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Albus Potter and the Path Left Untrodden by Gryffin_Duck
Chapter 30 : Placing Bets
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 15


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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


   “Place your bets here!”  Fred shouted the next day as he walked around the common room.
   
    Albus had just climbed through the portrait hole with Georgia and James after a particularly difficult Quidditch practice.  Wood was getting them prepared for the match against New York, which was to take place in a little over a week.

    “Georgia, James, Albus!”  Fred greeted them,  “Care to place a bet?”

    “What are you taking bets about?”  Georgia asked tiredly,  “And if you keep betting on stuff, your mum is bound to find out.”

    “She won't care,”  Fred shrugged.  He was probably right.  Albus's Aunt Alicia was the least strict out of all of his aunts.  She'd probably place a bet with Fred.

    “You'd just better hope Grandma doesn't find out,”  Georgia smirked.

    Fred looked momentarily horrorstruck and Albus couldn't blame him.  Molly Weasley would probably send him a howler if she knew he was gambling.

    “She won't unless you tell her,”  Fred muttered,  “And Heather and I are taking bets on how much longer Balladanis is going to last.  Care to take a guess?”

    “I suppose,”  Georgia said as she pulled out some gold,  “Two Galleons says he's gone in a week.  I heard he had three first years in tears today.”

    “He nearly had half of my class in tears,”  Fred said as he took Georgia's gold,  “James, Al?”

    “Three Galleons says he's gone in two weeks,”  James said as he tossed Fred some gold and then left to go find his friends.

    “Nope,”  Albus shook his head. 

    “Suit yourself,”  Fred shrugged and continued his walk around the common room,  “Bets here, place your bets!”

    Albus found his friends crowded around their usual table in the common room. Linda was with them.  All three girls were working on homework.  John and Kaden were trading Chocolate Frog cards.

    “Fred's going to get himself in trouble,”  Rose muttered as Albus sat down, “You didn't bet anything, did you?”

    “No,”  Albus shook his head,  “How about you lot?”

    “I bet ten Sickles he won't last the year,”  John said.

    “You should know exactly when he'll leave, what with your taking Divination,” Rose smirked.

    “Divination's a joke,”  John muttered,  “I can't wait to drop it after fifth year.”

    “Told you so,”  Rose grinned,  “Sick of making up stuff?”

    “It's just so pointless,”  John groaned,  “We're still doing crystal balls.  I just tell her that I see myself dying anytime she asks and it keeps her happy.”

    “That's why I'm not taking Divination,”  Kaden announced,  “Bloody waste of a class.”

    Kaden had chosen his classes for next year a few days prior. He decided on Care of Magical Creatures, Ancient Runes, and Arithmancy.

    “Easy homework, though,”  John sighed,  “I just keep reminding myself about that.”

    “What's got easy homework?”  Matt asked as he sat down in the chair next to John's.  He looked a bit better than he had the previous day, but still worn out.

    “Pomfrey finally let you out?”  John asked,  “And we're talking about Divination.”

    “Yeah, just in time for Defense tomorrow,”  Matt groaned,  “I'm tempted to use a Fainting Fancy to get out of it.”

    “I think half the first years are going to do that on Friday,”  Kaden said, “I overheard them talking.  Apparently Balladanis completely flipped out on one of them today, all over one incomplete homework question.  Made her cry.”

    “That's what Georgia was saying,”  Albus replied,  “Makes me want to use a Fainting Fancy.  Two weeks.  I know I didn't bet on it, but that's really all I'd give him.”

                        ******

    John filled his pockets with Puking Pastilles before he set off to Defense the next morning.  Albus didn't bother.  His curiosity always trumped his dislike for certain classes.  He'd rather be there and know exactly what Balladanis was doing.

    “Werewolves,”  Balladanis said as soon as the bell rang,  “When the term is used, most people conjure up images of lonely adults, condemned to a miserable life that revolves around the moon. 

    “However, there is a whole group of werewolves that are mostly overlooked. Children.  Ah, yes, children do get attacked by werewolves.  Very few survive. Found by their parents when it is too late.  Even fewer survive the initial transformation.  Werewolf transformations, as you have learned, are incredibly taxing, both physically and emotionally.  Very few children are strong enough to make it through.”

    Balladanis paused and began to pace the room.  “Parents are faced with a decision after their child is bitten.  They have three choices.  Number one, they can deal with it.  Deal with the monthly transformations and try and make life as normal as possible for the child.  Number two, they can abandon their child.  Force them to live with a wild pack of werewolves, to grow up to kill.  However, there is a third option.  Does anyone care to guess as to what it is?”

