Chapter 27 : The Werewolf Lesson
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A few of Albus's cousins had begun to take up bets on how long Balladanis was going to spend teaching the third years about vampires. Fred was sure he'd spend the remainder of term, but Bradley was convinced he'd move onto the next unit partway through April. None of the third years were actually participating in these bets because they were all afraid Balladanis would find out.
The vampire unit was still well underway when the next Quidditch match came along. This one was the second Hogwarts versus Australian School of Sorcery match, which meant Wood was in his prime when it came to practice. Albus considered just moving his bed to the changing rooms since he spent more of his time on the Quidditch Pitch than in the Gryffindor common room.
Albus awoke the day of the match to John's loud swearing instead of Teddy, which told him that he did not have to play during that match. He couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed. Figuring there was no point in going back to sleep, he got up and asked John what happened.
“Tripped over Matt's bloody cauldron,” John muttered, holding onto his right foot, “Why can't he just put that stupid thing away?”
“Like you always do?” Albus smirked and gestured to John's own cauldron, which was sitting only a few feet away from Matt's.
John muttered something indistinguishable and shoved his cauldron under his bed. He went into the bathroom while Albus woke Matt up. The three of them met Kaden in the common room a little while later and then went down to the Great Hall to get something to eat.
A few hours later the boys were in the Quidditch stands, waiting for the match to begin. Rose and Amanda were with them.
“Wonder how long it'll take Linda to find the Snitch this time,” Albus mused.
“I'm betting on ten minutes,” John said, “Hey, remember that time we eavesdropped on Killigan?”
“Yeah,” Albus replied, “Wasn't Linda supposed to start flying slower after that?”
“That's what I thought,” John shrugged, “But she didn't during the last match.”
“She probably won't this time, either,” Matt put in, “I mean, think about it, if James could fly that fast, would he really slow down to a normal speed?”
“Definitely not,” Albus sighed.
Matt's prediction proved correct. Linda did not slow down in the slightest. She flew at her usual abnormally fast speed, beating James to the Snitch by a few yards. Luckily for Hogwarts, they had been ahead of Australia at that point and only wound up losing by forty points.
This put Hogwarts quite a bit ahead of New York as far as Quidditch points went. Australia was still in the lead, but they were not faring so well in the dueling tournaments. As of the most recent tournament, Hogwarts was winning. Australia was in last place and New York was somewhere in between. Albus was pretty sure that if the Quidditch and dueling tournament points were added up, Hogwarts and Australia would be neck in neck. Whatever the outcome of the remaining qualifying tournaments and matches, the finals for both were going to determine the winner of the competition. The points were just too close.
Although there was obviously no celebration in the Gryffindor common room after the match, nobody was particularly depressed either. Albus figured this was because nobody had really expected Hogwarts to win anyway.
Two weeks into April, Bradley along with quite a few other older Gryffindors, were able to cash in on their bets about Balladanis. Fred and a few others grumbled loudly about it as they handed over Galleons to the winners.
Balladanis had assigned the long awaited essay on vampires on Thursday, officially making the vampire unit the longest unit they had done. They had spent an entire month and a half on it. The essay seemed to match this length, as Balladanis wanted it to be two and a half feet.
Albus, Matt, and John saved their essays for the last possible minute, settling down to work on them the day before they were due. It wasn't a particularly hard essay because Balladanis had given them so much information on the subject. It was just a very long essay to write. Rose and Amanda had done theirs over the weekend, presumably with Linda. Albus couldn't help but be slightly envious of them because doing the essay with an actual vampire would make it the easiest essay ever.
“Bet Linda's glad this unit's over,” Albus said as they worked on their essays in the Marauder's Den Monday evening.
“She is,” Rose answered, “She hated every minute of those lessons. Can't say I blame her.”
“How long is your essay, Rose?” John asked as he measured his own essay.
“Three feet,” Rose answered.
John groaned. “Do you think Balladanis will notice if mine's three inches short?”
“Yes,” Rose said, “If there's any essay he'll be extremely picky about, it'll be this one.”
“Maybe if we don't finish it we can just skip class tomorrow,” Matt muttered, “After all, I wouldn't want to show up in class without the essay done.”
“But it'll be worse when you finally do go to class,” Rose pointed out.
“I still don't particularly want to go to class tomorrow,” Matt said, “Whether I've finished the essay or not.”
“You're going to finish it,” Rose told him, “You've got two inches left.”
“Finished,” Albus announced.
“Excellent,” John said as he grabbed Albus's essay, “I'll copy bits of yours.”
