The Hogwarts Hurricane
Chapter 14: His Very Best Friend
A/N: The next few chapters will focus primarily on Mark. It will have little bits of Albus in them, but Mark will star for the next few chapters. Get to know him a little better and see things from his perspective. This chapter in particular should finally explain once and for all what Mark sees in Albus that makes him so unlikable.
Mark was in Gryffindor tower, sitting against the wall right off the Fat Lady’s corridor. Albus had very rarely been down that corridor if ever. He needed to find Mark though and if he was not there Albus would have to wait where he’d be bound to pass. Luckily, Albus found him sitting down against the wall all alone. He looked almost pitiful himself, sitting alone. Albus had never seen him alone before. Suddenly, a wave of pity overtook Albus again; similar to how he felt when Scorpius (his head panged when he thought of him) informed him that Mark and the twins had split. Friends as close as them… how could they? What happened?
Fighting the urge to cry again, Albus forced himself over. Albus would have to hit himself later though, because this was the second time in six months he had cried so hard. The year, the summer counted, had been so hard on him and he just wanted it to end. Mark looked up in surprise, possibly expecting another attack when Albus took a seat next to him.
Mark didn’t look up as Albus threw himself on the floor beside his nemesis. Mark was quiet at first, but Albus didn’t feel like making the first move, so Mark did. “Go away.”
Albus didn’t answer immediately. He remained quiet, wanting to keep his breath for a possible argument. In spite of his plans, Albus asked, “Why’d you stay here?”
And in spite of Mark, in spite of both of them that neither could explain, Mark answered the question directly, “No reason.”
“Bull. It’s no school secret that you fought with the twins,” Albus said quietly.
“Shut it, Al!” Mark said angrily. Albus could tell Mark really wanted to Jinx him, and it took effort not to do so. Albus would feel bad if he wasn’t angry at Mark himself. “I’ll bet you’re real happy we’re not on talking terms.”
“Not really,” Albus shrugged. “Scorps was ecstatic though. Can’t blame him, really. You give him hell and he was right there with Walter trying to make you feel better last year. We all were. And you still give me hell. Anyways, you didn’t answer my question,” Albus pressed. “You could’ve gone home, and been without me. Had the entire room to yourself. Why stay? To get away from the twins?”
“I got a dorm to myself, here,” Mark pointed out angrily. “And here’s better. No one to bother me. At last a day of rest. That’s why I love Hogwarts.” Mark seemed to be lost now. He seemed to have forgotten he was chatting with an enemy. “The only ones who really bother me is you and a Creevey girl who still follows me around everywhere.”
“Well, if you weren’t such a snake to me last summer, and we got along, that would hardly be a problem,” Albus sighed.
Mark actually grinned at that. Albus felt quite surprised when he laughed, and said, “I don’t hate you, Al. I just intensely dislike you.”
“Why?” Albus challenged. Mark looked down, determined to keep his eyes off Albus now. Albus pressed the question. “Why, Mark? Why do you hate me so much? Why do you refuse me when I reach out to you? Why? We could be friends. Really good friends. You’d probably be a better friend than Scorpius but you insist on giving me and all of my other friends hell because- what, I’m not in Gryffindor? You think I’d want to go to Gryffindor after the trouble you give me? You really, honestly think that”-
“Oh, really, Al, you don’t know?” Mark said bitterly. “Do you want to know why I dislike you so much?” When Albus nodded, Mark launched off, and his explanation was such a rant that Albus would have burst into more tears if he had not stopped himself. Mark had spilled everything with one go and little pause except to take a breath. “Well firstly, you’re in constant denial. You continue to shut me out when I try to explain that Scorpius would ditch you in a heartbeat if he had benefit. You even had proof last year and this year. He fought on your side one minute and next minute he was this close to making nice with me if we weren’t interrupted. Yeah, I know he defended you last summer but he had benefit to gain trust, and actually look good in front of Harry Potter if he actually confessed. He did not do it just to be nice but you keep convincing yourself he’s an amazing friend.
“You’re a growing prejudiced against Gryffindor now to the point you’ve been avoiding James at every opportunity you get. He’s sticking his nose out for you against me, giving himself trouble and you just walk about like he’s doing nothing. When was the last time you talked to him? Avoiding your own brother just to keep appearances in Slytherin house. And don’t look at me like that Al, I’m not prejudiced. The twins are my cousins effectively making Walter my best friend easy. And you know, even I remember when you were close to James. I haven’t been around that long and your father told me you two were so close. Now you’ve gone apart all because of your own house. Face it, Al, Slytherin is driving you apart.