    Nobody raised their hand.  Balladanis looked at his class until his eyes rested on Matt.  A very creepy smirk appeared on his face.

    “Mr. Eckerton, care to tell us?”  Balladanis asked.

    Albus, who had been trying hard not to look at Matt throughout the lesson, stole a quick glance at him.  He was staring at the desk, quill in hand, shaking slightly.

    “N-no,”  Matt stuttered.

    “Very well,”  Balladanis smirked,  “The third option is to put the child down.  Not a pleasant option, but one that a few parents select anyway.  This option used to be readily suggested by Healers, but has now become quite controversial.  It is not suggested very often anymore.

    “Parents who choose the first option, to continue to raise their child, are in for a very tough life.  Werewolf children are difficult to raise.  It is a huge adjustment for parents and siblings if there are any.  The bite affects the whole family.  It changes lives, it can rip families apart.”

    Balladanis continued droning on and on about how lycanthropy affects children and Albus looked again at Matt.  His hand was shaking even harder and his face was as white as it had been when he had dressed up as a ghost.

    Albus shared a look with John and John reached into his pocket.  He slid a Puking Pastille across the table towards Albus and then slid one to Matt.  Albus quietly unwrapped it and then waited until Balladanis had looked away to shove it into his mouth.  John and Matt did the same.  Albus clutched his stomach as the sweet began to take affect.

    “Lycanthropic children rarely, if ever, get to attend school,”  Balladanis droned.

    “Sir!”  John shouted,  “I don't feel so well.  May I go to the Hospital Wing?”

    “I don't feel too well either,”  Albus added.

    “Shut it, you two,”  Balladanis shouted,  “And no you may not go to the-”

    Balladanis was cut off by the sound of all three boys vomiting at the same time.  Albus leaned over his table and vomited right onto the floor.  The class erupted into shouts and Balladanis tried to keep order.

    “Fine!”  he seethed,  “Get to the Hospital Wing, all three of you!”

    Albus resisted the urge to vomit again as he ran for the door.  Matt and John followed.  All three of them shoved the orange end of the sweets into their mouths as soon as they shut the door behind them.  The affect was instantaneous.  Albus immediately felt better.
   
    “The man's evil!”  John shouted,  “How could he teach that?”

    “Not here,”  Matt muttered and took off down the corridor.

    None of them said anything else until they reached the Marauder's Den.  “As I was saying,”  John began,  “What is wrong with that bloke?”

    “I think a lot of things,”  Albus muttered,  “He's a raving lunatic.”

    “He's only doing it because you're in the class,”  John said to Matt as he paced around the room,  “None of what he said today is actually in the book.  I mean, did you read the book?  There's not much in there that Balladanis has actually taught!”

    “He hates me because my dad made him get rid of his stupid anamatek,”  Matt muttered.

    “But it started before that,”  Albus pointed out,  “He wants to make you miserable because of what your dad did with those vampires years ago.”

    “It's just not fair,”  Matt groaned,  “I mean, did you listen to what he was talking about?”

    “It was hard not to,”  Albus sighed,  “Is it true?”

    “Yes,”  Matt said quietly,  “And before you ask, one of the Healers did suggest that to my parents.”

    Albus suddenly felt more sick than he had when he ate the Puking Pastille. How could a Healer, someone whose job it was to make people healthy, actually suggest that to a child's parents?

    “Seriously?”  John asked,  “What happened after they asked?”

    “My dad and my Uncle Jack hexed him at the same time,”  Matt gave them a half-smile,  “Put him in his own hospital bed for two days.”

    “You know, I'd really like to meet your Uncle Jack,”  John grinned,  “He sounds like a great bloke.”

    “He is,”  Matt smiled,  “He would've hexed Balladanis quite a while ago if he were here.”

    “But he's not,”  John sighed,  “So what are we going to do about this?”

    “I'm sending an owl to my dad,”  Matt said as he stood up,  “You two aren't going to have to do anything.”

    “Three days,”  John said after Matt left,  “I give Balladanis three more days.”

                        ******

    “Your dad certainly doesn't waste any time,”  Rose said to Matt as she unfolded her copy of the Prophet the next morning at breakfast.

    Albus leaned over and read the paper over Rose's shoulder. 

