Harry Potter Death Eater Mens Belt and Vambraces
These vambraces and belt are worn by the death eaters of the Harry Potter series. The adjustable leather belt has an attached wand holster and fits up to a 38" waist. Vambraces are leather with hand detailed silver designs complimenting the death eater gambeson (sold separately). Death eater gambeson jacket, pants, and cloak sold separately.
Tom Riddle's Diary Prop Replica from Warner Bros.
This is an officially licensed authentic prop replica of Tom Riddle's leather bound journal that is destroyed by Harry Potter with a Basilisk's fang. Measures approximately 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches with blank pages.
Tom Riddle's Diary Prop Replica
This is an officially licensed authentic prop replica of Tom Riddle's leather bound journal that is destroyed by Harry Potter with a Basilisk's fang. Measures approximately 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches with blank pages.
Tom Riddle's Diary Prop Replica
This is an officially licensed authentic prop replica of Tom Riddle's leather bound journal that is destroyed by Harry Potter with a Basilisk's fang. Measures approximately 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches with blank pages.
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Joined: 4 September 2008
Posted: Thursday 2 December 2010 03 45 14 am Post subject: Re: A Gaunt Tale in topic:A Gaunt Tale
[i]Thanks, hprocks ^_^ I'm actually going to be rewriting this pretty soon. I've worked it into a series in and of itself, and I'm actually working out the timeline for everything right now. But, I figure I may as well post what I've got of this one here for people to read. Why not?[/i]
[b]Chapter 4: Train[/b]
As she picked up a few belongings of hers that had fallen off of her luggage cart, Katalina looked up at the red steam engine train with relish. It hadn’t changed a bit since the first day she had seen it, but the foreboding sense it had given her back in her first year was gone, replaced with hope and utter delight.
It was earlier than eleven o’ clock and so Katalina was one of the only people on the platform, though she had felt as though she was being watched ever since waking up to find her window open in her inn room at the Leaky Cauldron. She had the same dream for the following nights, all ending with that same word. She could almost understand why the word was riddle; the dream itself was a riddle that she couldn’t make any sense of. It could have just been a sort of underlying guilt for leaving her father playing games with her mind while she looked for some more sinister explanation, but she somehow didn’t think so.
Her paranoia was getting the better of her; she was almost sure she felt someone standing behind her. She first thought to laugh it off, but she glanced over her shoulder beforehand. At doing so, she spun around and pointed her wand and then, scowling, she shoved it back in her pocket. She turned back around to face the train.
“What do [i]you[/i] want?” she snarled, glaring behind her. “I [i]did[/i] leave for a reason, you know.”
The voice that replied wasn’t anywhere near as ferocious; if anything, it was confused.
“Father’s been acting quite strange.”
“Is that so?” said Katalina airily, looking over as her brother walked next to her. “That was actually the reason I left, to get him off my bloody back. Did you know that?”
“My [i]Lord[/i], is there [i]any[/i] chance you could stop being hostile for a [i]moment[/i]?” Katalina remained silent. “Good,” Alfred snapped. “I know he’s been writing letters to Dumbledore about something since before you even left, I heard the house elf mumbling to herself about it. And before I left… [i]don’t[/i] think I’ll be doing it just because he said to,” he added, and she wasn’t sure if he sounded antagonistic or frenetic about it. “Before I left, he said I should watch out for you.” Katalina raised her eyebrows. “I don’t know why, like I said, he’s been acting strange.”
“Yeah…” he said slowly, leaning back against his own luggage cart and crossing his arms. “He didn’t think I saw it, but I’ve been keeping my eye on him since I found out about the letter’s he’s been writing to Dumbledore. I believe he’s working on writing a will.”
Katalina felt her eyes widen involuntarily, but she regained her composure… on the outside. Inside, her mind was racing now—[i]that[/i] was why he was afraid, he was going to… die? But who was going to kill him? Surely it couldn’t be Voldemort. With the letters he had been writing to Dumbledore, maybe he had turned into a spy of some sort for Dumbledore and Voldemort found out? No… it was probably more likely that Voldemort forced him to become a double agent and pretend to work for Dumbledore, then Voldemort became paranoid and lost trust in him. Her father wouldn’t double-cross Voldemort if his life depended on it, she knew that for a fact.
“What d’you [i]mean[/i], ‘so’?” asked Alfred, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.
“I [i]mean[/i], why did you see fit to tell me? You said you weren’t going to hold to Dad’s word and ‘watch out for me’ or whatever it was, so there’s not really any point, is there?”
“I didn’t say I [i]wasn’t[/i] going to, I said don’t expect me to. Anyway,” he added quickly, “I figure with everything Father’s taught you with all that about Occlumency and Legilimency, you might be able to figure something out.”
“I haven’t got a clue,” she said. It wasn’t really a lie; she had quite a few theories already circling around in her mind, but she didn’t know how close any of them were to being right. “I’d have to be right there to attempt to employ Legilimency on him, you know, and considering he taught it to me, he’d be able to use Occlumency more than well enough to block me out.”
“I don’t know that much about it. If you care to remember, I was sorted into the [i]right[/i] house when [i]I[/i] got to Hogwarts.”
“Ah, back to the ‘I’m a better pureblood than you’ game, are we?” said Katalina brightly, if only to annoy her brother. “Here, I’ll help you. I forfeit.”
She grabbed her luggage cart and started to walk off, but he caught up with her. She rolled her eyes and stopped a few feet from the entrance to the train.
“So you really don’t have any theory as to what could be going on?” he said.
The hostility was gone from his voice again, and this really surprised Katalina. He had been nothing [i]but[/i] hostile towards her for the past fifteen years, so this change was a little bit troubling. Of course, she supposed, Alfred was bound to be worried about the situation; he and their father definitely did have a decent father/son relationship. She couldn’t forget that—their father only treated [i]her[/i] like dirt.
“I have [i]theories[/i],” she said, starting walking again. She managed to haul her trunk of supplies up the stairs that lead into the train and continued, “but there’s no point in taking them seriously. I’m not psychic.”
“Actually,” he said, pushing his own Hogwarts trunk onto the train once she was out of the way, “I’ve heard Father mention that Mum was fairly gifted in Divination, and things like that tend to run in families, so you could be.”
She scoffed. “Right, I’m psychic,” said Katalina. “I’d lose my bloody ‘ead if it weren’t attached, but I can see the future. Really funny.”
“[i]You’re[/i] the one who wants to work in the Department of Mysteries if it’s still around after the Dark Lord’s through with the Ministry,” said Alfred. “You need some sort of knowledge of those sorts of things if you’re going to work there, you know.”
Katalina looked into an empty compartment. Her trunk was heavy and she didn’t feel like going much further than a few doors down from the entrance. “First off,” she said, opening the door to that compartment, “I need a [i]knowledge[/i] of the theory behind it, I don’t need to be able to see spectral images in blobs of tea leaves myself. Second,” she said, hauling her trunk onto one of the bench seats in the train compartment and turning to face her brother. She pointed at him and continued on, “Lord [i]Voldy-thing[/i] isn’t going to take over the Ministry for the simple reasons that he’s got the dorkiest name I’ve ever heard, friends that could get him into severe trouble one day, and he [i]looks[/i] funny.”
She managed to lift her trunk to shove it into the luggage rack above the seats as her brother glared at her, his face starting to turn a bit red. She looked over at him as she finished putting up her trunk and sniggered.
“Oh, [i]I’m[/i] sorry, have I hurt your feelings? Shall I get you a band-aid?”
“Things Muggles use to cover their cuts until they heal. Quite handy when you’re in a situation where you can’t use magic.”
“R—right.” She could tell he was trying his best to be nice, for whatever reason, or else he would have said something about how stupid Muggles were. “But anyway, what are your theories on… you know.”
“On Dad?” She shrugged and sat down on one of the seats in the compartment, crossing her legs and staring upwards. “The only one that there is a good chance of is that he’s going to die sometime in the near future, but I’m sure you could’ve guessed that from seeing the will.”
“Yeah, I did figure that…” he said with a sigh, looking at the floor.
“I also imagine it’s got something to do with Voldemort.” Katalina noticed the glare she received from her brother for having the nerve to use the ‘Dark Lord’s’ name. “Quit giving me that look!” she snapped, directing her range of sight from the bottom of the luggage rack above her head to her brother. “I’m doing my best to be helpful, thank you. I don’t know what it has to do with [i]him[/i],” she continued, “but if Dad’s suddenly started writing to Dumbledore out of nowhere, he might be looking for help or something.”
Alfred looked thoughtful about this. “That seems to make sense, actually,” he said. “If Father’s gone and gotten himself into a bad situation with the Death Eaters or the Dark Lord, then Dumbledore would be the person to go to for help. Everyone says he’s the only person who would even possibly stand a chance against the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord’s even said it himself, from what I’ve heard about the meetings from Malfoy.”
She shuddered at the sound of that name; many people shuddered at the sound of Voldemort’s name, but just the thought of Lucius Malfoy disturbed her. She did [i]not[/i] like him. “He’s graduated, hasn’t he?”
“Couple years ago, yeah.”
“Oh, thank Merlin. I was about to get off the train and leave if you said he was still there.”
After a few more minutes of discussion on what their father was hiding, Alfred rushed off to change into his Hogwarts robes, having been forced to arrive early because he had prefect duty. The one thing she hadn’t bothered asking him was why their father hadn’t come like he did every year. She imagined it probably had to do with her; she was sure that he didn’t want to talk to her at this point. She scoffed at this though; what a wonderful father figure [i]he[/i] was.
It was another thirty minutes before other students started boarding the train. A few of the first ones to enter slowed down by Katalina’s compartment and looked in on her for a moment, probably both surprised to see someone new who wasn’t a first year as well as to see someone on the train before them looking as though they had been sitting there for quite a while. One student, a girl with long red hair and bright green eyes that was already changed into her Hogwarts robes slowed down by the door at first, passed the compartment, and then came back only a moment later to open the door, looking vaguely confused.
“K… Katalina Gaunt?” she said uncertainly.
“Hello, Lily,” replied Katalina calmly, looking over. She moved her hands out from behind her head and sat up a bit straighter. “Didn’t I tell you I’d be back?”
She blinked a few times and looked behind her as the crowds of students started growing louder. After a moment of what appeared to be a bit of self-debating, she came into the compartment and closed the door, and then sat across from Katalina.
“I can’t [i]believe[/i]—” she started, shaking her head. “How’d you manage to get out of it?”
“Did you run away or something?”
“I did, act—”
“I thought you had to have a parent’s permission to attend!”
“Your father could pull you out again, couldn’t he?”
“If you’d just slow down,” said Katalina, laughing. “You’re a prefect?” she added, noting the badge Lily was wearing on her robes.
“That’s why I’m trying to ask quickly,” she said, glancing at the door again. “I’m supposed to be on duty right now to make sure no one’s trying to kill anyone else to get compartments. Did you know your brother’s Head Boy this year?”
“H—how the bloody—[i]what[/i]?” She shook her head. “Dumbledore must be out of his mind.”
Lily shrugged. “There are a lot of people who say he is. He’s really quite brilliant.”
“There’s a thin line between genius an insanity. If Dumbledore’s going around making aspiring Death Eaters into Head Boys and prefects, then I’d say he’s more than a toe over the line.”
“You’ve got prefect duty,” said Katalina, “you can ask more when you’re finished with it.”
“Yes, I suppose so…” she said reluctantly. “I get to keep my luggage in the prefects’ compartment, at least, so I won’t have to lug it in here when I’m through. I’ll be back as soon as I can and I want to know what in the world ‘Death Eaters’ are.”
“You don’t—?” Katalina started, then thought for a moment—Lily not only didn’t live with crazy purebloods who thought Muggles deserved to die, but she was also a Muggleborn. Not many people had the pleasure of knowing as much as Katalina did about the subject. “Never mind, I’ll tell you when you get back.”
“All right,” Lily said, standing and walking towards the door of the compartment. “But you [i]will[/i] tell me,” she added, opening the door.
Katalina was about to reply, but was interrupted by a voice from outside their compartment that made Lily grimace.
“Evans!” Katalina heard it say fondly, and she recognized the voice immediately as her source of suffering over the past few days. “Hope you’ve had a good summer?”
“Was nice,” she said shortly. “I’ve got to be off. Prefect duty.”
And with that, she disappeared into a crowd, leaving a very disappointed looking boy with messy hair and glasses to stand next to the open door while looking after her as she walked off. Katalina kept deathly silent, silently praying he wouldn’t notice her if she didn’t make any sound.
Evidently, she had more luck than ever today. Unfortunately, the luck she had wasn’t good luck at all, as James spotted her a moment later.
“Ay! Gaunt!” he said, quickly dropping his formal tones and coming into the compartment without bothering to close the door and sitting where Lily had just sat. “How’re you this morning? Didn’t see you headed out of the Leaky Cauldron this morning with the rest of the Hogwarts crowd.”
“I flew here out my window on a magic carpet,” she said sarcastically.
“Magic carpet, eh? Got it with you now?”
“Yes. But it’ll never leave the ground if you’re thinking about pink elephants when you’re standing on it.”
“I don’t ever think about pink elephants. Only purple.”
“Doesn’t fly for them, either. And I know you know that there’s no such thing as magic carpets and you’re just keeping this conversation because you have an extremely annoying fascination with getting on my nerves. Evidently,” she added with a laugh, “you also seem to have a fascination with Lily Evans that gets on [i]her[/i] nerves.”
“Don’t let her fool you,” he said, shaking his head. “She [i]knows[/i] she doesn’t actually despise me. She’s just refusing to go out with me out of habit at this point. It’s nothing to do with me as a person.”
“No, it’s just to do with you as an idiot.”
“What happened to your friend that was supposed to be staying at the Leaky Cauldron?” She changed the subject rapidly to avoid arguing. “His mum find him?”
“She caught him just now outside the train,” he said. “She’s telling him off now I believe. He’s moving in with me and my parents next summer if he can manage to run away without [i]his[/i] mum and dad noticing.”
Katalina laughed. “I’ve only got [i]one[/i] psycho pureblood parent and [i]he[/i] noticed.”
“Yeah, but he’s a Gaunt. They’re notorious for being extra psychotic. Even more so than the Blacks. Which is [i]really[/i] saying something, considering they have a family tree in their house that his mum tends to blast faces off of if they’ve done something to wrong the family name. The thing about the Gaunt family is that if a family member does something to wrong [i]their[/i] family name, then they get their [i]actual[/i] face blasted off.”
“My face is still intact.”
“I’m just saying. They’re extra psychotic.”
“All of them, then?”
“Oh, well, [i]thanks[/i]…” she said sarcastically.
“You’re quite welcome.”
Katalina glared. “I swear, I’m going to knock you over the head with my magic carpet once I [i]do[/i] dig it out of my luggage.”
“See?” said James matter-of-factly. “You’re so deranged you’re going to beat me with an imaginary rug that only pretends to fly when you’re not thinking of oddly colored animals. If [i]that’s[/i] not psychotic, I don’t know [i]what[/i] is.”
Katalina shook her head helplessly and put her face in her hands. If she was going to have to endure [i]this[/i] all the way to Hogwarts, she might just find a [i]real[/i] rug to beat him with. She was sure that the only person she had ever wanted to seriously injure this badly was her brother. She did have some fireworks that she could light and shove down the back of his robes when he wasn’t looking…. No, that could result in serious injury. Of course, she wouldn’t have minded such a thing at all, if it would keep him out of her hair for a little while.
If he bothered Lily this often, she was surprised that Lily hadn’t cracked and hexed his ears off. He took a different approach to bothering her, however, as he did appear to want to seem more mature to her. Lily was lucky not to fall for the act. She had never even met a three-year-old that acted more like a three-year-old than James Potter did.
“Oi, Prongs,” said a rather irritable voice from the open door. James looked up. “We’re finding my brother.”
“Are we?” James asked Sirius, who was looking just as irritable as he sounded. “What for?”
“Because he needs to relearn what happens when he bothers me.”
“That sounds interesting,” James said, standing up. “I say you should switch his feet around again.”