“You know,” Albus said quietly, “Nobody found out about Linda being a vampire even after we've spent a month and a half on them. I don't think anyone's going to find out you're a werewolf just because we're learning about them.”
“I know, I've just got a bad feeling about it,” Matt sighed.
“Look on the bright side,” Kaden put in, “When you get assigned the werewolf essay, you're sure to get a 100.”
“I don't really care about the essay,” Matt said flatly.
Both Matt and John managed to finish their essays before curfew and they returned to Gryffindor tower, and they soon went to bed. Albus didn't think Matt slept much, though. He heard him tossing and turning all night.
Albus, Matt, and John got a late start since John had misplaced his vampire essay. After finding it under his bed (no one was sure how it go there), the three boys rushed down to the Great Hall to grab pieces of toast before running to Defense.
They walked into the room right on time and barely had a chance to catch their breath before Balladanis asked for everyone to hand in their vampire essays. Albus passed his essay up and pulled out parchment and a quill.
“Well, our unit on vampires is over,” Balladanis said once everyone had handed in their essays, “I trust you have all read the chapter on werewolves for today? If you had for some reason decided not to do that, I highly suggest doing it tonight.”
Balladanis began his usual pacing in front of the classroom. He stopped in front of Rose and Linda's table and then stared out at the class.
“I thought I would begin with werewolf history,” he announced, “Nobody is sure when the first werewolf came about, but they have existed in nearly every wizarding culture. Not only that, but even ancient Muggle cultures have lycanthropy in their histories.
“Hundreds of years ago, before the Muggle field of psychology came about and long before Muggles had any understanding of the human mind, they tried to make sense of people whom they deemed 'insane'.
“One way they did this was to attribute the insanity to the moon. Over the years, the myth of werewolves came about. Thus, werewolves have had a significant role in Muggle stories. In reality, the people Muggles accused of having lycanthropy were merely suffering from schizophrenia or bouts of insanity.”
Albus frantically tried to write everything down. He knew absolutely nothing about the Muggle view of lycanthropy. He glanced at Matt and saw that he wasn't writing anything down, but his hand was shaking.
“Muggles of course know nothing about real werewolves,” Balladanis continued, “And their Hollywood created werewolves have little in common with the real thing.
“Werewolves are plagued with the illness lycanthropy. Does anyone know what that means?”
Rose was the only one who raised her hand. Balladanis nodded to her. “It comes from the Greek words 'lykos' and 'anthropos',” Rose explained, “Lykos means wolf and anthropos means man.”
“Very good,” Balladanis replied, “Lycanthropy refers to the disease and those who have it are called lycanthropes.
“Lycanthropes have been shunned by wizarding society for as long as history has told us about them. In recent years, there has been much speculation about whether this is necessary or even a good idea. However, it is difficult to change the minds of the majority when we have been taught to avoid lycanthropes and shun them from wizarding society for so long.
“It has not been for no reason that this general prejudice has came about. When in wolf form, werewolves cannot control their actions and thus attack helpless people. This has long been construed as lycanthropes wanting to attack people, wanting to infect them with the horrible disease.
“This can not be farther from the case when it comes to most werewolves. Most do not wish to attack others. Within the past hundred years, lycanthropes have begun locking themselves up on the full moon in order to avoid attacking others. However, there is one significant drawback to this for the lycanthrope. Does anyone know this?” Balladanis's eyes rested on Matt, but he continued staring down at his empty parchment.
Rose and Linda raised their hands. This time Balladanis called on Linda. “When werewolves don't have anybody to attack, they attack themselves,” Linda said, “They don't have a choice and they often wind up really injured because of it.”
Balladanis took Linda's thought further, but Albus didn't hear what he said because Matt had knocked over Albus's ink. He looked incredibly nervous and Albus was happy that the class was almost over. He quickly cleaned up the ink and tried to pay attention to the rest of the lecture.
“We'll pick up next class with what happens before, during, and after full moons for a person with lycanthropy,” Balladanis announced shortly before the bell rang, “If you have not read the werewolf chapter, please do so for next time. Mr. Eckerton, if you could please come see me.”
Matt looked, if it was possible, even more nervous at this prospect. The rest of the class left and Albus tried to put away his things as slowly as possible, but Balladanis shooed him, along with John, out of the room.
Malfoy was standing outside the classroom when Albus and John left. He had a slight smirk on his face.
“Interesting lesson, Potter,” Malfoy said quietly, “Very interesting indeed.”
“What do you want, Malfoy?” Albus asked, knowing perfectly well what he wanted.
“Oh, nothing. Just a very illuminating lesson. I've learned so much,” Malfoy replied and then sauntered off down the corridor.