HOGWARTS PROFESSOR TO BE INVESTIGATED BY MINISTRY
The Department of Magical Education received an inquiry
late yesterday afternoon, requesting an investigation
of Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark Arts professor,
Tethys Balladanis.  The inquiry was submitted by none
other than the newly appointed Head of the Department
for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures,
Walter Eckerton, whose fourteen-year-old son currently
attends Hogwarts.

Professor Tethys Balladanis has been teaching Defense at
the school since September, when he replaced Head Auror
Harry Potter.  Potter had taught the subject for two
years and wished to focus solely on his Auror career,
resulting in his resignation at the end of last school
year.

The impending investigation comes as hardly a surprise.
Earlier this week Walter Eckerton visited Hogwarts
after receiving a tip that Balladanis was holding an
anamatek in his classroom.  This proved to be true and
Eckerton ordered him to remove it.  The anamatek was
legally in Balladanis's possession, so all he had to
do was remove it from school premises.  Eckerton told
reporters that Balladanis complied.

However, Eckerton has claimed that the professor
repeatedly put students in danger and humiliated them
in front of their classmates.

'It's not just the anamatek,' Eckerton told reporters,
'I'm filing this inquiry as a parent, not as a Ministry
official.  First and foremost, I wish to protect my son.'

The investigation will begin today and be carried out
by officials from the Department of Magical Education,
a department that was set up for this purpose after
the downfall of Lord Voldemort.  Officials will visit
the school and interview both students and staff as
a part of their investigation.

Tethys Balladanis will continue to teach Defense Against
the Dark Arts during this time.


    “He's still going to teach?”  John said incredulously after he finished reading the article.

    “I'm not going to Defense anymore,”  Matt said,  “Not until he's gone.”

    “They can't stop him from teaching until they do the investigation,”  Rose explained,  “Only Kendrick can stop him from teaching at the moment.”

    “Then why doesn't Kendrick do that?”  Albus asked as he looked up at the staff table.

    Kendrick was talking with Neville and there was a copy of the Prophet laying between them.  Balladanis was not present.

    “I don't know,”  Rose said quietly,  “But Defense is just going to get worse.”

    “Which is why I'm not going,”  Matt said adamantly.

    For once, Rose did not chastise him about skipping class.  Albus couldn't blame him.  He himself was half tempted to skip, but he knew his curiosity would get the better of him.

    “Somehow, I don't think you'll have the chance to skip,”  Rose muttered,  “We don't have Defense until Tuesday.”

    “Excellent,”  John grinned,  “Now I won't have to do that werewolf essay.”

    “I never said that,”  Rose replied,  “You still ought to do it, just in case.”

    “Look, Kendrick's getting up,”  Kaden pointed to the staff table.

    “May I have your attention!”  Kendrick shouted and the chatter in the hall immediately ceased,  “Thank you.  I trust by now that you've all either read or heard about the article on the front page of the Prophet.

    “Ministry officials will be visiting the school today and tomorrow to conduct their investigation.  They will be selecting students to interview.  If you are selected, I advise you to answer their questions truthfully.

    “As of right now, Professor Balladanis is still your teacher, therefore you need to treat him with respect and attend his classes.  This is, at the moment, an investigation and nothing more.  Now, you'd best be off to class.”

    “Albus,”  Rose whispered as they made their way out of the Great Hall to History of Magic,  “You're not going to that dueling lesson tonight, are you?”

    “I dunno,”  Albus shrugged.  He hadn't really thought about it until then.

    “I don't think you should,”  Rose told him.

    Albus nodded.  He didn't want to go, but he also didn't want to find out what Balladanis would do when Albus didn't show up that evening.

    Nobody fell asleep during History of Magic.  It must have been a new record, one that was previously set back when Binns was still alive.  However, the lack of fatigue was not due to Binns's lecture.  No, that was just as boring as usual.  The students remained awake because they were talking about Balladanis.  The classroom was filled with the hushed whispers of the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw third years and Binns droned on without seeming to notice.

    There were only six students in the castle who knew the specific reason why Matt's dad had submitted that inquiry.  Albus, Rose, John, Amanda, Kaden, and Matt himself.  Seven, if you counted Malfoy, but even Malfoy did not know that it had been Balladanis's lecture on lycanthropic children that pushed Mr. Eckerton to submit the inquiry.

    Everyone else speculated.  About half the school put the blame on the anamatek, even though Matt's dad had come out and said that wasn't the real reason. The Prophet had only glazed over the reasons, not getting into specifics.  The Hogwarts students wanted specifics.  They wanted to know what had pushed Matt's dad to submit an inquiry when none of their parents seemed fazed.