“I’m thinking of just cutting his feet off completely this time.”
James shrugged as he reached the door. “That would do the trick. See you ‘round, Gaunt,” he added as they both left.
A moment later, she heard a surprised-sounding voice echo from up the corridor of the train: “Did you say [i]Gaunt[/i]?”
Katalina rolled her eyes—she knew she was probably going to be getting a lot of [i]that[/i] this year.
Joined: 28 December 2006
Location: Going through LeakyCon withdrawal
Posted: Monday 28 June 2010 05 23 43 pm Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow in topic:Beyond the Shadow
Chapter 11: Dillan Blayney
It was a very odd feeling to sit in my study and have absolutely nothing to do and it was a feeling that I never had very often. I felt like there was something I should be doing, but after replying to George's letter, there really wasn't anything left, since Farina had given me the day off I had no clinic hours, the only patient in the Dai Lewellyn Ward was Matt, and I hadn't started over on the Wolfsbane yet. The only thing I could have possibly done was look over the data I had just received, but my headache was slowly breaking through the potion I had taken and I knew there would be no way to concentrate on it.
Instead, I just waited. I sat in my chair and did absolutely nothing and it was actually quite refreshing. I couldn't remember the last time I had absolutely nothing to do. Morris was obviously running late, since 4:30 came and went without him showing up. When I finally heard footsteps I got up and met him in Natalie's study.
“Morris,” I said as he set a chart down on Natalie's desk and then picked up another. “How is Matt doing?”
Morris paused and set the chart back down again. “Cancel my five o'clock,” he said to Natalie, who immediately got up and left, presumably to find Morris's five o'clock.
My heart started beating fast as Morris gestured for me to follow him into his study. If Matt had been doing all right, Morris wouldn't have canceled an appointment. What had happened that was so awful he needed an entire appointment time to tell me about?
Morris's study looks exactly like mine except it was filled with far more books and several pictures of his wife, children, and grandchildren adorned the walls and sat upon his desk. I sat in in the leather armchair in front of his desk while he took the seat behind it. He flipped through a stack of parchment and set a sheet in front of me. I glanced at it.
“Matt's results from yesterday?” I asked, curious as to why he was showing them to me again.
“No,” Morris said quietly. “Those are new. Results from a blood test taken only three hours ago.” He pointed to the date in the upper right hand corner. January second, 2:07pm.
Morris set another piece of parchment alongside it. Matt's results from the day before. The numbers were exactly the same. The exact same amount of Wolfsbane was running through Matt's system that afternoon as had been the previous day. Why wasn't it getting processed? Why was it staying in his system? Why was a medicine that was supposed to be filtered through a person's system in less than twelve hours staying there for nearly forty-eight?
“Again, I ran the same test three times. I had three different technicians run it and used three separate test potions. Then I had the test potions sent for testing and ran three tests each on each of them. The potions are fine. The results are as they are,” Morris said quietly.
I swallowed hard. In all my years of studying lycanthropy, all my years of treating people with it, and all my years of brewing various types of Wolfsbane I had never seen a case where Wolfsbane did not filter out of a person's system in twelve hours, give or take a few. And if had never happened before, what were we supposed to do?
“Have you ever known this to happen before?” I asked, hoping that since Morris had been working as a Healer far longer than she had, he would know something.
“No,” he replied. “But I think if we treat the Wolfsbane as any other toxin, because it is a toxin to someone with lycanthropy, we should be able to flush it out.
That made sense. It was a good thing Morris was able to remain calm enough to think clearly. I suppose that was why I'm not Matt's Healer. Morris was able to separate the rational thinking from his emotions when it came to Matt, whereas I certainly wasn't.
“What about the after effects?” I asked.
“That is what I am more worried about,” he replied. “We won't know what they are until the Wolfsbane is gone and he's awake and conscious. At the very least he's going to be incredibly exhausted. Other than that, I really don't know. The best thing we can do is flush out the Wolfsbane as quickly as possible.”
“Well let's start right now, then.” I stood up, wondering why we were wasting time talking.
“I already have. I've had the potion running intravenously for the past hour.”
Of course he had, Morris was always on top of things. “Have my parents been by?”
“This morning, and on their lunch breaks,” Morris answered. “I expect they'll be back once they're done with work.”
“I'm going to go sit with him.”
“I'll go with you,” Morris said. “I've got to check the IV.”
Morris and I walked in silence to the ward. Matt was curled up on his side on the bed, covered in three of those flannel hospital blankets that weren't really very warm, a tall pole with a bag of potion danging from it next to the bed. A tube ran from the bag into the back of Matt's hand, which was resting upon the blankets. It was a Muggle IV contraption since magic couldn't replicate the steady drip that an IV had. In order for his system to be properly flushed, he had to have constant potion dripping into his body.
As we drew nearer I saw that his face was still flushed with fever, yet he was sleeping soundly. Morris drew his wand and waved it over Matt. “His fever's gone down.”
“That's a good sign,” I said as I sat down in a chair next to the bed.
“Definitely,” Morris agreed as he fiddled with the bag of potion. “I'm going to leave this in for twenty-four hours and then we'll test again.”
I nodded. Morris finished doing whatever he was doing with the potion and left. Then it was quiet. Matt was sleeping very soundly and not snoring at all and the lack of other patients of course attributed to the silence. I was alone with my thoughts and at the moment which was kind of a scary thing.
Deep down, I knew Dad was right that I couldn't liken this potion disaster to what had happened when Matt was eight, but on the surface it was hard not to. Plus, regardless of whether the two were similar or not something I had created had still harmed my brother and there was no getting around that. People could assure me time and time again that Matt had consented to take the Wolfsbane but that didn't matter. He didn't have a degree in healing or brewing so he counted on me to tell him what was safe and what wasn't when it came to those fields. I hadn't done that.
The door to the ward opened and Mum and Dad walked in, both looking in dire need of a nap. They took seats on the other side of Matt's bed.
“The Wolfsbane is still in his system,” I told them, and proceeded to explain everything Morris had already told me.
“Nothing to do but wait, then,” Dad said quietly.
“Sometimes I wonder if it'll even be worth it, in the end,” I said.
“What?” Mum asked.
“This,” I gestured to Matt. “Giving him potions that nearly kill him just for the small chance that I might come up with one that will work. What if in the end I don't come up with one? Then he will have gone through all of this for nothing.”
“You will come up with one,” Dad assured me. “Stop thinking you won't. And it's not for nothing because even though this one didn't work, it will provide answers once you sit down and compare it with the others.”
“But is it worth it to use my own brother as a guinea pig?”
“That's a question that has no answer,” Dad said. “If he comes out of this not wanting to test anymore potions then fine. But if he still wants to try them, that's his decision.”
I nodded, mostly to appease my father and not because I necessarily agreed, because I was not sure that I did. My father, as intelligent as he was, did not have the training in healing and medicine that I had. Give him a complicated question about a magical creature and he'd give you the answer with hardly a thought and no doubt it would be correct, but there were aspects to the morals of healing that he did not understand. Even I did not completely understand them because they were beyond the scope of the few morals classes I took in training.
Patients don't get to decide what treatment they get even if a healer explains the risks and they claim they understand the risks. A healer still has the final say. If Jamie's parents had wanted to start him on my experimental Wolfsbane as soon as he'd stopped taking normal Wolfsbane, even claiming to understand the risks, I would have said no. Similarly, it was not solely Matt's decision whether or not to continue taking experimental potions; it was up to Morris and I as well.
However, so long as I kept those potions available for any of age lycanthropic witches and wizards to try, I had to let Matt use them if he wished. The only way I could stop him is if I found a medical reason for him not to, and without understanding why this particular potion had affected him so badly, I would not have a medical reason for him not to try the next one.
Farina greeted me the next morning without any recognition that she'd given me the previous day off. It was like it never happened. Instead she told me I was due in the clinic as soon as my lunch hour was over, and not a minute later. My morning was filled with three routine appointments and going over that month's data. Since we have such a small amount of data I cannot draw any conclusions yet, but I still like to look it over to make sure it's useable. Luckily all of this month's looked fine.
It wasn't until nearly eleven-thirty that I remembered that I had told Victoire I would meet the bloke from the pub for lunch. I cringed when I realized all I had on underneath my healer robes was a pair of old jeans and a sweater Victoire's grandmother had knitted for me, one adorned with a Gryffindor lion. I didn't even have time to floo home to change because it was either floo home or visit Matt, which I hadn't had time to do yet that morning.
Matt was awake when I entered the ward and he looked slightly bored which I took to be a good sign. He looked over immediately when I entered.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” I asked as I bent over to give him a hug.
“Better than yesterday,” he replied.
“Good, that means the wolfsbane is finally being flushed out,” I told him. “We'll know for sure when you're tested this afternoon.”
Victoire was waiting for me in my study when I rushed in to strip off my lime green robes after visiting Matt. She wasn't impressed with what I was wearing underneath but she at least had some make-up on hand and straightened my hair with her wand before I promised her to tell her all about the lunch and rushed downstairs to meet the guy.
I was five minutes late by the time I got there and he was standing amongst the distressed witches and wizards in the waiting room, looking sorely out of place. For one, he did not look distressed. Two, he kept glancing around like he was looking for someone. Three, he was dressed solely in Muggle attire, wearing jeans and a jacket over a button-up shirt. His eyes rested upon me and he smiled. I met him near the door but didn't say anything until we left the chaotic waiting room for the slightly less chaotic streets of Muggle London.
“Sorry I'm late,” I said.
“You're closer to being on time than any Healer I've ever met before,” he joked. “And you look great.”
I raised my eyebrows and gestured to my Gryffindor jumper. “I look like I'm ready for a day of lounging around at Hogwarts.”
“Well the jumper does kind of answer one of the questions I was going to ask you over lunch,” he confided. “I'm Dillan Blayney, by the way. I don't think I properly introduced myself yesterday.” He stuck out his hand.
“No, you didn't,” I replied as I shook his hand. “I believe I did.”
“You did. I thought we could go get pizza. I know a great little place around the corner.”
“What if I hadn't worn Muggle clothing?” I asked.
“I took a chance. I figured you weren't the sort of person to stroll around London in green Healer robes.”
He was right about that. Of course I didn't know anyone who wore their Healer robes outside of St. Mungo's due to their hideous nature. He seemed to be quite the jokester and I did have to admit that he was attractive. Very attractive. As much as he'd reminded me of Al Potter the previous day, now he seemed older and better looking which was a good sign since I thought of Al as a little brother.
We walked in silence until we reached a very tiny shop on the corner that I would have missed had I not been with Dillan. He held the door open for me and I walked into what was a very adorable little pizza shop. There was a large picture of some city in Rome along one of the walls and a picture of the Italian Football team from 2006, when they won the World Cup. On various ledges were bottles of oils filled with herbs and a variety of meats and salads chilled in a display near the counter. Dillan chose a small booth in the back and plucked two menus out from behind the napkin holder, handing one to me.
“Get whatever you want, so long as it's pizza,” Dillan said. “I do insist that you choose pizza because this is the best pizza, outside of Italy.”
“Obviously you've never been to Mama Rizzo's in Sydney,” I told him as I scanned the menu.
“Sydney?” he asked. “As in Australia? No, I can't say I've ever traveled that far for pizza. What was a Londoner like yourself doing in Sydney?”
“I grew up in Australia, just outside Brisbane. My grandparents used to live near Sydney,” I said, making sure to watch his face for the look of surprise that always showed up on people's faces when I tell them I used to live in Australia.
However, Dillan didn't seem surprised at all. He looked like he would've if I said I grew up in Scotland. “Yet you're wearing a Gryffindor jumper. Here I thought you were a Hogwarts alumnus.”
“You were right about that,” I said as the waitress set down two waters. Thank Merlin, I thought, perhaps the waitress would distract him from asking why I moved to England.
“Ready to order?” she asked.
Dillan gestured to me. “Um, I guess we'll take a small pizza with peppers, olives, and extra cheese.”
“Coming right up,” she said.
“So let me get this straight,” Dillan said as he stirred his water with his straw. “You grew up in Australia yet you went to Hogwarts. I think I'm missing something.”
“I moved here when I was fourteen,” I explained, although that really wasn't much of an explanation.
“Ah,” he replied, “and may I ask why?”
“You can ask,” I said, “but you won't necessarily get an answer.”
“Then I won't ask,” he replied. “Although I shall remain curious. I was born and raised in the same house as I am living in right now.”
Oh, Merlin, I thought. I've attracted a thirty-year-old guy who lives with his mother.
“Literally,” he continued. “I didn't wait until my mum got to St. Mungo's and I was actually born in the house. I love the place. So many great memories there that when my parents died I moved back instead of selling the place.”
So glad I didn't mention the 'living with his mother' thing. That would have been even more awkward than thinking it. As much as I would like to know why his parents died so young, I felt like if I were to ask that I would have to tell him why I moved which certainly wasn't going to happen.
“About yesterday...” I began.
“I'm sorry,” he said as he looked down into his glass. “I'm sure I was overstepping my boundaries a bit with that bet, but I was having an awful day and I don't normally drink that much-”
“It's ok,” I assured him. “I was actually just wondering what job you were sacked from. Must have been an amazing job if you were that upset about losing it.”
I saw an ever so slight tinge of pink creep up on his cheeks as he averted his gaze once again. “The funny thing is, it was kind of an awful job to begin with and not one I really saw myself in for the rest of my life. So really, it was a blessing in disguise. Not really sure why it sent me on a drinking binge. Anyway, I was a counterfeit coin checker at Gringotts.”
I looked at him for a few seconds before responding. “Seriously?”
“Yep.” He laughed. “Not a job that appears in a pamphlet in the common rooms in fifth year.”
“No, definitely not,” I agreed.
“But it paid the bills up until yesterday,” he said. “Unfortunately goblins do not take suggestions to their standard procedures nicely. I made a few suggestions to improve efficiency and they showed me the door, threw a sackful of Galleons out after me as my last paycheck and that was that.”
“Wow,” I replied. Even Farina took suggestions on how to improve efficiency. I guess I should be lucky I don't work for goblins.
“I suppose I'm lucky they're letting me keep my account there,” Dillan pointed out.
The pizza arrived a few minutes later, after we had thoroughly exhausted the topic of Dillan's job at Gringotts and right before I was going to ask what sort of job he wanted to get next. I didn't get to ask since Dillan seemed preoccupied with watching my reaction to the pizza. He served me a slice and then watched in anticipation as I took a bite.
“This is amazing!” I said after I'd finished swallowing. “Better than Mama Rizzo's.”
“And closer,” Dillan pointed out as he served himself a slice. “You'll save millions on airfare alone.”
I laughed before taking my next bite. He was funny, very funny. I hadn't ever really gone out with a funny guy before, mostly because the only funny blokes I knew were Teddy, Landon, and Matt's friends, none of whom I could or would date. Merlin, was I thinking of dating him already? We'd just gone out for pizza and hadn't even known each other forty-eight hours.
We didn't talk much while we were polishing off the pizza and by the time we'd finished I only had ten minutes to get back to St. Mungo's and up to the clinic. We practically ran up the sidewalk and were out of breath by the time we reached the hospital.
“I had a lot of fun,” he said as he smiled at me. “Maybe we can do it again sometime.”
“I had fun, too,” I said. “Maybe next time we can do dinner and I won't have to rush out at the end.”
“That would be good,” he replied. “What are you doing Friday night?”
“Working until seven, but I'm free after that.”
“Want to have a late dinner at eight-thirty?” he asked.
“Sure. I'd like that.” I smiled. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen, scrawling my address on it. I handed it to him.
“I'll see you then,” he said and then turned, disappearing into the crowd.
I walked back into St. Mungo's and hurried up to my study to don my tacky green robes before getting to the clinic, all the while wondering what the hell I was getting myself into.
Joined: 28 December 2006
Location: Going through LeakyCon withdrawal
Posted: Wednesday 5 May 2010 10 04 55 am Post subject: Re: Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden in topic:Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden
Sorry, again I forgot to update last week. But that just means two chapters this week!