“Merlin,” John muttered, “He knows.”
“If he doesn't yet, he'll know after next lesson. He's onto it, that's for sure,” Albus said.
“Onto it?” John replied, “That's a nice way of putting it. The whole school's going to know in two days, after the next class.”
“What are we going to do?” Albus groaned, “If we tell him what Malfoy said, he's going to be too scared to do anything. I mean, did you see him during this lesson?”
“Yeah,” John nodded, “We can't tell him. Whatever Malfoy's going to do, he's going to do it whether Matt knows about it or not.”
“I agree,” Albus nodded, “We won't tell.”
“What are you two talking about?” Matt appeared behind them, looking no better than he had before.
“Nothing,” John said, “What did Balladanis want?”
“Told me I didn't have to go to the extra help during this unit unless I wanted to,” Matt told them.
“What are you going to do?” John asked.
“I don't know,” Matt said as they began walking to Herbology, “I know it'll look suspicious if I don't, but I really can't take many more lessons like that. Merlin, Thursday's lesson is going to be awful.”
Albus saw no point in denying that. Matt didn't have a clue as to how awful it would be. They said nothing more about it the whole way to Herbology.
Albus had never been so happy about having ridiculously long Quidditch practices as he was Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. He was perfectly happy to spend all his free time on the Quidditch pitch and then be too tired to do much of anything else afterwards.
It was just so difficult for him to keep what Malfoy said away from Matt. He wanted nothing more than to warn his friend about it, even though he knew that would accomplish nothing. All it would do was make Matt worry even more and then act even more anxious during Defense.
Quidditch also kept Albus's mind off of what would happen after Malfoy's suspicions were confirmed. It wouldn't be anything like when Albus found out or even when Kaden found out. No, Malfoy was going to use this to his advantage. Albus was nearly one hundred percent sure Malfoy would announce it to all of Slytherin. Then, word would spread and the entire school would find out. Merlin only knew what would happen when students' parents found out.
Albus knew that werewolf rights had come a long way since Teddy's dad was in school, but he also knew that most people would not be happy if their children were going to school with a werewolf, especially one that did not take Wolfsbane. Not to mention the field day the press would have with it. Matt's dad had just become Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures for Merlin's sake. It would be a repeat of what had happened when Matt and his family had lived in Australia.
Not to mention what it would do to Matt himself. Albus remembered when there had been a slight chance that Malfoy found out about the passage under the Whomping Willow. He had nearly had a panic attack. What would happen if Malfoy found out he was a werewolf?
It did not help that the full moon was that Friday. Matt barely spoke during the brief times that Albus was not occupied on the Quidditch pitch. He sat in the Marauder's Den with everyone else, but he stared off into space or slept.
Yes, Wood's long Quidditch practices took Albus's mind off of all of that, but they did not stop Thursday from arriving and sooner than Albus would have liked he found himself sitting in Balladanis's classroom.
Albus and John exchanged nervous glances as Malfoy walked in with a very smug look on his face. Albus was so focused on Malfoy that he nearly missed the fact that the anamatek's trunk was back in front of Balladanis's desk. Once he noticed it, he poked John in the side.
“What?” John seethed. Albus gestured to the trunk. “Merlin's beard,” John exclaimed, “I don't even want to know what he's going to do with that.”
“Quiet down,” Balladanis said, “We'll continue our werewolf discussion today by talking about what happens to a werewolf when the moon waxes.
“Werewolves, in a similar way to vampires, are somewhat allergic to the moonlight when the moon waxes. For the few nights before the actual full moon, when exposed to moonlight lycanthropes will feel ill. The moonlight gives them headaches and when exposed long enough, causes them to lose consciousness.”
Albus didn't bother writing any of this down, as he knew first hand what happened when a werewolf was exposed to too much moonlight shortly before the full moon. Instead he stole quick glances at Malfoy and Matt. Malfoy was furiously writing down everything Balladanis said and stealing quick glances at Matt himself. Matt was staring down at his parchment and Albus was sure he was trying to ignore everything Balladanis said. He was pale and ill, but Albus wasn't sure if that was because of the lesson or because the full moon was the next day.
“Lycanthropes are often too ill to go about their daily activities the day of the full moon and occasionally the day before as well. Before I describe the actual transformation, I wish to show you what a person with lycanthropy looks like the day of the full moon.”
For a brief second, Albus thought Balladanis was going to call Matt to the front of the room, but then realized that as a professor, Balladanis must have promised Kendrick that he wouldn't do anything like that.
