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PostPosted: Wednesday 10 March 2010 6:01:47pm 
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New page, new disclaimer! I still do not own Harry Potter.

Chapter 26: The Presuler

Professor Balladanis didn't say anything for a long time after he, Albus, and Malfoy returned to the Defense classroom. Albus landed next to Malfoy, still confused as to how he managed to get out of the pensieve, in front of Balladanis's desk. Balladanis landed behind his desk, facing the wall, and didn't turn around for a few minutes.

Albus glanced nervously at his professor as he thought of questions he was just burning to ask. In fact, there was nothing about the scene he had just witnessed that didn't make Albus curious. Everything about it had been confusing.

Malfoy looked just as confused. They kept looking at each other and it was kind of strange. They were on the same side. Both of them wanted Balladanis to explain.

Balladanis finally turned around and looked at them. He put his hands on his desk and leaned forward, looking both Albus and Malfoy in the eye.

It happened in a split second. Albus looked at his professor and immediately thought back to the face of the boy in the scene. That was why he looked familiar. The boy was Balladanis. Then, Balladanis shifted slightly and the likeness was gone. But Albus knew it. That scene had been from Balladanis's childhood.

“Sit down,” Balladanis said.

Albus and Malfoy sat down quickly at the table in front of Balladanis's desk. They were sitting right next to each other and Albus didn't care. At the moment, finding out what that scene was was more important than staying away from Malfoy.

“A few weeks ago you asked me what I did before I started teaching here, Mr. Potter,” Balladanis began, “I have always had the intention of telling you, of telling both of you. I was merely waiting for the right moment. I feel that that moment is now.”

Balladanis paused and walked around to the front of his desk. He began to pace in front of it.

“There is a reason why I am telling you this now. Why I am not explaining to all of my classes what I did before teaching. The reason is that you two are incredible duelers. Both of you have skills beyond your years that I have never seen before, and believe me, I have seen plenty of exceptional duelers in my time. This may be a good time to tell you how rare it is to have two such skilled duelers in the same year at Hogwarts.”

Albus turned to look at Malfoy. What was Balladanis getting at? It sounded like the start of some sort of house unity speech or something.

“I know the two of you aren't the best of friends,” Balladanis continued, “But I must say how impressed I am that you seem to put the animosity behind you when you step into my classroom for your lessons.”

The sole reason for that, at least for Albus, was because of Balladanis himself. Albus doubted he would tolerate Albus and Malfoy bickering with each other during lessons.

“Back to what I was going to tell you,” Balladanis said, “That scene that I just showed you, in case you have not figured it out yet, took place while I was a boy of only thirteen. It was the summer before my third year at school.

“I grew up in Greece, in that very house we just saw. My parents, although they loved me deeply, were very poor and could barely afford to put food on the table. I think they were grateful when I went away to school, the sole reason being that they wouldn't have to worry about me getting enough to eat.

“I had two blissfully innocent and fun years at the Grecian School of Magic. I returned home during summers full of stories about my friends and all the mischief we'd gotten into.”

Albus found it difficult to imagine Balladanis getting into trouble at school or doing anything fun in general.

“Everything changed the summer before my third year. It changed on the night you just witnessed. A coven of vampires entered my house that night. They attacked my parents and drank them dry. I hid in a closet, too scared to do anything. Then, once the vampires left, I fled. I ran until I could not run anymore. I wound up at the house of one of my friends. His parents took me in, but things were obviously never the same. I changed on that night.”

Balladanis stopped talking and Albus sat in complete shock. Balladanis's parents had been murdered by vampires? That was one thing that had never crossed Albus's mind.

“I returned to school that September hardened. Nothing was fun anymore. Nothing was funny. It was then that I decided to devote my life to ridding the world of such evils. Vampires, dark wizards, werewolves, anyone and anything that murders viciously.”

Albus couldn't help but glare at Balladanis when he mentioned werewolves. Balladanis seemed to notice this and gave Albus the slightest of smiles.

“However, I did realize that not all vampires, werewolves, giants, and other beings are inherently evil. Not all of them want to kill. It was for this reason that I did not wish to be employed by the Greek Ministry. The Greek Ministry prefers to deal with magical creatures as a whole and not distinguish between them. Perhaps this is because Greece has a very large population of vampires.

“Thus, becoming an Auror was out of the question. Instead, I chose to enter a more secretive profession. One that you will not find pamphlets on when you get career advice from your heads of house. One that no one except me is going to suggest to you. Yet it is one that I believe the two of you are quite suited for.”

Albus's heart sped up at this. Balladanis was going to give them career advice? They were only thirteen. But at the same time, Albus felt excited. Balladanis thought he was a good enough dueler for this career, whatever it was.

“I am a Presuler,” Balladanis said, “I am sure neither of you have heard of one. A Presuler is somewhat like an Auror, in that we seek out dark wizards and dark magic. However, we not only seek out dark wizards and dark magic, we seek out dark and dangerous creatures as well.

“The biggest difference is that Presulers are not employed by the Ministry. There are very few Presulers in the world and we are often sought out by various Ministries and hired on an as-needed basis. We travel from country to country, whenever we are needed. It is quite secretive. I suppose Presulers are a combination of Aurors and private investigators.”

Balladanis was right in that Albus had never heard of a Presuler before. The idea intrigued him, though. A secretive kind of Auror who did not work for the Ministry.

“I never caught the vampires who killed my parents. I have met one vampire who knew them, but she is not like them. I am still searching for them, however.”

Balladanis stopped pacing and leaned up against the front of his desk. He looked at Albus and Malfoy, but did not say anything else.

“Why are you teaching here, then?” Malfoy asked.

“That is one thing that is between myself and Professor Kendrick,” Balladanis replied.

“Are you coming back next year?” Malfoy asked.

“As of right now, I have no idea,” Balladanis answered, “It is getting late. I've kept you here much longer than normal. If you think of anymore questions, do not hesitate to see me. I'll walk you back to your common rooms.”

Albus walked alongside Balladanis in silence on his way back to the Gryffindor Tower. His mind was racing with what he just learned. He didn't know what to make of it. It was just so much information at once.

The common room was nearly empty when Albus climbed through the portrait hole. It must have been really late, since it was Friday night. Albus really didn't know what time it was.

“There you are!” Rose shouted, “Merlin, you've been gone for hours!”

“What did he have you doing?” Matt asked.

“I'll tell you tomorrow,” Albus muttered, realizing that all he wanted to do was lay in his bed and think about what Balladanis had just said.

Albus was vaguely aware of his friends sighs of disappointment as he went up to his dormitory, but he didn't feel like talking about it right then. He was tired and his mind was racing at the same time.

Albus tossed and turned the entire night. He alternated thinking about what he had seen in the pensieve and about becoming a Presuler himself. Then he wound up thinking about Linda and what Balladanis thought of her. He had said he didn't hold a grudge against vampires that didn't kill people, but who knew what he really thought.

Was Linda the vampire he had met who knew the vampires who killed his parents? It was possible since vampires never aged. Or maybe she was a completely different vampire. Albus wondered how many vampires Balladanis knew.

Eventually Albus fell into a restless sleep, but his dreams were plagued by what he had seen in the pensieve.

******

“Merlin, Albus, get up!”

Albus rolled over in his bed and put his pillow over his head. After waking up drenched in sweat at four in the morning after a nightmare in which his whole family had been killed by vampires, he had finally drifted off into a somewhat decent sleep. One that he wished he was still in.

“It's nearly one o'clock.”

“He's like you are after full moons.”

“Shut it. Seriously, Albus, get up.”

“Yeah, we want to know what happened last night.”

Someone pulled the curtains open and took the pillow off Albus's head. He looked up and saw John and Matt.

“Did you lose to Malfoy or something?” John asked, “Because that would make me want to hole up in bed for the day.”

“No, it's not that,” Albus muttered, “I'll tell you, but I'm only explaining it once, so one of you better find Rose, Amanda, and Kaden. And I'll tell you in the Marauder's Den because there is no way Linda can be around to hear this.”

The girls and Kaden met them in the Marauder's Den after Albus, John, and Matt had lunch. John kept pestering Albus all through lunch, wanting to know why Linda couldn't hear about it, but Albus said nothing. He wasn't even sure if he was allowed to tell his friends about this, but Balladanis hadn't really forbidden him.

“Albus, what in the name of Merlin happened last night?” Rose asked as soon as they were all in the Marauder's Den.

“Balladanis told us what he did before he started teaching at Hogwarts,” Albus said quietly.

“And you neglected to tell us until now?” John gaped, “I've been wanting to know for the entire year!”

“I know, John,” Albus snapped, “But it's not anything what you'd think.”

“Sorry,” John muttered.

“Balladanis took us into a pensieve last night,” Albus began.

“Really?” Rose looked impressed, “What was that like?”

“Not that great, to be honest,” Albus said, “Probably would have been better if it was a better memory.

“Anyway, he took us without any explanation of what we were going to see. He took us to this really old broken down house in Greece. Kind of looked like a smaller more run-down version of the Shrieking Shack.”

“In Greece?” Kaden asked.

“Yeah,” Albus nodded, “We watched the house for what seemed like hours and then these figures broke into it and we heard this awful screaming. Then the figures left. Then this bloke who was about our age came running out with this horrible scared look on his face. Then we left.”

“What does that have anything to do with what Balladanis does for a living?” John asked.

“Everything,” Albus sighed, “That had been his house. The screams were his parents. The boy was him. He told us this after. His parents were killed by a coven of vampires.”

Nobody said anything for a long time. Albus looked at his friends and they all wore equal looks of shock.

“And you watched it?” Matt asked.

“From a distance,” Albus replied.

“Merlin, no wonder Balladanis is so bloody insane,” John let out a low whistle.

“He decided to devote his life to ridding the world of evil, whether it be vampires, dark wizards, or other dark creatures,” Albus continued.

“So he's an Auror?” Rose asked.

“No,” Albus shook his head, “He's a Presuler.”

“What is that?” Kaden asked.

“It's like an Auror, only they go after dark creatures, too. And they aren't employed by the Ministry. They're hired by Ministries all around the world. They're investigators as well. Apparently it's all very secretive,” Albus explained.

“Wow,” John said, “I thought he was an Auror or something.”

“Me, too,” Matt agreed, “Instead he just hunts down vampires. And, werewolves.”

“Only ones that kill people,” Albus assured his lycanthropic friend.

“All werewolves have the capability of killing people, Albus,” Matt said quietly.

“So does everyone,” Albus replied.

“Whatever his view on vampires and werewolves truly is, it's going to be interesting to see how he teaches us about them,” Rose mused.

“Guess this is why you didn't want Linda to hear about this,” John said.

“Yeah,” Albus replied, “Apparently he still hasn't found the vampires who killed his parents, but he knows a vampire who knows them. That vampire doesn't kill people. I wonder if it's Linda.”

“Who knows?” Rose shrugged, “I doubt we'll ever find out.”

“Oh, I've got to tell you what he said after he told us all of this,” Albus took a deep breath, “He thinks Malfoy and I should become Presulers.”

“Seriously?” Matt asked.

“Yeah, because we're good duelers,” Albus explained, “But I don't know.”

“You don't have to know. You're only thirteen. And Albus, don't decide anything until you've read about this. Don't just go on what Balladanis is saying. I think we've finally discovered why he's so passionate about fighting the Dark Arts, but it might cloud his judgement sometimes,” Rose warned.

“I know, that's what I don't get,” Albus said, “Why is he telling us this now?”

“Maybe because he doesn't plan on staying,” Matt replied, “Why would he stop searching for the vampires who killed his parents to teach here anyway?”

“Malfoy asked,” Albus told him, “But he wouldn't tell us. He said it's between him and Kendrick.”

“Because that's not suspicious or anything,” John rolled his eyes, “There's still something funny about Balladanis.”

“What are you going to do, Albus?” Matt asked.

“I'm not deciding anything now,” Albus replied, “I'm just not going to think about it.”

******

Not thinking about Presulers and what happened to Balladanis's parents proved to be easier said than done, especially since Defense class was soon devoted to learning about vampires. Balladanis seemed to teach that particular unit with much more enthusiasm than usual, a feat that nobody thought possible. Everyone speculated as to why Balladanis was more enthusiastic than usual, but most just attributed it to the fact that he was bloody insane.

A lot of what Balladanis taught about vampires was stuff Albus already knew due to what Matt had told them earlier in the school year. It was still fairly interesting, though. Albus found that the more dangerous the creature they were learning about, the more interesting it was. Not to mention the fact that they didn't use the anamatek anymore, a fact that nearly every student was grateful for.

However, partway through their second week devoted to vampires, the anamatek's trunk reappeared in the Defense classroom. There was an audible groan from every student who stepped into the room.

“If that thing turns into a vampire, I think I'm going to get up and leave,” John seethed as they took their seats.

“Maybe we're moving onto another creature,” Albus suggested even though he knew the chances were slim to none.

“That wouldn't be any better. We're doing werewolves next,” John reminded him, “And Matt said that thing couldn't turn into an actual werewolf. Speaking of Matt, he's lucky he's missing this.”

“I think he'd say otherwise,” Albus replied. The full moon had been the previous night.

“Quiet,” Balladanis said, “We'll be continuing our vampire lesson today. Today I wish to show you what a vampire looks like, which is why I have brought back the anamatek. However, you will not be fighting it. None of you have the skills necessary to fight a vampire.”

“He's mental,” John muttered.

Balladanis drew his wand and pointed it at the trunk. It snapped open and out stepped a very pale man with chiseled features. He didn't move, but merely stared out at all the students.

“Vampires are the perfect predator,” Balladanis announced, “They're incredibly fast,” he pointed his wand at the vampire and it disappeared.

It reappeared in the back of the classroom, but it had not Apparated. The vampire had moved so fast that Albus had missed it in the blink of an eye.

“They're agile,” Balladanis continued, “They're good looking. They attract you in. Then they kill, they suck you dry until you are dead. The alternative is not great, either. From the moment their teeth break your skin, you begin to transform into a vampire as well. You will become one if they do not suck you dry. There is no way to stop it, no potion to counteract it.

“Vampires hunt at night when their vision is still excellent, but when human vision is compromised. However, that is not the only reason. Does anyone know the other?”

Rose raised her hand. Linda did not.

“Yes, Miss Weasley?” Balladanis said.

“Vampires are in essence allergic to the sun,” Rose explained, “When the sunlight hits them, it hurts them. The sun gives them headaches and makes them feel sick.”

“Precisely,” Balladanis gave her a rare smile, “There is no potion to counteract the effects of the sun on vampires. Therefore they tend to inhabit areas that see less sun and areas of dense forest, such as the Northwestern and Northeastern United States, parts of Canada, and parts of Russia. However there is also a significant vampire population in Greece.”

Balladanis pointed his wand at the vampire again and it retreated back into the trunk. Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief. The lesson continued until the bell rang. Balladanis made no mention of moving onto the next unit, nor had he assigned the usual end of the unit essay.

Albus and his friends went to visit Matt late that night after Albus got out of Quidditch practice. They only had a half hour or so until curfew, but they hadn't visited at all yet.

“You missed an excellent Defense lesson today,” John said once Madam Pomfrey had gone back into her study after leaving to see who had entered her ward.

“Was it any different from the usual ones?” Matt asked tiredly. He looked ready to fall asleep at any moment.

“Balladanis brought back the anamatek,” Albus told him.

“He what?” Matt shouted, although since his voice was hoarse it wasn't very loud, “We're still doing vampires, aren't we?”

“Yeah, he had it turn into a vampire,” John said, “We didn't have to fight it. He just used it to show how fast vampires were and what they looked like.”

“That is weird,” Matt replied, “He assign the vampire essay yet?”

“Nope,” John shook his head, “I think we're in for a few more days of vampires.”

“Well, the longer we spend on vampires, the more time we have before we start werewolves,” Matt said quietly, “I really hope he doesn't spend as much time on them as he has on vampires.”

“I don't think he will,” Albus said, “His parents weren't killed by werewolves.”

“Thank Merlin for that,” Matt yawned.

“You're tired,” Rose said, “We should leave.”

“We'll be back tomorrow after lunch,” Albus told him, “Good night.”

“'Night,” Matt said.

They left the ward just as Madam Pomfrey was coming out of her study, presumably to tell them to leave and give Matt more potions. Albus and his friends headed straight for the common room, where they got started on all the homework that had been piled on them that day.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 17 March 2010 8:57:31pm 
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Chapter 27: The Werewolf Lesson

A few of Albus's cousins had begun to take up bets on how long Balladanis was going to spend teaching the third years about vampires. Fred was sure he'd spend the remainder of term, but Bradley was convinced he'd move onto the next unit partway through April. None of the third years were actually participating in these bets because they were all afraid Balladanis would find out.

The vampire unit was still well underway when the next Quidditch match came along. This one was the second Hogwarts versus Australian School of Sorcery match, which meant Wood was in his prime when it came to practice. Albus considered just moving his bed to the changing rooms since he spent more of his time on the Quidditch Pitch than in the Gryffindor common room.

Albus awoke the day of the match to John's loud swearing instead of Teddy, which told him that he did not have to play during that match. He couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed. Figuring there was no point in going back to sleep, he got up and asked John what happened.

“Tripped over Matt's bloody cauldron,” John muttered, holding onto his right foot, “Why can't he just put that stupid thing away?”

“Like you always do?” Albus smirked and gestured to John's own cauldron, which was sitting only a few feet away from Matt's.

John muttered something indistinguishable and shoved his cauldron under his bed. He went into the bathroom while Albus woke Matt up. The three of them met Kaden in the common room a little while later and then went down to the Great Hall to get something to eat.

A few hours later the boys were in the Quidditch stands, waiting for the match to begin. Rose and Amanda were with them.

“Wonder how long it'll take Linda to find the Snitch this time,” Albus mused.

“I'm betting on ten minutes,” John said, “Hey, remember that time we eavesdropped on Killigan?”

“Yeah,” Albus replied, “Wasn't Linda supposed to start flying slower after that?”

“That's what I thought,” John shrugged, “But she didn't during the last match.”

“She probably won't this time, either,” Matt put in, “I mean, think about it, if James could fly that fast, would he really slow down to a normal speed?”

“Definitely not,” Albus sighed.

Matt's prediction proved correct. Linda did not slow down in the slightest. She flew at her usual abnormally fast speed, beating James to the Snitch by a few yards. Luckily for Hogwarts, they had been ahead of Australia at that point and only wound up losing by forty points.

This put Hogwarts quite a bit ahead of New York as far as Quidditch points went. Australia was still in the lead, but they were not faring so well in the dueling tournaments. As of the most recent tournament, Hogwarts was winning. Australia was in last place and New York was somewhere in between. Albus was pretty sure that if the Quidditch and dueling tournament points were added up, Hogwarts and Australia would be neck in neck. Whatever the outcome of the remaining qualifying tournaments and matches, the finals for both were going to determine the winner of the competition. The points were just too close.

Although there was obviously no celebration in the Gryffindor common room after the match, nobody was particularly depressed either. Albus figured this was because nobody had really expected Hogwarts to win anyway.

******

Two weeks into April, Bradley along with quite a few other older Gryffindors, were able to cash in on their bets about Balladanis. Fred and a few others grumbled loudly about it as they handed over Galleons to the winners.

Balladanis had assigned the long awaited essay on vampires on Thursday, officially making the vampire unit the longest unit they had done. They had spent an entire month and a half on it. The essay seemed to match this length, as Balladanis wanted it to be two and a half feet.

Albus, Matt, and John saved their essays for the last possible minute, settling down to work on them the day before they were due. It wasn't a particularly hard essay because Balladanis had given them so much information on the subject. It was just a very long essay to write. Rose and Amanda had done theirs over the weekend, presumably with Linda. Albus couldn't help but be slightly envious of them because doing the essay with an actual vampire would make it the easiest essay ever.

“Bet Linda's glad this unit's over,” Albus said as they worked on their essays in the Marauder's Den Monday evening.

“She is,” Rose answered, “She hated every minute of those lessons. Can't say I blame her.”

“How long is your essay, Rose?” John asked as he measured his own essay.

“Three feet,” Rose answered.

John groaned. “Do you think Balladanis will notice if mine's three inches short?”

“Yes,” Rose said, “If there's any essay he'll be extremely picky about, it'll be this one.”

“Maybe if we don't finish it we can just skip class tomorrow,” Matt muttered, “After all, I wouldn't want to show up in class without the essay done.”

“But it'll be worse when you finally do go to class,” Rose pointed out.

“I still don't particularly want to go to class tomorrow,” Matt said, “Whether I've finished the essay or not.”