Chapter 33: In Dervish and Banges
The atmosphere in the Great Hall the next morning was unlike anything Albus had seen before. The Hogwarts team was sitting together at the Ravenclaw table, surrounded by students from all four houses. Teddy and Tyler seemed to be in the thick of it and were loudly discussing tactics.
The Australian team was sitting together at the Hufflepuff table, with a large distance between them and the Hufflepuffs. A small crowd of Australians had congregated around them.
Albus decided not to join the rest of the Hogwarts team at the Ravenclaw table. Nobody was unable to play that day, so Albus's days on the team were pretty much over. To be honest, he was kind of relieved. There was just so much pressure.
“I think this tournament has been good for Hogwarts,” Rose mused, “Look at everyone. Nobody seems to care who's in what house.”
“It'll all go back to normal once the match is over,” Albus pointed out.
“Maybe not,” Rose shrugged, “You never know.”
“I don't know, Rose,” Matt said, “I don't think one year can change centuries of tradition.”
“It's worth a try,” Rose said, “I think we should all try and get along.”
“I don't think this has helped international magical cooperation,” John gestured to the Australian team. The Hufflepuffs sitting nearby were glaring at them.
“Competition rarely does that,” Rose muttered.
“Well, they'll all be going home soon,” Matt said cheerfully.
Rose shot him a dirty look and then looked up at the staff table. Albus's gaze followed. The staff table was quite overcrowded that morning. There were scouts from Quidditch teams, Ministry officials including Albus's Uncle Percy, and a variety of people from Australia and New York.
“Look at that witch,” John pointed to a very tall, beautiful witch with pale white skin and long dark hair.
“She's Linda's mother,” Rose told them.
“Is she-” John began.
“Yes,” Rose whispered, “She's one, too.”
“I thought so,” John said without taking his eyes off the witch.
There was a loud cheer from the Ravenclaw table and the Hogwarts team began to leave the Hall. Their entourage followed until they reached the door and then they went to sit back down at various tables.
The Australian team followed shortly. The excitement only seemed to increase now that the teams had gone down to the changing rooms.
A few minutes later people began to leave for the pitch. The crowd at the staff table left first and the students followed.
“Albus,” John said as they got up from the table, “I've got a few pairs of omnioculars in my trunk. I want to see it up close when Linda catches that Snitch.”
“Let's go get them, then,” Albus replied.
Rose rolled her eyes. “Meet us down at the pitch.” She and Amanda turned towards the door as the boys ran up the grand staircase.
“Why didn't you just bring them to breakfast?” Matt asked.
“Forgot,” John said.
The castle was absolutely deserted as they made their way back to Gryffindor Tower. Albus hadn't seen it that empty during the day. It was almost disconcerting.
John had to empty out his entire trunk in order to find the omnioculars. He had four pairs and handed one to each of the boys.
“Let's go,” Albus said, “We're going to miss the start of the match.”
Albus completely ignored the no running in the corridors rule as he made his way through the castle. There wasn't anyone to scold him anyway. The footsteps behind him told him his friends weren't far behind.
Albus turned a corner and ran smack into something. He fell down onto his back and looked up, only to see that it was someone. Not just anyone either. Albus had collided with Matt's boggart.
Only, it couldn't be a boggart because if it had been a boggart, it would have manifested itself into what Albus was most afraid of. At that moment, it probably would have been Willinson.
The man sneered down at Albus and then smiled creepily. Albus scrambled up and turned back to look at his friends.
Matt had turned white and looked far more afraid than Albus had ever seen him before, including when he had faced the boggart and when Malfoy had found out about his lycanthropy. John was looking from Matt to the man, an obvious horror on his face. Kaden was looking extremely confused.
Albus turned and grabbed all three of his friends, pulling them into the nearest classroom. He slammed the door and pulled out his wand, putting every locking charm he knew onto the knob.
Matt collapsed onto the nearest chair and put his head in his hands. “Th-th-that's-”
“We know,” Albus whispered.
“What the hell is he doing here?” John ranted, “He's got no business here!”
“Why's he in the castle anyway?” Albus began to pace around the room, “If he's here to watch the Quidditch match, then why isn't he down there?”
“What if he's not here to watch the Quidditch?” John said darkly.
“Who the bloody hell is he?” Kaden asked loudly.
Albus glanced at Matt before looking at Kaden. Matt didn't seem to have heard Kaden's question.
“His name's Lubar. He's the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures in Australia,” Albus explained, “He's the reason why Matt had to move here, amongst other things.”
“He's a sick and twisted evil git,” John muttered, “What are we going to do?”
Albus walked over to the door and peered out the small window at the top. Lubar was no longer in sight.
“I've g-got to go to the Ministry,” Matt said, “I've got to t-tell my dad. L-Lubar, he can't be here.”
Albus paced back and forth in front of the door. The Ministry. How would they get there? Brooms? No, that would take too long. They'd have to use the Floo Network, but none of the fireplaces at Hogwarts were hooked up, as far as Albus knew.
“We're going to have to get to Hogsmeade,” Albus said, “You wait here. I'll get my Cloak and the map. Then we'll sneak into Hogsmeade and Floo to the Ministry.”
Matt nodded. “You guys don't have to come. You can go to the match.”
“Are you mental?” John exclaimed, “That bloke out there is probably worse than Willinson. We're not letting you do this alone.”
Albus nodded in agreement before waving his wand and undoing the locking charms. He cautiously looked out into the corridor before leaving. It was empty.
Much to Albus's relief, both the Cloak and the map were right where he'd left them. He shoved them into his robes and ran back to the classroom. Matt, John, and Kaden were all talking quietly. Matt didn't look any less scared, but at least he didn't seem to be in shock anymore.
“We're not all going to fit underneath it,” Albus said as he unfolded the cloak.
“You three get under it,” John said immediately, “I'm tallest so I'll take up the most room anyway. Plus, if we meet up with Lubar again, I'm the best liar.”
Albus couldn't argue there. Both he and Matt were horrible liars and Kaden still hadn't gotten over his inability to keep secrets.
“You take the map, then,” Albus handed the map to John, “We've got to get to the one-eyed witch statue on the third floor.
Albus threw the Cloak over himself, Matt, and Kaden, and the three of them followed John out of the room. The corridor was still empty, much to Albus's relief.
John set a very fast pace and he was soon quite a bit ahead of Albus and the others. Albus couldn't say anything, though, as it would give away his presence. Instead he tried to run as fast as he could while making the least amount of noise possible.
The boys made it down the two flights of stairs necessary to get to the third floor and arrived at the statue without seeing anyone. Albus pulled the Cloak off of them and stuffed it into his pocket. With a quick tap of his wand, he statue's hump opened and the boys climbed inside.
Albus lit his wand and took off down the small passageway. Matt, John, and Kaden followed suit.
“Why did Kendrick let him in?” John asked as they ran, “Doesn't he know what he did?”
“Yes,” Matt answered, “I don't think Kendrick knows he's here.”
“What did he do?” Kaden asked.
“You don't think he came here to see you?” Albus asked Matt, “I mean, remember when Killigan saw us that one time and he seemed so interested in finding you?”
“Of course I do,” Matt muttered, “And it really wouldn't surprise me if that's why he's here. But I'm betting there's another reason.”
“What did he do?” Kaden repeated, a bit louder.
“Why else would he be here?” Albus asked, “The match?”
“Maybe, but I'm betting it's got something to do with Linda,” Matt replied, “I don't know for sure, but it seems too coincidental for him to be here just to see me.”
“What did he do?” Kaden shouted, “Why would he want to see you?”
Matt stopped running and wheeled around to look at Kaden. “It's a long story. Lubar's got a grudge against my dad, one that he obviously still has even though we haven't lived in Australia for six years,” Matt paused, “He passed a bunch of laws against werewolves and I wound up having to transform with a bunch of other werewolves. It was bad.”
Matt resumed walking and didn't elaborate on the subject. Kaden didn't ask him to.
“What's your dad going to do about it?” Kaden asked.
“I dunno,” Matt shrugged, “Maybe talk to Kendrick or something.”
There was no doubt in Albus's mind that Matt's dad would be able to get Lubar to leave Hogwarts, possibly even leave the country. Albus had known little about Mr. Eckerton prior to this year, but now he knew that you did not want to be on his bad side. When it came down to it, Mr. Eckerton was the one who had Balladanis sacked.
The passage finally began to rise until it came to an abrupt stop at a knotty wooden door. Albus pressed his ear to the door, but heard nothing. He carefully pushed it open, wincing as it creaked.
Seeing nobody in the storage room beyond, Albus beckoned his friends forward. The room was dimly lit, enough for Albus to see a huge amount of boxes littering the floor. On the far wall he could see a fireplace.
The boys climbed over the various boxes and stood in front of the fireplace. Albus located a small sack of Floo Powder and then lit a fire. He turned to his friends.
“You can't Floo directly into someone's study at the Ministry. We're going to have to go to the Atrium,” Albus told them, “I'll go first, you follow.” Albus took a handful of powder and then handed the bag to Matt.
He tossed the powder into the fire and stepped inside, shouting “The Ministry of Magic!”
Albus stumbled out of a different fireplace seconds later. The Atrium was nearly deserted, save for a few wizards striding towards the lifts, clearly too busy to notice Albus.
Matt landed rather ungracefully on the floor. He picked himself up, brushing stray ash off his robes.
“Place is deserted,” Matt said as he looked around.
“It's a Saturday,” Albus pointed out, “Does your dad work Saturdays?”
“Yeah,” Matt nodded, “At least mornings.”
John was next to step out of the fire, doing so more elegantly than Matt had. He stood in front of the fire, staring around at the Atrium. His eyes rested on the Fountain of Magical Brethren.
“This is more fancy than I imagined,” John said.
“Bloody hell!” Kaden shouted as he fell out of the fire, “This is the Ministry?”
“Yes,” Matt said quickly, “But we haven't got time to explore. Let's go.”
Albus followed Matt towards the desk in the front of the Atrium. There was an old wizard leafing through a copy of the Quibbler, oblivious to his surroundings. Albus almost thought they'd be able to sneak around him, but he looked up just as they were about to pass.
“Where do you think you're going?” he asked and then his eyes rested on Albus, “Albus Severus Potter. Why aren't you in school?”
“Er,” Albus began, a little unnerved that the man knew who he was.
Matt stepped in front of Albus. “We need to go see my dad. He's the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. It's kind of an emergency.”
“Very well,” the man looked at them oddly, “Put your wands up here.”
Albus did as he was told and the others followed suit. They waited impatiently as the old wizard tested their wands and then handed them back. He waved them on towards the lifts.
“What's the point of that?” Kaden asked as they waited for a lift.
“So if you murder anyone, they can tell whose wand did it,” Albus said bluntly.
“That's cheerful,” Kaden replied.
Once the lift arrived, the boys piled in and Matt pushed the number four. Nobody said anything as the lift creaked its way to the fourth floor.
Matt took off at a run down the corridor after they left the lift. Albus had never been to this particular floor. It looked rather similar to the Magical Law Enforcement's floor, with nondescript sets of double doors on one side.
Matt skidded to a halt in front of the only door that was single and banged his hand loudly on it. When there was no answer after a few seconds, he banged again.
“Hold your hippogriffs!” called a voice from the inside, “I'm coming, I'm-” Matt's dad said as he opened the door.
Mr. Eckerton seemed to freeze at the sight of his son and the other three boys. He gaped at them for a second before shaking his head.
“Matt?” he asked and rubbed his eyes, as if he thought he was seeing a hallucination, “But, why aren't you in school? How did you get here? Why are you here? Albus? What are you- and John, Kaden?”
His eyes rested on Matt again. “Matt? What's wrong?”
Mr. Eckerton stepped aside and let the boys into his study. He shut the door quietly behind them.
The study reminded Albus of his dad's. There were large windows on the side opposite the door, although the scene outside was not real, nor was the gentle rain that was pattering onto it.
There was a large leather covered chair behind the huge oak desk and a few smaller chairs in front of it. Along the other two walls were shelves with loads of books. Most of them were about various magical creatures.
Albus, Matt, and John took the seats that were in front of the desk while Kaden wandered around the study looking at things. Mr. Eckerton leaned against the front of his desk and looked at his son.
“What's happened?” he asked quietly.
“L-Lubar,” Matt said in barely more than a whisper, “He-he's at Hogwarts.”
“What?!” Mr. Eckerton exclaimed.
“We were on our way to the Quidditch final,” Matt said, “A-and we saw him.”
“Bloody hell!” Mr. Eckerton stood up and slammed his fist loudly against his desk, “Did Professor Kendrick allow this?”
“I don't know,” Matt replied, “B-but everyone else was at the match and he was just lurking about the castle.”
Mr. Eckerton's face hardened. He looked just like he had when he talked with Professor Balladanis earlier in the term. “Let's go, boys,” he said darkly, “I've got to have a word with Professor Kendrick.”
Albus followed Mr. Eckerton out of his study and down towards the lifts. John's walking speed was nothing compared to Matt's dad's. The boys had to run to keep up.
“Where did you Floo from?” Mr. Eckerton asked once they were in the lift.
“Honeyduke's,” Albus answered.
“We'll Floo there now,” Mr. Eckerton replied.
The wizard at the welcome desk looked at them curiously as they rushed towards the fireplaces, but didn't say anything.
Mr. Eckerton handed Albus a bit of Floo Powder and gestured for him to go first. Albus stepped into the fire and shouted, “Honeyduke's!”
Albus began to spin faster and faster. He saw glimpses of people's houses, shops in Diagon Alley, and a variety of other places he did not recognize. Then, out of one of the fireplaces, came a hand. Everything seemed to slow down, but Albus wasn't sure if it actually did or not.
The hand grabbed him. Albus fought against it, but it was too strong. All of a sudden he was laying on a dusty wooden floor, one that was not at all like the one in Honeyduke's.
Albus coughed and stood up. His heart was beating fast. What had happened? Why wasn't he in Honeyduke's? Where was he? Whose hand was that?
Albus grappled for his wand and shakily held it up. He lit it and looked around the room, seeing no one.
“Nice to see you, Potter,” a cold voice said from behind him.
Albus jumped and turned around. There, crouching next to the fireplace with his hand inside of it, was Lubar. He looked even more creepy in the dank room than he did in Hogwarts.
The fireplace glowed green and Lubar yanked his arm out of it. John came tumbling out of the fire and scrambled too his feet, looking about.
Lubar muttered something underneath his breath and stuck his hand in the fire again.
“What the?” John whispered to Albus, “Where are we? Is that? Bloody Hell!”
“Shut up!” Lubar shouted.
Albus gazed around the room. It looked vaguely familiar, but Albus couldn't put his finger on it. The windows were boarded up, but it was definitely not the Shrieking Shack. Albus doubted that was connected to the Floo Network anyway.
The fireplace glowed green yet again, this time sending Kaden onto the floor. This earned another shout from Lubar, who stuck his hand in the fire again.
Kaden gaped and then got to his feet and stood next to Albus. He looked absolutely terrified, even before he laid eyes on Lubar.
Albus wanted nothing more than to run from the room, but he did not know where the building was even located. Plus, Lubar would probably stun him or something.
Green light filled the room as the fireplace glowed once more. Albus knew even before it happened that Matt would be the one to next fall out of the flames. Mere seconds later, that suspicion was confirmed.
Matt coughed and scrambled to his feet. He gasped when he saw Lubar and ran over to Albus.
Lubar, finally satisfied, doused the fire and lit his wand, which illuminated his sinister face. He began to pace slowly in front of them.
“Well, well, you went crying to Daddy just as I expected,” Lubar grinned manically, “I do love when things work out the way I expect them to.”
Albus could feel Matt shaking next to him. He gripped his wand hard, debating whether to try and disarm Lubar.
“Any idea where you are?” Lubar asked, “Dervish and Banges. Lovely shop, pity about the owner. Yes, a real shame.”
Lubar didn't seem at all upset about what happened to the shop owner. Albus looked around the shop again and now he recognized it.
“Well, let's not waste our time here,” Lubar said, “There's a few people who've been dying to see you.” Lubar snapped his fingers three times and Albus heard footsteps on the stairs.
