Chapter 17 Three-way Battle

The Forgotten Memory

Chapter 17: The Three-way Battle

Albus and Scorpius didn’t talk that night. They were exhausted from the day’s events. Albus wondered vaguely if Mark had cured his bad cold yet, especially after what Scorpius did to it. He had a feeling Mark was gonna get revenge on Scorpius, and the looks of loathing on Alex and Eric’s faces were unmistakable.

The next day brought to them an announcement that Slytherin would be playing Ravenclaw the next weekend, right before the holidays. At least that was one thing to look forward to. Albus didn’t think he’d get through the week without that knowledge. Mark never failed to throw dirty looks at him throughout breakfast on Sunday. James also caught Albus’ eye, and then bent down to mutter to Fred and Louis something.

Of course. Albus just realized. If James was his social enemy, he wouldn’t fail on telling their cousins about it. The truth finally hit Albus with full impact. Fred and Louis wouldn’t be talking to him either. As a matter of fact, neither would James’ pals, Nigel and Samuel. Sighing sadly, he turned to his plate. Scorpius looked at him and rolled his eyes, “Write to your dad.”

Albus shrugged sadly. Owls started invading the room a few minutes later. A large black owl from the school landed in front of Scorpius, giving the Daily Prophet. Scorpius opened it tiredly, and Albus took from Archimedes a letter from his dad. It had a general greeting, and asking how things were going. Scorpius told him to write back with the truth, but Albus wasn’t too keen on that. “Dad was in Gryffindor too. He’d be on James’ side.”

“If you say so,” Scorpius shrugged.

Nonetheless, Albus took a piece of parchment from his bag and started a letter. He didn’t write everything. He just wrote that things were going terribly, but they were too much to say in a letter. As he sent Archimedes off, Scorpius tapped him on the side. “Oi, did you see this?”

He showed a Daily Prophet heading. Albus looked at it in interest, chewing on a treacle tart.

Minister Shacklebolt Announces Resignation:
In an expected but regretted conference last night, Minister for Magic for nineteen years, Kingsley Shacklebolt announced his resignation last night in the early hours of the morning. “With great dignity, I announce my resignation. I am stepping down as Minister for Magic to make way for a younger, fresher Wizard.”

Keeping with tradition, Minister Shacklebolt announced he would stay up in the Ministry with an advisory role to the next Minister. This tradition has continued on since the forced resignation of Minister Bartleby Baggs in 1873.

Speculation continues on who he handpicked to succeed him, but sources indicate it will be Senior Assistant to the Minister Owen Cauldwell. Other sources, however; are certain it will be former Death Eater Lucius Malfoy.

The Minister neither confirmed nor denied either rumors leaving to the media and Prophet to speculate. An insider, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter indicated that Shacklebolt may step down by the end of Christmas.

Kingsley Shacklebolt orchestrated the reform of the Ministry along with Head of Aurors Harry Potter, and his resignation prompted fears in the Wizarding world of corruption returning to the Ministry. To give assurance, Kingsley vowed his replacement would be up to the task of keeping the Ministry the way it is, and will work closely with Head of Aurors Harry Potter, who… etc…

Albus swallowed his tart with difficulty, and stared. “My dad, reforming the Ministry? How much do I not know about him?”

Scorpius laughed, “Not a lot if even that escaped your knowledge. Here’s some advice. When you find out what he did, you go and ask your dad why he never told you and then tell me, and we’ll see if it’s credible or not.”

Albus went back to the article, rereading the resignation announcement, and frowned, “Disappointing, though.”

“Not really,” Scorpius mumbled. “He wasn’t a good Minister. See, Shacklebolt would crack down on anyone who speaks for Pure-bloods. It’s like he’s afraid of persecution. But no one has even tried anything remotely like that in ages. We’re safe, and he’s still cracking down on them. I think it’s good we can have a fresh face now. Finally.”

“Think it’ll be that Cauldwell guy then?” Albus asked, taking a doughnut.

Scorpius shrugged, “I personally think it should be my granddad. What better way for the Wizarding World to feel secure than a former Death Eater taking the reigns?”

Albus stared. Was he kidding? Before he could speculate, someone tapped him on the back. He expected Rose, but surprisingly it was Mark. His nose back to normal and cold lifted, he stared at Albus, still with signs of anger.