“You're going to finish it,” Rose told him, “You've got two inches left.”

“Finished,” Albus announced.

“Excellent,” John said as he grabbed Albus's essay, “I'll copy bits of yours.”

“You know,” Albus said quietly, “Nobody found out about Linda being a vampire even after we've spent a month and a half on them. I don't think anyone's going to find out you're a werewolf just because we're learning about them.”

“I know, I've just got a bad feeling about it,” Matt sighed.

“Look on the bright side,” Kaden put in, “When you get assigned the werewolf essay, you're sure to get a 100.”

“I don't really care about the essay,” Matt said flatly.

Both Matt and John managed to finish their essays before curfew and they returned to Gryffindor tower, and they soon went to bed. Albus didn't think Matt slept much, though. He heard him tossing and turning all night.

Albus, Matt, and John got a late start since John had misplaced his vampire essay. After finding it under his bed (no one was sure how it go there), the three boys rushed down to the Great Hall to grab pieces of toast before running to Defense.

They walked into the room right on time and barely had a chance to catch their breath before Balladanis asked for everyone to hand in their vampire essays. Albus passed his essay up and pulled out parchment and a quill.

“Well, our unit on vampires is over,” Balladanis said once everyone had handed in their essays, “I trust you have all read the chapter on werewolves for today? If you had for some reason decided not to do that, I highly suggest doing it tonight.”

Balladanis began his usual pacing in front of the classroom. He stopped in front of Rose and Linda's table and then stared out at the class.

“I thought I would begin with werewolf history,” he announced, “Nobody is sure when the first werewolf came about, but they have existed in nearly every wizarding culture. Not only that, but even ancient Muggle cultures have lycanthropy in their histories.

“Hundreds of years ago, before the Muggle field of psychology came about and long before Muggles had any understanding of the human mind, they tried to make sense of people whom they deemed 'insane'.

“One way they did this was to attribute the insanity to the moon. Over the years, the myth of werewolves came about. Thus, werewolves have had a significant role in Muggle stories. In reality, the people Muggles accused of having lycanthropy were merely suffering from schizophrenia or bouts of insanity.”

Albus frantically tried to write everything down. He knew absolutely nothing about the Muggle view of lycanthropy. He glanced at Matt and saw that he wasn't writing anything down, but his hand was shaking.

“Muggles of course know nothing about real werewolves,” Balladanis continued, “And their Hollywood created werewolves have little in common with the real thing.

“Werewolves are plagued with the illness lycanthropy. Does anyone know what that means?”

Rose was the only one who raised her hand. Balladanis nodded to her. “It comes from the Greek words 'lykos' and 'anthropos',” Rose explained, “Lykos means wolf and anthropos means man.”

“Very good,” Balladanis replied, “Lycanthropy refers to the disease and those who have it are called lycanthropes.

“Lycanthropes have been shunned by wizarding society for as long as history has told us about them. In recent years, there has been much speculation about whether this is necessary or even a good idea. However, it is difficult to change the minds of the majority when we have been taught to avoid lycanthropes and shun them from wizarding society for so long.

“It has not been for no reason that this general prejudice has came about. When in wolf form, werewolves cannot control their actions and thus attack helpless people. This has long been construed as lycanthropes wanting to attack people, wanting to infect them with the horrible disease.

“This can not be farther from the case when it comes to most werewolves. Most do not wish to attack others. Within the past hundred years, lycanthropes have begun locking themselves up on the full moon in order to avoid attacking others. However, there is one significant drawback to this for the lycanthrope. Does anyone know this?” Balladanis's eyes rested on Matt, but he continued staring down at his empty parchment.

Rose and Linda raised their hands. This time Balladanis called on Linda. “When werewolves don't have anybody to attack, they attack themselves,” Linda said, “They don't have a choice and they often wind up really injured because of it.”

Balladanis took Linda's thought further, but Albus didn't hear what he said because Matt had knocked over Albus's ink. He looked incredibly nervous and Albus was happy that the class was almost over. He quickly cleaned up the ink and tried to pay attention to the rest of the lecture.

“We'll pick up next class with what happens before, during, and after full moons for a person with lycanthropy,” Balladanis announced shortly before the bell rang, “If you have not read the werewolf chapter, please do so for next time. Mr. Eckerton, if you could please come see me.”

Matt looked, if it was possible, even more nervous at this prospect. The rest of the class left and Albus tried to put away his things as slowly as possible, but Balladanis shooed him, along with John, out of the room.

Malfoy was standing outside the classroom when Albus and John left. He had a slight smirk on his face.

“Interesting lesson, Potter,” Malfoy said quietly, “Very interesting indeed.”

“What do you want, Malfoy?” Albus asked, knowing perfectly well what he wanted.

“Oh, nothing. Just a very illuminating lesson. I've learned so much,” Malfoy replied and then sauntered off down the corridor.

“s**t,” John muttered, “He knows.”

“If he doesn't yet, he'll know after next lesson. He's onto it, that's for sure,” Albus said.

“Onto it?” John replied, “That's a nice way of putting it. The whole school's going to know in two days, after the next class.”

“What are we going to do?” Albus groaned, “If we tell him what Malfoy said, he's going to be too scared to do anything. I mean, did you see him during this lesson?”

“Yeah,” John nodded, “We can't tell him. Whatever Malfoy's going to do, he's going to do it whether Matt knows about it or not.”

“I agree,” Albus nodded, “We won't tell.”

“What are you two talking about?” Matt appeared behind them, looking no better than he had before.

“Nothing,” John said, “What did Balladanis want?”

“Told me I didn't have to go to the extra help during this unit unless I wanted to,” Matt told them.

“What are you going to do?” John asked.

“I don't know,” Matt said as they began walking to Herbology, “I know it'll look suspicious if I don't, but I really can't take many more lessons like that. Merlin, Thursday's lesson is going to be awful.”

Albus saw no point in denying that. Matt didn't have a clue as to how awful it would be. They said nothing more about it the whole way to Herbology.

******

Albus had never been so happy about having ridiculously long Quidditch practices as he was Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. He was perfectly happy to spend all his free time on the Quidditch pitch and then be too tired to do much of anything else afterwards.

It was just so difficult for him to keep what Malfoy said away from Matt. He wanted nothing more than to warn his friend about it, even though he knew that would accomplish nothing. All it would do was make Matt worry even more and then act even more anxious during Defense.

Quidditch also kept Albus's mind off of what would happen after Malfoy's suspicions were confirmed. It wouldn't be anything like when Albus found out or even when Kaden found out. No, Malfoy was going to use this to his advantage. Albus was nearly one hundred percent sure Malfoy would announce it to all of Slytherin. Then, word would spread and the entire school would find out. Merlin only knew what would happen when students' parents found out.

Albus knew that werewolf rights had come a long way since Teddy's dad was in school, but he also knew that most people would not be happy if their children were going to school with a werewolf, especially one that did not take Wolfsbane. Not to mention the field day the press would have with it. Matt's dad had just become Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures for Merlin's sake. It would be a repeat of what had happened when Matt and his family had lived in Australia.

Not to mention what it would do to Matt himself. Albus remembered when there had been a slight chance that Malfoy found out about the passage under the Whomping Willow. He had nearly had a panic attack. What would happen if Malfoy found out he was a werewolf?

It did not help that the full moon was that Friday. Matt barely spoke during the brief times that Albus was not occupied on the Quidditch pitch. He sat in the Marauder's Den with everyone else, but he stared off into space or slept.

Yes, Wood's long Quidditch practices took Albus's mind off of all of that, but they did not stop Thursday from arriving and sooner than Albus would have liked he found himself sitting in Balladanis's classroom.

Albus and John exchanged nervous glances as Malfoy walked in with a very smug look on his face. Albus was so focused on Malfoy that he nearly missed the fact that the anamatek's trunk was back in front of Balladanis's desk. Once he noticed it, he poked John in the side.

“What?” John seethed. Albus gestured to the trunk. “Merlin's beard,” John exclaimed, “I don't even want to know what he's going to do with that.”

“Quiet down,” Balladanis said, “We'll continue our werewolf discussion today by talking about what happens to a werewolf when the moon waxes.

“Werewolves, in a similar way to vampires, are somewhat allergic to the moonlight when the moon waxes. For the few nights before the actual full moon, when exposed to moonlight lycanthropes will feel ill. The moonlight gives them headaches and when exposed long enough, causes them to lose consciousness.”

Albus didn't bother writing any of this down, as he knew first hand what happened when a werewolf was exposed to too much moonlight shortly before the full moon. Instead he stole quick glances at Malfoy and Matt. Malfoy was furiously writing down everything Balladanis said and stealing quick glances at Matt himself. Matt was staring down at his parchment and Albus was sure he was trying to ignore everything Balladanis said. He was pale and ill, but Albus wasn't sure if that was because of the lesson or because the full moon was the next day.

“Lycanthropes are often too ill to go about their daily activities the day of the full moon and occasionally the day before as well. Before I describe the actual transformation, I wish to show you what a person with lycanthropy looks like the day of the full moon.”

For a brief second, Albus thought Balladanis was going to call Matt to the front of the room, but then realized that as a professor, Balladanis must have promised Kendrick that he wouldn't do anything like that.

Balladanis pointed his wand at the trunk and a small man stepped out of it. His pallor looked exactly like Matt's and he looked just as ill. In fact, the two of them looked incredibly alike. Both of their faces bore scars and had a sickly look to them.

Balladanis began to speak about what the anamatek looked like, but Albus paid no attention. Instead he looked to Malfoy. Malfoy stared at the anamatek for a minute or so with shock and then he glanced at Matt. Finally, he met Albus's gaze and Albus saw the biggest smirk he had ever seen on the Slytherin's face. That was it. Albus knew it. Malfoy had made the connection.

The remainder of the lesson passed by in a sort of fog for Albus. He and John had exchanged glances and the look on John's face told him he had noticed Malfoy's realization as well. Albus heard Balladanis's lecture, but he didn't process it.

The lesson seemed to drag on and speed by at the same time. Albus wanted it to be over so he could get out of there, but at the same time he did not want to know what was going to happen after.

“Next lesson will focus on Wolfsbane Potion and the effects it has had on werewolf rights,” Balladanis announced at the end of the lesson, “Class dismissed.”

Albus and John looked at each other. Albus didn't know what to do. Should he confront Malfoy? Or should he tell Matt what happened? Matt seemed oblivious to the whole thing.

They silently decided just to leave the classroom and decide what to do after. Rose and Amanda had left with Linda with absolutely no idea what had happened.

Malfoy was waiting for them outside the room and Albus was not sure if this was a good or a bad thing. He had the sudden urge just to hex Malfoy right then and there.

“Another enlightening lesson,” Malfoy smirked, “Oh, Eckerton, feeling a bit ill?”

“None of your business,” Matt muttered. Albus and John both stepped a bit closer to him and Albus clenched his hand around his wand.

“Bet you'll be feeling even worse tomorrow,” Malfoy replied, “It's about that time of the month, isn't it? Tomorrow night?”

That got Matt's attention. His head snapped up and he glared at Malfoy. Then he turned around and looked from Albus to John with the most panicked look on his face Albus had ever seen.

“It's going to be a fun full moon, isn't it?” Malfoy whispered, just loud enough for Matt, Albus and John to hear.

Matt didn't say anything. He shook his head and then ran. He pushed through the crowd, much to the dislike of the students who were trying to get to class, and disappeared in a matter of seconds.

Albus suddenly felt more hatred for Malfoy than ever. Not only had he worked out Matt's secret, but he had used it to scare him. In essence, Malfoy had threatened him with it. That was one of the worst things he could have done.

Ignoring all the other students who were going to class, Albus pulled out his wand and had it against Malfoy's chest in two seconds.

“If you tell anyone,” Albus growled, “I will personally make sure you're so indistinguishable that even your own parents won't recognize you.”

“Is that a threat, Potter?” Malfoy pulled out his own wand.

“You need me to spell it out for you?” Albus asked, “I think we're about to find out just how much better I am at dueling than you are.”

“Rictumsempra!” Malfoy shouted.

“Protego!” Albus shouted at the same time.

“Expelliarmus!” John shouted.

The crowd moved away so that there was a circle of onlookers surrounding the duel. Albus ignored them. It was just him, John, and Malfoy. And Malfoy was outnumbered.

Malfoy deflected John's disarming spell and shot another spell at Albus. It bounced off Albus's shield and hit a nearby portrait. The portrait's occupant shouted in disgust and moved into her neighbor's frame.

Albus concentrated on his shield charm and glared at Malfoy. “Petrificus Totalus!” he shouted through his shield.

Grateful for Balladanis's dueling lessons, Albus watched as his shield held up while the hex shot at Malfoy. Unfortunately, Malfoy dodged it and sent a tickling jinx at John.

This one hit John and he collapsed onto the floor in a fit of giggles. Albus shot another hex at Malfoy and this one collided with his face. Malfoy's nose started bleeding and he rounded on Albus.

“What is going on out here?” Balladanis shouted.

Albus didn't lower his wand and neither did Malfoy, but they didn't fire off anymore hexes either. Albus let his shield down and noticed that the crowd had dispersed. John was still rolling around on the ground.

Balladanis pointed his wand at John and John immediately stopped giggling and stood up.

“Follow me,” Balladanis growled.

All three boys followed Balladanis into his study. Albus looked nervously at John. Of all the professors to catch them dueling, it had to be Balladanis. Of course, the one good thing about this was that Malfoy couldn't announce Matt's lycanthropy to the entire school while Balladanis was lecturing them.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 24 March 2010 6:53:14pm 
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Chapter 28: Old Acquaintances

Albus and John sat as far away as possible from Malfoy in Balladanis's study. Balladanis just stared at them before speaking.

“I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I am in all of you,” Balladanis began, “Especially you, Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy. I am sure I taught you better than this. The two of you especially should know how uncalled for that was. You are well aware of your dueling skills and what sort of responsibility lies with them. I have half a mind to discontinue our training sessions. However, I am willing to hear all sides of this story before laying out any sort of punishment. You may go first, Mr. Malfoy.”

“I was just walking to class and Potter pulled out his wand and attacked me. Then Brickston joined in. I was outnumbered, sir. I had to defend myself,” Malfoy said.

Albus had to try hard not to snort. He and John looked at each other and John rolled his eyes.

“Very well,” Balladanis said, “Mr. Potter, if you please.”

Albus took a deep breath. He was going to tell the story. The whole story. “Malfoy was threatening Matt, sir,” Albus began.

“Mr. Eckerton?” Balladanis asked, “I did not see him anywhere.”

“He left after Malfoy threatened him,” Albus continued, “You see, Malfoy has figured something out about Matt, after listening to your lectures on werewolves.”

Balladanis's eyes widened and he looked at Malfoy. “Is that true, Mr. Malfoy?”

“Yes,” Malfoy muttered, “And I wasn't threatening him. I was asking him about it. I think I have the right to know if I'm in school with a werewolf.”

Malfoy said 'werewolf' with disgust and it made Albus want to hex him once more.

“Mr. Eckerton has the right to keep his medical issues to himself,” Balladanis replied, “His health is none of your business whatsoever. Please continue, Mr. Potter.”

“After Matt left, I wanted to be sure Malfoy wasn't going to go tell the whole school about Matt's lycanthropy,” Albus explained, “And I guess we just wound up dueling.”

“Just wound up dueling?” Malfoy scoffed, “You had your wand on me.”

“You sent the first hex,” Albus muttered.

“Do you have anything to add, Mr. Brickston?” Balladanis asked.

“No,” John replied, “Albus is telling the truth.”

“Very well,” Balladanis replied, “I see this matter goes much further than a duel. All three of you will receive four nights' detention starting tonight at eight. Each of you have lost ten points from your respective houses.

“However, I am taking all three of you to see the headmaster. There are things more important to discuss than detentions,” Balladanis said as he stood up.

Albus knew full well what Balladanis was insinuating. He and John said nothing as they followed Balladanis to Kendrick's study. Malfoy walked a few feet behind them.

Albus hadn't been to Kendrick's study since his first year, when he went to talk to Dumbledore's portrait. The place hadn't changed in the slightest. Everything seemed to be in the exact same place. Both Dumbledore and Snape were awake and in their portraits.

Kendrick was behind his desk writing something when they entered. He looked up curiously at them. Albus, John, and Malfoy stood near the door while Balladanis strode forward.

“We have a problem,” Balladanis said, “These three have been dueling.”

“I trust you to hand out detentions, Tethys,” Kendrick replied, “I am busy at the moment.”

“It's not the dueling,” Balladanis said, “It's what they were dueling about.”

“And what would that be?” Kendrick asked.

“Mr. Malfoy has discovered that Matt Eckerton is a werewolf,” Balladanis answered, “And I believe Mr. Potter and Mr. Brickston have known for quite some time.”

Kendrick dropped his quill and looked up. “I'll take this from here. I believe you have a lesson to teach.”

“I believe I do,” Balladanis replied and left the room.

Kendrick conjured a few chairs and gestured for the three boys to join him at his desk. Albus sat down in the middle chair and waited for Kendrick to begin. He noticed that both Dumbledore and Snape were paying rapt attention.

“Well, well,” Snape said, “Deja vu.”

“Not now, Severus,” Kendrick said, “Mr. Potter, perhaps you can tell me if anyone else knows about Matt's lycanthropy?”

“Er, yes,” Albus replied, “Rose Weasley, Amanda Tagger, and Kaden Dursley.”

“I knew that Dursley kid knew something,” Malfoy muttered.

“Not now, Mr. Malfoy,” Kendrick said, “I'll need to speak with them, as well as Matt. I imagine they're all in class.”

“Sir,” Albus interrupted, “I don't think Matt's in class.”

“You may be right,” Kendrick sighed, “Do you have any idea where he might be?”

“Yes,” Albus answered.

“Very well. Please go find him,” Kendrick said, “And Mr. Brickston, please go find the others.”

Albus nodded and he and John left the study. Albus went straight to the Marauder's Den while John went to the dungeons as Rose and Amanda would be in potions.

Matt was sitting on his bed in the Marauder's Den, staring at the wall and not moving a muscle.

“I suppose Malfoy's told everyone,” Matt said without turning to look at Albus. His voice was hollow.

“No,” Albus replied, “He hasn't had the chance. John and I dueled him after you left. Balladanis gave us all four nights of detention and took points away.”

“He'll tell everyone soon,” Matt replied, “I should probably go pack. You know, I really thought I'd get to finish school. That's not even the worst part. It's going to be all over the Prophet. My dad's going to lose his job again. We'll probably have to move to New York.”

He finally turned around and looked at Albus. He no longer looked anxious. He looked absolutely terrified, yet sad at the same time.

“Why did Balladanis have to be such a good teacher?” Matt groaned and laid back on the bed, “If he had been some sort of awful teacher then maybe Malfoy wouldn't have found out. He's just so thorough! He left nothing out! Even the way he described the transformation. It was so, it was just so, realistic.

“And that stupid anamatek!” Matt sat up and looked at Albus, “That thing looked just like me, only older. No wonder Malfoy found out.”

“You're not going to get kicked out,” Albus assured him.

“How do you know?” Matt shouted, “How do you really know? I know Teddy's dad got to stay after Snape found out, but this is different. That was when Dumbledore was here! Everyone says Dumbledore was barking mad. Kendrick isn't. Kendrick's perfectly sane and he's not going to want to deal with this.”

Albus didn't really know what to say to that. Everything Matt said was true. Kendrick was not Dumbledore. Nobody could compare to Dumbledore.

“Kendrick wants to see you,” Albus said, “He's got Malfoy up in his study. He wants to talk to all of us. Me, John, Rose, Amanda, and Kaden.”

“I don't want to go up there,” Matt said, “I never want to see Malfoy again. I just want to stay here. Merlin, my head is killing me.”

“I think you have to go,” Albus said quietly.

“I know,” Matt groaned and got up off the bed, “This just isn't fair. I hate it. I hate this whole thing. I don't want to be a bloody werewolf anymore.”

“I know,” Albus said, knowing just how miserable Matt was at that moment. Albus had never once heard him complain about being a werewolf. Not when he was too tired to do anything because of the full moon or when he was laid up in the hospital wing for days afterwards.

They walked quietly back to Kendrick's study. Albus muttered the password, that he had overheard Balladanis say, to the gargoyle and they ascended into the study.

Everyone else was already there and they all turned to Albus and Matt when they walked in. Matt froze in place and Albus stopped and looked at him. He was staring directly at Malfoy.

“Take a seat,” Kendrick gestured to the two empty chairs, one of which was next to Malfoy's.

Albus took the seat next to Malfoy's, but didn't look at him. Matt took the other one.

