t be… “Rose, I need to ask Professor Longbottom something really quick,” Albus said, as he ran away, not even looking to see Rose’s reaction. He ran all the way past the greenhouses, until he reached the gates of the Battle of Hogwarts Cemetery.
The phoenix made a graceful arc and landed on Albus’s shoulder. He stared at in awe. It came the moment he thought of it. Was there some sort of magic connecting them or something? Albus ruffled its feathers a little bit, and it broke into song. A beautiful song.
Crouched and hidden, behind the gates, no living human could see the phoenix except for him. But surely they all heard its song? How come, when Albus dared to peer out, they seemed completely oblivious? The song was beautiful, but loud. One girl passed only a few feet away in front of the gates, but she gave no sign of having heard anything. How? Was she deaf? Everyone on the grounds should be able to hear it, unless… unless…
Unless only he could hear it. Albus stared at the phoenix. Why was he special? He was the son of Harry Potter, but that was it… right? He killed Slytherin, but that had been a complete accident. He could use nonverbal magic, but that was just because he was weird. And somehow he had gotten a phoenix.
And, how come the phoenix came when he thought of it? Why? How did it know precisely when to come? Did it have a mental connection with him or something?
Well, Mr. Phoenix, if you can hear me now, I’d just like to think for a little bit, Albus thought, almost amused. To his great surprise, the phoenix fluttered away back into the sky. Albus stared at it. Wow. It could… it could actually read his mind. Crazy!
With these thoughts in his head, Albus walked back to the castle. He wasn’t going to call it back for a little while. He needed to think, long and hard. Weren’t phoenixes rare? They were. Really rare.
But so was a person by the name of Albus Potter.
“Anyone want to play a game of gobstones?” Art asked as the Hogwarts Express zoomed past the English countryside. Christmas break was nearly upon them: just a few more hours. The Hogwarts Express was crammed this year because so many students were going home for Christmas, so in addition to the four of them, Marc and Rob, the other Gryffindors in their year, were in their compartment as well.
“Gobstones? That’s boring. How about Exploding Snap?” David replied.
“I’m game for Exploding Snap,” Albus replied.
“I’ll play Exploding Snap,” Rob volunteered. In the end, Rose and Marc were reading, while the other four of them played an enthusiastic game of Exploding Snap. Art came in last, but David emerged victorious.
“I won! What’s my prize?” David asked.
“Clean oxygen to breathe,” Rob replied back. They all started laughing. Marc spoke up.
“Actually, that isn’t an adequate prize, as the air we currently breathe is only 21% oxygen.”
“Ha! You have to get me something of pure oxygen!” David exclaimed.
“I’ll just modify the prize. You can have air to breathe,” Rob said.
A few hours later, when they were almost at King’s Cross Station, Rob said, “I have to go check on my sister before we go. Marc, do you want to come with?”
“Sure,” Marc said, and the two of them left. Now Albus, Art, David, and Rose were alone. David’s leg started to jitter. His nervousness was showing.
“David, you’ll be fine,” Albus said.
“I’m beginning to regret this…” David muttered. “I mean, you’re a great friend and everything Albus, but I’m still insanely nervous.”
“Just be yourself, and everyone will love you,” Albus said.
“On the plus side, you can’t be worse that Dominique,” Rose pointed out. “She’s been extremely grouchy the past few years or so.”
“And you’ll blend right in,” Albus said. “There's going to be tons of people there, so hardly anyone is even going to notice you.”
"Thanks, Albus," David said, but his leg still jittered nervously.
"Rose, who's picking us up again?" Albus asked.
"I think it's Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur. And then they're bringing all of us to the Burrow."
"That won't be too bad," David said, contemplative.
"And they'll be too busy getting to know Olivia, since she and Louis are dating now, and she's coming to the Burrow," Albus said.
"Hmm," David said.
"Do you want to play another game of exploding snap?" Art asked.
David's smile returned. "I am so going to beat you!" David said. As they set up the game. Albus merely watched, as Rose read some novel of some sort.
A few hours later, as a triumphant David watched a soot-covered Art, the train came to a screeching halt, throwing the pack of exploding snap all over the compartment. As the deck exploded, all of them were coughing in soot.
"We have to use the restroom real quick, to get all this off of us," Rose said. "C'mon." Leaving their stuff in the compartment, they dashed to the bathrooms as everyone else started getting off the train. They all crammed in the bathroom and started rubbing water onto their faces until the soot was all washed down the drain.
Once they finally got back to their compartment to get their things, they had to rush, because they were one of the last ones on the train.
"Goodbye, Art. Have a good Christmas break!" Albus said, as he gave Art a brief goodbye hug. The two of them walked their separate ways, and Albus re-joined David and Rose. Together they battled through the crowd of people, until they finally spotted Aunt Fleur and Uncle Bill. Dominque, Molly, Lucy, Fred, Louis, Olivia, Roxanne, James, and John were already there. Once Aunt Fleur saw the three of them arrive, they all started moving out of King’s Cross. It was incredibly difficult to keep everyone together, but they managed it, and at last walked into the fresh air outside the station.
“How are we getting there?” Molly asked Uncle Bill.
“We are going to walk to the Leaky Cauldron and use the Floo network. There’s too many of you to side-along apparate, even if we did multiple trips back and forth. Luckily for us, the Leaky Cauldron isn’t too far...” They walked several blocks, and after a while their talking ceased as they just put one foot in front of the other, bored. At last, they arrived in the black, beat-down pub. As they walked in, the inside was much more cheerful.
"Hi!" Rose said, hugging Hannah Longbottom, Leaky Cauldron's landlady and Professor Longbottom's wife.
“Hello!” Hannah said, hugging Rose back. She and Rose had always been particularly close, and Hugo was close with her as well. Hannah had babysat the two of them frequently when they were younger, before Hogwarts.
Hannah beckoned all of them to the fireplace once they all crammed inside. “I’m glad you’re all here in one piece! Neville and I will probably be over to see you all during Christmas. As for now, here’s some floo powder…
“You know how to floo, right?” Albus asked David. He knew David was raised by a wizarding family, but not all of them used the Floo network.
“Of course,” David replied.
Getting everyone flooed out of the Leaky Cauldron took awhile, since there were so many of them and they had to go one at a time. Finally, only Albus, Uncle Bill, and Aunt Fleur had yet to floo.
“Ready?” Hannah Longbottom asked.
“You bet,” Albus said. Standing in the fireplace, he threw the floo powder up into the air and shouted “The Burrow!” His last thought before he was consumed by green flames was how beautiful the floo powder looked as it sprinkled through the air like green snow. Christmas was upon them.