Albus and Scorpius got their silent message though. They got up from the table, and followed them outside. Watching from the Gryffindor table, Rose leapt up and ran to the teacher’s table to alert them. Not only Rose was watching though. James and his group watched on alert and as he got up to follow Mark and Albus. Walter, Riley and Laura Creevey followed. Piqued by interest when Walter got up, Malcolm turned to a couple of his friends and whispered, “Stall the Weasley girl. We’ll be watching this duel.”

Unaware of the spies, Mark stopped when they reached the snowy courtyard they dueled in the day before. Mark stopped walking, and faced them both. He had his hand outstretched toward Scorpius. “Scorpius, I admit you’re good, and a skilled player. Putting family names aside, I’m willing to recognize you as a good guy.”

Scorpius didn’t return the shake yet. He raised an eyebrow skeptically. “Really? What’s this? What about Al?”

“Albus is a coward,” Mark said, glancing at Albus, who stared at him angrily. “It was two against one. I’m reaching to you because you were the better one. Albus had to recover. You didn’t. He uses you to fight for him.”

Albus scoffed and snorted in disbelief. Mark was trying another tactic. Admitting defeat only to Scorpius, let the ego kick in, and split him from Albus. Quite clever too, Albus had to admit. Scorpius was like that and easily satisfied by people admitting anything great about him. It was undoubtedly to show Albus how easily Scorpius would betray him.

Scorpius might have stuck up for him before when Albus came in upset, but that was based off his Slytherin principles. If Mark was offering friendship, that meant no problems for Scorpius. Who wouldn’t take the offer? In fact, Albus knew he himself would take the offer. In an attempt to sway Scorpius’ mind by guilt, he said, “Last I checked, Mark, you had friends who stuck together,” Albus breathed. He stepped forward into the fight. “And in case it escapes you, the two on one duel is called teamwork. Isn’t that what we’re doing? Or because we’re Slytherins, we’re denied that pleasure?”

“Speak for yourself, Al,” Scorpius said lowly, not meeting anyone’s eyes. “I’ll make you a deal. Friends if you leave all Slytherins alone. Deal?”

Albus was shocked. For a second, Mark threw Albus a triumphant look as the team Albus formed with Scorpius was falling apart so easily. Mark opened his mouth to respond, but then the doors opened, and out walked James, backed by his entire second year boy’s dormitory. James had the head, backed by Nigel and Samuel on either side. Fred and Louis were behind Nigel and Samuel. ‘Baseball cap’ Daniel and Michael were behind Fred and Louis. It was like a triangle formation. James stepped forward, eyeing them both.

“Oi, you two getting along?” James asked.

“Stay outta this,” Albus and Mark said in unison. “You too,” they said to each other in unintended unison. In spite of themselves, they stayed silent, and James laughed. “Pathetic. So easy to end this.” He bent down to talk to Al, “Have any information on Malcolm for me?”

Albus looked up at James, considered him for a bit, and then said, “Malcolm is your problem. I got nothing to do with this.”

Mark smirked, “Do I sense friction in Slytherin house, Al? Some friends you all turn out to be.”

“You’re one to talk, Wallader,” Albus said back. “Or do you accept James bullying you?”

“Shut UP, Al!” Mark said angrily.

“You got nothing to do with this, Al,” James said, standing up straight again. “Now, if you’d be so kind as to give information on Malcolm and Mark here agreed to pull a schoolwide prank… I might reconsider my policy. But, you of all people would know what we get if I took over his dormitory.”

Mark widened his eyes, “I knew it! They’re in it together!” He turned to the twins, “See, I told you.”

The doors of the castle opened further, and the twins walked out. Before they were closed, Riley and Walter, closely followed by Laura, appeared on the scene to watch the quickly evolving battle.

“You’re such a hypocrite,” Albus said back, whipping his wand out as the new arrivals took places behind Albus.

James took his wand out, and pointed it directly at Albus. “I may be your brother, but I won’t hesitate to Jinx you if you step in the way of my affairs with Mark here. I told you why I went in and you of all people would understand. This is your last warning, Al, step aside.

“You don’t even know who Mark is, do you?” Eric yelled angrily at James and Albus. But as he said this, Mark and Alex held his mouth shut as if he was about to let loose a secret. Albus widened his eyes and for a split second, his gaze met James’. They were both thinking the same thing.

“You gonna have your mates back you up this time, Mark?” Albus coaxed.

“No, this battle is mine,” Mark breathed. “You’re gonna regret this, Al. Incendio!”