Three wizards descended the stairs and strode into the room. They lit their wands at the same time and Albus gasped when the light showed their faces. Jarrett and Quinton Willinson, along with Washburn. Three people Albus hoped never to see again.
Albus swallowed hard. He could see no way out of this. As good a dueler he was, he was up against four fully qualified wizards. Three of them did not possess the skills to duel, but Albus had no idea what Lubar was capable of.
“Ah, yes,” Lubar smirked, “What a lovely reunion. Unfortunately we haven't got time to chat.”
Before Albus knew it, Washburn had him in a headlock with his wand pointed at his neck. Quinton Willinson had Kaden and his father had John. Matt, seeing his friends restrained, made a run for the nearest window.
“Not so fast, young werewolf,” Lubar caught him by the back of his robes and wrapped one of his arms around his middle.
Lubar reached into his robes with his free hand and pulled out an old tea kettle. He held it out to the other three men and each one put a free hand on it. Albus knew what was going to happen right before it did. He shared a frightened glance with Matt before feeling a jerk behind his belly button.
Joined: 28 December 2006
Location: Going through LeakyCon withdrawal
Posted: Wednesday 21 April 2010 10 50 29 am Post subject: Re: Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden in topic:Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden
Chapter 32: The Breakout
Despite the fact that he did not have Defense Against the Dark Arts the next morning, Albus was down in the Great Hall bright and early because he wanted to read Rose's Daily Prophet. Having Kendrick announce Balladanis's sacking was one thing, reading it in the Prophet was entirely different.
Rose was already there when Albus, Matt, and John sat down at the Gryffindor table. Amanda and Linda were on either side of her and all three girls were reading the article. Albus drummed his fingers impatiently on the table while he waited for them to be finished. Finally, Rose handed him the paper without saying a word and Albus read it, with Matt and John looking over his shoulder.
HOGWARATS TEACHER REMOVED FROM POSITION BY MINISTRY
In an event that causes much of the wizarding world to remember
back to Voldemort's reign, Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark
Arts teacher, Tethys Balladanis, has been removed from his
position by the Ministry of Magic's Department of Magical
During Voldemort's reign, Defense teachers rarely lasted more
than a year at the school, a mystery that abruptly ended when
Voldemort was defeated on May 2, 1998. Up until two years
ago, Hogwarts had had only one Defense teacher since that
fateful May day.
Professor Torro taught at Hogwarts for years until he was
mysteriously murdered nearly three years ago. He was
replaced by Head Auror, Harry Potter, who is rumored to
have only taken the position after nobody else agreed to
Harry Potter left the position this past autumn and it was filled
Balladanis taught until two days ago, when he was removed
from his position. Approximately a week and a half ago, a
complaint was lodged by Head of the Department for the
Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, Walter Eckerton,
whose fourteen-year-old son currently attends Hogwarts.
The complaint included harsh teaching methods, the use of an
anamatek as a teaching tool, singling students out for lack of
skill, and embarrassing students in front of their peers.
An investigation by Ministry officials ensued and included
the interviewing of select students and staff. The department
concluded their investigation late Sunday evening and informed
both Balladanis and Headmaster Fabius Kendrick of their decision.
Balladanis left the castle willingly and will not be appealing the
decision. When asked for a statement on the issue, both Kendrick
and Balladanis declined.
Upon hearing the news, Walter Eckerton said, 'I am very happy
with the decision and that the investigation was concluded in
a timely fashion. I am not happy that it came to this, but I
feel that nothing should be put ahead of children's safety.'
Hogwarts students will not attend Defense classes until a replacement
is found. As of right now, one has not been found.
“I knew they'd stick your dad in there somehow,” John announced once they'd finished reading.
“There wasn't anything in there that we didn't already know,” Albus muttered, “I was hoping Balladanis would've said something or we'd find out what happened when he left the castle.”
“Maybe he really did go quietly,” Matt shrugged, “Maybe he wanted to get back to his anamatek.”
“I wonder where he lives,” Amanda mused, “Think he lives in England?”
“Doubt it,” Rose answered, “Even if he did before I doubt he does now.”
Life soon returned to normal for the Hogwarts students, as it often does after something exciting happens. Everyone talked about Balladanis the day the article was published, but soon there was nothing left to say and the students focused on the upcoming Quidditch match, which was mere days away.
Albus had an easy time forgetting about Balladanis due to Quidditch practice. He was out on the pitch every evening and was soon hearing Wood's commands in his head as he fell asleep, which was something that certainly couldn't be deemed normal. Albus was almost glad that the year was drawing to an end because once the tournament was over, he wouldn't have to deal with Wood anymore. Thinking about that made Albus realize that Gryffindor would have a new captain the next year since Georgia was graduating. Albus was sure it would be either Fred or Heather, but he wasn't sure which.
Albus trudged into the Great Hall on Thursday morning sorely wishing that John hadn't woken him up. They didn't have a class first thing, so why'd he bother doing that? Albus was already running on little sleep.
“I'm going to wake you up at five in the morning this Saturday,” Albus muttered to John as he poured himself some pumpkin juice.
“No you won't, you'll still be asleep,” John grinned, “I need you to help me finish that Herbology essay that's due today.”
“That's the reason for you waking me up?” Albus groaned, “Why can't Rose help you?”
“She's a bit sore with me right now,” John muttered.
“What did you do?” Albus asked.
“I may or may not have accidentally set fire to her Potions notes last night,” John said.
“And I should have to suffer because of that?” Albus replied, “How did you manage that anyway?”
“It wasn't an accident,” Matt put in, “John and Kaden were tinkering with those super strength dung bombs last night in the Marauder's Den. They stupidly decided to do this at the table right where Rose's notes were. The dung bombs exploded and Rose's notes caught fire.”
“See, an accident!” John exclaimed.
“No, stupidity,” Matt said, “You should've done it somewhere else. Oh, Albus, I wouldn't suggest going in the Marauder's Den anytime soon. It smells.”
“I wouldn't have time to anyway,” Albus muttered, “Quidditch practice again tonight.”
“Oi, Albus!” James shouted.
“What?” Albus said.
“Is Dad patrolling here this week?” James asked.
“I don't know, why?” Albus replied.
“He's here,” James pointed to the staff table.
Albus looked up and saw that his dad was talking with Neville. Except he wasn't wearing his Auror robes, he was just wearing normal robes. Albus glanced back at James who shrugged.
“May I have your attention?” Kendrick announced, “Thank you. I just wish to inform you all that Harry Potter has kindly agreed to take over Defense classes for the remainder of term. Because of this, Defense classes will resume today.”
“Good thing I woke you up,” John grinned.
“Guess you won't be able to finish that essay,” Albus shot back.
“Merlin,” John muttered.
Albus wasn't that surprised, nor did he care that much. He'd already had his dad teach for two years and it hadn't been bad at all. Plus, his dad was a far better teacher than Balladanis.
Albus walked with Matt and John to Defense. Rose was still not speaking to John and she walked with Amanda and Linda a little ways ahead. Albus seriously hoped that this wouldn't turn into what happened earlier in the year.
The entire class erupted in applause as soon as Harry entered the room and Albus noticed that this caused him to blush. Even Malfoy was clapping, albeit half-heartedly, but he was clapping nonetheless.
“Thanks,” Harry muttered, “Well, I did not think I'd be back here. I do have to continue with the curriculum, so I must ask that you complete the werewolf essay for next Thursday. However, it only has to be one foot of parchment.”
There was a collective groan from the entire class. “Great,” John muttered, “I was hoping to get out of it.”
“It won't be that hard,” Matt rolled his eyes.
“But it'll be time consuming,” John replied.
“I know, I know,” Harry smirked, “But there is a month and a half of term left and I can't just let you have this time to mess around.”
The class was the most enjoyable Defense class the third years had had in quite a while. Harry lectured for the entirety of the class, but it wasn't boring. Albus did not mind in the slightest that his dad was going to be finishing out the term.
By the time Saturday arrived, virtually no one in the castle was talking about Professor Balladanis. Quidditch was on the forefront of everybody's minds and the tensions ran higher than they had all year. The outcome of this match would determine who played Australia in the final.
Albus himself was not particularly worried. Hogwarts had already beaten New York once and they could easily do it again. The entire team was in good health and none of the alternates were needed. Albus was perfectly content to sit in the stands with his friends and just watch the match, rather than have to play in it.
It was a warm spring day with a slight wind and cloud cover, perfect playing conditions. Wood had spoke of the weather during the previous night's practice, telling the team that a large storm had been predicted for that day. Luckily it had not appeared yet.
The match commenced with a lot of shouting and cheering from the crowd. Hogwarts scored five goals within the first fifteen minutes of the match and New York scored two. The teams remained neck in neck for the remainder of the match, until James pulled out of a dive clutching the golden Snitch in his left hand.
The crowd erupted into cheers and James was soon hoisted onto the shoulders of some of the older students.
“I have an announcement to make!” Professor Kendrick shouted over the crowd, “Due to Hogwarts's win, they will be competing against Australia in the final Quidditch match, scheduled to take place on the first of June!”
The usual after Quidditch party ensued in the common room and everyone rehashed their favorite parts of the match. No one talked about the final match, although Albus was sure it was in the backs of everyone's minds. Australia seemed impossible to beat.
Once the excitement from another Quidditch win abated, the Hogwarts students seemed to realize that exams were quite near. The library soon became a popular place to be and fifth and seventh years in particular could be seen there all hours of the day.
As the middle of May arrived, Gabriella demanded a quiet common room in the evenings, much like her sister had two years prior. Albus and his friends spent more time in the Marauder's Den after that, usually without Rose, Amanda, and Linda. The three girls seemed to like the quietness of the common room.
Rose did forgive John for messing up her notes, but she became more tense and snappish as exams drew nearer. It wasn't something that surprised Albus or anyone else because it had become a sort of end of term tradition with Rose.
Defense lessons took a drastic turn for the better. Albus and all of his friends got perfect marks on their werewolf essays, to the surprise of no one. After that, the classes bared no resemblance to Balladanis's.
“Aw, Merlin!” John shouted at breakfast one Friday in the middle of May. He had been reading the Prophet.
“What is it?” Albus asked, thinking Balladanis had been reinstated as Defense teacher or something.
“England didn't make it into the World Cup final,” John sighed, “They were so close.”
“Who did make it?” Albus grabbed the paper from John, suddenly remembering the tickets he'd gotten for Christmas. He hadn't picked who he was going to invite to go with him. Actually, he hadn't even told his friends about the tickets.
“Portugal and Russia,” John groaned, “Russia! They've got a rubbish Quidditch team!”
“Obviously not,” Rose smirked, “Albus, did you pick who you're going to take when you go to the Cup?”
“Wait, what?” John gaped at Albus, “You got tickets?”
“Er, yeah, for Christmas,” Albus said.
“And you didn't tell me!” John exclaimed.
“Well, I only got one extra and I didn't know how to pick. I had it narrowed down to you and Matt. Mind you, if you hate Russia, I'll just pick Matt,” Albus smirked.
“No, no, I didn't say I hate Russia,” John said quickly, “They've just got a bad team.”
“How am I supposed to pick then?” Albus asked.
“You don't have to,” Matt said as he sat down next to Albus.
“Nice to see you awake,” John grinned. Albus and John had attempted to wake Matt up before they went down to the Great Hall and had no luck. The full moon was the next day, so Albus hadn't even been sure if Matt was going to go to class.
“Why, is the Cup a bad time of the month?” Albus whispered.
“No,” Matt shook his head, “It's just that my dad got tickets, so you can just give your extra one to John.”
“Oh,” Albus grinned, “That makes things easy.”
“Where is the Cup?” Amanda asked.
“Canada,” Rose replied.
“How are we getting there, Albus?” John asked, “Are we going to take a Muggle airplane?” John looked excited at that prospect.
“No idea,” Albus shrugged, “Dad might get a Portkey.”
“That's boring,” John said.
“Wish I could go,” Kaden sighed.
“Why, don't you not like Quidditch?” John asked.
“It's ok,” Kaden shrugged, “I just want to try out a Portkey.”
“You're weird, Kaden,” John laughed.
“So are you. Airplanes are boring,” Kaden argued.
“I'm with Kaden on this one,” Matt said, “I'd take a Portkey any day.”
Between studying for exams and Quidditch practice, Albus had no time for anything else. He managed to squeeze in time to visit Matt in the hospital wing on Sunday, but only briefly before he went to Wood's day long Quidditch practice.
The following weekend was the final match of the Junior's Dueling Club, something Albus had been forced to neglect due to Quidditch practice. After begging Wood and a bit of help from Teddy, Albus was able to attend the final. Albus's team won, much to the delight of both Albus and Malfoy.
Albus had not spoken to Malfoy since the incident with Professor Balladanis. Nor had Malfoy said a word to Albus, or any of his friends. Malfoy remained mysteriously quiet around the full moon, not saying anything about it to either Albus or Matt. It was strange, but not something any of the boys were going to complain about it.
Three days before the Quidditch final, the Great Hall was filled with whispering voices that reminded Albus of the day Balladanis had been sacked. Copies of the Prophet were being passed back and forth and quite a few students looked extremely scared.
“What's happened?” Albus asked Rose as he sat down.
“Willinson has broken out of Azkaban,” Rose whispered, her face completely white.
“What?!” Albus shouted as he grabbed the nearest copy of the Prophet. Matt and John crowded around him as he read it.
Officials have reported that three prisoners
broke out of Azkaban late last night. It is
still unknown how it happened. Azkaban guards
have refused to speak with reporters, and the
Ministry does not wish to divulge information
at this time.
The names of the escaped prisoners have been
released and anyone with information reguarding
any of them are asked to contact the Ministry.
The Prophet then gave detailed information about all three of the escaped prisoners. Albus only recognized Willinson. The other two had been imprisoned for more petty crimes.
“How did he get out?” Albus wondered, “He's an idiot!”
“I think everyone's confused about that,” Rose said.
Any hope Albus had of getting homework done that week was gone. He was lucky he was able to concentrate on Quidditch practice. Willinson was out of Azkaban. He was galavanting about England, doing whatever he pleased. That in itself was not necessarily that bad, due to Willinson's stupidity. If he somehow met up with his father and Washburn, then it could be quite bad.
What worried Albus the most was the fact that he would be after the Hallows, all of which still resided somewhere in or around Hogwarts. Willinson was bound to come back, especially now that he was out of prison.
Before Albus knew it, the night before the Quidditch final arrived and Wood called the team into the changing room after ending practice.
“It has been incredibly rewarding to manage this team,” Wood said as he began to pace in front of them, “There were difficulties in the beginning,” he paused and looked at the two Slytherins on the team, “But I am proud to say that you came together as a team wonderfully.
“It still amazes me that a group of students from all four houses can come together and play together on the same team. I am not sure this could have been done when I was in Hogwarts.
“You have all come a long way over the year. You've all made vast improvements in your skill. Quite a few of you are seventh years and I am very happy to tell you that there will be scouts from a couple Quidditch teams watching tomorrow's match. I have high hopes for the lot of you, when it comes to Quidditch.
“I cannot say whether we will win tomorrow. Australia is good, there is no denying that. However, I have faith in all of you. Tomorrow, go out there and give it your best. Now, I think you should all turn in early and eat a proper breakfast tomorrow before the match. Teddy, Tyler, anything to add?” Wood turned to the boys.
Teddy and Tyler both shook their heads and Wood turned back to the team. “I'll see you all down here tomorrow. Good night.”
Wood, Teddy, and Tyler stayed behind to discuss tactics while the team left. Albus and James were the last two to leave. Georgia had left with the other seventh years, excitedly discussing the prospect of scouts.
“You think Georgia's going to sign with one of the professional teams?” Albus asked James as they walked back to the castle.
“I'd be surprised if she didn't,” James said, “I just hope it doesn't hurt her chances when we lose.”
“We might not lose,” Albus pointed out.
“We're going to lose,” James muttered, “Linda's too good of a Seeker.”
Albus said nothing. He wished he could just tell James that Linda was a vampire. It would be so much easier.
