Chapter 25 : The Memory
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Ten minutes into the match, Albus decided there were four types of Quidditch in the world. Casual Quidditch, like what he played with his cousins; school Quidditch; professional Quidditch; and then there was the type of Quidditch he was playing now.
It was a combination of school Quidditch and professional Quidditch. The crowd was louder, the players more determined, and the stakes were higher than a normal school Quidditch match.
Albus dodged one of the New York Chasers and flew up to catch the Quaffle, which had been dropped by Waverly as he had been hit by a bludger. As soon as Albus had the Quaffle, he was flanked by the other two New York Chasers.
Albus pushed his broom to fly faster and held the Quaffle tighter to his chest. Then he plunged down to the ground, where nobody else was flying. He was back up high two minutes later when he had reached the New York goal posts. After dodging a Bludger, he threw the Quaffle into the left goal post. The Keeper was too slow and the Quaffle soared through.
“Potter of Hogwarts has scored!” Todd Smith shouted, “40-30 Hogwarts!”
James grinned at Albus as he flew past. Albus smiled to himself and joined Waverly and Reilly, who were waiting for New York's Keeper to throw the Quaffle out. That had been his first goal of the match.
The Quaffle continued to exchange hands quickly as the match went on. An hour later there was still no sign of the Snitch and both teams were neck in neck as far as points went. New York was up by ten.
Albus scored a few more goals and he began to relax a little. The match began to feel more like a school match and less like a professional match, even though the stakes were still high.
Wood had repeated over and over again that they had to be up by at least fifty points when James caught the Snitch, or they wouldn't be able to overtake New York as far as overall points went.
“New York's Seeker has seen the Snitch!” Smith announced.
Albus, who had been following one of New York's Chasers (the one who had the Quaffle), turned around and saw that their Seeker was making a beeline for the top of Hogwarts' middle goal.
James noticed as well and flew straight at the hoop. He had been significantly closer than New York's Seeker and flew away from the hoop with the struggling Snitch in his hand.
The crowd roared and James held the Snitch high above his head. Both teams flew to the ground and Albus saw the pained look on Wood's face. They hadn't won by enough to be in second place overall.
“I had no choice!” James shouted to him, “She was going to get it!”
Wood nodded in agreement, but he still looked disappointed. Albus chose to ignore this and helped the rest of the team to hoist James onto all of their shoulders.
“To update everyone on the points, the Australian School of Sorcery is in first place. New York and Hogwarts are currently tied for second. The next match will take place at the end of February!” Smith told the crowd.
Albus didn't meet up with his friends until they were back in the common room. Teddy had gone to Hogsmeade and a party was currently underway in the Gryffindor common room. Teddy informed everyone that the three other houses were hosting parties as well. The students from New York who had been sorted into Gryffindor, including their Seeker, were sulking in a corner.
“I think that was your best match yet,” John said to Albus as they settled down at their usual table.
“I think so, too,” Albus agreed, “I kind of wish I could play in the next match.”
“Maybe Fielding will still be sick,” John said.
“Doubt it,” Albus replied, “Plus, I'm sure O'delle will get first dibs on the next match if any of the other Chasers get sick.”
“At least you got to play in one match,” Rose pointed out.
“Anyway, the next match you'll probably be playing Australia,” Matt said.
“Yeah,” Albus nodded, “If we win that one, it'll be a miracle. But we're not even playing in the next one. Next match is New York versus Australia.”
The party continued until dinner time, when people began to leave as nobody had snuck down to the kitchens to get food. Harry came in to congratulate Albus and James shortly before Albus and his friends left for dinner. He was also scheduled to patrol the school for the remainder of the weekend and wanted to let his kids know.
Life at Hogwarts returned to normal shortly after the Quidditch match. The Prophet printed fewer and fewer articles about Wisander until there were none at all. Everyone seemed to forget about his death. Everyone except Matt, that is, who was still worried about his dad.
However, the students at Hogwarts were reminded again of the unsolved murder when the next Hogsmeade trip arrived two days after Valentine's Day. A portion of the students were too lovesick to notice the boarded up shop of Dervish and Banges as they made their way to Madam Puddifoot's.
Neither Albus, John, or Matt were too preoccupied to notice the abandoned building, though. The three of them stopped to look at it for a while despite the biting wind. Rose and Amanda were spending the day with Linda.
“Who owns it now?” John asked as they looked at the empty building.
“Dunno,” Albus shrugged, “The Prophet never mentioned any family.”
“It's probably still part of the investigation,” Matt pointed out, “Plus, who would want a building that someone was killed in? I don't even want to go in it.”
Albus didn't think it was a good time to remind Matt that Severus Snape had been murdered inside of the Shrieking Shack.
“Good point,” Albus said, “But so far they haven't found anything.”
“They won't find who it was,” John said quietly, “They never found out who killed Torro.”
“I really hope they find who it was,” Matt replied.
“They will,” Albus said, “They're still focused on it.”
Albus, Matt, and John went to the Three Broomsticks a little while later because all three of them were frozen. They warmed up with Butterbeer and were just thinking about heading back to the castle when Albus heard someone whisper his name behind him.