Albus dove to the side, but it wasn’t aimed at him. James flew back in surprise and landed on the cold snow two feet away. He might’ve caught fire, but the wet snow limited the damage. Albus turned to Mark, took a deep breath, knowing full well Mark’s speed, and shot.

Albus’ Cold Curse was parried by Mark’s Bogie Curse, and he dove to the ground in time to avoid a Leg-locker he knew would come through the green and yellow sparks exploding in midair. James staggered back up, and pointed his wand at Mark in revenge, “Expelliarmus.”

James was a second year. He would know more spells, but Mark ducked it with fast reflexes. Honestly, Albus had to admit, Mark was a natural at dodging. It was like he got into duels all the time. Mark reacted instinctively, and fired, “Mucus ad Nauseam.”

James might’ve known more spells, but he hardly knew the reflexes to dodge them. He found himself being thrown back again, this time his nose covered in mucus.

As Mark was firing at James, Albus fired a Knock-back Jinx at Mark. Mark barely ducked it, and parried a quick spell from Albus before walking slowly toward Albus, “Now you wait till I’m occupied with James to fire at me. You’re still firing back-shots, you coward!”

“You’re determined to hate me,” Albus said angrily. “Just piss of,” and he fired another Knock-back in desperation.

For all the good it did, Albus might as well have thrown his wand away. Mark ducked it, and continued walking toward Albus as James lifted the cold off himself with Finite.

Albus kicked some snow up at Mark, but as if he expected it, he yelled “Incendio.”

In surprise though, another Bogie Curse flew from the snow and hit Mark fully in the face. James started to run back in as Albus fired one more at Mark, “Cruento.”

Mark’s nose was not only running badly, but also bleeding now. It was like he was doomed to have a bad fever over the weekend. If he went to Madam Pomfrey, she’d be wondering what gave him such a quick cold. Albus parried off James, and fired a Cold Curse at him.

“Rictusempra.”

Albus fell to the ground, and started laughing. James got him with a Tickling charm. “No time to be laughing, Al. Hah. Let’s go guys, we’re done here.” James walked away, having finished with Albus, and his friends followed suit.

“Idiot!” Daniel called back.

Even Fred and Louis laughed. At least Samuel was rather quiet about it. As a matter of fact, he looked a little disapprovingly at Daniel at his tough comment. It was as if Daniel was James’ spokesman when he wanted to insult someone.

Scorpius and the twins made to run to their fallen friends, but Albus and Mark staggered back up, eager to continue the fight, Albus still breathless with laughter. Of course, neither were in condition. Mark’s vision was growing blurry, and Albus was swaying and laughing. Mark managed to hold himself together for one more second to fire, “Mucus ad Nauseam.”

Albus fell back again. A Knock-back Jinx fired in quick succession sent him further back, and he landed with a splash on the snow. Mark walked slowly toward Albus, desperate to finish it, but before he could make it, his vision got blurry, but he blinked rapidly to keep his eyesight in focus. Scorpius, Riley and Walter were blocking Mark’s way. He heard scampering feet as Alex and Eric ran in. Noticing the evolving situation, James returned to the fold and this time his entire group backing him up. Albus barely managed to lift the curse off him as Alex lifted the curse off Mark easily.

They regained footing and faced each other down for few more seconds before James’ group overtook them. Just as spells were being fired from seven wands at them, Albus and Scorpius backed away. James took a place right in front of Mark, eyeing them determinedly. “Sorry, Al. But this is a house thing. I can’t have Gryffindors getting outnumbered by Slytherins on my watch.”

Just as Mark was recovering from the duel he had with Albus and James, a red jet from Malcolm stunned him and he appeared beside Walter who looked ferociously proud. “Sorry, Potter, but nine on nine is fairer and you lost your crowned peace.”

Scorpius gaped, “Uh, what the- that’s fourth year level.”

“Off!” James ordered commandingly.

The situation evolving quickly out of control and too eventful for Albus’ liking, Albus backed away behind Walter. Danei’s voice yelled, “Don’t hide!” and two jets from Daniel Dagger and Michael Finnigan, jets of spells way too high for Albus’ knowledge, shot at both Walter and Albus. Malcolm yelled in fury and the last thing Albus heard was James’ laughter and the last thing he saw was the doors opening again to reveal Rose and Joel Herbert, behind whom was Professors Era and Redgrow.

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