“First, I want to assure you that you do not have to leave Hogwarts,” Kendrick said to Matt, “Nobody else will be finding out about your lycanthropy.”

Matt didn't look reassured by this. Malfoy looked mutinous.

“My father won't agree with that,” Malfoy muttered.

“Your father has no say whatsoever in which students I admit to this school,” Kendrick replied, “He works in the Ministry, and may I point out that his position is not very high.”

“Matt,” Kendrick turned away from Malfoy, “Does anyone else know?” Matt shook his head. “And did you tell the others, besides Mr. Malfoy, willingly?” Kendrick continued. Matt nodded.

“Very well,” Kendrick said, “And how long have they known?”

Matt seemed unable to speak. After a few moments of silence, Kendrick turned to Albus. “How long have you known, Mr. Potter?”

“Two years,” Albus answered.

Kendrick repeated this question with Rose, John, and Amanda, who all gave the same answer as Albus. Then he moved onto Kaden and Albus suddenly remembered the Sileo Altus charm. He shared one horrified glance with Rose and waited for Kaden's reply.

Kaden looked at Kendrick and then turned to Albus. His mouth was agape and he looked a little panicked.

“Are you all right, Mr. Dursley?” Kendrick asked.

“Fine,” Kaden answered, “It's just, well....”

“Professor, Sir,” Rose began, “We sort of put this charm on Kaden, so he wouldn't tell anyone. He can only talk about it with us. He won't be able to say a thing about it around you or Malfoy.”

Albus braced himself for Kendrick's response, but before the headmaster could say a word, Dumbledore chuckled in his frame.

“The Sileo Altus charm,” Dumbledore smiled, “Ingenious. Who performed it?”

“I did,” Rose answered.

“Remarkable,” Dumbledore said, “You must be an incredible witch, Miss Weasley.”

“Too smart for her own good, more like it,” Snape muttered.

“That is indeed quite the amazing feat, Miss Weasley,” Kendrick said, “Can you tell me how long Mr. Dursley has known?”

“About a year,” Rose said.

“Thank you,” Kendrick replied, “Now I have some things to discuss with Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Eckerton in private. The rest of you may go to the Great Hall. I believe there is still a half hour or so left of lunch.”

Albus didn't really want to leave without finding out what was going to happen to Malfoy, but he knew Matt would tell him.

Matt never showed up in the Great Hall for lunch, nor did he go to Ancient Runes or Charms. Albus could not concentrate on either of those classes and was very happy when Charms was over and he was able to leave.

Wood was not very happy that Albus had acquired four detentions. In fact, he was livid. He spent twenty minutes telling Albus how he shouldn't be picking fights with other students so close to the next Quidditch match, especially in front of teachers' classrooms. The lecture had only ended when Albus told him he was late for Charms. Albus had run into Wood in in between Ancient Runes and Charms.

“What do you suppose Balladanis is going to make us do?” John asked as they walked towards the Marauder's Den.

“Haven't a clue,” Albus replied, “But whatever it is, it's going to be bad since we have to do it with Malfoy.”

“True,” John agreed.

Rose, Kaden, and Amanda were with them. Albus wanted to go find Matt before they went to dinner. They had to wait a while for the corridor to clear out before they were actually able to get into the room, though.

Matt was fast asleep on the couch when they entered. “Good thing he doesn't have detention tonight,” John pointed out.

“Yeah,” Albus agreed.

John gently shook Matt's shoulder until he cracked his eyes open. “Wake up,” John said, “Or you'll miss dinner.”

“I'm not hungry,” Matt muttered.

“What's Kendrick doing about Malfoy?” Albus asked as he sat down on the other end of the couch.

“He should put that charm on him,” Kaden announced, “The one you lot put on me.”

“I wish he would,” Matt sighed, “All he did was tell Malfoy how important it was not to mention anything. He said telling his father would do nothing. Then he told him that if he ever did tell anyone, he would face expulsion for revealing another student's medical information. But that's it! I mean, Malfoy did promise he wouldn't say anything, but who really knows? Sure, if he tells, he'll be expelled, but that won't take it back. I'd still have to leave.”

“As much as a git as he is,” Albus began, “I don't think he's going to tell anyone if it meant he'd be expelled. That would be the ultimate shame in the Malfoy family, besides being a Squib or marrying a Muggle or something, getting expelled and not being a fully qualified wizard. Malfoy won't want that.”

“I guess you're right,” Matt sighed, “It's just so strange, knowing that he knows.”

“I know,” Albus said, “Do you want to go eat dinner?”

“No,” Matt shook his head, “You guys go on ahead. I've got to send an owl to my parents, let them know about this.”

Albus nodded. “We'll see you later, then. John and I have got detention tonight.”

“Oh, right. Good luck with that,” Matt replied.

******

Balladanis's detention was a bit anticlimactic. Albus had been expecting him to think up some really creative and taxing detention, but instead he assigned them lines. Lines were possibly the most boring detention ever thought up, but they were preferable to cleaning the bathrooms or something.

“Potter, Malfoy,” Balladanis said after they'd been writing for ten minutes, “Your dueling lesson is canceled for tomorrow night due to your detention. Detention will be at nine, after my extra help session, something I'll expect you to be attending, Brickston.”

Balladanis said nothing more and began grading essays at his desk. He completely ignored the three boys, which Albus didn't really mind. He just wanted to get his lines done and get out of there.

“Where does he go?” Malfoy hissed at Albus.

“What?” Albus whispered.

“You know, on full moons, where does he go?” Malfoy elaborated.

“I'm not telling you that,” Albus muttered.

“My dad said a werewolf used to teach here, and he got fired when everyone found out,” Malfoy drawled.

“He quit,” Albus corrected him, “He wasn't fired. He was the best Defense teacher any of our parents ever had.”

“Quiet!” Balladanis shouted, “I didn't say you could talk.”

Albus was grateful for Balladanis's scolding. Malfoy stopped asking questions and went back to his lines. Albus sighed and went back to his own. How far was Malfoy going to go? Why couldn't he just be satisfied with having worked out Matt's secret?

A half hour into their line writing, when Albus was contemplating switching hands despite the fact that he wrote horribly with his right hand, there was a knock on the door. Albus looked up and saw Professor Kendrick standing in the doorway, along with none other than Matt's dad. Albus set down his quill and turned to John. John had set down his own quill.

“Who's that?” Malfoy asked.

“Shush!” Albus hissed. The last thing they needed was for Balladanis to remember they were there and tell them to get out so he could have whatever conversation he was about to have in private.

“Tethys,” Kendrick said quietly, “This is Walter Eckerton.”

“We've met,” Balladanis muttered.

Albus turned again to John. Matt's dad knew Balladanis? How? Matt had never mentioned that before.

“That's his dad?” Malfoy whispered.

“Shush!” Albus said again.

“I wish to talk to you about what happened earlier today,” Matt's dad said quietly.

“What about it, Eckerton?” Balladanis asked.

“My son told me about your lessons,” Mr. Eckerton said, “How, informative they are.”

“I teach my students what they'll need to know in order to defend themselves,” Balladanis replied.

“I think you go too far with that,” Mr. Eckerton disagreed, “Merlin, showing them exactly what a werewolf looks like before a transformation with an anamatek? Do you realize how dangerous those are?”

“Of course,” Balladanis said, raising his voice a bit, “You're not the only expert on magical creatures. I have perfect control over my anamatek.”

“Nobody has perfect control over an anamatek!” Mr. Eckerton said.

“The headmaster has already told me I'm not allowed to use it anymore, so you really don't need to be lecturing me about this,” Balladanis seethed.

“Oh, it's not only that,” Mr. Eckerton stepped a bit closer to Balladanis, “It's how much you taught the third years about werewolves. The details about their transformations, how to pick one out of the general population, what happens before, during, and after transformations. Your lesson was far more detailed than a third year text book.”

“You'd find that all my lessons are like that,” Balladanis replied, “Text books do not give enough details.”

“I think giving enough details about identifying a lycanthrope so that a third year would be able to work out that someone not even in their same house is one is going too far,” Mr. Eckerton seethed, “You knew about my son. You should have been a bit more cautious with your lesson.”

“Withholding information from an entire class because of one student is not a good method of teaching,” Balladanis countered.

“It is when it could be dangerous for that one student,” Mr. Eckerton said, “Fan of the greatest good for the greatest number, are we?”

“There are times when that is a good philosophy,” Balladanis replied.

“We'll agree to disagree, then,” Mr. Eckerton said, “But if I find that your lessons are putting my son in danger anymore, you may find that the Ministry is inquiring into your teaching practices.”

“I'll teach however I like,” Balladanis muttered.

Mr. Eckerton ignored this and turned to the three boys, none of whom were writing lines any longer. “Is that him?” he asked.

“The one who found out?” Kendrick replied, “Yes.”

Mr. Eckerton strode over to the table Albus, John, and Malfoy were working at. He nodded hello to Albus and John before turning to Malfoy.

“I realize the headmaster has already gone over this with you,” Mr. Eckerton began, “But I feel the need to repeat that there will be consequences if you make public my son's condition.”

Malfoy nodded. “I know,” he muttered.

“Good,” Mr. Eckerton replied and returned to where Kendrick was standing. He turned once again to Balladanis. “I'll be returning to the castle tomorrow to search your study and classroom for the anamatek. If it is still here, I will take it into custody.”

Balladanis muttered something under his breath as Matt's dad left the room with Professor Kendrick. Albus exchanged a glance with John. He wanted nothing more than to leave, so he could talk about what had just happened.

“That's enough for tonight,” Balladanis barked, “Get out. Be back here tomorrow night at nine.”

Albus nearly spilled his ink in his haste to get up. He ran out of the room as fast as he could with John following. Malfoy made no move to try and talk to them again, so they headed straight to the Marauder's Den.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 31 March 2010 8:59:35pm 
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Chapter 29: Increasing Tension

Albus and John burst into the Marauder's Den a little while later to find that Matt and Kaden were the only ones there. Matt's face was covered in ash and Kaden was grinning. They were in the middle of a game of Exploding Snap.

“And that makes four wins for me and none for you,” Kaden announced as he collected the cards, “Oh, Albus, John! How was your detention? Want to play?”

“Not now,” Albus said hurriedly as he sat down next to Matt, “Matt, did you know your dad was just here?”

“Yeah,” Matt nodded, “When he got my owl, he wanted to go talk to Kendrick. I went with him.”

“Well, do you know where he went after?” John asked.

“Home, I guess,” Matt shrugged, “Why?”

“He and Kendrick turned up in our detention,” John said.

“He what?” Matt replied.

“Yeah, it was really odd,” Albus said, “He came in with Kendrick and Kendrick introduced him to Balladanis. Only Balladanis said 'we've met'. You never told us your dad knew Balladanis.”

“I never knew,” Matt shrugged, “Then what happened?”

“Your dad was really angry,” Albus continued, “He thinks Balladanis taught us too much about how to figure out if someone's a werewolf and that's why Malfoy found out. Then he told him how dangerous it was for him to use that anamatek in class-”

“Oh, yeah,” Matt said, “I told my dad about the anamatek and that's one of the reasons he came here, to tell Kendrick about it. Kendrick's making him get rid of it.”

“Yeah, that's what your dad said,” Albus replied, “He's coming back to inspect Balladanis's room tomorrow to make sure he got rid of it. He also said that if any of Balladanis's teaching puts you in danger again, the Ministry's going to investigate him.”

“It's really not a good idea to get on my dad's bad side,” Matt said, “What did Balladanis do during this?”

“He kept saying that he was going to teach however he wanted,” Albus explained, “Honestly, he did not look happy that your dad was there. I think something happened between the two of them.”

“But what?” Matt asked, “Dad's never mentioned him before.”

“Think he'd tell you if you asked?” John wondered.

“Probably,” Matt said, “I'll owl him about it.”

“Oh, and then your dad told Malfoy he'd better not tell anyone you're a werewolf,” John said, “He looked pretty scary, too. I don't think Malfoy's going to tell anyone.”

******

It did not take very long for word to spread that Balladanis had gotten in trouble for having an anamatek. Galleons exchanged hands the next morning at breakfast, as a few older students had bet on how long he would have it. Somehow everyone knew that Matt's dad had showed up at Hogwarts the previous night and informed Kendrick about it.

Kaden had Defense that morning and reported to Albus at lunch that Balladanis was even stricter than usual and seemed incredibly angry. That did not bode well for Albus's detention that evening.

“He's downright scary,” Kaden said as he piled steak and kidney pie onto his plate, “Yelled at one of the Ravenclaws in my class for spilling her ink. She was nearly in tears. But I'd hate to be in your class, Albus, he's going to be brutal. I mean, it's pretty much because of Matt that he got in trouble.”

Matt had gone up to the Marauder's Den after they got out of Herbology since he felt ill and wasn't in lunch. Albus knew that Kaden was right. Balladanis was going to take this out on Matt, and possibly Malfoy as well.

“I don't know why he cares so much,” John shrugged, “I mean, the Ministry could have just taken that thing away. He's lucky he just had to take it back to his house or whatever.”

“I don't think he likes the government,” Albus said, “That's the feeling I got after listening to him talk about what he did before teaching here. I think that's why he did that, instead of becoming an Auror.”

“Well, I think it's a good idea for the Ministry to make him take that thing home,” John said.

“Me, too,” Albus agreed, “I mean, he could've turned it into a manticore next.”

Kaden went to class after lunch while Albus and John went up to the Marauder's Den with Rose and Amanda.

“Think he's owled his dad yet?” John asked as he gestured to Matt, who was asleep in his bed.

“Doubt it,” Albus said, “He's probably been asleep since he got up here.”

“Merlin, I just want to know what happened between his dad and Balladanis,” John groaned.

“You're so impatient,” Rose commented, “Just let him sleep.”

“I wasn't going to wake him up,” John muttered.

The remainder of the afternoon passed by quickly. Albus was dreading his detention later and John complained loudly about how he had to go to the extra help session about werewolves when he already knew so much about them.

Albus woke Matt up shortly before dinner and he looked much worse than he usually did the day of full moons. They all escorted him to the hospital wing, where Madam Pomfrey rushed him into bed.

Just as they were about to leave the hospital wing, the doors opened and in walked Matt's dad. Albus assumed he was there to check if Balladanis had gotten rid of his anamatek.

John nudged Albus. “We should ask him about Balladanis,” John whispered.

“He's not going to tell us now,” Albus muttered back, “Look at him.”

Mr. Eckerton looked tired out and incredibly worried. He nodded to Albus and the others before rushing over to Matt's bed and talking to Madam Pomfrey in hushed whispers.

As it turned out, Albus had been worrying about the detention for nothing. He entered the room before Malfoy and John was already doing his lines. Balladanis said absolutely nothing to Albus as he handed him parchment. Malfoy arrived a little while later and still Balladanis said nothing.

Malfoy did not talk either. He did not ask anything about Matt and didn't even comment that the full moon was that night.

Balladanis let them leave at half past ten. Albus and John found Kaden in the Marauder's Den and spent the remaining time left until Astronomy playing Exploding Snap and Wizard's Chess.

“Why, why do we have to have this class with the Slytherins?” John groaned as they made their way to the Astronomy Tower, “If Malfoy doesn't make a single comment about the full moon, I'll eat an entire cauldron.”

“I'm going to hold you to that,” Albus laughed, “But I don't think you'll have to.”

Malfoy went so far as to actually set his telescope up next to Albus's. Professor Polo spent ten minutes telling them that they were to plot the position of Mars, Venus, the moon, and a handful of stars before turning them lose to actually do so.

“The moon is so bright,” Malfoy whispered, “And big and...full....”

Albus looked at John. “Looks like I won't be eating my cauldron tonight,” John muttered.

“Just shut it, Malfoy,” Albus said.

“Isn't his dad the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures? Yeah, he must be, because he's the one who made Balladanis get rid of the anamatek. Can't say I'm really upset about that,” Malfoy said quietly, “But how ironic.”

“Just stop talking about it,” Albus muttered.

“Oh, come on, Potter. Even you have to appreciate the irony,” Malfoy said.

“Will you just shut up,” Albus seethed.

“Quiet over there,” Polo said.

Malfoy smirked at Albus one more time before going back to his telescope. The rest of the lesson passed without anymore commentary from Malfoy and Albus was quite happy when he was able to return to his dormitory.

******

“It's like back in first year,” Albus sighed, “Remember when Madam Pomfrey locked the hospital wing?”

“That's why this is bad!” Rose said.

“Well, she didn't lock us out this time,” John pointed out.

“She didn't exactly let us in either,” Kaden said.

Albus and his friends had slept late on Saturday morning and after grabbing a quick bite to eat, had gone to visit Matt in the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey hadn't let them in. They were currently in the Marauder's Den, trying to figure out why.

“She always lets us in,” John groaned.

“He obviously had a really bad night,” Albus said quietly.

“Yeah, but why?” Rose wondered.

“Haven't you noticed that the full moons have been worse the past few months?” Albus asked, “He's been taking longer to recover.”

“I wish he'd just let us become Animagi,” John muttered.

“John, I honestly don't think you could become an Animagus,” Rose replied, “You'd wind up with a permanent tail affixed to your arse.”

“That wouldn't be that bad,” John grinned, “Always thought it would be cool to have a tail.”

“You're not helping,” Albus sighed, “What are we going to do?”

“I think all we can do is just keep going back to the hospital wing,” John shrugged, “Until Madam Pomfrey lets us in.”

Their efforts proved fruitless, though. They went to the hospital wing twice that afternoon and then right before Albus and John had to go to detention. Madam Pomfrey told them 'no' each time.

Sunday, the last day of Albus and John's detention, was the same. Madam Pomfrey was quite livid when they showed up for the third time that day.

“Nothing's changed!” she shouted, “Come back tomorrow evening! I'll give the lot of you detention if you come back any earlier than that!”

With that, she strode back into the ward and slammed the door. “Can she even give detention?” Kaden asked.

“I dunno,” Albus shrugged, “I wouldn't put it past her.”

Albus and John broke away from the group to complete their last detention. Balladanis gave them lines, just like he had the past three nights. Albus sat quietly completing them, very grateful for the fact that Malfoy hadn't said two words to him since Astronomy.

“You may stop,” Balladanis said quietly after they'd been writing for about an hour and a half.

Albus threw his quill down and leaned back in his chair. Finally, it was over.

“I hope you learned something,” Balladanis said, which shocked Albus. He had been expecting Balladanis to continue his silence. “If I catch any of you dueling in the corridors again, the consequences will be much more severe than detention and lost points.

“Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy, I have given great thought to whether I should continue giving you extra lessons. I have decided to give you one more chance. Lessons will continue this Friday at their normal time. However, if either of you disregard my rules again, I will no longer hold them. You may go. I'll see all three of you in class on Tuesday.”

“Merlin, I'm glad that's over,” John muttered to Albus once they were on their way to Gryffindor Tower.

“Me too,” Albus agreed, “He's going to be awful in class, though.”

“Yeah, can't say I'm looking forward to that,” John said.

Albus couldn't concentrate at all in his classes the next day. All he wanted to do was go to the hospital wing and find out how Matt was, but Madam Pomfrey insisted that they wait until evening.

Rose and Amanda ate dinner with Linda, but they met Albus, John, and Kaden near the hospital wing afterwards. They had all eaten a very rushed dinner due to Albus's Quidditch practice at seven.

Albus cautiously opened the door to the hospital wing, half expecting Madam Pomfrey to yell at them again. He walked quietly inside, followed the the others. Madam Pomfrey was sitting at her desk and she visibly sighed when she noticed them.

“Go ahead,” she gestured to the only occupied bed, which had the curtains pulled around it.

Albus rushed over to the bed and yanked the curtains back. Matt looked exhausted and there was a rather large bandage wrapped around his head.

“I was wondering when you'd come visit me,” Matt gave them a half smile.

“We've been trying!” John said, “Madam Pomfrey hasn't let us!”

“I know,” Matt smirked, “I've heard her yell at you. It's kind of amusing.”

“Well, we're here now,” Albus said, “How are you? Why didn't Madam Pomfrey let us come visit?”

“Because I didn't wake up until yesterday afternoon,” Matt answered.

“But that was-” John began.

“Nearly two days later?” Matt cut him off, “I know.”

“But why?” Rose asked.

“A bunch of things, really,” Matt sighed, “First, I was worried about Malfoy telling everyone and it's always worse when I'm worried about something. Second, I hit my head really hard at some point that night. It still hurts. Third, the transformations in general are getting worse, because I'm getting older.”

That thought certainly hadn't crossed Albus's mind. Albus and all his friends were obviously getting older and that brought plenty of changes, but he hadn't even thought about how the wolf would change when Matt got older.