They kept walking, each lost in their own thoughts. Albus stopped abruptly when he heard a loud crack in the forest.
“What was that?” he asked anxiously.
“Probably just a branch breaking,” James answered.
“It was too loud,” Albus said as he looked into the forest, “It sounded like someone Apparating in there.”
“I don't think you can Apparate in the forest,” James pointed out, “And it didn't sound that loud. You're just tired from all the Quidditch practice.”
“I guess,” Albus said as he and James kept walking, “But what if it was someone Apparating? What if it was Willinson?”
“You worry too much, Al,” James groaned, “This place is filled with Aurors and Dad's here full time now. You'd have to be mad to Apparate here if you're wanted by the Ministry.”
“But Willinson is stupid enough to do that,” Albus replied.
“That's just it,” James laughed, “If he's stupid enough to do that, he's going to get caught and sent back to Azkaban.”
Albus nodded but he wasn't reassured. Willinson may be stupid, but he did manage to kidnap Kaden the previous spring, and he had been on the run for a year prior to that. He may be a rubbish dueler, but he was certainly good at not getting caught for the most part.
Joined: 28 December 2006
Location: Going through LeakyCon withdrawal
Posted: Wednesday 7 April 2010 01 30 23 pm Post subject: Re: Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden in topic:Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden
Chapter 30: Placing Bets
“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.
[i][b]HOGWARTS PROFESSOR TO BE INVESTIGATED BY MINISTRY[/b]
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
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
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.[/i]
“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.
Joined: 28 December 2006
Location: Going through LeakyCon withdrawal
Posted: Wednesday 3 March 2010 10 03 26 am Post subject: Re: Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden in topic:Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden
Chapter 25: The Memory
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 [i]Prophet[/i] 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.
Joined: 28 December 2006
Location: Going through LeakyCon withdrawal
Posted: Wednesday 20 January 2010 07 50 17 am Post subject: Re: Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden in topic:Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden
Chapter 19: The Unbeatable Seeker
"What did Balladanis teach you?" was the first thing Matt asked Albus when he went to see him the following afternoon.
Albus had given every little detail about the evening to his other friends once he returned to the dormitory afterwards and they were impressed. John's first reaction had been that perhaps Albus would be able to find out what Balladanis did before he began teaching.
"He didn't really teach us anything," Albus explained to Matt, who looked exhausted but was paying rapt attention. "I dueled Malfoy."
"Wow," Matt looked impressed, "How was that?"
"Neither of us won," Albus sighed, "Balladanis made us stop because we pretty much destroyed his classroom."
"I wish I had seen it," John chimed in, "Bet the look on Balladanis's face was priceless."
"He just looked impressed. He wasn't angry or anything," Albus told them, "Then he asked us what we wanted to do with our lives."
"Like what kind of job you want to get?" Matt raised his eyebrows, "You're only thirteen."
"Yeah, I thought it was strange," Albus shrugged, "But he said I should think about doing something that would put my dueling skills to use."
"Like an Auror?" Matt asked.
"I don't think so. I mentioned that and he kind of made it seem like that wouldn't put my dueling skills to use."
"I can't think of any other job that you'd duel more than that," Matt replied.
"I have no idea what I want to do with my life," Kaden announced.
"Me either," John said, "I say we've got plenty of time to figure it out."
"I'll say," Madam Pomfrey stuck her head in between the curtains, "And you certainly do not have to figure it out now. It's time for you lot to leave."
Albus, John, and Kaden reluctantly left the hospital wing, lamenting the fact that Madam Pomfrey hadn't let them stay very long. They had no idea why the nurse had shortened visiting time so much, considering that Matt hadn't seemed worse than usual, but they never understood why Madam Pomfrey did most of the things she did.
Albus's week could be easily summed up in two words. Quidditch and homework. Normally he would only complain about the latter, but Oliver Wood was like a Muggle drill sergeant when it came to Quidditch. Since the match was on Saturday, Oliver was insisting on daily practices. Albus and the other alternates had to be at every practice because according to Oliver, 'you never know when someone will get sick or hexed right before a match.'
In fact, Oliver even wanted them to practice on Friday night, the night before the match. Albus wasn't too happy about this since he had his lesson with Balladanis at eight. That was the same time Quidditch practice let out, so he had to run to the Defense classroom still completely covered in mud from practice.
He ran into the classroom ten minutes late, heart pounding with worry about what Balladanis was going to say.
"Mr. Potter, you're late," Balladanis said as Albus entered the room. He and Malfoy were sitting at the front desk.
"Sorry, sir," Albus said as he joined them, "Quidditch practice."
"So I gathered," Balladanis eyed Albus's muddy robes, "I was just telling Mr. Malfoy about the responsibilities that come with learning advanced dueling spells."
Balladanis pulled out his wand and pointed it at Albus. Albus's robes were clean and dry and he muttered a thank you to the professor. Malfoy was smirking to himself.
"The most important responsibility is that you cannot and I repeat, cannot, use the spells I teach you here in the junior dueling tournament. It would give your team an unfair advantage and you could inadvertently injure your opponent. The spells I teach you are not to be used outside this classroom, unless I instruct you otherwise.
"You are not to duel your fellow students in the corridors with these spells. Nor are you to use them against your siblings and cousins," his eyes rested on Albus.
"I also feel the need to warn you that these spells are more exhausting than the ones you have been learning. They use a lot of magical energy and do not be surprised if you feel as though you have just run a marathon," he turned to Albus again, "Or played in a very long Quidditch match."
Balladanis stood up and gestured for the boys to do the same. Once they did, Balladanis moved the desks aside and stood in between where Albus and Malfoy stood.
"I am going to have you work on your shield charms first-"
"I already know how to do a shield charm," Malfoy announced.
"I am well aware of that, Mr. Malfoy, and I do ask that you not question my teaching style," Balladanis said darkly, "The shield charms you have been using are relatively weak and fade away after only a few spells are cast against them.
"With a fair bit of practice and mental concentration, one is able to keep the shield up for long periods of time in order to block multiple spells. Really skilled duelers can even keep the shield up while casting other spells. That is quite useful, as you can imagine. It is also possible to shield a great many people with just one person's shield charm, which is also very useful. Some shield charms can even protect one against magical creature attacks," Balladanis lowered his voice and averted his eyes at this, which Albus thought was odd.
"It takes a lot of concentration to maintain hold of a shield charm for so long, which is why the charm can be difficult. I doubt either of you will produce a long term shield charm tonight, so don't be disappointed. Wands out, both of you, and we'll see how long you can hold the charm, without any spells hitting it."
Albus held up his wand and muttered the incantation for the shield charm. He had practiced this charm numerous times before, usually with someone else trying to hex him at the same time. It was quite easy to just hold it there and even kind of boring. He and Malfoy just stared at each other and Albus doubted that either of them were going to drop their shields. It would be like admitting defeat to the other.
After what must have been at least ten minutes of holding the shield charm, Albus found he was getting tired. His arm ached from holding his wand up and from throwing so many Quaffles at practice earlier. Malfoy had the advantage since he didn't have Quidditch practice. Much to Albus's dismay, he noticed his shield starting to fizzle. He wasn't going to be able to hold it much longer and Malfoy's still looked strong.
Balladanis looked at his watch. "Let the shields go," he instructed, "Wands down."
Relieved, Albus lowered his weary hand and then sat down in a chair. Balladanis was right when he said advanced shields were exhausting.
"Very good," Balladanis said, "Stand up again. Now I'll see how many spells each of your shields can withstand."
Albus and Malfoy both put their shields up again and Balladanis sent disarming charms at both of them. Albus could feel his shield faltering after the first charm and didn't think it would last as long as Malfoy's.
Albus's shield fizzled out after three charms. Malfoy's dismantled after four. He had the biggest smirk on his face afterwards, but didn't say anything. He probably didn't want to gloat in front of Balladanis. Albus knew he'd hear about it the next time they had a class together, though.
If only he hadn't had Quidditch practice! Then Albus would have beaten Malfoy. Or at least tied with him.
"That's enough for tonight," Balladanis said as he eyed Albus. Albus had a feeling that he looked absolutely exhausted.
"Looks like I'm the better dueler," Malfoy said once they were out of the room.
"That's not what it meant," Albus muttered, "We didn't even duel each other. I could beat you in a real duel."
"And I could beat both of you," a Slytherin Prefect, who was making his rounds, said as he walked by, "So get to your dormitories."
Albus had no idea if he could beat the Prefect or not but he didn't want to stick around to lose house points. Plus, it was a good excuse to stop talking to Malfoy.
The excitement that filled the Great Hall the next morning reminded Albus yet again of the previous year's Quidditch finals. Only this wasn't a final. It was the Hogwarts versus Australia match, the first match Hogwarts was going to play in.
The Hogwarts team did not sit together at breakfast or lunch. There was considerable argument at practice the previous night about this. Oliver Wood, Tyler Pike, and Teddy all wanted the team to sit together in order to squeeze in last minute strategizing, but nobody could agree on which table to sit at.
In the end, Teddy sat with the Gryffindor players at the Gryffindor table, Tyler sat with the Ravenclaw players at the Ravenclaw table, and Oliver walked from table to table giving out last minute advice. Albus thought this worked out fine since Oliver didn't seem to be able to sit still for more than a minute.
Albus was kind of relieved that nobody on the Hogwarts team came down with Spattergroit or lost a finger in potions class because he didn't really want to play. He loved Quidditch, but so much was at stake. He wanted to merely watch the first match that Hogwarts participated in. Then, if right before the next match, one of the Chasers came down with a cold and Madam Pomfrey forbid them from playing, Albus would gladly take their place.
The excitement only increased as Albus and his friends walked to the pitch. Rose and Amanda were there, although Linda wasn't. Albus thought this was only fitting since Hogwarts was playing against Australia in this match.
“Welcome, everyone!” Todd Smith's voice boomed over the crowd, “Hogwarts is playing its first match in the Cup and they are up against Australia! The Hogwarts team is captained by Oliver Wood with help from Ted Lupin and Tyler Pike!
“The team is comprised of Georgia Weasley as Keeper; Damien Waverly, Anna Reilly, and Ferris Fielding as Chasers; Andy Kaper and Allie Davis as Beaters; and James Potter as Seeker.
“The biggest excitement in this match is whether James Potter will be able to beat Australian Seeker Linda Morales, who shocked everyone with her speed and agility in the last match. Potter, of course, is the son and nephew of legendary Gryffindor Seekers Harry Potter and Charlie Weasley. He is also being coached by Gryffindor's other legendary Seeker, Ted Lupin, and is on his way towards becoming another legend in the house of Gryffindor.”
“Not being very modest about James, is he?” Rose muttered to Albus.
“No, not really,” Albus replied, happy that he wasn't in James's position.
“The captains shake hands,” Smith continues, “And they're off!”
All fourteen players, half in emerald green Australian robes and half in black Hogwarts ones, rose into the air. Whoever decided on the colors must not have been thinking about visibility. If it was a rainy, snowy, or foggy day, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two colors.
The match was fast-paced like the first one had been. All of the Hogwarts players were superb and as far as Albus could tell, equally matched against Australia.
The teams were tied fifteen minutes into the match, each with 120 points. The Quaffle exchanged hands so often that Albus had a hard time keeping up. Rose had already given up and was talking to Amanda about something. Matt, John, and Kaden were all trying to keep up with the match.
It happened so fast that if Albus had blinked, he would have missed the whole thing. Linda had been hovering above the Hogwarts goal posts and then she shot down towards the ground, pulling out of her dive with the golden Snitch in her grasp. James had been next to her and was a few metres above her when she caught it. Just like that, in a matter of seconds, the match was over.
“Linda Morales has captured the Snitch, which means Australia wins 270-120,” Smith announced less than enthusiastically.
“She caught it?” John gaped, “But she was above the goal posts two seconds ago!”
“No one can fly that fast!” Albus agreed.
“It can't be over!” Matt exclaimed, “It just started twenty minutes ago!”
Everyone around Albus was talking about how fast Linda flew to the Snitch. Albus and his friends descended onto the pitch and Albus quickly lost them in the sea of people. He pushed his way through the crowd until he found his team.
“They've got to be cheating!” Andy Kaper shouted to Teddy, “They've rigged her broom or something!”
“All the brooms were fully checked before the match,” Teddy reminded him.
“Well, check it again!” Andy exclaimed, “There's a speed charm on that thing, I guarantee it.”
“We'll have it checked again,” Wood assured him.
“I want a rematch,” Georgia muttered, “They've got to be cheating. Even a Firebolt 2000 can't fly that fast.”
“We're only going to get a rematch if there is something wrong with that broom,” Wood sighed.
“I want an unofficial flying competition between her and James,” Damien Waverly said, “There's no way she's a better flyer than he is.”
James was the only one not talking. He appeared to be in shock. The entire team was shouting around him, but he didn't seem to hear any of it.
“James?” Albus asked tentatively.
James jumped and looked at Albus without saying a word. Then he trudged off to the changing room. No one else noticed that he left.
No one had noticed Albus show up either, so he joined the crowd of people going back up to the castle. He figured it would be easier to talk to the James once he returned to the common room.
The common room was ominously silent when Albus walked through the portrait hole. Most people were sitting, staring into space, and not talking to anyone. It was a scene more fitting to someone just dying than a lost Quidditch match. None of the Australians who had been sorted into Gryffindor, including Linda, were there. Albus briefly wondered where they were going to go, now that they'd probably be chased out of every common room.
Albus's friends were sitting at their usual table and Albus joined them. Rose and Amanda were whispering to each other, but John and Matt were silent. Kaden was rifling through a stack of chocolate frog cards.
The match had been the definition of anti-climactic. Hogwarts had spent weeks preparing for it, working every day well past when the sun set. Homework had been ignored and studying put off. All so Hogwarts could beat Australia. Then, Linda Morales had caught the Snitch twenty minutes into the match. Linda Morales, the only one who had managed to best James Potter at Quidditch.
“You know,” Kaden set down his cards, “If James and Linda had a kid, he or she would be the best Seeker in the world.”
Nobody responded. Albus thought it would be more likely to become best friends with a chimaera than James and Linda to get married and have a kid. Not to mention the fact that vampires couldn't bear children. Kaden probably didn't know that, though.
“I just don't get it,” John mumbled, “She must've cheated.”
“You just don't want to admit that Hogwarts might not have the best Quidditch players in the world,” Rose muttered.
“Let's go to the Marauder's Den,” Matt whispered as he stood up.
Albus didn't know why Matt wanted to go there, but considering how depressingly quiet the common room was, he wasn't about to object.
They passed no one except an Auror on their way to the room. Everyone must have been lamenting the Quidditch loss in their common rooms.
“Finally,” Kaden said as he collapsed onto one of the couches in the room, “Now we can actually talk. The common room is depressing.”
“What do you expect?” John groaned, “We lost our first mach. We're in last place.”
“No, we're not,” Rose said, “New York lost to Australia with only 40 points. They're in last place.”
“Doesn't matter,” John shook his head, “We still lost.”
“No one's ever going to beat Australia,” Albus sighed.
“You're probably right,” Matt said darkly, “Remember the last match? How quickly she caught the Snitch? I knew she'd be fast, but I thought maybe she'd slow down to even things up a bit. This match proves that wrong. She's using the fact that she's a vampire to her advantage.”
“That's completely unfair!” John shouted, “Why would Kendrick let her do that?”
“He obviously doesn't know,” Rose sighed.
“So, she is cheating,” Albus said.
“Technically, she's not,” Matt replied, “She's just really skilled at Quidditch. Vampires, and werewolves, have really keen eyesight in order to,” he paused, “Catch prey. She's better at seeing a Snitch than any human.”
“Then why don't you play Seeker against her!” Kaden exclaimed, grinning at the idea, “That would be more fair.”
Matt burst out laughing. “You didn't see me at flying lessons in first year. I'm an awful flyer. Sure, I could see the Snitch, but I'd fall off my broom trying to catch it.”
“Oh,” Kaden deflated.
“Plus she's super fast,” John pointed out, “And Matt's not. No offense or anything.”
“None taken,” Matt said.