“Then, you’re relentlessly, ridiculously naïve. You really, truly think Scorpius is a true friend? Heck, even I know that Walter will stab me in the back if he stood to gain but I’m comforted by the fact that the twins are there for me. You’ve shut so many people out, Scorpius ditches you this time for real, he actually lied to get away from you and you collapse to the point you’re willing to talk to me. You have no one to stand with you.
“And you know what I hate most about you? You’re a frigging follower! You followed Scorpius into Knockturn Alley just to look cool without telling your dad. I mean, I’m sure he would’ve understood if you told him where you were going, but no. You have to keep appearances up and reject your own father too. Heck, your mum was in tears last summer niot because you went in but because you didn’t even tell her where. You went in under Malfoy supervision. Then when you’re caught, you try to weasel your way out of trouble. You needed Scorpy to help you out, only proving you’re nothing without him; making you a weakling when he ditches you like he did just now and showing yourself exactly like a snake: swiftly strike and slither into the little snake hole to hide.
“And after all that, I’ll bet you anything you’ll try to talk to him when he comes back just to regain what you had and only delaying the inevitable, making you weak and undignified. And after all that, all your faults and how you treat the rest of your family to protect your precious Slytherin personality, you call me a snake? All that crap you give everyone, including me and I’m the snake?
“But you know what? All that is nothing. It could easily be overlooked if you were just a Gryffindor. Not prejudiced reasons, but so you’d be with people who’d fight to protect you and your feelings rather than stand back and watch the massacre. You made Slytherin because Scorpius wanted you to. James thought you’d go in, and he was right. And you’ve never forgiven him since. And that, Al, is why I hate you so much. Pfft, yeah, so get over it!”
Albus looked down, screwing his face up against the tars begging to spill out once again. Curse Scorpius, he thought. If he hadn’t left him there, none of this would have happened. He would have been in the Common room playing Exploding Snap, Gobstones or Wizard’s Chess or even practicing Quidditch, possibly plotting ways to get rid of Mark. No, Albus was with Mark and after hearing what Mark hated about him, which was so legitimate that Albus could find nothing against it, Albus could no longer defend his friendship with Scorpius or Walter.
And what a surprise it’ll give them if I requested a change of house. As unlikely as it is that Phoenix would even allow it, if I did, it’ll end everything. Both Scorpius and Walter will be in for a surprise. Surely, they’ll regret their actions.
His eyes getting blurry from the water within, Albus nodded slowly and Mark immediately regretted what he had said. He really meant to keep it to himself but Albus had literally asked for it. Once again, Mark felt sympathy for the boy whose life he made a living hell.
“You’re right,” Albus muttered so quietly, Mark asked for a repeat for he did not hear it the first time. Albus’ tears slowly leaked out against his will and mark looked down, determined to keep his eyes off Albus. He was picking on a real soft spot. A soft spot both Alex and Eric appreciated in him. “You’re right, Mark,” his voice broke. “I give up. I give up, just- please, I beg you, leave me alone. I just want a peaceful life.”
Reduce to begging, Mark thought. No Gryffindor would do that. Mark stared at him, eyes boring into his watery ones, and said, “Problem with Scorps, huh? I saw you angry a week ago.”
“He ditched me,” Albus said miserably. “I don’t even know about Riley anymore. The whole dormitory has just become dysfunctional.”
Mark smiled sadly. Suddenly, all ill feelings towards Albus were lost. He let them out along with his rant. “Sorry, Al. Really. I’d apologize for what I said too, but… you asked for it.” Albus looked so miserable that Mark put a hand on his shoulder and around his back in a semi one-armed hug, and said quietly so no passerby would hear, said in exactly the right tone of voice so that it almost sounded sagely. “Go to sleep. Sleep often heals the worst maladies.”
Mark finally got up, deciding he too needed to get away from this moment. Feeling sympathy for Albus was one thing but openly making him feel better and apologizing for what he did… Mark too was weak right now. The twins were giving him hell for the exact same reason Mark had just committed. Being friendly with Slytherins.
To understand Mark’s feelings, one had to literally stalk him. He who wandered out of curiosity would find Mark alone in the dormitory usually meant for three people. Mark usually slept on his own bed during usual times. With the twins out and Mark not with them, the child slept on Alex’s bed. Eyes tightly closed as if determined to stay asleep until the holidays ended, Mark lay.
The dorm lost its comforting and inviting look that he and the twins gave it since year one. Even when James and his friends invaded as they usually did since their first night, it was still comforting and inviting. The only time when it was not comforting and inviting was when Laura Creevey ran up, excited and energetic, wondering what the first class was because she ‘forgot her timetable.’