“So, are all of the full moons going to be this bad now?” Kaden asked.

“No,” Matt shook his head and then winced, “I mean, I don't really know what'll happen in the future, but this one was just a combination of bad things.”

“That's good, I guess,” Albus shrugged, “When do you get to leave?”

“Tomorrow night at the earliest,” Matt sighed, “Although that means I'll miss Defense.”

“Wish I could miss Defense,” John muttered, “Speaking of Defense, did you owl your dad yet?”

“John, he just woke up yesterday,” Rose pointed out.

“I didn't owl him,” Matt said, “But he came to see me earlier and I asked him.”

“Brilliant,” John grinned, “And?”

“And,” Matt said, “He told me all about it. He told me Balladanis was a Presuler and was really surprised that I already knew.

“Apparently, back when my dad had just been appointed Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures in Australia, he hired Balladanis to catch a band of vampires who were attacking Muggles on the outback. Balladanis caught them, but he thought Dad went too easy on them.”

“What did he do to them?” John asked.

“Sent them to prison. I think they got 20 years. Balladanis thought they should have gotten life sentences. Dad and Balladanis got into this huge argument at the Ministry about it and Balladanis stormed out. The Australian Ministry didn't hire him after that,” Matt explained, “Although, I'll bet Balladanis and Lubar would agree on punishments. I wonder if he's hired Balladanis.”

“That explains a lot,” Albus said, “Did your dad say anything else about him?”

“No, not really,” Matt replied, “Just that he's got a lot of issues. Oh, and he wanted me to warn you not to listen to everything Balladanis says during those dueling lessons you've got.”

“I'm not going to,” Albus assured him, “I think we've all seen a different side of Balladanis during the past week.”

******

Tuesday morning dawned quickly and Albus trudged to Defense with John. Neither of them really knew what class would be like, but judging from what he heard about recent Defense classes in the common room, it wouldn't be fun.

Malfoy was back to his smug self now that detention was over. He sat next to Goyle wearing a smirk on his face. Albus ignored him and went to his usual table.

Balladanis stormed into the room a few minutes later. He waved his wand at the door and it slammed shut with a bang loud enough that it caused the Jordan-Bell twins, who had been sitting closest to it, to jump.

“Pass your homework questions forward,” he growled.

Albus handed his homework to the table in front of him and waited for Balladanis to collect it. He paused in front of the table in front of Albus's.

“Potter,” he began, “You can tell Eckerton that his homework is late and therefore I will not accept it. If he wished to get credit for it, he could have graced us with his presence.”

Malfoy snorted at this, earning him glares from both Albus and Balladanis. Balaldanis tossed the homework unceremoniously onto his desk and then turned back to his students.

“Wolfsbane potion,” he barked, “Was created by a man by the name of Oliver Belby. He finished the creation in 1991. For most werewolves, the potion was a lifesaver. Who can explain what it does?”

Nobody, not even Rose and Linda, raised their hands. Albus stared down at his desk, hoping that Balladanis wouldn't call on him.

“Nobody?” he said, “Pity. Wolfsbane potion renders a werewolf harmless during full moons. The lycanthrope turns into a wolf, but a harmless one. One that will just sleep until the moon sets and will not have the urge to bite and kill.

“The potion is a lifesaver to those plagued with lycanthropy. I had been hoping to show you what a werewolf would look like on Wolfsbane potion, but my anamatek has been banned from the castle,” Balladanis said with malice, “Therefore you will have to go without the visual. It seems that certain parents, Ministry officials, and the headmaster do not approve of my methods of teaching. Unfortunately, it is all of you who are suffering for it.”

“I wouldn't call it suffering,” John muttered.

“Quiet, Brickston!” Balladanis shouted, “Unless you have something to contribute to the class.”

“No, sir,” John replied.

“Good,” Balladanis muttered, “Anyway, the anamatek will not be making anymore appearances in this classroom and your education is going to suffer for it. Nothing, and I repeat nothing can replace hands on training.”

Albus usually agreed with that, but he drew the line at having what was in essence a live manticore in front of him. There were some times when reading sufficed.

The lesson continued with Balladanis talking about Wolfsbane. He spoke about how the potion doesn't work for all werewolves and Albus found his mind drifting. All in all, the lesson hadn't been as bad as he'd been expecting. Besides his brief rant about his anamatek being banned from the castle, he had been pretty normal. Normal for Balladanis, that is.

“Next lesson will be the last on werewolves,” Balladanis announced at the end of class, “We will learn about lycanthropy's effect on children.”

Albus groaned inwardly. Matt would be out of the hospital wing by then. Why couldn't Balladanis just finish the werewolf unit already?

“He won't be back next year,” John muttered as they walked to Herbology.

“I don't doubt that,” Albus replied, “I just wonder who we're going to get instead.”


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PostPosted: Wednesday 7 April 2010 8:30:23pm 
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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.

HOGWARTS PROFESSOR TO BE INVESTIGATED BY MINISTRY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Merlin, when will they learn that I don't want to talk about it!” Matt groaned as they made their way back to the castle after Herbology. Two Ravenclaw second years had just run up to Matt, demanding to know why his dad wanted to get Balladanis sacked. Apparently they actually liked him.

“You should just stand up on the Gryffindor table and make an announcement during lunch,” John suggested.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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PostPosted: Wednesday 21 April 2010 5:49:48pm 
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In the insanity that was last week, I completely forgot to update here. I updated HPFF, but not BaO. Sorry! So you'll get a double update today

Chapter 31: Balladanis's Fate

There was another Prefect standing next to the gargoyle that concealed the entrance to Kendrick's study. It was apparently his job to mutter the password to the gargoyle to allow all the students being interviewed in. He looked incredibly bored.

Albus and Matt ascended into the study and found three other students waiting in front of Kendrick's closed door. A very bored looking Hufflepuff, who was probably in sixth or seventh year, Scorpius Malfoy, and much to Albus's dismay, one of those Ravenclaws they had encountered on the grounds earlier.

Albus was not at all surprised to see Scorpius Malfoy there. After all, he had private lessons with Balladanis as well. However, he chose to ignore Malfoy's presence and leaned against the wall to begin the long wait.

What had been the point in sending them all to Kendrick's study at the same time? They were obviously only interviewing one person at a time. Why couldn't they have just summoned Albus later, when there were less people waiting?

Kendrick's door opened and a pale-faced Gryffindor first year walked out. She hurried out of the study and one of the Ministry officials motioned for the Ravenclaw to enter.

The Ravenclaw was in Kendrick's study for about fifteen minutes. Then it was Malfoy's turn. He took a bit more time, but finally came out and left without so much as a glance towards Albus and Matt.

In the mean time, two more students had entered. One Albus recognized as Peyton Haines, one of the Chasers from the Slytherin Quidditch team. The other was a young Hufflepuff Albus didn't recognize.

Finally, after what must have been at least an hour, Albus was finally called into the room.

Kendrick was not in his study. Only the three investigators were. Albus was now able to see them up close. The one who had called him into the room was quite tall and wore a menacing glare. Her robes were perfectly pressed, without a single wrinkle, and her hair was pulled into a tight bun. She reminded Albus of Minerva McGonagall.

The other witch was the complete opposite. She was short and quite a bit overweight. Her frizzy brown hair stuck up at all sorts of odd angles and she had a small pair of glasses perched on her nose.

The remaining investigator was a wizard and he was seated behind Kendrick's desk, a quill in hand. He looked a bit bored by the entire thing. He was gazing about the room and had the look of someone who wasn't quite paying attention.

Two people who were paying rapt attention, or should he say portraits, were Dumbledore and Snape. Both were sitting straight up and looking straight at the investigators.

The tall witch gestured for Albus to take a seat in front of the desk. Albus did so.

“My name is Katherine Torenzo and this is Lorraine Smyth,” the tall witch gestured to the short witch, “And that is Herb Cletus. He'll be transcribing our interview.”

No wonder he was so bored, Albus thought. He didn't even get to ask any of the questions.

“Please state your full name, age, year, and house for the record,” Torenzo said briskly.

Albus raised his eyebrows. Wouldn't they already know all of that information?

“It's protocol, dear,” Smyth told him.

“Albus Severus Potter, thirteen, third year, Gryffindor,” Albus answered.

“Excellent,” Torenzo replied, “Now, perhaps you can tell us what goes on in an average lesson with Professor Balladanis, in your own words.”

“Er, all right,” Albus said, “Well, he comes in and tells us all to stop talking. Then he'll collect the homework. Oh, and you have to get the homework in on time, no matter what. He doesn't take late work, even if you've got a good excuse. You could be sick in the hospital wing and he wouldn't take late homework.

“Then he'll teach us a new spell or about some new creature. Then we'll have to perform the spell.”

“What happens if you don't perform it properly?” Smyth asked.

“He makes you do it again, and again, until you get it,” Albus answered, “If you don't get it, he makes you go to extra help sessions.”

“Has this caused distress to any of the students in your class?” Smyth asked.

“Not in my class, but I've heard of other students crying because of it,” Albus answered.

“Have you attended any extra help sessions?” Torenzo asked.

“No,” Albus shook his head, “Professor Balladanis has never told me I had to.”

“I understand you have been given dueling lessons by him, however,” Torenzo said, “Can you tell us a bit about them? What do they consist of?”

“Most times he just teaches me new spells, spells that are harder than the ones we learn in class. Scorpius Malfoy is there, too, and we duel each other with the spells,” Albus explained.

“You said 'most' times,” Smyth said, “What else does he have you do?”

“Er,” Albus shifted uncomfortably in his chair, “One time he had us go into his pensieve.”

“Did he,” Torenzo muttered, “Please elaborate.”

“We watched his parents be murdered by vampires,” Albus said after a brief hesitation. He doubted Balladanis would be happy about this, but Kendrick had said to be truthful.

Both Torenzo and Smyth looked horrified. Cletus was writing away furiously on the parchment. Snape was smirking and Dumbledore's face had seemed to harden.

“We didn't actually see it,” Albus said quickly, “We stood outside the house as it happened. Balladanis's parents were in the house. Then we watched Balladanis, in the memory, run away from the house. He was thirteen.”

“And then what?” Torenzo prodded.

“We left the pensieve. Balladanis explained what we had seen-”

“He didn't tell you ahead of time?” Smyth asked.

“No,” Albus shook his head, “He just told us to go in the pensieve.”

“Did he explain why he wanted you to see this?” Torenzo asked.

“Yeah. He wanted to show us why he became a Presuler,” Albus said.

“He told you he's a Presuler?” Torenzo raised her eyebrow.

“Yes, he thinks me and Malfoy should become Presulers,” Albus explained.

“Very well,” Torenzo said as she walked towards Albus, “I have one final question. Would you feel comfortable if Professor Balladanis continued to teach here?”

Albus thought about it for a moment. Balladanis was certainly a motivated teacher and one Albus could learn a lot from. But on the other hand, he wasn't the kind of wizard Albus felt comfortable around.

“No,” Albus said quietly, “I guess not.”

Torenzo nodded. “Please return to your common room. You are not to speak of this interview to anyone until after the investigation is completed.”

Albus got up from the chair and Torenzo followed him out of the room. She called Matt in as Albus left. Albus muttered a quiet 'good luck' to him before descending from the room.

******

“Why can't you just tell us?” John lamented as the boys sat around the Marauder's Den after dinner. Rose and Amanda were currently in the girls' dormitory with Linda, who had recently been interviewed.

“I've told you a million times,” Albus said, “The Ministry witches said we couldn't talk about the interview.”

“But how would they know?” John asked, “It's not like I'm going to go telling the whole school about it.”

“Neither will I,” Kaden added.

Albus snorted. “I'll tell you about it after Balladanis is sacked, or isn't sacked. I don't think it's going to take long for them to decide.”

“He's going to be sacked,” Matt said adamantly and then turned to John, “You're not going to his extra help session tonight, are you?”

“Not if I was paid twenty Galleons,” John replied, “Well, ok, maybe if I was paid twenty Galleons, but not for less than ten. What about you, Albus? Going to go to your dueling lesson?”

Albus shrugged. He still hadn't decided. What he really wanted to know was whether Malfoy was going, but he couldn't very well waltz down to the dungeons, barge into the Slytherin common room, and ask.

“No idea,” Albus sighed.

“Don't go,” Matt said, “If you go, I'm going to start worrying about your sanity.”

“Why would you want to go?” John gave Albus a strange look.

“I might find out something about how the investigation is going, or something,” Albus muttered.

John opened his mouth to reply, but instead turned to the door. A loud squawking noise had seemed to emit from it.

“Did you hear that?” John asked.

Albus nodded and got up from his seat. He walked over to the door and paused next to it. The squawking noise was repeated.

One thing Albus loved about the Marauder's Den was that it was always very quiet. No noises could be heard from the corridor while he was inside. Albus rarely ever heard noises from the corridor, let alone squawking noises.

Albus cautiously opened the door and instead of the bizarre bird he had expected to see, Rose was standing there with her wand out.

“Finally!” she groaned, “I thought you'd never come to the door.”

“Rose?” Albus asked, “What is it? Was that squawking you?”

“Yes,” Rose said hurriedly, “I had to get you to come out of there. Uncle Harry's looking for you. He's waiting in the common room. I told him I'd find you.”

Albus turned around and told Matt, John, and Kaden, all of whom had followed him out of the room, that he would be back soon. He had no idea what his dad wanted, but it must have been important for him to go to the castle on a day he didn't have to patrol it.

Harry was sitting in one of the squashy armchairs in front of the fire when Albus arrived. Georgia and Fred were both talking with him, most likely about Quidditch judging by their excessive use of hand gestures, but stopped abruptly when Albus entered. Harry got up and met Albus near the portrait hole.

“Let's talk outside,” Harry said. Albus followed him out of the portrait hole and down the corridor a little ways.

“What were you up to just now?” Harry asked, grinning a bit.

“Nothing,” Albus shrugged truthfully.

“Well, I'm no longer a teacher here, so I won't say a word about you causing trouble, if that's what you were doing,” Harry told him, “But anyway, what I wanted to ask you is whether you were planning on going to Professor Balladanis's dueling lesson tonight?”

That seemed to be the question of the evening, Albus thought. “I dunno,” Albus shrugged.

“I realize that the decision is completely up to you,” Harry said quietly, “But I would advise you not to go. Professor Balladanis is under a considerable amount of stress, of which you don't know the half of. I'd say the chances are high that he may take out this stress on you and Scorpius.”

“Do you know if Malfoy's going?” Albus asked.

“I really have no idea,” Harry answered, “But I tend to believe he won't.”

“I don't think I will either,” Albus said.

“A wise decision,” Harry smiled.

Harry said good night to Albus and then Albus went back to the Marauder's Den. Kaden was in the middle of showing Matt and John how to make a proper paper airplane.

“What did your dad want?” John asked without looking up from the parchment he was folding.

“To tell me it wasn't a good idea to go to Balladanis's lesson tonight,” Albus said as he flopped down onto the empty couch.

“And?” Matt asked.

“I'm not going,” Albus answered.

“Good,” Matt replied.

“You know what was weird, though?” Albus began, “My dad said Balladanis was under a lot of stress, most of which I don't know about. So I'm guessing it's not only the investigation.”

“Weird,” Kaden shook his head, “I'll be happy when he's sacked.”

“We don't know for sure that he'll be sacked,” Albus pointed out, “I just wish I knew what else he was stressed about.”

“Maybe he's got to battle a beautiful woman,” John smirked, “Remember his boggart?”

“His boggart!” Albus shouted, “I can't believe I didn't put that together sooner. It wasn't a beautiful woman; it was a vampire. It's so obvious now that we know what happened to his parents, too.”

“Yeah, that does seem fairly obvious,” Matt agreed, “But what's that got to do with his stress?”

“Probably nothing,” Albus shrugged, “I just realized it.”

“You know,” John began, “This is the first Friday we've had to ourselves.”

“You're right,” Albus said, “What should we do?”

“Let's go down to the kitchens,” Kaden said.

“And spend the night here,” Matt added, “We hardly ever do that.”

They did just that. The boys snuck down to the kitchens and were given as many sweets and puddings as they could carry by the house elves. Then they stayed up late eating all of it and playing various games. Albus was even able to forget about Balladanis for a while, something that had not happened in quite a while.

******

The Ministry officials remained a permanent fixture at Hogwarts throughout the remainder of the weekend. Albus overheard a lot of students mentioning that they'd been interviewed, including John's cousin Isabelle, one of the Chasers on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, and Gabriella.

Professor Balladanis did not show up at a single meal. In fact, he wasn't seen at all throughout the weekend. Nobody saw him, which raised the question of whether he was even still in the castle.

Albus was hoping he ran for it. Got out before the Ministry had a chance to make their decision. Albus was more than a little nervous about going to Defense on Tuesday and hearing what Balladanis had to say about Albus's absence from their dueling lesson.

It was on Monday morning that all the Hogwarts students knew a verdict had been reached. Professor Kendrick rose partway through the meal, something that only happened when something important happened. He was flanked by the two witches from the Ministry. The wizard was no longer there.

The Hall immediately quieted, without Kendrick even having to ask. Albus was slightly taken aback by Kendrick's impending announcement, since there had not been a single mention of Balladanis in that morning's Prophet.

“A decision has been reached about Professor Balladanis,” Kendrick announced, “Madam Torenzo will inform you of it. The Prophet has kindly agreed not to publish the article about it just yet, as I wished to inform you of it first.”

“He's sacked,” John muttered, “Otherwise he'd be at breakfast.”

“Good point,” Albus said.

Torenzo stood up and gazed out at the students with a neutral look on her face. “Upon extensive investigation of Professor Balladanis's teaching methods and thorough interviews of selected students, the Ministry has seen it fit to remove him from his teaching position here at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Professor Balladanis packed his things late last night and no longer resides in the castle. Professor Kendrick will inform you about what will happen with Defense classes for the remainder of the year. I would like to thank all of you for your cooperation during this time.”

Torenzo sat back down and continued eating her breakfast like nothing had happened. The Great Hall immediately erupted into whispers, but they were quickly stopped by Kendrick.

“Defense Against the Dark Arts classes will not take place until further notice. I will try and procure a suitable replacement for Professor Balladanis as quickly as possible. Until then, please use the time to study for your upcoming exams,” Kendrick said and then resumed his seat. He began to talk with Torenzo and the students voices rose in the Hall.

“I knew it!” Matt exclaimed, “Best news I've heard this month!”

“Yes!” Georgia shouted and then turned to Fred, “Pay up!”

“Merlin!” James groaned, “Why'd they have to do that investigation so quickly?”

Money began to exchange hands throughout the Gryffindor table as Fred collected and handed out Galleons.

“Do you think Kendrick'll find a replacement?” John asked.

“Dunno,” Albus shrugged, “No one really wanted that job to begin with.”

“Glad I didn't do that werewolf essay,” John grinned.

“Maybe Kendrick won't find a replacement,” Kaden said, “Then we'd have one less exam.”

“That would be brilliant,” John replied.

The atmosphere in the castle for the rest of the day was incredibly upbeat. Hardly anyone seemed at all sad that Balladanis had left. Quite a few students asked Matt to thank his dad for them. It seemed that the only students upset by it were those who had lost bets because of it.

Argus Filch was another who was unhappy. The general excitement of the castle caused him more work. Peeves destroyed the Defense classroom in celebration (Balladanis never liked Peeves), James and his friends set off a few Weasley fireworks, and then there was the general mess that was associated with students celebrating by playing outside in the muddy grass. Plus, Moaning Myrtle flooded her bathroom when a few students told her that even she ought to be excited about it. Apparently she did not agree. For some odd reason it reminded her of her death.

One person who seemed incredibly excited was Linda. Linda who rarely showed any emotion whatsoever walked around the castle with a big smile on her face. Albus could only attribute this to the fact that Balladanis had taught so extensively about vampires. But he never taunted her the way he'd taunted Matt. Perhaps that was because his biggest fear was vampires.

There was even a party in the Gryffindor common room that night. Rose thought it was a little ridiculous, to celebrate the sacking of a teacher, but everyone else, including Linda, thought it was an excellent thing to celebrate.

“Just think,” John said, “We don't ever have to listen to him go on and on about how bad the dark arts are. I mean, we all know they're bad. We all know about Voldemort and what he did.”

“And that bloody anamatek,” Matt added, “I could've gone my whole life without seeing one of those.”

“What do you think he's doing now?” Rose mused.

“Maybe some Ministry hired him,” Albus said quietly, “I hope it's some place far, like Madagascar or somewhere.”