“So, what are we going to do about this?” Albus asked, “If she doesn't stop, Australia's going to win this competition.”
“I think Rose should talk to her,” John suggested.
“Why?” Rose asked.
“Because she likes you and you like her,” John said, “Just tell her to fly a little slower.”
“Yeah, right,” Rose rolled her eyes, “Believe it or not, she's about as fanatical about Quidditch as you lot are. No way is she going to agree to that.”
“It's true,” Amanda agreed.
The room descended into silence. The only other thing Albus could think of to do would be to tell Kendrick that Linda was a vampire. That would get her off the Australian Quidditch team for sure. However, Albus didn't really want to do that. Rose would hex him to next century and she'd probably never speak to him again. It would be a lot like if Rose told someone Matt was a werewolf and if that happened, Albus would have the same reaction. Not that Rose would ever do that.
They stayed in the Marauder's Den until dinner. Dinner was much more subdued than normal and James never made an appearance. Linda was sitting at the far end of the Gryffindor table with only fellow Australians near her. That kind of surprised Albus since he had never once seen her interact with anyone besides Rose and Amanda.
“Albus,” someone put their hand on Albus's shoulder.
Albus turned around and saw his dad, wearing the same forlorn look all the students were wearing.
“Dad,” he said, “Were you at the match?”
“Yeah, I was sitting with Lily,” Harry nodded, “Have you seen James?”
“Haven't seen him since right after the match. He went into the changing rooms. Actually, I haven't seen Teddy either. Maybe he's with James.”
“Merlin, I hope so,” Harry ran a hand through his hair, “I've checked everywhere I can think of. Makes me wish I hadn't given him the map.”
“You can use mine,” Albus suggested, “But I want to go with you.”
“All right,” Harry said, “Let's go.”
Albus said goodbye to his friends and walked up to Gryffindor Tower with his dad. He ran up to his dormitory once he was there and retrieved the map. The dormitory was empty, so Albus and his dad looked at it there.
They scoured the Hogwarts section of the map for nearly five minutes before coming to the conclusion that James was no longer in the school.
“Bloody hell,” Harry muttered, “Where did he go?”
Albus pressed the number two in the corner of the map with his wand and the map of Hogsmeade appeared. This one was a bit more difficult to search than the Hogwarts one had been. Most of the Hogwarts students had been in the Great Hall. Everyone was spread out in Hogsmeade.
Two dots made Albus freeze. Two dots were in the Shrieking Shack. A closer look told him they were Teddy and James. Albus gasped. Why were they there? How did they get in for that matter?
“Dad,” Albus pointed to the Shrieking Shack.
“The Shrieking Shack?” Harry shouted and stood up.
Albus followed him out of the dormitory and then out of the common room. “How'd they get in?” Albus asked once they were walking through the corridors.
“Teddy knows the counter-charm for those wards,” Harry muttered.
“Everyone who goes through Auror training learns a very large variety of counter-charms. One of them was bound to work on that tree. Now, he wasn't supposed to use them outside of training, so I really have no clue what he was thinking,” Harry explained
It had gotten cold and windy outside since the match, which really made Albus wonder why Teddy and James would go to the Shrieking Shack of all places. The decrepit old building had no heat, for Merlin's sake.
Albus dodged a branch from the Whomping Willow as they neared it. Harry aimed his wand at the bottom and muttered the counter-charm. Then he froze the tree. Albus hurried after him into the passageway.
The walk to the Shrieking Shack was brisk and silent. Albus, who had been on the receiving end of many a lecture from his dad, knew that both Teddy and James were going to get one once they made it to the Shack.
Harry carefully opened the door and walked into the quiet old building. Hushed voices could be heard from the back room. Albus followed his dad back there.
Teddy and James were both sitting on the floor. James looked a complete mess, still wearing his muddy Quidditch robes and his face was all blotchy. Teddy didn't look much better, although his robes were a bit cleaner.
“Teddy. James,” Harry said sternly when he entered, “What in the name of Merlin's pants are you doing in this place?”
Both boys snapped their heads up at the sound of Harry's voice.
“Trying to convince James not to make the biggest mistake of his life,” Teddy muttered.
“That sounds a bit overdramatic,” Harry said.
“He wants to quit the Quidditch team,” Teddy said dryly.
“That is the most idiotic thing I've heard,” Albus shouted, “You can't do that!”
“Albus,” Harry warned.
Albus shut his mouth, but he still thought the very idea of James quitting the team was mental. They'd have no hope of ever beating New York, let alone Australia, without James.
“Twenty minutes, Dad,” James said in barely more than a whisper, “Twenty minutes.”
“We've all had our bad matches,” Harry said quietly as he sat down next to James, “I fell off my broom in my third year and lost a match.”
“Because of the dementors,” James muttered, “There weren't any dementors at this match.”
“James, I'm afraid everyone has made you out to be the unbeatable Seeker. Todd's commentary today proved that. The stakes are set so high with you that when you do lose a match, it completely shocks everyone. It's kind of unfair, actually, because nobody can win every match,” Harry replied, “You're not the unbeatable Seeker, I'm afraid. And running away will get you nowhere.”
“I suppose,” James sighed.
“You're playing New York next,” Harry reminded him, “They lost to Australia sooner than we did. I think you have a chance at catching the Snitch then.”
“I guess,” James replied.
“So you won't quit?” Albus asked, unable to keep quiet any longer.
“No,” James said.
“Good. Because Lisa Galivant is nowhere near as good as you. You're the best Seeker Hogwarts has got,” Albus told him.
“Thanks, Al,” James gave him a half-smile, “Too bad Australia's got a better one.”
Albus nodded, wishing that he could just tell James why Linda was so good. But he had sort of promised Rose he wouldn't.
Joined: 28 December 2006
Location: Going through LeakyCon withdrawal
Posted: Wednesday 30 December 2009 09 18 36 am Post subject: Re: Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden in topic:Albus potter and the Path Left Untrodden
Chapter 16: The First Match
The atmosphere at Hogwats the next day reminded Albus a lot of what it was like the day of the Quidditch Final. It was the day of the first Quidditch match of the Inter-School Competition. Australia would be playing New York. Albus was excited, but not as excited as he would have been if Hogwarts was playing. He didn't particularly care who won this match. He was curious about Linda's seeking skills, though.
"Hi, Al," someone said from behind Albus as he walked down to the pitch with Matt, John, and Kaden.
Albus turned around and saw his dad. "Hi, Dad! Here to see the match? Or are you on duty?"
"Just to see the match," Harry grinned, "I'm hoping to be able to see them all, especially the ones you and James get to play in."
"I don't really get to play in any of them," Albus pointed out.
"You never know," Harry said, "Well, I'm sitting with Neville, so I'll see you after the match."
"Bye, Dad," Albus waved as he ran ahead of them.
The boys found decent seats and waited for the match to begin. The weather was particularly nice, especially for a late October day. The sun was out and there was only a slight breeze in the unseasonably warm air.
"It's kind of odd to not be rooting for Gryffindor," Matt said.
Albus agreed. Nobody was segregated into House sections like they usually were during Quidditch matches. "I don't know who to root for."
"Me either," John lowered his voice, "I mostly just want to see how Linda plays. Never seen a vampire play Quidditch before."
"She must be good. She's only a second year and she's on the team," Albus pointed out.
"But she's immortal," Matt reminded them, "So she's probably decades older than us at least."
Albus still found that aspect of vampires very strange. He sighed to himself and focused on the pitch, where a few people were milling about. Albus could make out Professors Kendrick, Roberts, and Killigan, along with a few other people Albus didn't recognize.
"Welcome, students, staff, and guests to the first Quidditch match of the competition!" Kendrick shouted over the crowd a few minutes later, "This will work exactly like regular Quidditch matches. Ludo Bagman of the Department of Magical Sports will referee this match. And now, I give you the Quidditch teams of the Adirondack Academy of Magic and the Australian School of Sorcery!"
The New Yorkers were dressed in blue Quidditch robes and the Australians were dressed in green. Both teams entered the pitch with brooms in their hands. Albus watched as each of their captains shook hands. Bagman blew a whistle and all fifteen of them rose into the air.
"And they're off!" Todd Smith, who was apparently the commentator for the inter-school matches, shouted, "Haberino of New York catches the Quaffle and is flying to the Australian goal posts...."
It was a very fast paced match. The Quaffle passed back and forth between players faster than Smith could announce. Albus was very impressed. He also doubted he could fly as well as them and was sort of glad he wasn't playing.
Albus knew he should pay the closest attention to the Chasers, but he couldn't help but gawk at Linda as she flew around the pitch. She was noticeably faster than the rest of the players. Her form was practically a blur every time she darted in between the rest of the players.
"Merlin, she's fast!" Albus exclaimed as Linda went from one end of the pitch to the other in mere seconds.
"I don't think I've ever seen anyone fly that fast!" John gaped, "And I've been to loads of Puddlemere matches!"
"Well, that would explain it," Matt smirked.
"Puddlemere has plenty of fast fliers!" John shouted, "It's you who's probably never seen anyone fly fast, what with you being a Cannons fan...."
Matt rolled his eyes. "She's fast because of what she is."
Albus nodded. He kind of figured that. It didn't seem fair, though. None of the other teams had a vampire for a Seeker. James obviously wasn't a vampire and Albus doubted the New York Seeker was one either. He was a lot slower than Linda. It seemed like there should be some sort of rule that would prevent Linda from being on the Australian team. Although, Albus wasn't sure Kendrick and Roberts knew Linda was a vampire.
"New York scores!" Smith shouted, "40-20 New York!"
Linda may have been fast, but New York seemed to have better Chasers. Their style of playing reminded Albus of how he played with his cousins. When Albus played with Heather and Fred, it was almost like they shared a brain.
All of a sudden, Linda shot across the pitch, from the Australian goals to the bottom of the New York goals. Albus stood up and watched the New York Seeker flew after her, but was meters behind. Linda dove for the ground and flew back into the air clutching something in her hand.
"Is that?" John began.
"The Snitch?" Kaden gaped.
"It is," Albus stared as the two teams descended to the ground. It had only been fifteen minutes since the match started!
"Linda Morales of Australia has caught the Snitch!" Smith announced, "Australia wins 170-40!"
"That was the quickest game of Quidditch I've ever seen," John said.
Everyone agreed. Albus had never seen anyone catch the Snitch that fast before. If the other matches were like this one, Australia was going to have the competition in the bag.
"I'm guessing this match won't be followed by a party in the common room?" Kaden asked as the boys got up from their seats.
"Probably not," Albus laughed, "Hogwarts didn't play, so we've really got nothing to celebrate."
"Linda's in Gryffindor, though," John pointed out.
"Yeah, but I'm betting most of the Gryffindors are going to be a bit upset at Linda's seeking skills. I mean, James is good, but even he's going to have problems going up against Linda. I think she'd even give Teddy a run for his money," Albus pointed out.
"James can beat her," John said confidently as they began the journey back to school, "He's a brilliant Seeker."
"But she's faster," Albus sighed.
"She's bound to slip up eventually," Kaden said hopefully.
Albus certainly hoped so. Maybe the Beaters could just constantly pelt her with Bludgers throughout the whole match so she wouldn't have a chance to find the Snitch.
They continued to walk alongside the forest on their way to the castle. The hair on the back of Albus's neck bristled and he looked quickly over his shoulder. It felt like someone was watching him. He stopped in his tracks and looked into the forest. He saw a dark figure jump behind a tree. Someone was in there.
"Why'd you stop, Albus?" Kaden asked.
"There's someone in the forest," Albus whispered.
"Hagrid?" Matt asked.
"No," Albus shook his head, "Too small to be Hagrid."
"We should go find out who it is," John announced.
"Are you mental?" Matt said, "Whoever's in there could be a murderer or something!"
Albus wasn't sure about that, but he was sure that he was curious. He wanted to know who was lurking about the forest after a Quidditch match.
"Maybe we should," Albus said.
Matt sighed. "Albus, you're supposed to be the sane one."
"I want to go see who it is," Kaden said.
"It's the Forbidden Forest!" Matt groaned, "Forbidden! If we get caught, we'll be in huge trouble! Look at everyone walking around. Someone is going to catch us."
That was a good point. But at the same time, Albus really wanted to know who it was. He couldn't just stand there and not go find out who the mysterious figure was....
"Al," a voice said from behind him.
Albus jumped and turned around. His dad was standing there, looking at him curiously. "Oh, hi Dad."
"What are you doing?" Harry asked.
"Er, there's someone in the forest," Albus replied.
Harry peered into the forest and then turned back to Albus with a grim look on his face. "Thanks for letting me know, Al. I'll check it out. I want all four of you to go back to the castle and go straight to Gryffindor Tower."
"Who do you think it is?" Albus asked. His dad seemed rather worried.
"I have a few guesses," Harry replied, "If it's anyone important, I'll let you know."
Albus nodded and started to walk back to the castle with his friends. He glanced back at his dad and saw his Patronus running in the opposite direction. A few people were pointing at it and whispering.
"Who do you think it is?" Kaden asked.
Albus shrugged. "Dunno. I mean, the only people I can think of are Washburn and Willinson, but they haven't been sighted in months."
"It's got to be one of them," John said, "Why else would your dad get so worried about it?"
"But he couldn't even see who it was," Matt pointed out, "It might turn out to be nothing."
"Scary, though," Kaden shivered, "One of them coming back. I mean, I've never met either of them, but if they're anything like Quinton...."
"Don't worry," Albus assured him, "We'll just go back to the common room and we'll be fine."
The boys hurried back into the castle and up to Gryffindor Tower. Most of the people around them were talking about the match, but Albus overheard a few people talking about his dad's Patronus.
The Gryffindor common room was packed when they entered it. There was a very large group of people in the middle shouting about Quidditch and Albus had no doubt that Linda was in the middle of it, even if she didn't want to be. Albus didn't see Rose or Amanda anywhere and figured they were with Linda. Albus had a fleeting thought that he needed to tell them about what he saw, but decided not to since Rose wasn't speaking with him. He just didn't feel like telling her anything important while she was still giving him the silent treatment. He was starting to feel a bit dejected that it had been going on so long.
Albus and his friends found a table and sat down. They were quickly joined by Lily, Hugo, and Ashtyn.
"Can you believe she caught the Snitch that fast?" Lily asked.
"That was incredible," Albus agreed, "But she's going to make it hard to beat Australia."
"I'll say," Hugo sighed, "Everyone is trying to figure out how she's so fast. Fred thought she had some sort of special broom, but she denied it."
"Well, she obviously wouldn't admit to that," Ashtyn rolled her eyes.
"Maybe Rose could ask her," Lily suggested.
"I doubt Rose would do that," Albus muttered.
"Are you still rowing with her?" Lily asked.
"Er, yeah," Albus said.
"Why? Nobody's told me what your row was even about," Lily huffed.
"It's not your business, Lily," Albus sighed.
"Come on," Lily whined, "I'm your sister."
"And I don't tell you everything," Albus said, "So give it a rest."
"Can I have everyone's attention?" someone shouted from the portrait hole.
Albus looked up and saw Neville standing there. Everyone immediately quieted down. Teachers rarely went into the common room. In fact, the only time they did was when something bad happened or when Gryffindor had a spectacular Quidditch win.
"I don't want anyone leaving the common room for now," Neville said in an unusually strict tone.
"What's going on?" Georgia asked.
"Someone was spotted near Hogsmeade and in the forest," Neville replied.
"Who?" Fred asked.
"The Aurors don't want us to disclose that information yet," Neville said, "I'll be back when we know more."
Neville left and the common room erupted into whispers. Albus turned to his friends, who had all turned a few shades lighter after hearing Neville's announcement.
"It's got to be," Matt whispered, "They wouldn't shut us in if it wasn't someone dangerous."
Albus nodded and swallowed hard. He knew he was perfectly safe in the common room, but couldn't help feeling a bit scared.
"I bet it's Washburn!" someone shouted from across the common room.
"Who's Washburn?" one of the first years piped up.
"Evil Charms teacher," someone replied.
"Yeah!" Ashtyn said, "He tried to kill my brother!"
"Mine, too!" Lily put in.