“Albus,” they said again.
Albus turned around, but no one was there. The voice sounded familiar, though. Albus slowly reached his hand out and it touched something solid, but it looked like no one was there.
“Kaden,” Albus groaned, “Is that you?”
“Yeah,” Kaden whispered back, “I stole your cloak.”
Albus immediately stood up and motioned for Matt and John, who were both looking confused, to follow him. He assumed Kaden would follow as well. Albus lead them up High Street until they reached the Shrieking Shack. Nobody was hanging around it that day.
“Kaden!” Albus seethed, “You do realize how stupid this was.”
“Yes,” Kaden replied as he took off the cloak.
“Bloody Hell!” John shouted.
“You stole the cloak?” Matt asked.
“Kaden, you idiot!” Albus shouted, “I know I first told you this would be a good time, but there was a reason I changed my mind and told you not to sneak in today. Most of the teachers come to Hogsmeade for the February trip. My cousins told me. They want to make sure no one does anything stupid because they're in love or whatever.”
“Er,” Kaden muttered.
“How did you get in?” Matt asked.
“One-eyed witch statue,” Kaden replied, “Leads right into Honeyduke's.”
“Kaden, do you know how difficult it's going to be to get you back unnoticed?”
Kaden's face turned white and his mouth dropped open. Albus turned around to see what he was looking at and was met face to face with Professor Balladanis.
“Quite difficult, I'd expect,” Balladanis replied, “Come with me, all of you.”
Albus groaned inwardly as he followed Balladanis down the street. They had gone all year without Kaden getting them into trouble, but Albus should have known better than to think they could go the whole year.
Nobody spoke until they were shut in Balladanis's study. Balladanis sat down in his chair and looked at Kaden.
“Explain,” Balladanis said.
“They had nothing to do with it,” Kaden said quickly, “Albus was just telling me how stupid I was.”
“Then it would seem that Mr. Potter and I agree on something,” Balladanis replied, “Where'd you get that cloak?”
“It's Albus's,” Kaden said quietly, “I took it. He didn't give it to me to sneak in or anything.”
“Very well,” Balladanis said, “Mr. Potter, Mr. Eckerton, and Mr. Brickston, you may return to your common room. Mr. Dursley will join you after I arrange his detention.”
Albus, Matt, and John could not get out of there quick enough. They walked straight back to the common room, talking about how lucky they had been. It must have looked like all three of them had helped Kaden sneak into Hogsmeade. Good thing Balladanis believed Kaden.
Kaden returned fifteen minutes later, looking quite unhappy. He collapsed onto a chair and stared mutinously at the table.
“Detention every Saturday for the next month,” Kaden muttered, “Plus he gave me a lecture about how dangerous it was for me to sneak out and if I did it again I'd get a worse punishment than detention. Didn't elaborate on that, though.”
“He'd probably get you kicked out,” John commented.
“Did he say what you have to do for detention?” Albus asked.
“No,” Kaden said, “Guess it'll be a surprise.”
Kaden discovered what his detention was that night. Balladanis decided to have him alphabetize his private library, which was quite extensive. Kaden returned to the Marauder's Den ranting about the amount of books Balladanis had.
“He's got more books on dark creatures than your dad's got,” Kaden said to Matt.
“That's impressive,” Matt replied.
“Wish he had less,” Kaden muttered.
Kaden spent all four of his detentions alphabetizing those books. He almost didn't manage to finish and if that had been the case, Balladanis would have given him a fifth detention.
The next full moon came and went, as did the next Quidditch match. Albus was beginning to suspect that the full moons were becoming worse for Matt, although he didn't know why.
New York lost miserably to Australia in the Quidditch match. They had been doing pretty well until Linda caught the Snitch a half hour in. Wood insisted that this was a good thing, though. It meant that if Hogwarts managed to score a good amount of goals before Linda caught the Snitch in their next match, they would have more overall points than New York. Wood seemed to have lost any hope that James could beat Linda in Seeking, something James fumed about on a near daily basis.
March arrived and with it a three day rain storm that left the grounds completely flooded. Both Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures had to take place inside, which resulted in incredibly boring lessons. Wood continued to hold Quiditch practice and Albus returned to the castle completely soaked and covered in mud after each one.
All of the teachers were piling on the homework and Professor Patil had even gone so far as to mention the O.W.L.s even though they were a whole two years away. The only teacher who wasn't talking about the end of term exams was Professor Balladanis.
Balladanis conducted his lessons as if end of term exams did not exist. He changed nothing about his lessons except the dark creature they were learning about.
“We're starting vampires next week,” Balladanis announced at the end of class on Thursday, “Please read the chapter on them by Monday.”
Albus couldn't help but look at Linda before he began packing up his things. He wondered if Balladanis would be teaching them enough about identifying vampires for anyone to figure out that Linda was one.
“So,” John said as he flipped through his Defense book the following evening. Albus, Matt, John, and Kaden were in the Marauder's Den and John was just finishing the chapter on vampires. “Look what's after vampires.