“Yeah,” Matt agreed, “I bet he's not even in Britain anymore.”

“I don't see why he'd bother to stick around,” Albus replied, “I mean, he snuck out in the night to avoid anyone seeing him.”

“Wish we could've seen him leave,” John grinned mischievously, “Would've been nice to give him a proper send off.”

“I'm just glad it's over,” Rose muttered, “Maybe now you lot can concentrate on exams. And maybe the castle will get back to normal.”

“Normal?” Albus raised his eyebrows, “This place will never be normal. Plus, we've got Quidditch on Saturday. It's the last match before the final.”

“When's the final?” Rose asked.

“Beginning of June, I think,” Albus answered, “Australia's already so far ahead that they'll be in it.”

Albus, John, Matt, and Kaden all sent scathing looks at Linda, who looked down at the table.

“But if we beat New York in this match,” Albus continued, “We'll be in it, too. So Wood is in full form this week. I'm practicing every night starting tomorrow.”

“Oliver Wood is insane,” Rose muttered.

“Insane, but brilliant on the Quidditch pitch,” John grinned, “I would love to get yelled at by him during a Quidditch practice.”

“Excellent,” Albus said, “You can take my place.”


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PostPosted: Wednesday 21 April 2010 5:50:29pm 
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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
Education.

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
fill it.

Harry Potter left the position this past autumn and it was filled
by Balladanis.

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.

AZKABAN BREAKOUT

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.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 5 May 2010 5:04:55pm 
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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.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 5 May 2010 5:05:46pm 
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Chapter 34: Arguing

“Spectacular save by Georgia Weasley!” the commentator shouted.

Harry grinned as his niece threw the Quaffle back into play. It was immediately taken into possession by Hogwarts, and all three Chasers threw it back and forth as they flew to the Australian end of the pitch.

“Score! Hogwarts has scored against Australia, bringing the total to 50-20 Hogwarts!”

Harry stood up and shouted as loud as the students. One thing he loved about the Quidditch tournament was that he didn't have to try and conceal his excitement when Hogwarts scored. During house matches, he had to try and pretend he was neutral, even though he obviously supported Gryffindor.

As happy as Harry was about the Hogwarts Chasers being very skilled, he did not have hope that Hogwarts would actually win. Australia's Seeker, Linda Morales, was the best Seeker Harry had ever seen outside of professional Quidditch. He knew that his son, James, was good, but he wasn't delusional. Linda was brilliant.

There was something odd about her, though, and Harry couldn't put his finger on it. Her speed on a broom just didn't seem natural. Professional Quidditch players would kill for her speed.

“I'm surprised she hasn't found the Snitch yet,” Neville muttered to Harry.

“Yeah,” Harry nodded as he watched Linda slowly circling above the pitch. James was doing the same, “It'll be soon, though.”

Harry turned his gaze to the rest of the staff who were sitting around him. Most of them were quite reserved. Nobody seemed to be showing the enthusiasm Harry was. He didn't care. Harry didn't share their belief that teachers couldn't get overly excited about Quidditch.

A few professors stood up and then sat back down again as someone squeezed their way past them. Harry craned his head and was surprised to see Walter Eckerton.

Harry didn't know the man well. They'd met on occasion at the Ministry, although Harry had a feeling he'd be seeing more of him now that he was Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.

What Harry mostly knew about Walter Eckerton was more on a personal than professional level. Harry had never met a father who was more protective of his son than Walter Eckerton, although he did have good reason. Never a more devoted father, either.

Walter continued his way past the other professors until he stopped in front of Harry. Harry was even more shocked to see the expression on his face. Worry was etched in every part of his face, bringing out the wrinkles, but there was anger in his eyes.

“Walter,” Harry shook his hand as he stood up, “What's going on?”

“Not here,” Walter muttered, “I need a word in private.”

Harry told Neville he'd be right back and he followed Walter out of the stands. They continued walking until they were a short distance away from the pitch and then Walter stopped.

“The boys have just been to see me at the Ministry,” Walter said as soon as he'd stopped.

“Wait, what?” Harry asked, “You mean Albus and Matt?”

“Yes, and the other two as well,” Walter said quickly, “You've heard of Ralph Lubar, the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures in Australia?”

Harry nodded, slightly confused at the change of subject. “Yes, not a very tolerant bloke, is he?”

Walter's face hardened. “That's a nice way of putting it. The bloke is sick and twisted and he's got a grudge against me. Very long story and I haven't got time to tell it. Short version is that when Matt was eight, Lubar passed a law that required him to transform in a building with other werewolves, older werewolves. Nearly killed him. It was right before we moved. For whatever reason, Lubar decided to visit Hogwarts today, possibly under the pretense of attending the Quidditch match.

“The boys saw him and Flooed to the Ministry from Honeyduke's. Matt's absolutely terrified of him, which is why they came to me. I came back with them. They Flooed before I did, but when I arrived at Honeyduke's they weren't there. I've already spoken with the owners of the shop as well as a few other Hogsmeade residents. No one's seen them. We've got to find them.”

Harry's heart sank. “You don't think Lubar's got them, do you? He's not dangerous, is he?”

“To Matt, yes, but I haven't the slightest idea as to why he'd want the other boys,” Walter said.

“Even if he did only want Matt, he'd have to get Albus as well because I know Albus wouldn't let him take Matt sitting down,” Harry replied, and started walking briskly towards Hogsmeade, “Let's go. I'll get every available Auror on this.”

******

Albus tried as hard as he could to dislodge himself from Washburn's grasp as he was Portkeying to who knows where. All Albus knew about the location was that it must be far away. Portkeying is usually mostly instantaneous, but this time there was a significant lag. Albus had time to try and get away, not that it did anything.

The second clue that their destination was far away was the fact that it was very dark when Albus finally landed on the ground. Not dark like an impending storm either. Dark as in night.

Washburn had let go of Albus as they landed and Albus hastened to get to his feet. Loud thumps around him told him that his friends had landed as well.

The ground was damp and hard and the foliage around them was dense. Albus assumed they were in some sort of forest. He gazed around and saw a lot of unfamiliar trees that seemed to stretch towards the starry sky.

There was no moonlight to illuminate the forest. Lubar, the Willinsons, and Washburn had walked a few yards away from the boys and were whispering to each other. All four had lit their wands, but it wasn't enough wand light to give Albus a good view of his surroundings.

Matt, John, and Kaden had all scrambled over to where Albus was and were standing quite close to him, their wands out. Albus pulled his own out as well, but didn't dare light it.

“Why is it night?” Kaden whispered.

“Where the hell are we?” John asked.

“We're in Australia,” Matt said in awe, as if he was just coming to terms with that fact.

“We Portkeyed across an ocean?” Kaden gasped.

When Albus thought about it, it made sense. Lubar was from Australia, so why shouldn't he take them there? It was quite far away from anyone who would be looking for them.

What didn't make sense was why Lubar was with Washburn and the Willinsons. As far as he could tell, the four wizards seemed to be working together, but why? Lubar lived halfway across the world. How had he met the Willinsons?

“Is this anywhere near your old house?” John asked.

“How should I know?” Matt snapped, “Australia's a huge country!”

“I just thought if we were near it, we could hide there,” John muttered.

“You wouldn't want to,” Matt said, “My stupid cousin owns it now.”

“You have a cousin?” Albus asked.

“Not important,” Matt said quickly.

Albus nodded. “How are we going to get out of this?”

“They're not paying attention,” John whispered, gesturing to where the four wizards stood huddled in a circle, “Maybe if we run for it.”

“The Portkey's right there,” Matt pointed to the tea kettle, which was a few feet away, “If we can just get to it.”

“All right,” Albus whispered, “On the count of three. One...two...three.”

Albus ran as quietly as he could towards the Porkey. He was about to pick it up when it soared up into the air. Albus looked up and saw Lubar sneering at him, with the Portkey in his hand.

“That won't do,” Lubar said as he stowed the Porkey in his cloak. He turned to the other three men. “They're trying to get away.”

“What do you expect?” Jarrett said rudely, “There's four of them! Do you realize how much more difficult this is going to be now? We only needed Potter! But no, you had to go and insist on bringing that werewolf kid as well.”

“You wouldn't even have managed this if it weren't for me!” Lubar growled, “So don't go telling me what I should and shouldn't have done.”

“Well, now we've wound up with two extra ones as well,” Jarret muttered.

“They're kids, how much trouble can they be?” Lubar smirked.

“You don't know this lot,” Washburn replied, “They're the reason we haven't had luck before.”

“I thought that was because of your incredible stupidity,” Lubar said.

Albus was very intrigued. Lubar was arguing with them as if he knew them well. Had Lubar really been working with them all along?

What did they need him for anyway? What had Willinson meant when he said 'we only needed Potter'?

“Shut it, Lubar,” Jarrett said.

“I'll say what I like,” Lubar replied, “This is my bush, not yours.”

“You own the forest now?” Jarrett asked.

“As a matter of fact, I do,” Lubar snapped.

“Ministry must be paying you well.”

“Indeed they are,” Lubar said and turned to Matt, “So many years have passed. Tell me, what is it like pretending to be something you're not?”

To Albus's surprise, it was John and not Matt who went flying at Lubar. Lubar disarmed John with a lazy wave of his wand, leaving John stunned in front of him. It appeared that Lubar was a significantly better dueler than either of the Willinsons or Washburn.

Pocketing John's wand, Lubar turned back to Matt, who was shakily holding his wand up.

“It doesn't matter what country you're in,” Lubar seethed, “You're the same thing no matter where you live. The laws don't change what you are. Pretend as much as you like, but it won't change a thing.”

Now Albus wanted to go after Lubar. The anger was boiling up inside of him and he didn't think he had ever felt more angry in his entire life, and that included every encounter he had had with Scorpius Malfoy. Malfoy was like a fluffy kitten compared to Lubar.

However, Albus held himself back. John was already wandless. It would do them no good if Albus got disarmed as well. Something told him to wait, to wait until he could catch them off guard.

“What about your father? I hear he's the head of the department in Britain now,” Lubar smirked, “Guess it's just a matter of time until the same thing happens. You'll have to flee again.”

Matt was visibly trembling now. Albus wracked his brain, trying to figure out what to do. What could they do?

“Oh, for Merlin's sake!” Jarrett strode forward, “How is this helping things? Did we really risk Portkeying a bunch of kids to Australia just to waste time taunting one of them?”

“Quiet!” Lubar shouted, “I'll do what I like!”

“Excuse me!” Kaden said loudly, turning to Lubar, “But how in the name of Merlin do you know them?” He gestured to the Willinsons and Washburn.

Albus held his breath, waiting for Lubar to put some sort of jinx or curse on Kaden. Sometimes his cousin was quite dense. It seemed obvious to Albus that this was a time not to ask questions.

To Albus's surprise, Lubar smiled. It was a twisted sort of smile, but a smile nonetheless.

“I think that's a fair question,” Lubar said. “My cousin married this idiot,” Lubar pointed at Jarrett.

“You're married?” Kaden gaped at Jarrett, causing Albus to groan. Why wouldn't Kaden just shut up?

“Not for much longer,” Jarrett muttered, “Can we please just get on with this?”

“Patience, cousin,” Lubar said as he began to walk slowly around the other three, “We musn't do this hastily. Haste is the reason you three have failed prior to tonight.”

Fail at what? What were they going to do? The only thing Albus could think of was getting the Hallows, but all three Hallows were in England. If that was their plan, they wouldn't have taken them to Australia.

Albus glanced nervously at Matt, who still looked scared out of his mind. Something was still telling Albus not to try and duel the men. Lubar seemed smart, much smarter than the other three, and that scared Albus more than anything else. There was a big difference between dueling someone who was smart and dueling someone who was an idiot.

******

The Ministry seemed deserted when Harry and Walter Flooed there a short while later. Harry had briefly questioned the owners of Honeyduke's, but they had not seen any of the boys.

Harry and Walter ran towards the lifts at top speed, not pausing to answering the questioning stare of the bloke at the welcome desk. The lifts could not go fast enough for the two men. Harry nearly pulled the doors open when they finally arrived at Magical Law Enforcement's floor.

The Auror office was slightly more lively than the rest of the Ministry, but not much. Three Aurors were inside, two of whom hastily shoved away a pile of Exploding Snap cards and stood up upon seeing Harry arrive. The other Auror, a rather short but stocky witch, shoved the book she was reading in the drawer, and joined the other two.

“Potter, sir!” the witch said, “We thought you were at Hogwarts today!”

“I was,” Harry said darkly and explained the situation.

The three Aurors looked grim as they waited for Harry to give them instructions.

“Dabney,” Harry turned to the taller of the wizards, “Brighton,” he looked at the witch, “Get started with an extensive search of Hogsmeade. I'm calling in everyone who isn't busy with anything else. Tiburon and Oswald are on duty in Hogsmeade today, inform them of the situation.”

Dabney and Brighton nodded before dashing out of the room. Harry turned to the remaining Auror. “Lewster, you will be searching the Forbidden Forest as soon as someone else arrives.”

Harry pulled out his wand and muttered a spell. An enormous silvery stag flew out of his wand and Harry whispered to it. The Patronus glided out of the room and Harry leaned against the nearest desk.

It wasn't long before Harry heard footsteps in the corridor. He looked up at the door just as Ron was running through, followed by half a dozen other Aurors.

“Harry, what's going on?” Ron said in a worried tone.

Harry rehashed the entire situation again. Ron's face paled. “What about Rose, was she with them?”

“No,” Walter shook his head, “It was just the boys.”

“Thank Merlin,” Ron whispered, “But Harry, what about Willinson? D'you think he's got anything to do with this?”

“It's crossed my mind,” Harry muttered, “But I haven't got a clue as to how Lubar would know him.”

“With dark wizards, you just never know,” Ron pointed out.

“I know,” Harry nodded, “Ron, lead the search of the Forbidden Forest. Lewster's going with you. And take Daniels and Smith with you.”

Ron nodded and left the room, followed by Lewster and two other wizards. The remaining four Aurors looked to Harry.

“The rest of you can search the castle and grounds. Be discrete. I do not wish to interrupt the Quidditch match unless it is absolutely necessary,” Harry instructed.

The Aurors left the room and Harry turned to Walter. He slowly shook his head. Why was it always Albus? This was the third year he had gotten into trouble. Albus's years at Hogwarts were reminding Harry dangerously of his own.

“I'd better go Floo home and tell Julie what's going on,” Walter sighed, “She's going to fall apart.”

Harry nodded as Walter left the room. Ginny. Harry snapped his head up. She was going to be watching the match, but was going to be late. She's probably there now, Harry thought. She'd be looking for him.

Harry slowly left the room. How was he going to tell his wife that Albus had been kidnapped and he didn't have a clue as to where he was?

******

“You're just too afraid to do it!” Jarrett shouted at Lubar, “What could possibly go wrong? We're halfway across the world from the Aurors that are looking for this lot!”

“Once again you have proved your stupidity,” Lubar replied, “Do you realize who we've taken halfway across the world? Harry Potter's son! You haven't a clue as to how things work in the Ministry!

“I can assure you that at this very moment, the entire Auror Department is looking for them. Harry Potter's probably got every Auror on this case. It won't take them long to realize that we're not in England.

“And this one,” Lubar gestured to Matt, “He's got the most meddling parents in the world. They'd sooner kill everyone in the world before letting something happen to him. Very irritating. They won't rest until they find him. Not to mention the fact that he's the son of a Ministry official. We've got two kids of two of the most prominent Ministry officials of Britain. Think, Jarrett, think! We've got to be careful!”

“Well, you're the one who wanted to take the werewolf, too,” Jarrett growled.

“And you're the one who insisted we take Potter's son!” Lubar shouted, “Why do we even need him?”

“We just do!” Jarrett shouted back.

“If both of you idiots hadn't wanted to bring the kids, we could've done this whole thing without the Ministry finding out,” Washburn cut in.

“Shut up!” Lubar and Jarrett said at the same time.

Maybe if they kept arguing, they wouldn't have a chance to do whatever it was they wanted to do before the Aurors found them, Albus thought. He could only hope that the wizards would have enough to argue about.

“Are we going to do it here?” Jarrett asked, “Or go to the house?”

“Have you learned nothing?” Lubar shouted, “When they find out that we're here, the first place they'll look is the house.”

“Got any better ideas?” Jarrett seethed, “Have you got a secret little shack somewhere in this country?”

“No,” Lubar snapped, “We're taking them to the outback. Plenty of places to hide, not very inhabited. Perfect place.”

Before Albus could even contemplate running away, Jarrett had his arm in a vice grip again. Matt was once again in the clutches of Lubar, and John and Kaden were both caught by the Willinsons.

Albus knew very little about the Australian outback, just that it wasn't suitable for much human inhabitation. However, the one piece of information he did know about it was that it was where most of the dementors that used to guard Azkaban had gone. That, and it was a somewhat popular place for vampires.

Lubar and Jarrett had stopped bickering. Albus had two seconds to realize what was happening before he felt the familiar but unpleasant sensation of side-along Apparition.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 12 May 2010 3:51:56pm 
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Chapter 35- Patronuses and Stones

Albus stumbled as he landed, breaking free of Jarrett's grasp. He tripped over a rock and landed face first in the sand. Spitting the grittiness out of his mouth, he stood up and glanced around.

It was still far too dark to see anything but the outlines of mountains in the distance. The outback seemed very empty and very quiet. There was a very small clump of bushes and trees nearby, but besides that, Albus did not see much else in the way of plant life.

Albus immediately knew why Lubar had taken them there. He had never been in such a deserted place in his life. There was absolutely nothing around them. Even if Albus had decided to run away, he wouldn't have gotten very far. As dangerous as staying with Lubar was, Albus knew he would have no chance of surviving if he ran off into the outback.

Lubar seemed to know that Albus and the others wouldn't run away. He neglected to use any sort of ropes to tie them up or put any spells around them. Instead, he walked a short distance in the direction of the mountains and gestured for the Willinsons and Washburn to follow them.

“What are we going to do?” John seethed, “Has anyone got any idea where we are?”

“The outback's huge,” Matt replied, “I bet we're right in the middle of it. The nearest civilization's probably miles away.”

“So we're done for,” John groaned, “What do they even want with us anyway?”

“No idea,” Albus said, “But if they keep arguing, we might not have to find out.”

“Do you really think your dads are going to be able to find us?” John asked skeptically.

“Lubar's right,” Albus said, “The whole Ministry's going to be looking. I think they'll find us.”

“Does stuff like this happen every year?” Kaden asked, “I mean, last year I got kidnapped by Willinson and now we all were. What'll happen next year?”

“Hopefully nothing,” Albus said.

“If there is a next year,” John muttered.

“Shut up over there!” Lubar shouted as he walked back over to the boys, “I didn't tell you to talk!”

“Lubar!” Jarrett seethed as he pointed to someplace in the distance, “There's people gathering over there! We've got to go somewhere else!”

Albus looked towards where Jarrett was pointing and his heart leapt a bit. There was a small gathering of figures a few yards away. Could his dad have found them already?

“Calm down,” Lubar said, “They're just vampires. They won't bother us. I know that coven. They know better than to mess with me. I'll make life pretty miserable for them if they do.”

“Cutting deals with vampires now?” Jarrett asked.

“Proving to be helpful, isn't it?” Lubar answered.

Albus's hopes sank once again. Lubar seemed more confusing than ever. He cut deals for vampires but passed restrictive laws on werewolves? It didn't make sense.

The men lowered their voices again and Albus wished he had a few Extendable Ears with him. He didn't dare talk to his friends, just sent them anxious glances every now and then.

A cold wind blew over them and Albus shivered. It was the kind of cold that chilled him to the bone. Hoping that it wasn't going to rain, or snow (wasn't it winter in Australia?), he looked to the sky. There were no clouds, but what Albus saw was much worse than clouds.

Five or six cloaked figures were slowly circling above them. Although he had never before seen one, Albus recognized them as dementors immediately. Despite the dark, Albus could clearly make out their forms. As they got closer, he could even hear their rattling breath.

The world in front of him began to swim. He felt like he was going to pass out, but he knew it was just the dementors sucking all the happiness out of him. Albus was left with all his unhappy thoughts.

His dad wasn't going to find them. They would be stuck on the Australian outback until Lubar and the others did what they were going to do. Then who knew what would happen?

“No, no, no!” Matt shouted.

Albus squeezed his eyes shut and then opened them, forcing himself to look towards his friend. Matt was kneeling on the ground, shaking violently. Both John and Kaden were looking at him anxiously, neither seeming to be that affected by the dementors.

Of course the dementors would affect Matt the worst. He had gone through things that Albus, John, and Kaden couldn't even imagine. It probably didn't help that Lubar was actually present, either.