"And he tried to kill my sister," Hugo added.
Lily, Ashtyn, and Hugo started telling the other first year what had happened to Albus and his friends. Albus groaned and shook his head as all four eleven year olds watched him.
"Wish we could go to the room," Albus muttered.
"Let's go to the dormitory," John suggested, "I'll bet it's empty."
The boys left the common room (much to the dismay of Lily, Hugo, Ashtyn, and their growing group of on-lookers) and went up to Albus's dormitory, which was thankfully empty.
Albus, Matt, and John all sat on their beds and Kaden sat on the foot of Albus's. None of them said a word. Albus supposed that deep down in his mind he knew Washburn would come back, but he tried not to think about it. He figured Washburn was after the Resurrection Stone. That meant he wouldn't try and break into the castle, didn't it?
No, it didn't. Albus's gaze fell upon his trunk, where the Invisibility Cloak resided. If Washburn still wanted to unite the Hallows, he'd need that cloak. Albus gulped. Washburn was going to try and break into the castle. Albus didn't know when, but he knew it would happen at some point.
Harry never returned to the castle to tell Albus what had happened. Neville came back to the common room an hour or so later and told everyone they were free to leave if they wanted to, but he didn't disclose any details. Albus and his friends stayed in the common room, hoping Harry would eventually find Albus, but he never did.
The Great Hall was filled with much more chatter than was normal on Monday morning. Albus and his friends sat down at the Gryffindor table and James immediately passed Albus a copy of the Daily Prophet.
"They didn't catch him," James said as he tossed Albus the paper.
Albus took it and all four boys read the front page article at the same time.
[b]Washburn Sighted in Hogsmeade; Mysterious Man Sighted in Forest[/b]
[i]Jameson Washburn, wanted for torturing underage
students and the illegal use of Legilimency on an
underage student, was sighted by an anonymous witch
in Hogsmeade yesterday afternoon.
The sighting took place a few hours after the first
Quidditch match in the tournament between Hogwarts,
the Australian School of Sorcery, and the Adirondack
Academy of Magic. The anonymous witch stated that
'a man ran from behind the Hog's Head up towards the
hills. He looked like Washburn.'
Harry Potter, Head of the Auror Department, was on the
Hogwarts grounds at the time and reported quickly to
the scene. No signs of Washburn were found and Potter
is sure he had Disapparated quickly.
Potter had previously been investigating the Forbidden
Forest, after receiving a tip from a student that
someone had been lurking around. Nobody was found.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry went into
lock down after the supposed sighting of Washburn.
Students were not informed about the situation. The
Auror Department has not said whether additional
protection will be given to the school. Currently, an
Auror is assigned to the school at all times, after the
kidnapping of a student by Quinton Willinson (currently
residing in Azkaban) last Spring.
'We don't want people to worry. We're not even sure
whether either sighting was actually Washburn or not,'
Potter told reporters.[/i]
Albus set down the paper and turned to look at his friends. There was no doubt in his mind that that man in the forest had been Washburn. He had gotten away again. For someone who seemed incompetent at just about everything, Washburn certainly was good at escaping.
"I wonder where he's hiding," John said, "I mean, he's probably somewhere around here, you'd think?"
"I bet he Apparated someplace far away," Albus replied, "He's not going to want to stick around and get caught."
"Yeah, that's true," John said, "But I bet he'll be back."
"Probably," Albus agreed, "Willinson might even go with him. I wonder where he is."
"I hope he's far away from here," Matt said, "We'd better get to class."
Albus was happy that they had Care of Magical Creatures first because he would be able to continue talking about Washburn as they observed firecrabs.
"You don't think they'll cancel the Hogsmeade trips, do you?" John asked once they had walked a safe distance away from the Slytherins.
"I dunno," Albus shrugged, "They didn't cancel them when Sirius escaped from Azkaban."
"I hope they won't," John said, "They could just have Aurors patrolling the village. That'll keep Washburn away."
"There are already Aurors patrolling the school," Matt pointed out, "So I'm sure they'll be patrolling Hogsmeade now, too."
"Just as long as they don't bring any dementors here, I'll be happy," Albus shivered. He had never actually seen a dementor, but he knew enough about them to fear them.
"Well, that didn't exactly work out well when Sirius had escaped, did it?" John replied.
"I know, but still...." Albus's voice trailed off.
"Dementors don't even guard Azkaban anymore, so I don't see why they would get sent here," John said as he stopped his firecrab from escaping.
"I wonder where they went," Albus pondered, "I've never seen one."
"Me neither," John shook his head, "But that's a good point. What did happen to them all?"
"That's one thing my dad never told me," Albus shrugged.
"I've never seen one either," Matt shivered, "But my dad has. He's had to deal with them at work-"
"So he knows where they were sent?" John interrupted.
"No," Matt shook his head, "He dealt with them in Australia. There are a lot of them on the outback. There's hardly anyone living around there, so every once in a while, they'll descend on some tiny town they come upon. Then some witch or wizard reports it and my dad or someone else from his office would have to go clear them out."
"That would be a horrible job," John said quietly.
"He hated it," Matt replied, "He'd come home all shaky and depressed and Mum would feed him loads of chocolate. Then they'd go talk by themselves. He refused to tell me and Amy what he hears when he comes across dementors, though. Amy asked loads of times, but he never told."
"My dad won't tell me what he hears either," Albus said, "It's got to be awful."
"Neither of my parents have ever seen dementors," John said, "I think my parents lead relatively normal lives compared to yours."
"No one in my family leads a normal life," Albus laughed.
"Mine either," Matt agreed.
"Well, hopefully your dad will catch Washburn and Willinson and then you can have a somewhat normal life, Albus," John said.
"Maybe," Albus shrugged.
"As for me, I like a little excitement in life," John grinned.
"You can have all of mine," Albus laughed.
"Mine, too," Matt smirked.
"Nah," John shook his head, "I'll make my own."
Joined: 13 January 2008
Location: In role play game of course!
Posted: Wednesday 30 December 2009 07 34 23 am Post subject: Re: RPG: Parst City Super Hero Role Playing Game in topic:RPG: Parst City Super Hero Role Playing Game
"You needn't have come, it is not safe for you here." the cloaked man addressed another man some distance away on the rooftop. Sam could see the only entrance to the roof, and the door had not opened. Where had he come from?
"There have been too many fatalities today, a clean up is in order." the man spoke deeply, penetrating the air with more than just his words. Sam cringed, instantly fearful of it. The knife remained at her throat, and the man, with his own cloak as a shroud, lifted his chin only slightly to reveal that his skin was cacasian and smooth almost like a young child, but that was all Sam could see. The height of him told her otherwise, but Sam could not help but stare, wondering if this person were not possible femaile. Whoever it was hid themselves perfectly, using a kind of combination voice and only minimal movements.
"What shall I do with this one?" the knife pushed into Sam's throat, and she felt the sharpness pierce her skin, sending a warm trickle of blood down her neck. She whimpered, not wanting to die, and hoping that he wouldn't kill her, that it was all just an act. She was observed silently. Then, the guest approached her and stood in front of her. He reached out his hand; a gloved hand, of course, smooth leather gloves that went all the way up his elbows. The mouth formed into a small smile.
"You fear me. Good." The mouth did not move. Sam straightened up, feeling the invasion into her mind.
"No..." she sputtered, her eyes streaming with tears. But he continued relentlessly. She felt stripped bare, asaulted and all that she held within her was scattered and touched. By the end of it, she went limp in the arms of the man with the knife, who heaved her up, keeping her captive still. The voice in her head echoed.
"So much junk in here. So many things to hang onto. What a waste of space. Really." Sam felt so lost she could not find her own thoughts anymore, so she tried one more time to reach out to William. She lifted her head, stared at the man and opened her mouth to speak.
"William." she whispered. And when she had pulled herself out of the stuper enough to remember him, she moved fast, surprising the man with the knife, stepping forward and pushing at the telepath with all her strength. She imagined this was the only time she would surprise him, so she put everything she had into it, and it worked. He flew back, smashing into the bricks near the roof edge. At the same moment she ran, pushing out at the door, smashing it, and flew down the stairs into the dark building, hoping like hell that she would find a way out faster than they could catch up to her.
Joined: 20 May 2008
Location: Behind you!
Posted: Wednesday 23 December 2009 08 16 06 am Post subject: Re: The Shadow in topic:The Shadow
[I would like to make an amendment to my last post, my character isn't wearing a jacket, and is wearing a t-shirt. The girl is not wearing a poncho but is wearing his jacket.]
"We'd better get moving," Hakan turned to Yuki. The rain was still pouring down over them, soaking Hakan to the bone. He was stuck in close to her, trying to keep himself warm. She was lying next to him, her soaked head resting on his shoulder. The fact that her hair was dripping down his back didn't help.
Sighing, Yuki responded, "You sure we have to leave?"
Groaning, Yuki stood up as another bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, turning her into a silhouette against the bright background. Reaching out her hand, she helped Hakan to his feet. "Thanks," he mumbled.
"No problem," was her reply. She locked her arm with his as they made their way down the hill from the tree. The field around them was soaked to the ground, the normally high-rising grass laid flat on the mud. The rushing water made it difficult for the two to keep their step, depending on eachother to stay balanced.
Reaching the base of the hill, the two began running as another bolt of lightning flashed, followed by a great roll of thunder. The paths of the former battlefield had been so well-worn that even in the dark of night, it was easy to find their way. Their feet sank into the mud as they plodded along towards the paved roads of the battlefield.
Parked on the side of the road was their jeep. A four-seater with various maps and instruments strewn about the dashboard, along with several empty cans of Coca-Cola lying around on the ground. Lying across the seat in the back was a shotgun with shell cases kept underneath the leather cushions. Opening the driver's door, Hakan slid into his seat, listening to his wet clothing making a squishing sound on the leather seats. Slamming the door shut, he waited for Yuki to get in before starting the jeep.
The rain pounded on the roof overhead as Hakan pulled the car away from the roadside. Yuki began rustling through the maps, looking over them while marking certain points with a pen. "We need to go to the Appalachians," she said to him as they drove along the road towards fork in the road. Lightning flashed across the sky once again.
"The Appalachians it-"
"Go left!" Yuki shot out. Instantly complying, Hakan jerked the steering wheel to the left, taking the left fork. Trees blocked the other road from view as they drove along. "Turn out the lights," Yuki instructed. Hakan did as he was told. Not even a split-second after he did so, the lights from a truck came into view behind them as it passed the fork to where they had just been.
"Was it them?" Hakan queried, momentarily looking at Yuki before returning his eyes to the road. It was nearly impossible to see.
"Yes," was Yuki's answer as she looked back. The lights had passed, but it had been a close call. She returned to a normal position in her seat and rested her head on Hakan's shoulder. "You can turn the lights back on."
Nodding, Hakan turned the car lights back on. Not the brights, just the normal lights. He drove along the road, navigating the way through the battlefield to the exit gate. Looking at the clock, he realized just how late it, and how tired he, was. 0300. He'd have to find some sleep soon. Yuki was already breathing heavily on his neck, asleep.
They reached the gate to the battlefield. It was closed. "Wonderful," Hakan muttered. "Of course it's closed." Swearing under his breath, he gently pushed Yuki to the other side of the jeep and got out into the freezing rain. Shivering, he ran over to the gate, which was held in place by a padlock. Swearing again, Hakan ran back over to the jeep, and opened the back door. Next to the shells underneath the seat was a toolbox. Opening it, he pulled out a hammer.
Slamming the door shut again, Hakan ran back to the gate. Patting the hammer in his hand, he tried to see the best place to slam down the head. Then he saw it. Not the actualy padlock, but the thin metal ring screwed into the pavement that the padlock held the gate to.
Raising the hammer high above his head, Hakan took aim, at the ring, before slamming the hammer down. The thin ring snapped instantly, releasing the padlock and, consequently, the gate. Pushing against the metal bar, Hakan opened the gate all the way before returning to the jeep, opening his door, getting in, and throwing the hammer in the back.
"Nice job," Yuki said, startling him. Hakan hadn't noticed that she'd awoken, and now she was staring at him.
Nodding, Hakan motioned towards the road. "I think I remember there being a suburb out just past the gate. We'll stay there for a few hours before we set off again."
"Whatever you say," Yuki smiled as she rested her head on his shoulder again.
[Sorry, not enough time to make an full-quality post.]
Joined: 13 January 2008
Location: In role play game of course!
Posted: Thursday 17 December 2009 10 14 31 pm Post subject: Re: The Shadow in topic:The Shadow
Jonathan shook off his school jacket and took off the school tie. Pulling the rear view mirror down so he could see himself, he fixed his hair, and then he decided that he would look better with his glasses on. Reaching into his school bag, he pulled them out and slid them on his face. From within his school backback he pulled out another bag; a black bag with silver buckles that could be worn over the shoulder. He gathered up the items that had spilled on the floor, carefully making sure he hadn't missed anything, left his text books behind, kept one notebook and some pens and his math and chemistry tools, and exited the car, Locking it.
Jonathan climbed the steps to the bank and pushed through the rotating doors. He stood still, his head down ,but he brought his glance up briefly to see if anyone had followed him or been notified that he was there. He didn't notice anyone, yet. Inside the lobby there were several old fashioned desks with leather patons around their borders. Clerks sat at each one, working on computers. Jonathan approached one of them, all the while in his mind not knowing how he was meant to get into this safe deposit box without any ID or password. He sat down.
The man across from him was young, skinny and pale. He wore glasses too, but they were narrow and made his eyes huge. He gave Jon a once over. "Can I help you?"he asked dryly. Jonathan shifted in his seat and opened his bag. The man leaned back as Jon rummaged through his bag. He grabbed the key, and handed it to the clerk.
" I need to collect the items in this Safe Deposit Box." Jon said as professionally as he could. The man turned the key in his fingers, looking at it. Jon continued. " This was given to me by my mother, Jemiah Deis. I am her son, Jonathan." The man suddenly stared at Jon and looked a bit shocked.
"You? You're Jonathan Deis? Well... why didn't you say so?!"his whole attitude changed and he stood up and shook Jon's hand. "Come, follow me." the man took him over to another clerk at the far side of the bank. A much older man, grey haired, with a kind face.
"You were right, Jeffery, he came, right on the day, just like you said!" The skinny man addressed the old man at his desk. Jeffery stood up slowly and smoothed his hair nervously.
"Of course he did. I guess today is your birthday then, Jonathan?" Jeffery said, raising his eyebrows.
Jon hesitated. "Yes... it is. I'm sixteen."
Jeffery nodded. He referred back to the skinny man. "You can go now, Seth. Thank you." And Seth nodded and returned to his desk without another word. Jeffery motioned for Jonathan to follow him down a corridor to his left.
"Come. 16 years ago these boxes were allowed to be sealed without content identity cards. But nowadays.. more and more ... people's privacy is going out the window. Whatever she left you, it's going to be a big surprise."
Jon followed the man to a room at the end of a corridor where a single desk sat in the middle. Jeffery pressed what seemed to be an invisible keypad, and then something turned and a display panel appeared on the table top.
"Come here, boy. I need identification." Jeffery prompted.
"But I don't have id. I haven't got a drivers license or a passport... Oh, what about my student card...." Jon started to go for his bag again, but Jeffery shook his head.
"No no. Not photo id. Genetic ID. " He took from a drawer a syringe, a test tube, and another long tube with a cotton swab locked inside it. He set the items on the table and then pulled out the chair. "Sit down." He said, and started preparing the needle. Jon felt himself go weak but he did what he was told. Jeffery took some blood and swapped his cheek, and put the samples onto the display screen. It beeped, and a door opened to their left.
Joined: 28 December 2006
Location: Going through LeakyCon withdrawal
Posted: Tuesday 15 December 2009 05 19 28 pm Post subject: Bringing the Magic Back in topic:Bringing the Magic Back
This was the first story I wrote for Fiction Workshop this semester. Thought I'd post it here! Let me know what you think.