    The reasons the students fabricated ranged from plausible to outrageous.  A few seventh years, mainly Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, speculated that Balladanis had gotten a bit overenthusiastic with his extra help sessions and perhaps used Matt as an example of someone who did not possess the skills to defeat dark wizards.  Combine that with an overprotective parent (what the seventh years claimed Matt's dad to be, which was not actually an overstatement), and the investigation was born.  They believed that the investigation would blow over and within two weeks everything would be back to normal, with Balladanis still teaching.

    A few overexcited first years were the on the opposite side of the spectrum. They believed that Balladanis had let a chimaera loose in his classroom while teaching the Gryffindor and Slytherin third years.  Apparently they overlooked the fact that nobody had turned up injured after class and the fact that Balladanis would have been sacked immediately if that had actually been the case.

    Matt had become somewhat of a celebrity inside the Hogwarts walls.  There wasn't a single person, living, ghost, or portrait, who didn't know it was his dad who launched the inquiry.  He was stopped no less than six times on the way from History of Magic to Herbology by people wanting to know the details of the inquiry.  It was something Albus could tell Matt was extremely uncomfortable with.

    “Merlin, when will they learn that I don't want to talk about it!”  Matt groaned as they made their way back to the castle after Herbology.  Two Ravenclaw second years had just run up to Matt, demanding to know why his dad wanted to get Balladanis sacked.  Apparently they actually liked him.
   
    “You should just stand up on the Gryffindor table and make an announcement during lunch,”  John suggested.

    “Definitely not,”  Matt said,  “I'm just glad we don't have class this afternoon.”

    “Me, too,”  Albus agreed,  “Hey, look, I bet those are the investigators.” Albus pointed to three official looking people striding up towards the castle. There were two witches and a wizard.

    “Probably,”  John said,  “I wonder who they're going to interview?”

    “Ten Galleons says they interview me,”  Matt replied,  “And probably Albus since he's had all those private lessons.”

    “Let's just hope they don't interview those two Ravenclaws,”  John said.

    Albus, Matt, and John continued their trek to the Great Hall, where they ate a very fast lunch.  None of them wanted to stay very long since everyone was still asking Matt about the inquiry.  After they finished, the boys went to Gryffindor Tower to deposit their bags before going to the Marauder's Den to put off their homework.

    The common room was mostly empty when they arrived, but Albus spotted Lily, Hugo, and Ashtyn sitting around one of the tables. 

    “Don't you three have class now?”  Albus asked, feeling very much like Rose.

    “Yes,”  Lily muttered,  “We've got Defense and we're skipping.  Don't say anything about it.  There's nothing you can do to make me go, so don't even try.”

    “I wasn't going to,”  Albus assured her,  “Wasn't it your class where Balladanis made someone cry?”

    “That's why we're not going,”  Ashtyn replied,  “And we don't care if we get detention either.  Oh, and John, you'd better not tell Mum.”

    “I won't,”  John said,  “The three of us used Puking Pastilles to get out of Defense yesterday.”

    “You should have just skipped from the beginning,”  Ashtyn told them.

    “Well, you three enjoy your skipping,”  Albus said as he continued to his dormitory.

    “Oh, believe me, we will,”  Lily grinned.

    The boys quickly stowed their bags in their dormitory and set off for the Maruader's Den.  Albus climbed out of the portrait hole and ran straight into Gabriella.

    “There you are, Al!”  Gabriella exclaimed,  “I've been looking for you. Kendrick wants to see you in his study.  Oh, hang on.”  Gabriella consulted the piece of parchment she was holding.  “He wants to see Matt, too.”

    “Looks like you two are getting interviewed,”  John said as Gabriella went into the common room.

    “Guess so,”  Albus shrugged.  He really wasn't surprised.  Even if he hadn't been receiving private lessons with Balladanis, he probably would have been interviewed.  It was one of those things that happened when your father was the most famous wizard in Britain.

    “I'll see you two later, then,”  John replied,  “Have fun.”

    “Oh, yeah,”  Albus rolled his eyes,  “Loads.”

    Albus and Matt left for Kendrick's study while John continued towards the Marauder's Den.  Albus had no idea what he was going to do while they were gone, but he would bet that John would be bored within fifteen minutes.


A/N:  I hope you all enjoyed HPFF's April Fool's Day Prank!  The staff really outdid themselves this year.  Thanks to my beta, Dancer_of_Starlight, and everyone who has read and reviewed this story!


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