Without even thinking, Albus pulled his wand out of his robes. He'd heard the incantation for the Patronus charm before and figured it was worth a shot. What else could he do besides try?

“Expecto Patronum!” Albus shouted, pointing his wand at the sky. Nothing happened.

A happy thought! How could he have forgotten that? It was difficult to think of one with dementors flying over heard and listening to Matt shouting on the ground.

When the Sorting Hat put him in Gryffindor! Albus pointed his wand to the sky again. “Expecto Patronum! Expecto Patronum!”

Albus kept shouting the incantation while using various happy memories. Nothing was happening, but Matt's shouting was decreasing. Then it stopped. Albus stopped and looked towards the ground. It looked like Matt had passed out.

Thinking of the day Balladanis had been sacked, Albus pointed his wand at the dementors once again. “Expecto Patronum!” he shouted.

A silvery blob exploded from his wand and went after the dementors. Albus stood shocked for a few seconds. He had sort of done a Patronus charm!

“Bloody hell,” John whispered.

“Expecto Patronum!” someone shouted from the distance.

Albus looked up and saw Lubar running at them with his wand pointed at the dementors. A silvery squirrel was floating ahead of him and the dementors scattered as it reached them.

Albus's foggy brain immediately cleared and the happiness returned. He quickly stowed his wand in his robes before Lubar thought to disarm him.

“Leave him,” Lubar growled at John and Kaden, who were bent to the ground trying to get Matt to wake up.

“Dementors!” Washburn shouted sarcastically, “This was a bloody brilliant place to come.”

Lubar paid no attention to Washburn's comment. His eyes were focused on Albus and he was giving him a very curious look. Albus took a nervous step back, but Lubar did not avert his gaze. Albus immediately closed his mind.

******

“Potter, sir!”

Harry, who had been walking up High Street in Hogsmeade with Ginny, turned around and saw Lewster striding towards him. Harry stopped, hoping he had some good news.

“What is it, Lewster?” Harry asked.

“Just talked to a few of the centaurs,” Lewster said, “They saw three wizards in the forest a few hours ago. They recognized one of them as Washburn.”

“I'd bet my last Galleon the other two were the Willinsons,” Harry replied, “Did the centaurs know anything else?”

“Just that Washburn and the others were looking for something. Apparently they were scouring the forest floor for something,” Lewster answered.

Harry nodded. That didn't surprise him. The Resurrection Stone was someplace in the forest. “Did you see anything?”

“No,” Lewster shook his head, “And the centaurs are pretty sure they've left.”

“Very well,” Harry said, “See what else you can find out.”

Lewster left and Harry turned to Ginny, who looked afraid.

“Harry, you don't think that Washburn is with Lubar, do you?” Ginny asked.

“There's no doubt in my mind,” Harry answered, “It's just a matter of finding them. Listen, I've got to go search Dervish and Banges. I've got this hunch about the place. Seems like the perfect place for Washburn to take them.”

Ginny nodded. “I'll go catch the end of the match. I won't mention anything to James and Lily yet.”

“Good,” Harry said, “I'll be in touch soon.” He kissed her lightly on the forehead. “We're going to find him.”

“I know,” Ginny replied softly, “Stay safe.”

Ginny turned around to walk back to the Hogwarts grounds while Harry picked up the pace and walked the short distance to Dervish and Banges.

The building looked utterly abandoned. The windows were still boarded up, the grass overgrown around it. It certainly didn't look like anyone was hiding inside, but Harry had to check.

Pulling out his wand, he crept cautiously to the door. He carefully pulled the boards off of it and quietly wrenched the door open. Without lighting his wand, he walked inside.

The place had the smell of a recent fire in the fireplace. Someone had been there. However, there was not a sound from anywhere in the building. Harry lit his wand and saw that it was deserted.

After a thorough check of the entire building, in which Harry found no living creatures, he returned to the main room. The fireplace was filled with nearly dead embers and there was a small pile of Floo powder spilled out onto the floor.

The Floo had been used recently. Harry bent down and muttered an incantation that would tell him where the last person to use the fireplace had Flooed from. He waited for the incantation to work, his heart pounding.

Soft red smoke emitted from his wand, curling together to form the words 'Ministry of Magic.' Harry breathed a sigh of relief. He was getting somewhere. Without hardly a doubt, Harry knew that Albus and the other boys had wound up in Dervish and Banges after going to the Ministry. The only question was, where had they gone after that?

******

“How old are you, Potter?” Lubar asked.

“Thirteen,” Albus replied, still a bit nervous as to why Lubar was looking at him like that. It reminded him of how Balladanis had looked at him during the second dueling tournament.

“And they teach the Patronus Charm to thirteen-year-olds at Hogwarts?” Lubar replied.

“No,” Albus shook his head, although when he thought about it, Balladanis may have taught him and Malfoy Patronuses if he hadn't gotten sacked. “That was the first time I'd tried it.”

“Very intriguing,” Lubar said as he turned to the other three men, “This lot didn't tell me you were skilled at Defensive magic.”

“You never asked,” Jarrett muttered, “But is Potter's aptitude for Patronuses really relevant to what we're doing?”

“It matters if they decide to try and hex us!” Lubar snapped, “I think it might be best if they're all wandless.”

Albus gulped and clenched his wand harder. He glanced at Matt, who was still unconscious. John didn't have his wand. Kaden wasn't very good at dueling. It would be up to him, to Albus, if this came to a duel.

“The only one who's got any skill is Potter,” Jarrett said, “The other three aren't going to be difficult.”

“Fine,” Lubar muttered, “We'll get started, but I need to talk to you three away from them first.”

Jarrett nodded and the men walked a few yards away and began whispering too quietly for Albus to hear.

Albus bent down to where Matt had collapsed, wishing he knew a healing spell or two. “Matt, Matt,” he whispered, “Wake up.”

After a minute or two, Matt's eyes fluttered open and he sat up. “What happened?” he asked, looking around confusedly.

“You passed out,” Albus told him, “When the dementors were here.”

“But Albus cast a Patronus!” John said excitedly.

“You what?” Matt gaped at him.

“It was just silvery mist,” Albus told him, “Lubar's actually the one who got rid of them.”

“Probably just for his sake,” Matt shuddered, “Did anyone else pass out?” The other three boys shook their heads. “Figures,” Matt muttered.

“You need some chocolate or something,” Albus said, “Anyone got some?”

“Might,” Kaden began fishing around in his pockets. He produced a chocolate frog and handed it to Matt, who took it without saying a word.

“Listen,” Albus said, “Whatever it is that they want to do here, they're doing it soon. Do you think you can get up?”

Matt nodded and Albus helped him to his feet. Lubar and the others were walking towards them again. Albus slowly pulled his wand out of his robes and held it to his side, hiding it partially behind his back.

Lubar conjured a pile of wood and set fire to it, illuminating himself, Washburn, the Willinsons, and the boys. Albus was now clearly able to see the twisted look on Lubar's face.

“Are you mad?” Jarrett seethed, “Fire's going to attract attention!”

Lubar laughed. “Fire's going to ensure that those vampires stay away and we've got to see what we're doing!”

Albus glanced towards where the vampires had been congregating. They were currently walking farther away from Albus and the others. Thinking back to Linda's boggart, he remembered that vampires are destroyed by fire. Albus turned back to the men.

Jarrett was holding something out in his hand, but Albus couldn't make out what it was. Jarrett, along with Quinton and Washburn, looked quite excited. Lubar looked mildly annoyed and impatient.

“Do you know what this is, Potter?” Jarrett asked gleefully.

“No,” Albus said, trying not to sound too nervous.

“It's the Resurrection Stone,” Jarrett answered.

Albus could hardly conceal his gasp as he peered closer at Jarrett's outstretched hand. There was a very small stone sitting in it. The Resurrection Stone. One of the Deathly Hallows. Jarrett had finally succeeded in getting one of the three objects he had been after for years. But how?

“How?” Albus asked, trying to sound confident.

“Ancient magic is a beautiful thing, Potter,” Jarrett answered, “There are long forgotten spells, spells that work very nicely with long forgotten magical objects such as this Stone. It was merely a matter of finding the correct spell, getting to the Forbidden Forest, and putting it to use. Quite simple now that I look back on it.”

“Only because you didn't do any of the work,” Lubar muttered, “It was I who found the spell!”

“The other Hallows will prove to be easy to obtain with the help of this,” Jarrett went on, ignoring Lubar's mutterings.

Albus did not like the sound of that. The Stone itself did one thing and that was bring back the spirits of people who had passed on. How would that help Jarrett get the other Hallows?

The Invisibility Cloak. Albus's stomach plummeted. It was still in his robes. He really hoped Jarrett wouldn't realize that.

“Another thing that I thought of!” Lubar seethed.

“You think this lot cares who did what?” Jarrett laughed.

“Oh, just get on with it,” Washburn rolled his eyes.

Jarrett sidestepped past the fire and strode closer to Albus. Albus took a step back as his heart started beating faster. He had a very bad feeling about what Jarrett was going to do with that Stone.

“Ah, yes, Potter. You should be afraid,” Jarrett's gaze swept over all four boys, “You should all be afraid.”

“Quit taunting them and just do it,” Washburn said impatiently.

“With this stone,” Jarrett said a bit louder, “I will bring back Lord Voldemort.”

******

Harry burst out of Dervish and Banges, not caring that he had blasted the door completely off its hinges as he did so. He had to find Walter. He had to find Walter and then go to the Ministry. The fireplace did not show signs that it had been used to Floo away from the abandoned shop. That left either Apparition or a Portkey, both of which would have left traces that he'd need the Department of Magical Transportation for.

Harry rounded a corner as he ran towards Honeyduke's and nearly ran headlong into a witch. He stepped back and saw it was Ginny. She wore a strange look of confusion and shock, mixed with mingled fear.

“Ginny,” Harry said, “Sorry.”

“Not a problem,” she said quickly, “Have you found anything?”

“Yes,” Harry answered, “Is the match over? How badly did we lose by?”

“Only a hundred points,” Ginny said, “But we might not have actually lost. Listen, did you know Australia's Seeker is a vampire?”

“Wait, what?” Harry gaped at her, trying to wrap his mind around that fact while still focusing his mind on Albus.

“I'll explain after we've found Albus,” Ginny said.

“Right,” Harry agreed, “I've got a lead. Someone was in Dervish and Banges. They Flooed there from the Ministry; I'm sure it was Al and the others. I've got to find Walter and go to the Ministry. I'm not sure where that will lead us, but I might not be back for a while.”

“Just be careful,” Ginny said as she gave him a kiss, “And bring him back.”

“I will,” Harry said as he kissed her back, “I'll see you soon.”

“Harry!”

Harry turned and saw Walter striding out of Honeyduke's. With one last look at Ginny, Harry met Walter half-way.

“We've got to get to the Ministry,” Harry said immediately, and explained about what he had found at Dervish and Banges and what Lewster had learned from the centaurs.

Walter nodded and the two men Disapparated on the spot. They reappeared a little while later in a small Apparition chamber in the Ministry.

Passing the bewildered looking security guard for the third time that day, Harry and Walter ran to the lifts. Neither of them said a word as the lift clattered to the Department of Magical Transportation.

The department was nearly deserted, save for one very bored looking witch sitting at a desk.

“Mr. Potter, Mr. Eckerton!” she exclaimed as she took her feet off the desk, “Something I can do for you?”

“Yes,” Harry answered, “I need to know if anyone's Disapparated from Dervish and Banges in Hogsmeade. Or used a Portkey from that same location. And if you're able to, I need to know where they went.”

“Of course, Mr. Potter, of course,” the witch said as she got up. She disappeared into another room, shutting the door behind her.

Harry sighed and sat down on the nearest chair. Walter sat down in the adjacent one, looking thoroughly miserable.

“We'll find them,” Harry said quietly.

“I don't doubt that,” Walter replied, “However, that is not the only thing I am worried about. The last time Matt had an altercation with Ralph Lubar, he wound up in therapy for months afterwards.”

Harry was not expecting that. He did not know much about therapy, except that wizards did not normally use it. Whatever had happened, it must have been bad.

“Do you mind if I ask what happened?” Harry asked, not sure if he was overstepping some sort of boundary.

Walter did not speak for several seconds. “It's ok,” Harry said, “You don't have to explain.”

“I will,” Walter said quietly, “Shortly after Matt was bitten, I became the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures in Australia. Nobody outside of the department knew about his condition, of course. Ralph Lubar was given my former position of Head of the Werewolf Control Unit, and was quite jealous that I was given the Head position. He could not get over the fact that I was given it, even when my own son had lycanthropy.

“It was a grudge he held against me for many years, until the day finally came when he cracked and let it slip that Matt was a werewolf. A bit of legislation had been passed that required all places of transformation be inspected by the Ministry. Lubar inspected Matt's and it failed on a technicality. Ministry centers were set up for werewolves to transform in, together. Matt was required by law to transform there since his safe room did not pass. I refused to have him transform there. The papers were all over it. I lost my job. Lubar was appointed to the Head position.

“More legislation was passed. A law that stated that Ministry officials could physically force werewolves into the transformation centers. On the day of the full moon, Lubar Flooed into our house and took Matt to the center. By the time I figured out which center it was, the moon had risen. It was too late.

“Matt spent weeks in St. Mungo's. By that time we were nearly ready to move here. He was so traumatized, it took months for him to get over it. To be honest, I don't think he's fully over it.

“The only reason Lubar did it was to try and get to me. That's why he's so sick and twisted,” Walter finished as he put his head in his hands, “I swore I'd never let him near Matt again. Swore I'd kill him if he went near Matt again.

Walter gave an odd sort of laugh. “Listen to me, I'm telling the Head of the Auror Department that I'd commit murder.”

“Just so long as you don't actually do it when we go save the boys,” Harry said, still processing what Walter had told him. It certainly explained a lot- why they were so reluctant to let Matt out of their sight, why they weren't on the Floo Network.

One thing that Harry could tell was that Walter blamed himself for everything that had happened. Honestly, Harry wasn't surprised. If something like that had happened to James, Albus, or Lily, he would've blamed himself, too.

“That wasn't your fault,” Harry said quietly, “And this isn't either.”

“If I had just Flooed ahead of the boys-”

“It wouldn't have mattered,” Harry interrupted, “And it'll do no good to dwell on it now. It's in the past.”

“That's exactly what my brother said when Matt was in St. Mungo's,” Walter said wryly.

“Mr. Potter!” the witch came bustling out of the room she had gone into, brandishing a piece of parchment, which she handed to Harry.

Harry stood up as she handed them the parchment. His eyes scanned the parchment. Portkeys. Four Portkeys had left Dervish and Banges a few short hours ago. That in itself did not shock Harry, especially compared to where the Portkeys had gone.

“Australia,” Harry read as he turned to Walter, who had visibly paled at the word, “They're in Australia.”


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PostPosted: Wednesday 26 May 2010 5:56:34pm 
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Sorry, I did it again! Forgot to post last week.

Chapter 35: The Return

Never had Albus wished so hard that he could Apparate. Why did you have to be seventeen to get your Apparition license anyway? If he ever worked in the Department of Magical Transportation, he would change that law. Apparition would've enabled him to get out of Australia, away from Jarrett Willinson, who was trying to bring back Lord Voldemort with the Resurrection Stone.

Albus could not remember being more scared in his life. This was far worse than when he had dueled Washburn on the Hogwarts grounds two years ago, far worse than when Quinton kidnapped Kaden the previous year. Lord Voldemort was far scarier than Lubar, Washburn, and the Willinsons combined.

What would Voldemort look like when Jarrett brought him back? Harry had said the Stone couldn't actually bring people back to life. Albus guessed he'd be more like a ghost. But would he be able to do magic, to perform the curses and hexes he did when he was alive?

Albus held his breath as he watched Jarrett turn the stone over in his hands. Albus had no idea how it worked, but judging by how quiet all of the adults were, Jarrett was trying to use it.

Over and over again Jarrett turned the stone. He did it for so long that Albus had to let out his breath. The excited gleam on Jarrett's face slowly dissipated until it was replaced by frustration.

“Why won't it work?” Jarrett shouted, “Are you positive this is the right Stone?”

“Of course I am!” Lubar shouted as he grabbed the Stone, “The spell said it was!”

“Well, it's not working now, is it?” Jarrett mocked.

Albus breathed a sigh of relief. Either they had the wrong stone or for whatever reason, Voldemort couldn't be brought back with it. Albus was hoping for the former.

Lubar turned the stone over in his hands. On the third turn, a strange sort of mist appeared in front of him. Albus's heart sped up. It had worked.

The mist began to clear and a figure was standing in front of Lubar. The figure was not Lord Voldemort, though. Albus had no idea who had been resurrected, but it certainly was not Voldemort. This person was a woman, and a short one at that.

Washburn and the Willinsons were exchanging curious glances. Lubar, however, was staring directly at the figure, his face contorted with something Albus could only assume was sadness.

“M-mother?” Lubar said as he stepped closer to the woman.

“You idiot!” Jarrett shouted, “That's not Voldemort!”

“I know that!” Lubar snapped and the looked back to the woman, who was apparently his mother, “Mum.”

“Ralphy,” the woman replied.

“I-it's been so long,” Lubar whispered.

Albus turned to his friends, who were all staring in confusion at Lubar. Matt in particular was giving Lubar a very strange look. Apparently the stone was the Resurrection Stone and it did indeed work, just not in the way Jarrett had been planning.

“Very long,” Lubar's mother agreed, “But you've done well. I'm very proud of you, son.”

Albus had to cover his mouth to conceal his snort. What kind of mother could be proud of what Lubar had done?

“I've tried,” Lubar said, “I swore I would after, after what happened.”

“You have,” Lubar's mum replied, “You've done me proud.”

“Oh for Merlin's sake!” Jarrett shouted as he ran towards Lubar.

Lubar seemed to have forgotten that there were other people around. He jumped as Jarrett advanced and Jarrett grabbed the Stone out of his hand.

Lubar's mother began to fade as soon as Jarrett took the stone. Running towards her, Lubar held out his hands trying to keep her there.

“No!” he shouted, “Mum!”

Mere seconds after Lubar's mother completely disappeared, Lubar had his wand out and was holding it up at Jarrett. Jarrett had taken out his own wand, but neither man was hurling jinxes. Washburn and Quinton had taken a few steps back.

“You arse!” Lubar shouted, “That was my mother!”

“I know!” Jarrett replied, “That's why I did it! We're trying to bring back Voldemort here, not your messed up mum!”

“Do not insult my mother,” Lubar seethed and flicked his wand.

Jarrett fell to the ground, completely unable to move. Lubar stood over him with his wand directed at his chest.

“My mother was a lovely person,” Lubar growled, “You're sick to be speaking ill of the dead like that.”

Albus didn't really think Lubar should be talking about who is sick and who isn't. Nor did he think his mother was particularly lovely. Never before had Albus thought he'd agree with Jarrett Willinson on anything, but when it came to Lubar's mother, he did.

“Better they hex each other than us, right?” John muttered.

“Good point,” Albus replied.

“Can we please just get back to bringing back Voldemort?” Washburn drawled loudly, “I was under the impression that that's what we were here for, not to insult each other's mothers.”

Lubar turned his wand on Washburn. “Have you anything to say about my mother? Well, do you?”

Washburn hastily pulled out his own wand. “Er, no, she seemed quite lovely.”

“Good,” Lubar said manically, “Keep it that way, or you'll end up like him.” Lubar gestured to Jarrett, who was still laying paralyzed on the ground, his eyes darting about nervously.

******

“Australia,” Walter said weakly, “Bloody hell.”

“I'll need you to replicate that Portkey,” Harry said to the witch, who nodded and left the room again.

“Walter,” Harry began, “I am nearly one hundred percent sure that Jarrett and Quinton Willinson, as well as Jameson Washburn are working with Lubar. I am nearly positive that they are with the boys in Australia.”

“Right,” Walter agreed, “The evidence surely points that way.”

“There is something about that investigation that hardly anyone in the Ministry knows,” Harry lowered his voice, “Nearly a year ago, after Quinton was sent to Azkaban, the Ministry decided that the Auror Department needed some help with capturing the other two. The Minister hired a Presuler.”

Walter let out a low whistle and then realization dawned on his face. “Wait, you don't mean-”

“Tethys Balladanis,” Harry said quietly, “Yes, he was the Presuler the Ministry hired. Stationed at Hogwarts under the pretense of teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.”

“Bad idea on the Minister's part,” Walter muttered.

“It was my idea to station him at Hogwarts,” Harry replied, “But I did not know that he would be such an awful teacher.”