My dad named me after his favorite flower, the iris. Everyone I know was named by their mother, except me. My cousin, Alex, told me that his father wanted to name him Timothy but my aunt wanted Alexander and my aunt shouted “oh, the pain!” and my uncle gave in. That's the way it works in most families, but not mine. My mother did not care what I was named and did not even care that I was a girl. She wanted nothing to do with me, and when I was two she finally up and left, leaving Dad and me to fend for ourselves.
The day my mother left was the day all the magic left Dad's life. He loved her, despite her faults, something I was never capable of doing. She did not take the magic out of my life, but instead left me with a father who I knew loved me, yet was distanced. How do I know he loved me? My name, Iris. He put thought into that name, something my mother never did.
I was only fifteen when the magic left me, ten years younger than Dad had been when the same happened to him. I was only fifteen when my father committed suicide. My Aunt Helen told me that the depression is what did it; that he just could not take being sad all the time anymore. Before he died I could never have imagined being sad all the time. Now, I don't know anything else.
Aunt Helen and Uncle Tom told me not to blame Dad, not to be angry with him. They needn't have worried. Never once did it cross my mind to be angry with Dad. In my mind, it was my mother who did it. It was my mother who held that gun to Dad's head rather than Dad holding it to his own head.
Life at Aunt Helen and Uncle Tom's couldn't have been more different than life with Dad. Uncle Tom was a lawyer and made more money in a month than Dad had made in a year at his job at the mechanic's. People whispered that I would be better off at my aunt and uncle's than I was with Dad. They were wrong. No house is big enough to replace the love of your father.
Dad and I had lived close to my aunt and uncle's. We lived in the same town, Agloe, New York, and the same school district. Agloe is the sort of place where everyone knows everyone and you can't so much as get your ears pierced without half the town knowing about it. However, my aunt and uncle lived in the outskirts, where all the McMansions were. Dad and I lived near the center, in a house he had been able to afford.
“Iris, long time, no see!” someone shouted.
I looked up from the leather couch where I was playing Tetris on my iPod. Alex's best friend, Scott, towered over me, him being six feet tall and me only being about five feet five, and his sandy brown hair was mussed the way a surfer's would be. I didn't really understand why boys did that. The nearest body of water was a tiny lake a few miles away, hardly big enough to sail a canoe on, let alone surf.
“You dyed your hair black and cut it,” Scott commented. “I liked it when it was long and blonde.”
“My mother had blonde hair,” I muttered, switching the position of a tall Tetris piece so I was able to clear five rows at once. “I don't want to look like her.”
“Right.” Scott shifted uneasily from foot to foot. “Well, Alex and I are going to play Rock Band downstairs. You can play, if you want. I'll even let you play the drums.”
I ignored him. He was only offering me the drums because my dad had killed himself a few weeks ago. Usually Scott held the drum sticks above his head and said 'you can't reach them' in a singsong voice. That was not the kind of sympathy I wanted.
Scott and I had known each other as long as I could remember. He and Alex had been in Kindergarten together, a year before I was old enough to go, and had spent their days teasing me ever since.
“Why do I have to be the prisoner?” I whined as I sat on the grass in the jungle gym in Alex's backyard.
“Because you're six and we're seven,” Alex answered. He waved his green light saber at me. “Now, sit there and watch as I defeat Darth Vader!”
“I want to play Barbies!” I shouted, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Barbies are for babies,” Scott said. He smacked Alex with his red light saber.
Long since accustomed to having to sit through Alex and Scott's light saber fights, I pulled my brand new Malibu Barbie out of my coat and set her on the ground in front of me. I smiled and looked at her perfect long blonde hair. Fingering my own hair, I wondered how long it would take me to grow it down to my waist.
Aunt Helen dragged me to a psychiatrist three weeks after Dad killed himself. The school had called and suggested it, since I had missed more days than I had attended. Aunt Helen had been shocked, claiming she saw me leave each and every day. Little did she know that I hid in the garage until she and Uncle Tom left for work, only to sneak back inside and spend the day watching bad daytime television.
Aunt Helen's discomfort of being in a psychiatrist's office was obvious as she sat there fidgeting with a health magazine, glancing up at the other patients with a wrinkled nose every so often. Looking very out of place in her Gucci high heels and newly dyed red hair, she seemed relieved when a nurse came and got us for my appointment.
The psychiatrist was a slightly overweight old man with glasses perched on his bald head. He was exactly as I imagined he would be. Poised with a clipboard in hand, he gestured for me to sit down on a comfortable-looking armchair.
I did not talk at all during that session. Aunt Helen did all the talking, explaining the 'issues' from her perspective while Dr. Baldy scribbled it all down.
No diagnosis was made during that session. It took Dr. Baldy a few weeks to diagnose me with Major Depressive Disorder. Apparently that cannot be diagnosed until the person has been depressed for at least two weeks. I left the office that day with a bottle of green pills I did not want to take, but had to, since I was only fifteen and under my aunt and uncle's roof.
“Why are you over here all the time?” Scott asked, not taking his eyes off the television screen. He was in the process of beating Alex at the newest Mario Kart, which Alex had received for his ninth birthday the week before.
“Because my dad's sick,” I replied as I played Mario Kart on Alex's old Game Boy. I wished one of them would let me play the new game. Alex's old Game Boy wasn't nearly as fun.
“What's he got?” Scott asked just as he crossed the finish line. “Yes, you lose!”
“Depression,” I said quietly. “Can I please play?”
“You mean he's just sad?” Scott asked as he reluctantly handed me the controller.
“No, it's like his mind is sick and he can't be happy,” I answered as I took the controller from him, tossing the Game Boy carelessly onto the floor.
“Have you thought at all about going to college?” Dr. Baldy (I never got out of the habit of calling him that) asked one day when I was seventeen and a senior in high school, the time when all of my classmates were applying to college.
They'd spent the past two years counting down the days until they could leave their parents and go away to college. I'd spent the last two years shut in my room playing video games, only leaving when Aunt Helen forced me to go to school, and going to Dr. Baldy's every week.
“No,” I replied. The idea of college terrified me. High school was bad enough. Four more years of it? Never in a million years. Dad got along fine without college and I could as well.
“How about community college?” Dr. Baldy suggested.
“I'm not going to college,” I said, slightly louder. “I don't have to.”
“That is true,” Dr. Baldy nodded, “but I wish you would consider it. You're quite smart; you could go far.”
“I'm not going to college! I'm just not, ok?”
“All right,” Dr. Baldy said quietly, “I think our time is up for today.”
I stormed out of the building, squinting at the light. Nobody was there to pick me up. I looked around, trying to figure out what to do. The world seemed huge. Never before had I appreciated just how big the world was, or how many people were in it. People bustled past me, hurrying on their way, completely ignoring me. There were so many of them and their voices seemed to get louder and louder.
Someone jostled me from the side, hitting me with her large bag of groceries. I shrank back and leaned against the building. My head was swimming. My heart was hammering. My hands were tingling. I bent over to steady myself. The dizziness lessened slightly, but it was still there. What was happening? What was wrong with me? Maybe I was crazy; maybe Aunt Helen was right. I couldn't think straight. My mind was filled with so many thoughts that I couldn't make any of them out.
I heard a car in front of me. Looking up, I recognized Scott's red SUV. It seemed far away, blocked by the crowd of of people who seemed to all be morphed together. Trying not to think too hard, I ran for it, jumped in the passenger seat, and tried to steady my breathing. I felt like I was going to be sick.
“Iris, are you ok?” Scott asked. “Sorry your aunt wasn't here to get you. She got held up in traffic and called me to get you.”
He actually looked worried. I must have looked bad.
“I think- I don't know.” I swallowed, forcing the tears not to leak out of my eyes.
The door to the stairway slammed behind me, echoing in the strange emptiness. Why was the stairwell empty? Why weren't any other students using it? I shrugged and smiled to myself as I ran up the stairs, excited that I had discovered a secret stairway in the high school as a freshman.
I glanced at my watch as I reached the top. Two minutes until the bell rang. I was going to be on time for the first time that day. I leaned against the door and pushed. It didn't budge.
One, two, three more times I tried to push the door open. Panic came over me as I realized that there was a reason nobody else used this set of stairs. Who locks an entire set of doors? Why would the school do that?
Not sure of what else to do, I banged on the doors. My heart started racing and it felt like someone turned up the heat to ninety degrees. I tried to catch my breath, but it was no use. I was going to be late again. What if I couldn't get out? What if I was stuck in there forever?
“Whoa, stop banging!” someone said as they pushed open the door.
Scott was standing there, looking bemused. His head was cocked to the side and he was grinning. It made me want to punch him. He knew about this stupid staircase.
“Found the Freshman staircase, did you?” Scott smirked.
“Every year a bunch of Freshmen get stuck in here,” Scott said as I walked into the corridor.
“And you didn't tell me?”
“No, that would've ruined the fun.”
I pushed past him without saying another word and stalked off to Global History, which I was now a good ten minutes late for.
Panic attack. That was what Dr. Baldy called what had happened after I left his office that day. Another disorder to add to my list. It wasn't just that one, either. They happened frequently after that. Twice in school, once at the grocery store, once in the car. Aunt Helen demanded that Dr. Baldy give me more medication, which he did. It made me tired all the time. I skipped more school. Aunt Helen yelled at me. Alex, who had left for college that fall, called me less.
Alex was everything Aunt Helen could have wanted in a son. Star student, captain of the football team, acceptance letter to Notre Dame. In other words, he was normal. Aunt Helen had thrown him a huge graduation party the previous year. She got him a green SUV, just like Scott's.
Aunt Helen didn't offer to throw me a graduation party and I didn't care. I didn't want one. She did show up to graduation, though, as did Alex and Scott. The only reason I showed up was because I knew it would make my dad proud. It scared me to go and I nearly had another panic attack, but I had to do it. I had to make Dad proud.
My eighteenth birthday was a few weeks after graduation. I woke up bright and early, something I hadn't done in years. My first act of celebration was flushing every single pill down the toilet. I was eighteen. Aunt Helen couldn't force me to take anymore medication.
Aunt Helen made me pancakes, something that rarely happened. She set them in front of me along with a large manilla envelope. Her face was hardened and it almost looked like she'd been crying. I'd never seen her cry. Not even when Dad died, and he had been her brother.
“Your father's will,” she said quietly as she pushed the envelope closer to me.
I choked on my juice. No one had ever mentioned my dad's will and I had always assumed he didn't have one.
“He left me a note, telling me to give this to you on your eighteenth birthday,” Aunt Helen said quietly.
I nearly knocked over my chair in my haste to get out of the kitchen. Grabbing the envelope, I ran back upstairs, shutting myself in my room.
My hands were shaking as I ripped open the envelope. Why did he want me to be eighteen to open it? Why had he made me wait three years? I pulled a stack of papers out of the envelope. Most were official looking documents, but on the very top was a wrinkled sheet of notebook paper. The writing on it was slanted and messy; I recognized it instantly. Dad's handwriting.
[i]My little Iris flower,
By the time you read this you'll be eighteen,
an adult, a young woman, a high school graduate.
I am sorry that I did not get to see you
graduate, or learn to drive, or go to Prom. I
know it's difficult for you to understand,
but I could not go on. Life was suffocating.
All the magic was gone. I used to see the magic
everywhere. In the wind, the flowers, the rain,
the sun, the snow. Life was amazing, like magic.
Not anymore. You have to understand that it
wasn't you. You were the small bit of magic left.
Try not to be sad, try not to let the magic leave
you. I've left you everything. The house, the car,
everything. I love you, Iris. Even though I'm
physically gone, I'm still there, all around you.
Tears were leaking out of my eyes onto the paper. It was too late, Dad, too late to tell me not to let the magic leave me. It's gone. It left the day you put that gun to your head.
I didn't bother looking at the will. I knew what it said. Everything was mine. I didn't have to stay at my aunt and uncle's house anymore.
Alex drove me to the house on his way to work. I hadn't talked to Aunt Helen since reading the letter, but I had a feeling she already knew what the will had contained.
It didn't look like anyone had even stepped onto the property since Dad died. I hadn't been there since he died. I'd been too scared of what I would find, too scared of what it would do to me. The lawn was overgrown and covered in weeds. Patches of dirt and dead grass intermingled with the weeds. I peeked in the garage and saw that Dad's old Ford pick-up was still there.
The inside of the house looked exactly the same, with the exception of a very large layer of dust covering everything. Dad's Carhartt jacket was slung over the coat rack and my old purple umbrella was still lying on the floor, half open. I walked slowly into the kitchen, my heart pounding fast in my chest. A pile of dirty dishes lay in the sink, as if they were waiting for Dad or me to come wash them. The small living room's floor was littered with old newspapers and homework assignments.
I took a deep breath before opening my bedroom door. It was the only room that was empty. Aunt Helen or Uncle Tom had come and gotten all my stuff for me shortly after Dad died. Only my bed, desk, and dresser remained, along with a smattering of crumpled papers on the ground.
I paused outside Dad's bedroom before shaking my head and turning away from it. I couldn't go in. I just couldn't do it. Even three years later, it was just too hard. Maybe Dad had a point in not giving me the will until I turned eighteen.
The place was a mess, but it was my house, my home. It was more of a home than Aunt Helen and Uncle Tom's house had ever been. Three years of living in that place and I still felt like a guest. Three years away from my house and it still felt like home.
I threw myself into cleaning the place up. Every room needed it and I worked all day. I threw out the old newspapers, vacuumed, mopped, dusted, and washed dishes. Nothing was left untouched, except Dad's room. Cleaning was calming. My heart returned to its regular pace, my breathing returned to normal. For the first time in three years, I felt all right. Not great, of course, but not awful either.
Cleaning only took me two days. Nobody came to the house while I cleaned. Not Alex, not Aunt Helen or Uncle Tom. After I finished, I sat on the couch and turned on the television, but didn't watch. It was just background noise. Nor did I think about how the power was actually on, in a house that had been abandoned for years. I suppose Aunt Helen must have been paying for it.
I sat there doing absolutely nothing for hours. They felt like the longest hours I'd lived through and the shortest ones at the same time. Cleaning had taken my mind off everything. With the whole house (except Dad's room) now spotless, there was nothing to do but sit there and think.
Everything was on my mind. It was like a huge rush of the past three years of my life all jumbled up. It was just too much; too overwhelming. I was sitting there shaking on the couch, tears running down my face. Dad was gone, never coming back. Owning the house seemed to just clinch that even more. I had no one. It had been Dad and me against the world for so long. Aunt Helen and Uncle Tom didn't really count. They were my guardians because they had to be. Neither of them had taken the time to truly understand. Instead they just shuttled me off to the psychiatrist and shoved pills down my throat.
Dad wanted me to succeed. He wanted me to be happy, to keep the magic in my life. I had failed at that. Grudgingly finishing high school, staying cooped up in my room whenever possible, not even considering the possibility of college. Dad wouldn't have wanted that. He would have wanted me to be all I could be, no matter how cliched it sounded.
There was a knock on the door, shaking me out of my thoughts. Hastily wiping the tears off my face, I walked to the door. I cautiously opened it and was quite surprised to see Scott standing on the front step. He had cut his hair and it looked nice.
“Iris,” he said quietly, “Alex told me. About the will.”
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“Look, I know I used to tease you all the time, but, I just want to show you something.”
“All right,” I said. What was going on?
Scott turned around and cut across the front yard. I followed him. He led me to the lone tree in the front yard, the one that Dad had told me would eventually be large enough for me to climb, but was still small and scraggly. I gasped when I saw what was underneath.
Iris flowers. Small, but grown enough to have the purple flowers, surrounding the tree in a perfect circle.
“I know they're your favorite kind of flowers,” Scott said quietly.
I nodded as tears began to form in my eyes. Only this time, they were tears of happiness. Someone cared. Someone actually knew me. I felt something on my shoulder and looked up. Scott had awkwardly placed his arm over me, looking slightly nervous about it.
It was then that I knew the magic wasn't gone completely. It had disappeared for a while, buried itself deep inside me underneath the grief, so deep that I thought it was gone. But it was there and had been there the whole time. The problem was that I hadn't dug deep enough to find it. Now I had brought it back and it was there, blossoming like the Iris flowers that now lived in my front yard.