If wandering at the right time in the night, one could catch Mark sleeping tearfully. Clutching the pillow tightly as if holding onto something dear, he cried himself to sleep, and even woke up with tears in his eyes. He would have to dry them firmly, take a drink of water, and go down to breakfast as normally. Mark was so downhearted since his talk with Albus and he had never forgiven himself for giving him so much trouble. He never wanted to see Albus in such a depressive state again.
Mark easily justified his misery to himself. A common student would think him obsessed or attached. Mark loved his cousins dearly. It was an innocent love, and those who he grew up with since before their first birthdays, those who spent all hours together, those who spent every day together, and those who knew each other from the inside and out better than anyone else in the world could not easily let go.
Poor Mark still disliked Albus, but he started seeing Albus as more than before. He spied Albus reading in the library some extra Charms notes, Adam instructing him, and Carl translating. Ben was across, reading loudly from a book. Later, Albus was even caught introducing Adam to the giant squid.
Mark had to admit Albus was right. All he had were Alex and Eric. Well, he did have Walter, in a way, but he was more Albus’ friend, and Mark couldn’t trust Walter the way he’d like, because he knew full well that whatever he told Walter would be told to Albus, and no doubt his brother Malcolm, and Mark detested Malcolm. Mark couldn’t trust anyone.
But Walter was a great friend. He talked with Mark, even told him to stay strong and don’t listen to the twins, and made jokes with him to keep him laughing. It was a pity he too left for the holidays, or Mark might’ve had fun.
Mark appeared normal in the main castle, and he didn’t even have to feign. When having dinner, and looking at the snow, he felt happy. Only the dormitory brought the pain, and even that was alleviating a bit the more he spent outside in the main castle.
James stayed behind with his exchange student, so Mark decided to socialize with him and Jimmy, unaware of James’ doings and how much fault lay with James for splitting them up. There was only one way out. Only one way to alleviate all the pressure. He could do a small prank on someone, satisfy James, and get him out of the dormitory. That would bring the twins back over to him in heartbeat.
He walked up one flight of stairs to the third-year dormitory, and knocked on the door. James called him in, so he opened it tentatively, peered in to see James sitting alone, and walked in. James gave a small grin, and turned back to his bag which he seemed to be rummaging through.
“I give up,” Mark muttered miserably. “You win.”
James grinned, “Ok. That’s new. Promise to be humble?” He said it like Mark was a bad boy and needed spanking. Mark hated being talked to like that, but he was reduced to nothing in the first half of the year. He had to do something to get them all off him. He needed some amusement in his life.
“I’m done,” Mark said miserably, wiping his eyes. “The twins hate me, Albus is reduced to a pitiful wreck of his former self that I actually feel sorry for him, Riley stinks, and the whole castle is against me. Did I mention Albus is a wreck? I can’t do this anymore. Just quit the idiocy and get out of my dorm and I promise I’ll leave everyone alone.”
“Wow, Mark. Sudden change of heart, I see. Well, just for that apology, I’ll let you off the core of the prank. I’ll plot something of my own based on the information you give me, deal? Right after the prank and apology to Albus and the rest of his dormitory for instigating this Hurricane, I’ll relinquish my hold on your dormitory. Agreed?”
Mark considered, and asked, “Completely relinquish?”
James crossed his heart. “I swear it.”
Mark could see it all. Taking James’ side would take away Albus’ only source of comfort and do more to split the Slytherin dormitory up. If given the right opportunity, he might also get James in massive trouble, killing many birds with one stone. It was time to strike back. But Mark knew James would take back what he said. Mark had to get a promise out of James.
James got up, with a little more spring, and faced him, “Alrighty. Albus told me once that he thought Riley was hiding something. He hinted you know something. Is that true?” Mark’s silence answered the question and so James went on. “Tell me Riley’s issue and I’ll do with it what I may.”
“Under one condition,” Mark said lowly. “Whatever I tell you, make absolutely sure Albus finds out in some way. He absolutely must know the truth about Riley through any means necessary. I don’t know how, but Adam might know too. He is very observant.”
“Ok, tell me,” James said seriously, shaking Mark’s hand for once. Indeed, Mark felt for the first time he was making a deal with the devil. Mark was uncertain about this, but if it meant James getting out of his dormitory, well that was something the twins would love him for. He grinned at the thought, and nodded in agreement as he started explaining, James’ face etched in shock as the story went on.
Albus woke up in a dizzy daze. At first he thought he was dreaming because the room he was in was completely blue filled with bookshelves of books filled with knowledge. Judging by the fireplace and the sofas and armchairs he was by, he was in the Ravenclaw Common room. And only one person was willing to take Albus to a spot only Ravenclaws were allowed in.