“I won't hold it against you,” Walter said.

“I appreciate that,” Harry said, “However, since Balladanis is a part of this investigation, I have to contact him and he will have to go with us to Australia. I understand that you have had your differences, but-”

“If he helps to find Matt, I will forgive him for everything he's done,” Walter interrupted.

“Here you are, Mr. Potter, Mr. Eckerton,” the witch returned holding a misshapen plastic container, which she handed to Harry. “If I can be of anymore assistance, let me know.”

“That's it for now,” Harry said as he took the container, “Thanks.”

******

Albus stood frozen as the four men dueled each other. Completely unsure of what to do, yet very happy that they seemed to have momentarily forgotten about the boys, Albus just stood there watching. Matt, John, and Kaden did the same, although John looked more than a bit apprehensive, most likely due to his lack of a wand.

Washburn had attempted to take the Stone from Lubar, who had taken it back from Jarrett, shortly after Lubar had stunned Jarrett. Apparently Lubar did not take kindly to this and hexed Washburn. In the mean time, the Stunner had worn off Jarrett and he attempted to hex Lubar.

All four men were running around, throwing hexes at each other while dodging the fire. Albus was kind of hoping one of them would trip and burn their arms or something. Or even better, maybe one or more of them would drop their wand into the fire.

Washburn and the Willinsons were definitely worse for wear. All three of them were sporting injuries. Both Willinsons were limping and Washburn's left arm was being held at an odd angle.

Lubar seemed fine and even though it appeared that the other three were siding against him, he was coming off better. Albus had to admit that he was very skilled at dueling.

Lubar shot a jet of red light at Washburn, who went flying over the fire and landed with a sickening thud in front of the boys. He did not move. Albus looked down and saw a small stone next to Washburn's head. He bent and picked it up. It was the Resurrection Stone.

Albus stood up and jumped back. Lubar, Jarrett, and Quinton had all advanced towards him. Three wands were pointed at his chest, being held by three people with maniacal gleams in their eyes.

Albus gulped and held up his own wand, his arm shaking slightly. Matt and Kaden had done the same. John tried to hide behind Matt, but was unsuccessful since he was a good head taller than him.

“Hand it over, Potter,” Lubar growled.

With a defiant look at Lubar, Albus hastily shoved the Stone into the pocket of his robes and held his wand up higher.

******

“Balladanis.”

“Eckerton.”

Harry watched as the two men stared at each other. Balladanis had Flooed to the Ministry shortly after receiving Harry's Patronus. Harry had filled him in on what was going on, but the man hadn't taken his eyes off of Walter the entire time.

“We haven't got time for this,” Harry muttered and held out the plastic container, “Let's just go.”

Walter agreed immediately and laid his hand on the Portkey. Balladanis did so as well, with a little hesitation.

With a familiar jerk behind his naval, Harry disappeared from the Ministry. The Portkey trip was a bit longer than ones Harry was used to, but it didn't surprise him since he knew they were going to Australia.

Harry landed softly on his feet and held out his wand as he adjusted to the surroundings. It was pitch black and after he lit his wand, Harry knew they were in the middle of a forest.

The forest was disappointingly quiet. The only sounds were those of animals and the occasional rustle of trees, brought about by the wind. Not a single sound caused Harry to believe that there were people about, let alone his son.

“Spread out and search,” Harry announced. The place may seem deserted, but Albus and the others had been there at some point. They had Portkeyed there.

None of the wizards said a word as they combed the area. Harry left no stone unturned as he looked for the smallest trace of evidence of where his son had gone. If only it wasn't night. Wands didn't provide nearly enough light.

There seemed to be not a trace of anything that showed anyone had been in that area of the forest, let alone where they had gone afterwards. Ralph Lubar was good at this, that was for sure. Harry swore as he returned to the same place he had started from.

Walter returned a few minutes later, looking even more anxious than he did before. “Nothing,” he muttered, “Not a ripped piece of cloak or a single Knut. They didn't stay here long.”

Harry groaned and scuffed the ground with his shoe. He and Walter stood quietly as they waited for Balladanis to return.

Balladanis came running towards Harry holding a small metal instrument in his hand and an strange kind of excited smirk on his face. He skidded to a halt in front of Harry, holding out the instrument. Harry recognized it as an Apparition detector. They were quite rare. The British Ministry only owned one, for the entire Ministry.

“They've Disapparated,” Balladanis said hurriedly.

“Obviously,” Walter muttered, “Any idea where?”

“A general idea, yes,” Balladanis replied, ignoring Walter's sarcastic tone, “They're on the outback.”

“The outback?” Walter gasped, “s**t, there's dementors out there!”

“I am aware,” Balladanis said.

“Let's go, then,” Harry said, placing one of his hands on the metal instrument. It would be able to guide them to the relative area they needed to go.

Walter put his hand on the instrument as well and with an exceptionally loud crack, all three men Disapparated.

They landed on terrain that was very unfamiliar to Harry. The ground was dusty and sandy and there was hardly any plant life in sight. In the distance there were tall mountains and cloaked figures floated above them. Harry suppressed a shudder and gripped his wand tighter. Dementors.

What looked like a roaring bonfire blazed in the distance. Harry glanced at it suspiciously and then looked back to Walter and Balladanis, both of whom were more familiar with the area.

“Only vampires and dementors ever venture out here,” Balladanis said quietly, “Neither of whom would set a fire.”

“Let's go, then,” Harry said and began to lead the small group towards the flickering lights in the distance.

******

“Hand it over, Potter,” Lubar repeated.

Albus gulped and tried to hold his wand more steady. His wand arm was shaking uncontrollably and Albus didn't seem to be able to hold it steady. His heart was thumping hard in his chest. Albus was sure everyone was able to hear it. However, he did not want to give up the Stone. That was one thing he was sure of. The only way Lubar would be getting it is if he killed Albus first. Which actually, wasn't something Albus would put past him.

“Maybe you should just give it to him,” John whispered, “I mean, it didn't work to get Voldemort back.”

“No,” Albus seethed, surprised that John had suggested it. He probably wouldn't have if he still had his wand.

“Do you really want to have to duel me, Potter?” Lubar stepped a bit closer, “There's three of us and four of you, one of which doesn't have a wand. Not good odds, if you ask me.”

“And do you realize that those two are horrible duelers?” Albus replied.

“I have noticed,” Lubar smirked, “But they're fully qualified; you are not. I'm going to get that Stone, one way or another.”

Lubar flicked his wand and sent a jet of orange light at Albus. Albus jumped back and threw up a shield charm, concentrating on making it big enough to shield him and his friends. It worked and the orange light bounced harmlessly off the shield and hit the ground.

“Stay behind me, John,” Albus muttered, “Matt and Kaden, spread out and hit them with whatever spells you know.”

Albus concentrated on keeping his shield up while casting other spells, like he had done in Balladanis's dueling lessons. So far it was working, but Albus never managed to keep the shield up very long.

Lubar was momentarily stunned when he saw Albus's shield, but he quickly recovered and began sending hex after hex, nonverbally, at Albus and John. Concentrating hard, Albus sent a Stunner at Lubar, but he flicked his wand and it shot off into the distance, hitting one of the lone bushes, which promptly caught fire.

Albus chanced a glance at Matt and Kaden. Matt was dueling with Jarrett and it looked like they were pretty equally matched, which was kind of pathetic as far as Jarrett was concerned. It made Albus feel better though. Quinton and Kaden just seemed to be sending Expelliarmus charms at each other and missing every time.

The shield emitting from Albus's wand faltered and faded a bit. Albus renewed his concentration, but the shield was still weaker than it had been before. There was no way he'd be able to send any spells through the shield now.

“Your shield is weakening, Potter,” Lubar smirked as he sent another Stunner at Albus, which shook the shield.

“Merlin!” Quinton shouted to the right of them. He was hopping on one foot and Kaden was laughing hysterically. Albus grinned. Kaden had actually managed to do some sort of hex, although Albus wasn't sure what one it was.

Lubar turned to Quinton and flicked his wand at Kaden. Kaden promptly froze and fell to the ground. Albus gasped and his shield disappeared.

“Albus!” John shouted.

Albus turned back to Lubar, but didn't get the shield back up before Lubar shot a hex at John, who fell to the ground like Kaden had.

“Wouldn't it be easier just to give me the Stone?” Lubar asked as he sent a Stunner at Albus.

Albus deflected it. “Not really.”

Jarrett and Matt were still dueling. Both were sporting a few injuries, but nothing too serious. Neither seemed to have noticed that John and Kaden were Stunned.

Albus managed to hit Lubar with a trip jinx, which gave him a few seconds to catch his breath while Lubar righted himself. Unfortunately this only angered him and he was now sporting a gash across his left cheek.

“Expelliarmus!” Lubar shouted.

Albus jumped to the side and the spell hit a nearby rock. Lubar resumed his nonverbal spells and Albus continued deflecting them and dodging them, too exhausted to try and hit Lubar with any other jinxes.

“You can't keep dodging them forever, Potter!” Lubar grinned manically.

“Watch me,” Albus said defiantly.

Albus of course knew that Lubar was right. The odds had not really changed. John and Kaden were both out of the fight and while John was easily the best dueler after Albus, his absence did not put Albus greatly behind. Washburn was out as well and both Willinsons were injured. Quinton was currently on his knees panting, not in any shape to continue dueling. Matt was holding his own against Jarrett, something Albus was both amazed and delighted by.

No, Albus was not trying to overcome Lubar. He knew that wouldn't be possible. Albus was merely biding for time. He tried to figure out how long they'd been gone as he dodged spells. It must have been at least three or four hours, although the dark Australian sky had not changed a bit. Albus wished the moon had been out so he could have monitored its trip across the sky.

How long would it take his dad to find them? Longer than normal, Albus thought. They were in the middle of a foreign country, nowhere near anyplace Harry would be looking.

“I'm getting annoyed, Potter, and you don't want to see me when I'm annoyed!” Lubar shouted, sending another jet of red light at Albus.

Before Albus even had time to register what sort of hex it was, Matt gave a shriek of pain to Albus's right and collapsed to the ground. Jarrett wasted no time and pointed his wand at Albus.

Albus took a fraction of a second to digest the fact that he was now utterly alone, facing two fully grown wizards. The two wizards shot identical jets of blue light at Albus and he managed to pull up a feeble shield.

The force hit him like a dozen Bludgers to the stomach. He lost his footing and landed flat on his back, his head hitting a particularly sharp rock.

“I told you not to fight, Potter,” Lubar sneered as he loomed over Albus.

“You're not getting the Stone,” Albus said, forcing away the dizziness. He reached into his robes and pulled out the Stone.

“I disagree,” Lubar said as he made to grab the Stone.

With all the force Albus could muster, he threw the Stone as far as he could to the right. In the darkness, it disappeared in a split second and Albus didn't even hear it land.

“No!” Lubar shouted, “You'll pay for that!”

“Wands where I can see them!” someone shouted from behind Lubar.

Lubar and Jarrett whipped around as fast as they could. Albus lifted his head slightly and caught a glimpse of his dad, along with a few other wizards. He breathed a sigh of relief. They were saved.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 26 May 2010 5:57:37pm 
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This is the second to last chapter!

Chapter 37: The Outcome of the Match

Albus managed to sit up right before the hexes started flying. Realizing that he dropped his wand when Lubar and Jarrett hexed him, he groped about for it on the ground. Not finding it, he crawled behind a nearby bush and watched.

Jarrett didn't stick around long. He sent one pathetic Stunner at Harry, who easily deflected it, and disappeared on the spot. Harry immediately disarmed Lubar before he could do the same.

Once Lubar was defenseless, Albus left the safety of the bush and shakily stood up. He reached the fire and was able to see who the other two wizards next to Harry were. What he saw made him dizzy with shock all over again.

The shorter of the two was Matt's dad. He was staring stony faced at Lubar. Albus had never seen anyone glare at anyone else with such hatred and loathing as Matt's dad glared at Lubar. And that included when his Uncle Ron talked about the Malfoys, or his mum when somebody mentioned Vernon and Petunia Dursley.

It was the other wizard that nearly caused Albus to pass out in shock. He was none other than Professor Balladanis. What in the name of Merlin was he doing there? It looked like he was actually with Harry and Matt's dad. But why? Didn't Matt's dad hate Balladanis?

“Eckerton, what a pleasant surprise,” Lubar smirked.

“Lubar, if we weren't in the presence of an Auror and a Presuler I'd rip you limb from limb, Muggle style,” Mr. Eckerton growled.

Albus was slightly stunned by Mr. Eckerton's choice of words, but remembering what Matt had told him at the beginning of the year, all surprise left him.

“Lucky for me Potter and Balladanis are here, then,” Lubar replied and snatched Washburn's wand off the ground.

Harry, Mr. Eckerton, and Balladanis all sent different spells at Lubar at the same time, but it was too late. He was already gone. Mr. Eckerton swore loudly.

“Two ain't bad,” Balladanis muttered as he gestured to Washburn and Quinton, the latter of whom was still conscious but not completely aware of his surroundings.

“That's the glaring difference between you and I,” Mr. Eckerton muttered as he moved swiftly past Quinton and Washburn to reach Matt.

“Dad!” Albus shouted.

Harry looked up from Kaden's unconscious form and raced towards Albus. Albus threw his arms around his dad and the two of them hugged each other tightly.

“Al, thank Merlin,” Harry said.

“Dad, what's Balladanis doing here?” Albus asked immediately, “And Lubar, what's going to happen to him? And Willinson?”

“I'll explain it all once we get you back to Hogwarts,” Harry assured him.

Balladanis had a firm hold on both Washburn and Quinton and was fiddling with a broken plastic cup. A few seconds later, all three of them disappeared.

Harry turned to Mr. Eckerton, who was standing up with Matt in his arms. “Can you take John, too? I'll get Kaden and Al will come with me.”

Mr. Eckerton nodded and grabbed hold of John's arm before pulling his own broken plastic cup out of his pocket. They disappeared.

Harry pulled Kaden up and took Albus's arm. Albus was still thoroughly confused, but did not have time to ask his dad anymore questions before feeling the familiar jerk behind his naval that signified he was traveling by Portkey.

Albus landed with a thud in the middle of the Hospital Wing. The question of how they managed to Portkey inside the Hogwarts grounds was the least pressing question on his mind.

Looking around, Albus saw that the others had arrived as well. Mr. Eckerton was laying both Matt and John on the nearest beds while Madam Pomfrey was shouting and gathering potions.

“Look at the state of them!” the nurse exclaimed, “Always this lot, too! You're a bad influence on them, Harry, I swear!”

Harry looked slightly sheepish as he set Kaden down on the bed next to Matt's and then turned to Albus.

“I've got to speak with Professor Kendrick and go to the Ministry-” he began.

“But Dad!” Albus interrupted, “What was Balladanis doing there?”

“I promise I'll tell you all of that and more,” Harry replied, “But I need to tell everyone you and the others are ok. When I get back, I'm going to need you to tell me everything that happened.”

“But-”

“No buts!” Madam Pomfrey cut in, “Bed, Albus, bed! You need rest!”

Albus, who had barely registered the fact that his head was bleeding and he was still quite dizzy, felt that the last thing he needed was rest. He needed to know what was going on.

“I'll explain once you've gotten some sleep,” Harry assured him.

Albus muttered under his breath and got into bed. Once Madam Pomfrey had given him a Sleeping Draught, Harry left, leaving Albus to unsuccessfully try to fight off the sleep he knew was coming.

******

The ward was quiet when Albus woke up. It was completely dark outside, although Albus didn't have the slightest clue as to what day it was. John, Matt, and Kaden were either still unconscious or sound asleep. Albus was betting on the latter since Madam Pomfrey was no where to be seen.

Mr. Eckerton was still there and he had been joined by his wife. Both of them were nodding off in chairs next to Matt's bed. It didn't look like Mr. Eckerton had even left. He was wearing the same Ministry robes he had been wearing before.

Albus sat up and put his hand to his head. There was a bandage on the back of it. Another bandage was wrapped around his right arm, although he couldn't recall when he had injured it. Besides that, he just felt exhausted.

The door to the ward opened, letting in a small flood of light from the corridor. A figure stepped inside and began walking towards Albus's bed.

“Hey, Al,” they said.

“Dad,” Albus replied, recognizing his father, “Are you going to tell me about Balladanis now?”

“Yes,” Harry chuckled, “Perhaps we ought to go to the Room of Requirement.”

Albus shook his head, remembering something he had been debating for the past year. He had waited long enough. It was time.

“No,” Albus said, “I know someplace better.”

Without saying a word, Albus got out of bed and lead his dad out the door and up to the fifth floor corridor. Harry did not ask a single question as Albus pulled the arm down on the appropriate knight and turned to face the opposite wall.

Albus located the paw prints and touched his hand to them, turning it into a doorknob. He opened the door and stepped inside. Harry followed, letting out a gasp as he did.

“Remember that map from last year?” Albus asked as he shut the door.

Harry nodded, apparently at a loss for words.

“There was more to it. Instructions on how to get into this room. It was theirs, the Marauders'. Their secret common room,” Albus said quietly.

Harry didn't respond. Instead he walked slowly around the room. Albus stood near the door and waited. He wasn't sure how long he stood there, watching as his dad investigated the room that had once belonged to his grandfather.

“This,” Harry began, “This is just incredible, Al. How long have you known about it?”

“About a year,” Albus said quietly.

“And you spend time here?” Harry asked.

“Probably more than we do in the common room,” Albus answered.

“Then it is the perfect place to talk,” Harry said as he sat down on one of the couches.

Albus sat down next to him. “So why was Balladanis there?”

“I'll tell you that,” Harry said, “But first I want you to explain to me what happened.”

Albus took a deep breath and told his dad everything. Starting with when they saw Lubar in the castle and ending with throwing the Resurrection Stone into the Outback. He explained how they had first gone to a forest in Australia, how they had Portkeyed to the Outback, the dementors, the almost Patronus he had managed to make, the duel, the fact that the Resurrection Stone didn't work to bring Voldemort back.

“Why didn't it work?” Albus asked, “I mean, I'm glad it didn't, but why?”

Harry thought for a few minutes and then looked at Albus. “There are a few reasons that might explain it. The Resurrection Stone brings back people we love, but it does not bring them back completely. It's almost as if their soul is coming back.”

“Like a ghost?”

“Not exactly,” Harry said, “But similar. It's possible that since Voldemort split his soul so many times, he can't be brought back with the Stone. The Stone may need the soul to be intact to work.”

Albus nodded. “That makes sense.”

“It could also be that only loved ones can be brought back with the Stone. Washburn and the Willinsons did not love Voldemort; they did not know him. They wanted to bring him back for their own agenda,” Harry explained.

“Is there any way to find out which it is?” Albus asked.

“No, I don't think so,” Harry said, “Especially now that the Stone is once again gone. Which is something I'm very grateful that you did.”

“Well, I figured you left it out in the Forbidden Forest for a reason,” Albus shrugged.

“Yes, yes I did,” Harry replied, “I think it best if nobody had that Stone.”

Albus nodded. “Yeah, that makes sense. But what was Balladanis doing there?”

Harry laughed. “You're not going to let that go, are you?”

“Nope, you said you'd tell me,” Albus said.

“I will,” Harry replied, “Albus, do you know what a Presuler is?”

“Yes,” Albus nodded, “And I know that Balladanis is one.”

“You do?” Harry looked impressed.

“He told me during one of those dueling lessons he gave me,” Albus explained.

“Well, that makes my explanation easier,” Harry said, “A little over a year ago, shortly after Quinton kidnapped Kaden, the Ministry decided to hire a Presuler to help find Washburn and Jarrett Willinson.”

“Seriously?” Albus gaped at him.

“Yes,” Harry muttered, “The Minister believed the Aurors needed some help.”

Albus thought he heard bit of contempt in his dad's voice.

“When I realized that Washburn and the Willinsons were most likely working with Ralph Lubar, I had to contact Balladanis and let him know. He came with us, and I have to admit that he was very helpful. We would not have found you as fast if he wasn't there,” Harry explained.

“But why was he teaching here?” Albus asked.

“The Minister, Professor Kendrick, and I believed it would be good strategy to have him stationed at Hogwarts, where we all believed Washburn and the Willinsons would return to. Balladanis agreed,” Harry said, “Of course, none of us realized that Balladanis would not be able to handle teaching.

“This is all quite secretive, Al. I'd prefer you didn't tell anyone. I will be telling Matt, John, and Kaden, because I feel they have the right to know, but I don't want anyone else knowing about it.”

“What about Rose and Amanda?” Albus asked.