Albus looked through his own book. “Werewolves,” he said quietly and then looked at Matt.
“Yeah,” Matt muttered, “It was bound to happen eventually.”
“I wonder if Balladanis is going to make you go in for extra help during that unit,” John grinned, “I'm sure you'll need loads of extra help in identifying werewolves.”
Matt rolled his eyes. “He better. It'll look suspicious if I don't go in for extra help. Speaking of extra help, we're due to go in for it in fifteen minutes.”
“We'd better go then,” John said, “See you two later.”
Albus managed to finish his Herbology homework while John and Matt were gone. Then it was time for him to go in for his dueling lessons.
The desks weren't pushed to the sides of the classroom when Albus entered. Balladanis was seated behind his desk and there was a stone basin sitting on it. Balladanis was pulling silvery strings of something out of his head and placing them in the basin.
It was a pensieve and the strings were memories, Albus realized. For a moment, he thought that maybe Balladanis had cancelled dueling and neglected to tell him.
“Sir?” Albus asked hesitantly.
“Mr. Potter,” Balladanis said quietly, “Come in.”
Albus stood awkwardly next to one of the front tables while he waited for Malfoy. Balladanis stared into the pensieve and acted like Albus wasn't there. When Malfoy arrived, he looked up and stared at the two boys for a few minutes before speaking.
“We're not dueling today,” he said, “Instead, I am going to show you something.” He motioned for them to join him at his desk.
Albus glanced nervously at Malfoy. Balladanis wasn't one for explanations, but Albus would have appreciated one right then.
“This is a pensieve,” Balladanis said, “It is used to explore memories. That is exactly what we're going to do. Albus, lean forward and put your head into the pensieve. Your body will follow. Scorpius, you will follow. I will come after you.”
Albus's pulse sped up a little bit as he leaned over the pensieve. Was this a stupid idea? He didn't even know what he was getting into. But it was just a memory. Nothing could hurt him in a memory, right?
Albus took a deep breath and plunged his face into the pensieve. He had never been in one before. He landed on the hard grass and looked around.
It was dusk and very quiet. There was a small house in the distance, atop of a rocky hill. In fact, the whole area was mostly rocky. Albus had landed on the one lone piece of grass in the whole place. It didn't look like any place in Britain.
He stood up as Malfoy landed next to him, followed quickly by Balladanis. Balladanis landed on his feet and they waited for Malfoy to get up.
“Follow me,” Balladanis said quietly.
Albus did so, but he still felt like he deserved an explanation. Where were they? Why were they there? Whose memory was this? What did it have to do with dueling?
“Excuse me, Sir,” Malfoy said, “Where are we?”
“Greece,” Balladanis replied.
This did nothing but increase Albus's curiosity. Why were they in Greece of all places? But he didn't ask. It didn't seem like Balladanis was in an explaining mood, judging by his short, one word answer to Malfoy.
They walked quietly towards the small house. The only noise was their footsteps. There weren't even any owls hooting or dogs barking. It struck Albus as very odd.
The house must have been their destination. Balladanis stopped when they arrived at the broken down wooden fence surrounding it. The house reminded Albus of the Shrieking Shack, only smaller. It was kind of broken down and didn't look like a place that would be good to live in.
Someone lived there, though. A light was on upstairs. It remained on for a few more minutes and then someone turned it off.
Balladanis made no move towards the house. Instead, he seemed focused on the forest that lay just beyond it. Albus decided the forest was as good a place as any to watch.
They watched the forest for a half an hour before anything happened. Then five hooded figures practically flew out of the forest. They were at the house before Albus even realized it. He looked at Balladanis. His face was hardened.
All was quiet for two minutes. The figures entered the house, but did not turn on any lights. Then the screams started. Albus jumped at the sound of the first one.
They were agonizing, long screams. Albus wanted nothing more than to go in and help whoever was screaming, but he knew he couldn't. It was nothing more than a memory. Instead, he looked again at Balladanis.
His professor's face showed nothing. Nothing but the same hardened look he had seen on it so many times. Malfoy on the other hand, looked horrified. He looked exactly how Albus felt.
The screaming was coming from two different people. There was a high-pitched one that must have been coming from a woman, and a lower one that must have been coming from a man.
Then, they stopped. First the woman, then the man. The hooded figures left the house as quickly as they had entered and returned to the forest.
Balladanis, however, made no move to leave. Instead he stared at the house. Two minutes later, someone fled from it.
They ran from the house, towards Albus, Malfoy, and Balladanis. As they drew closer, Albus could see that the person was a boy who looked no older than Albus himself. His face was etched with a sadness Albus had never seen before. It was too dark to tell, but Albus was sure there were tears running down his face.
The boy obviously didn't notice the three people watching him. He ran right past them, up the rocky hill in the distance. It occurred to Albus after he passed that the boy looked somewhat familiar. There was something about his face that Albus recognized, but he couldn't quite place it.
A/N: Thanks to my beta, Dancer_of_Starlight, as well as all of the awesome people who have read and reviewed this!
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