Balladanis pointed his wand at the trunk and a small man stepped out of it. His pallor looked exactly like Matt's and he looked just as ill. In fact, the two of them looked incredibly alike. Both of their faces bore scars and had a sickly look to them.
Balladanis began to speak about what the anamatek looked like, but Albus paid no attention. Instead he looked to Malfoy. Malfoy stared at the anamatek for a minute or so with shock and then he glanced at Matt. Finally, he met Albus's gaze and Albus saw the biggest smirk he had ever seen on the Slytherin's face. That was it. Albus knew it. Malfoy had made the connection.
The remainder of the lesson passed by in a sort of fog for Albus. He and John had exchanged glances and the look on John's face told him he had noticed Malfoy's realization as well. Albus heard Balladanis's lecture, but he didn't process it.
The lesson seemed to drag on and speed by at the same time. Albus wanted it to be over so he could get out of there, but at the same time he did not want to know what was going to happen after.
“Next lesson will focus on Wolfsbane Potion and the effects it has had on werewolf rights,” Balladanis announced at the end of the lesson, “Class dismissed.”
Albus and John looked at each other. Albus didn't know what to do. Should he confront Malfoy? Or should he tell Matt what happened? Matt seemed oblivious to the whole thing.
They silently decided just to leave the classroom and decide what to do after. Rose and Amanda had left with Linda with absolutely no idea what had happened.
Malfoy was waiting for them outside the room and Albus was not sure if this was a good or a bad thing. He had the sudden urge just to hex Malfoy right then and there.
“Another enlightening lesson,” Malfoy smirked, “Oh, Eckerton, feeling a bit ill?”
“None of your business,” Matt muttered. Albus and John both stepped a bit closer to him and Albus clenched his hand around his wand.
“Bet you'll be feeling even worse tomorrow,” Malfoy replied, “It's about that time of the month, isn't it? Tomorrow night?”
That got Matt's attention. His head snapped up and he glared at Malfoy. Then he turned around and looked from Albus to John with the most panicked look on his face Albus had ever seen.
“It's going to be a fun full moon, isn't it?” Malfoy whispered, just loud enough for Matt, Albus and John to hear.
Matt didn't say anything. He shook his head and then ran. He pushed through the crowd, much to the dislike of the students who were trying to get to class, and disappeared in a matter of seconds.
Albus suddenly felt more hatred for Malfoy than ever. Not only had he worked out Matt's secret, but he had used it to scare him. In essence, Malfoy had threatened him with it. That was one of the worst things he could have done.
Ignoring all the other students who were going to class, Albus pulled out his wand and had it against Malfoy's chest in two seconds.
“If you tell anyone,” Albus growled, “I will personally make sure you're so indistinguishable that even your own parents won't recognize you.”
“Is that a threat, Potter?” Malfoy pulled out his own wand.
“You need me to spell it out for you?” Albus asked, “I think we're about to find out just how much better I am at dueling than you are.”
“Rictumsempra!” Malfoy shouted.
“Protego!” Albus shouted at the same time.
“Expelliarmus!” John shouted.
The crowd moved away so that there was a circle of onlookers surrounding the duel. Albus ignored them. It was just him, John, and Malfoy. And Malfoy was outnumbered.
Malfoy deflected John's disarming spell and shot another spell at Albus. It bounced off Albus's shield and hit a nearby portrait. The portrait's occupant shouted in disgust and moved into her neighbor's frame.
Albus concentrated on his shield charm and glared at Malfoy. “Petrificus Totalus!” he shouted through his shield.
Grateful for Balladanis's dueling lessons, Albus watched as his shield held up while the hex shot at Malfoy. Unfortunately, Malfoy dodged it and sent a tickling jinx at John.
This one hit John and he collapsed onto the floor in a fit of giggles. Albus shot another hex at Malfoy and this one collided with his face. Malfoy's nose started bleeding and he rounded on Albus.
“What is going on out here?” Balladanis shouted.
Albus didn't lower his wand and neither did Malfoy, but they didn't fire off anymore hexes either. Albus let his shield down and noticed that the crowd had dispersed. John was still rolling around on the ground.
Balladanis pointed his wand at John and John immediately stopped giggling and stood up.
“Follow me,” Balladanis growled.
All three boys followed Balladanis into his study. Albus looked nervously at John. Of all the professors to catch them dueling, it had to be Balladanis. Of course, the one good thing about this was that Malfoy couldn't announce Matt's lycanthropy to the entire school while Balladanis was lecturing them.
A/N: Thanks to my beta, Dancer_of_Starlight, as well as all the awesome people who have read and reviewed this!
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