“I suppose I'll tell them as well, otherwise Kaden is sure to tell them,” Harry said.

“What's going to happen to Lubar?” Albus asked, “Is Balladanis going to be after him now?”

“No,” Harry shook his head, “That's going to be tricky situation. Lubar isn't a British citizen. We can't do a thing while he's in Australia. It's up to the Australian Ministry to either put him on trial or give him to us to put on trial. And since he's one of their officials, we're not sure they'll do either.”

“But that's not fair!” Albus stood up angrily, “Look what he did! Look what he's done!”

“I know,” Harry sighed, “I'd like nothing more than to give him a life-long stint in Azkaban, but unfortunately the laws don't work that way.”

“He and Balladanis get along anyway,” Albus said, “Balladanis probably wouldn't want to go after him.”

“I don't know about that,” Harry said, “Balladanis likes people to pay for what they've done. However, being a Presuler and having no Ministry affiliation, he does not have to take a case if he's offered it.”

“He told me I'd make a good Presuler,” Albus said quietly as I sat back down, “Malfoy, too.”

Harry sighed. “What do you think about that?”

“I don't know,” Albus shrugged, “I mean, I like dueling, but I don't really want to decide what I want to do right now.”

“You don't have to,” Harry replied, “And I don't want to tell you what to do, but I am going to tell you something.

“Being a Presuler is a hard job and often a lonely one. You have no coworkers. You work with various Ministries, but rarely get to know anyone. You travel a lot, which can make it difficult to have a family. It's not an easy path to go down. Not one I'd choose for myself.”

Albus hadn't even thought about that. He didn't think he'd want to rarely ever see his friends and family.

“There's plenty of other things you could do that would put your dueling skills to use,” Harry told him, “And you're only 13 so no need to decide now.”

“I know, I don't plan to,” Albus replied.

“Well, you should probably get back to the Hospital Wing before Madam Pomfrey notices you're gone,” Harry smirked, “And thanks again for showing me the room.”

Harry stood up and gave his son a hug. They left the room and walked back to the Hospital Wing, both lost in their thoughts.

******

As it turned out, Madam Pomfrey had already noticed that Albus was missing. When he returned to the Hospital Wing with his dad, she was running about the ward shouting at the top of her lungs. Matt, John, and Kaden were all awake, staring at her.

“There you are!” she shrieked, “Where have you been?”

“Er,” Albus began.

“I had to talk to him in private,” Harry answered for him.

“You should have asked me first!” Madam Pomfrey exclaimed as she ushered Albus back into bed, “He needs rest!”

“I'm his father,” Harry said incredulously.

“I don't care if you're the Minister of Magic!” Madam Pomfrey replied, “I'm the one with the nursing degree!”

“How long has she been shouting?” Albus whispered to Matt as he got back in bed.

“Fifteen minutes or so,” Matt answered.

Madam Pomfrey returned to her desk and Harry strode over to where the Eckertons were sitting.

“Could I have a word in private?” Harry asked Mr. Eckerton and then turned to Madam Pomfrey. “Do I need your permission for that?” he grinned.

“Very amusing,” Madam Pomfrey muttered.

Albus drifted back to sleep a little while later and when he next woke up it was light out and Madam Pomfrey was bringing them all breakfast trays.

“Er, what day is it?” Albus asked as Madam Pomfrey set his tray down.

“It's Sunday, dear, but it's afternoon,” Madam Pomfrey replied, “I figured you'd prefer to have breakfast.”

“Only Sunday?” Albus asked. It felt like it had been far more than twenty-four hours since he had met up with Lubar before the Quidditch match.

“Time zone changes are difficult to adjust to,” Madam Pomfrey explained, “Australia's quite a few hours ahead of us.”

Albus nodded and dug into his breakfast. Suddenly he was ravenous. When he thought about it, it must have been at least a day since he'd eaten anything.

“I wonder how the Quidditch match went,” Kaden mused as he shoved toast in his mouth.

Albus choked on his eggs. He'd forgotten about the match! “I doubt we won,” he sighed.

“Is your dad going to tell us why Balladanis was with him when he came to save us?” John asked, “I mean, he's had plenty of time.”

“He will,” Albus said, “He already told me. You lot were asleep.”

The doors to the Hospital Wing banged open and Rose and Amanda came running in. Madam Pomfrey made a move to get up from her desk, but then sat back down, shaking her head.

“Tell us what happened!” Rose demanded as she skidded to a halt in front of Albus's bed, “When did you get back? Where did you go?”

“Who won the Quidditch match?” Albus asked.

“Quidditch? Quidditch?” Rose groaned, “I'm not saying a word about Quidditch until the four of you tell me what in the name of Merlin's saggy left-”

“Miss Weasley!” Madam Pomfrey shouted, “If you don't lower your voice, you'll have to leave!”

“Sorry,” Rose turned back to Albus, “But you lot have got to tell us what happened!”

Albus launched into the entire tale, which took the better part of a half hour to tell. Neither Rose or Amanda interrupted once during the whole thing. Both of them looked absolutely shocked by the time Albus concluded.

“But, but why was Balladanis there?” Rose asked.

“My dad's going to tell you,” Albus said, “He's already told me. He'll probably tell the rest of you today.”

“Merlin, Albus,” Rose sighed, “How much trouble can you get into?”

“It's not my fault,” Albus shrugged, “Now can you tell us about the match?”

Rose exchanged glances with Amanda, who sighed. “It was quite the match, let me tell you,” Amanda said.

“Nobody won, Al,” Rose said.

“What?” John interrupted, “How can nobody win?”

“About forty-five minutes into the match, Fred and Heather ran onto the pitch-”

“The match lasted that long?” Matt asked.

“Yes,” Rose said, “I don't know why. Anyway, Fred and Heather ran right up to Ludo Bagman and started talking to him. Nobody could hear what they were saying. Then Bagman blew his whistle and they went into a time-out.

“Bagman left the pitch and had a really long talk with all the headmasters and captains. Then Kendrick announced that the match was called off and told everyone to return to their common rooms.

“Everyone was really angry of course. Amanda and I were already worried because you lot hadn't shown up yet. We thought something bad had happened and that was why they called it off.”

“Why did they call it off?” John asked.

“I'm getting to that,” Rose said, “We got back up to Gryffindor and everyone was gathered around Fred and Heather. Linda wasn't there, and neither were any of her teammates who were Gryffindors.

“We pushed our way to the front of the crowd and heard what Fred and Heather were talking about. They were claiming that Australia had been cheating the whole time-”

“Well, they were,” Matt muttered.

“I know,” Rose agreed, “And apparently so did Fred and Heather. I'm sure they figured it out just recently or else they would've told someone sooner. They found out Linda's a vampire and now the entire school knows.”

“How did they figure it out?” Albus asked, completely shocked. Linda hid her secret quite well. Fred and Heather were sixth years, they wouldn't have heard Balladanis's vampire lecture.”

“They've been trying to figure it out all year,” Rose explained, “And since they're smart, they figured it out.”

“But what about the match?” Albus asked.

“I think they're going to cancel the tournament, Albus,” Rose said quietly.

“Cancel the tournament?” Albus gasped, “Cancel the tournament?! They can't do that! We've spent the whole year on that tournament! Do you know how much time I've spent on the Quidditch pitch this year? More time than I've spent in class, probably! And now they're going to cancel the bloody tournament?”

“I don't know, Al,” Rose said shortly, “And if they do it's not my fault.”

“Sorry,” Albus mumbled, “It's just a little aggravating.”

“I know,” Rose replied.

“Where's Linda?” Matt asked.

“Gone,” Rose sighed, “Without a word. I haven't seen her or any of the Australians since the match. Killigan's gone, too.”

“Wow,” Matt replied, “Can't say I blame her, though.”

“I guess,” Rose said, “Anyway, they'll probably make an announcement about the tournament at dinner.”


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PostPosted: Wednesday 2 June 2010 6:47:26pm 
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Ambassador to the Land of Ducks.
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Joined: Thursday 28 December 2006 6:45:34pm
Posts: 2538
Location: Going through LeakyCon withdrawal
The next story won't be up right away, but I am working on it!

Chapter 38: Silver Lining

Harry returned to tell everyone else about Balladanis later on in the afternoon. Madam Pomfrey flat out refused to let any of them leave the Hospital Wing, so she agreed to lock the door and go to her study while Harry explained. Matt's dad was there as well.

Harry told them everything he had told Albus, although he left out the parts about why it was not all that advisable to become a Presuler. Everyone was completely shocked to learn that Balladanis had been hired to help capture Washburn and the Willinsons.

Unfortunately, Harry also brought news of Lubar. News that was not all that welcome.

“As of right now, he's completely free and in the clear,” Harry sighed, “The Australian Ministry refuses to extradite him, and they won't prosecute him in Australia either. To them, it's like nothing's happened.”

Albus noticed that Mr. Eckerton looked positively furious with this. Harry looked quite angry as well, but it did not come close to how Mr. Eckerton looked.

“We're not going to give up,” Harry said, “We'll keep negotiating with them.”

Mr. Eckerton had also apparently been told about the Hallows. When Harry had spoken with him the previous night, it had been about the Hallows. Albus remembered back to his first year, when Matt had told them about his dad's young adult dream of locating the Hallows. Harry must've trusted him now.

Albus reached over to his bedside table, where Madam Pomfrey had placed the Invisibility Cloak the previous night. He wordlessly handed it to Mr. Eckerton, who carefully took it with a look of awe on his face.

“Merlin's beard,” he muttered, “It's the Cloak.”

“That it is,” Harry said quietly.

“Unbelievable,” Mr. Eckerton whispered as he fingered it.

He spent a few minutes trying the Cloak on before handing it back to Albus. “I cannot believe I've finally solved the case of the Hallows,” he said to Harry, “This is amazing. I would love to share the tale with my brother. Perhaps I could introduce you to him at the World Cup this summer.”

Harry nodded. “That would be fine. Perhaps I will eventually tell him as well.”

******

Albus wanted nothing more than to be allowed out of the Hospital Wing in time to go to dinner that night. He was sure Professor Kendrick would make some sort of announcement about the tournament and he did not want to miss it.

After a full ten minutes of begging on his part (helped out by Matt, John, and Kaden), Madam Pomfrey told him he was in no fit state to leave the ward. Albus thought this was ridiculous because he felt fine. So what if his arm was still bandaged and in a sling? That shouldn't stop him from eating dinner with the rest of the school.

Instead, Albus was forced to eat a quiet meal in the Hospital Wing and wait anxiously for Rose and Amanda to tell him what Kendrick said.

The girls showed up right after dinner ended. Albus immediately asked them what Kendrick had said.

“Tournament's canceled,” Rose sighed as she sat down on the end of Albus's bed, “The kids from New York are staying to finish out the year, but the tournament's canceled. I expect it'll be in the Prophet tomorrow.”

“Merlin!” Albus shouted, “Why'd they have to cancel it? Couldn't they just disqualify Australia?”

“No,” Rose shook her head, “To do that Hogwarts would have to play New York in another final.”

“Why don't they do that?” John asked.

“Too close to exams,” Rose shrugged, “It'll mess up everyone's studying.”

“That's stupid,” Albus fumed.

“If it makes you feel better, I'm pretty sure Hogwarts would've won if Australia hadn't have been here,” Rose pointed out, “And Kendrick gave one hundred house points to everyone who was on the Quidditch and dueling teams.”

“Yeah, well, all the houses had people on the teams, so that doesn't really help,” Albus muttered.

“Well,” Rose grinned, “I know one thing that'll cheer you up.”

“What?” Albus asked, even though there was nothing that could cheer him up.

“There were Quidditch scouts at that match,” Rose told him, “And even though the match was disastrous, they did find someone they wanted to draft.”

“Who?” Albus asked, slightly intrigued.

“Georgia!” Rose exclaimed, “She's been drafted to play for Kenmare Kestrals as soon as she graduates!”

“That's brilliant!” Albus replied. Rose had been right, that did cheer him up. There was no one he thought who belonged on a professional Quidditch team more than Georgia.

“Yup, she's their newest reserve Chaser,” Rose said, “She says Uncle Percy's not impressed. He wanted her to work at the Ministry. She doesn't care what he thinks, though.”

“Uncle Percy's got plenty of other kids to work at the Ministry,” Albus shrugged. He could never see Georgia working in government.

“Kenmare?” John said incredulously.

“Yeah, seriously?” Matt grimaced.

“They're nearly as bad as the Cannons,” John groaned.

“She's just happy to be on a team,” Rose shrugged, “She's always supported Puddlemere, but she thinks if she's on any team, she'll be able to work her way up to a better one.”

“Merlin, I hope so,” John shrugged.

“Is she the only one who got drafted?” Albus asked.

“Only one I know for sure of,” Rose said, “I heard a rumor that Anna Reilly got taken on by the Balycastle Bats, but I don't know for sure.”

Albus nodded, feeling slightly better about the tournament. It wasn't pointless now that he knew his cousin had been taken on by a professional Quidditch team because of it. However, that didn't take all the disappointment away.

******

Madam Pomfrey reluctantly let the boys leave the next day after breakfast. She didn't really have a choice since exams began that day. Albus felt perfectly fine and was quite happy to leave the place.

Rose handed him a copy of the Prophet as soon as he and the other boys reached the common room. Albus took it, happy that he had a few minutes before his first exam to read the article that was inevitably there.

AUSTRALIAN SCHOOL CHEATS- TOURNAMENT CANCELED

After a startling discovery made by two Hogwarts
students, the Quidditch and Dueling tournament
involving Hogwarts, the Adirondack Academy of
Magic, and the Australian School of Sorcery
has been canceled.

The tournament's final Quidditch match was
interrupted this past Saturday by two Hogwarts
sixth years, Fred Weasley and Heather Weasley,
both 17, who claimed that the Australian team
had been cheating throughout the entire
tournament.

A few months ago, allegations were brought upon
the Australian team after their Seeker, Linda
Morales, 14, flew at an exceptionally fast speed.
An investigation found nothing. The tournament
continued.

Fred and Heather Weasley accused Linda Morales
of being a vampire. Vampires are outlawed
from playing on professional Quidditch teams due
to the unfair advantage they have.

The match was immediately stopped while all three
headmasters questioned the Weasleys and Morales.

Headmaster Addiar Killigan of the Australian
School of Sorcery admitted to allowing Morales
to be the Seeker of his team in order to win the
tournament. The Australian team was immediately
disqualified from the tournament.

Killigan, Morales, and the rest of the Australians
participating in the tournament left Hogwarts late
on Saturday, declining to speak with any of our
reporters.

Tournament officials as well as the other two
headmasters have decided to cancel the tournament,
and not declaring a winner.

'It is regrettable that the tournament turned out
this way,' Fabius Kendrick told reporters, 'Perhaps
we can try it again in a few years.'

“Killigan is an idiot,” Albus said.

“Look at the next article,” Rose replied.

QUINTON WILLINSON BACK IN AZKABAN, JOINED BY WASHBURN

While the final Quidditch match was ending in disaster
at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry
Potter's middle child, Albus, 13, was dealing with his
own battle.

Albus Potter, as well as cousin Kaden Dursley, 12, and
friends Matthew Eckerton and John Brickston, both 14,
were kidnapped by Quinton and Jarrett Willinson, and
Jameson Washburn. The three convicts were helped by
Ralph Lubar, Head of the Department of the Regulation
and Control of Magical Creatures in Australia.

The four Hogwarts students were taken to Australia
where Harry Potter and Walter Eckerton found them.
It is unclear what the convicts were after, as well as
why Lubar was involved.

Quinton Willinson and Jameson Washburn were caught and
sent to Azkaban. Lubar and Jarrett Willinson escaped.
Aurors are currently looking for Willinson and the
Ministry is negotiating with the Australian Ministry
about what to do with Lubar.

All four boys have recovered from the ordeal and are
currently taking their end of the year examinations
at Hogwarts. Harry Potter has declined comment.

“Well, that's not a very informative article,” Albus said as he tossed the paper onto a nearby table.

“I don't think they can report much,” Rose said, “The Australian Ministry may be asking them to keep quiet about Lubar in return for giving him some sort of punishment.

“It won't matter,” Matt said, “They're not going to do anything to him.”

Albus was forced to push Lubar into the back of his mind as exams began. They were all significantly harder than the previous year's had been, but he was sure he at least passed all of them.

There were short articles in the Prophet about Lubar everyday, but they all said the same thing. Australia refused to extradite him. Matt was not at all surprised by this, but it infuriated Albus to no end.

The week after exams was a strange one for Albus. There was nothing left for them to do. No studying, no homework, no Quidditch. Rose and Amanda went back to spending all their time with the boys, like it had been before Linda had arrived.

Things were different, though. Both Rose and Amanda were a lot quieter than they used to be. Albus was sure they missed Linda, and he had no idea whether she had said goodbye to them, or even if she'd had the chance.

Matt was lost in his own thoughts most of the time, rendering him quieter than ever. He often went entire evenings without saying two words to anyone, something that usually only happened around full moons. However, the next full moon wasn't until after they left Hogwarts.

Albus was sure this was because of what had happened in Australia. He never talked about it, but Albus knew that getting kidnapped by Lubar again had scared the daylights out of him.

John and Kaden remained as boisterous as ever and did not seem to be fazed by what had happened in Australia. They spent their week pulling pranks and playing endless games of Exploding Snap that Albus occasionally joined in on.

Albus himself was quieter. His mind was racing with thoughts of Lubar and Balladanis. None of the articles ever mentioned Balladanis, but he knew that was because Balladanis's job had to remain a secret. He wished more than anything that Lubar would get thrown in prison, whether it was Azkaban or Australia's prison.

******

The train ride back to London was subdued, the only noise being John and Kaden's Exploding Snap cards. Albus and Matt both gazed out the window, mesmerized by the passing landscape.

“Linda sent me a letter last night,” Rose said, breaking the silence.

Albus lifted his head up and looked at her. “What about?”

“She told us she was sorry, and wanted me to tell you that she was sorry about the tournament,” Rose told him, “She's on the run with her mum now. They're thinking of moving to a different country.”

“To go to school?” Albus asked.

“No,” Rose shook her head, “She's been through school a couple times already. She wasn't even a student at the Australian school. Killigan pretty much forced her into playing Seeker for them. He's a really nasty bloke. They have to get out now, though, because everyone knows.”

“Where will they go?” Albus asked, surprised that he was actually feeling sorry for Linda.

“No idea,” Rose shrugged, “She said she'd owl me when they find out.”

“This whole year has been so messed up,” John sighed, “I hope next year's better.”

“Me, too,” Matt agreed.

“We've got the World Cup to look forward to, though,” Albus smiled.

“Oh, yeah!” John grinned, “Owl me as soon as you find out when we're leaving for it.”

“Definitely,” Albus said, “Your sister's going, too. Lily told me she'd invited her. Hugo's not really happy about that.”

“Neither am I,” John muttered, “I don't want Ashtyn going.”

“Well, I'd prefer Lily not go, but it's the Cup! Nothing can really ruin it,” Albus said.

“Good point,” John agreed.

“Let me know when the Cup is,” Kaden said.

“Why? So you can convince your parents to take you?” John smirked.

“No,” Kaden laughed, “So I can know when to invite you lot to my house. My dad said he'd take us camping.”

“Excellent!” John grinned, “Camping like Muggles?”

“Yep,” Kaden replied, “Living in tents, no electricity, no magic either since we're all underage.”

“There is no way my parents will let me go,” Matt said quietly.

“Why not?” Kaden asked.

“I went camping when I was five,” Matt answered, “That was the time I got bitten.”

“Oh,” Kaden looked a little taken aback, “Sorry.”

“It's ok,” Matt shrugged, “Just don't go during a full moon. I don't want any of you having to join me in the Shrieking Shack next year.”

“I'll go,” Albus said. He'd never been camping before, let alone camping like a Muggle. He did feel bad that Matt wouldn't get to go, but he kind of thought Matt wouldn't want to go anyway.

The remainder of the trip was spent arguing about Quidditch and Albus felt like things were sort of returning to normal. It was almost nice to hear John and Matt arguing about the Cannons again and Kaden arguing about football.

The train arrived in London and Albus found his parents waiting for him on the platform. After saying goodbye to his friends, Albus left the station with his family feeling that just maybe life would be normal from then on. Well, maybe the summer would be at least be normal. Albus couldn't get his hopes up too high.


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PostPosted: Saturday 5 June 2010 2:00:19am 
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Second Year

Joined: Friday 4 June 2010 11:51:42pm
Posts: 36
Location: New Jersey USA
I just finished the first three years of Albus Potter and loved them! You are doing a great job and I cannot wait for the next one.


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