Chapter 18 Truth and Plea

The Hogwarts Hurricane

Chapter 18: Truth and Plea

Albus woke up the next morning, still safe and apparently not bitten. Scorpius was also safe in his own bed and Riley was apparently up early. The only one who was not in the dormitory with them that morning was Walter. Albus did not know if he slept in the Common room that night but he did not dwell on it. Scorpius was also up and he looked around with tired eyes.

“Hmm, we’re still in one piece,” he said feeling himself. “Well, that’s good news.”

“Check your neck first,” Albus joked, getting up tiredly and stretching. “Ugh! Merlin, this is stupid. All this time, we wonder what Riley’s problem was and he was only hiding some vampirism. Honestly, Mark just makes too big a deal out of it.”

“And that’s… not a problem?” Scorpius asked a little testily.

“He never caused a problem before, did he?” Albus shrugged. “I mean, look…” Albus had to justify this one. He would have been like Scorpius two days ago if Lorcan had not gotten to him first. “I have a friend named Teddy Lupin. His father was a Werewolf in Hogwarts and he never bit anyone.”

“That we know of,” Scorpius emphasized. “I mean, ok, so he hasn’t done anything. But it’s still creepy, Al. I mean, even Rosie would freak out. Or ask your girlfriend, Alexis. She’d probably do a nut.”

“She’s not my girlfriend!” Albus practically yelled. “Haven’t seen her in… well, at least two weeks.”

“That’s what they all say,” Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Anyways, whatever. We have breakfast.”

They got dressed and proceeded downstairs. The Common room was completely empty except for two people. Two students in a corner talking in hushed voices who did not notice them just yet. Their names were exactly why Albus stole back upstairs, leaving a bewildered Scorpius at the stairs in hiding and grabbed his Invisibility cloak. He whipped it over himself and ran back downstairs. He raised it enough to force Scorpius under it and dragged them both near enough to where Riley and Joel Herbert, Slytherin prefect were sitting.

“-dunno why you don’t just let them know already,” Herbert was saying. “It’s not that big a deal, you know. It’s not like you’re cursed with the full weight. If you just explain… well, it’ll certainly show who your true friends are. I’m sure those in your own dormitory trust you.”

“Not time yet,” Riley said quietly. “Just, promise me Herbert. You’ll keep my secret.”

“I’ll keep your secret, Blackberry,” Joel promised in his Irish accent. “But if you lose it or- or do a nut- go on one of those… frenzies, I’ll have no choice, Blackberry, but to duel you. Understand? I understand your difficulty but I’m prefect and can’t step aside like that.”

“Just keep me away from garlic and I’ll be fine,” Riley told him.

Albus was in half a mind to whip the close off themselves; but Scorpius, it seemed had enough. He dragged Albus away and out of the Common room. They took the cloak off only after they reached the entrance to the dungeons. Albus stuffed it back in his bag and continued to the breakfast table in silence. Here, enough happened to take his mind off Riley.

Come breakfast, the table was rather crowded. It was not the Slytherin table though, but the Gryffindor table. A bunch of students including Rose, Lysander, Samuel, and Laura Creevey were pouring over an article clipping Daniel Dagger received from home. Albus would have ignored it if Nigel Creevey had not been calling everyone’s attention like a newspaper salesman, “Goblins go crazy! Diagon under attack! Read all about it! Extra! Read all about it!” The Daily Prophet article was right in front of Daniel and that was where Walter was, poking his head over Daniel’s shoulder. Mark was right beside him and the twins were standing on his other side.

Skirmish in the Leaky Cauldron:
The Ministry reported last night a skirmish in the Leaky Cauldron between Goblins and a few witches who were dining and drinking before daily shopping. One witch, whose name shall not be disclosed, was abducted. The other three witches reported the abduction to the Ministry which responded within minutes. Head of Aurors Harry Potter dispatched Ronald Weasley and a small team of Aurors to contain the situation that rapidly spun out of control as the abducted Witch was freed on condition of a promise that no more Aurors will enter Diagon Alley as long as the crisis with the Ministry persists.

Though the problem subsided within an hourby Harry Potter’s hand, Head of Education Mors Incommodo condemned the statement harshly, saying that “Harry Potter has placed us in even more danger as he gave up Diagon Alley, a key destination for all witches and wizards to the Goblins.”

Head of the Department for Magical Law Enforcement and Head of Hit Wizard squad Ernie Macmillan, current Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts refuted that in a written statement, insisting that as long as the Law Enforcement was allowed there, “Diagon remains in our control.”

This has nonetheless sparked theories, headed by journalist Rita Skeeter that the Goblins may try abducting once again to force the Ministry out altogether. Such a suggestion has prompted the Minister himself to advise all travelers to be on the lookout and stay well away from Gringotts and Diagon if they can. Stalls have been set up in Hogsmeade village as an alternative for shoppers who wish to purchase supplies.

A small squad of young Hogwarts graduates in Diagon Alley was put together by Ronald Weasley prior to his departure to fight the Goblin rebellion anytime it gets out of hand to ensure Ministry control over the Alley. Incommodo still condemned the idea, saying it brought more ire to Goblins already angered and suggested this was a ruse by the Auror Department to have unauthorized patrols around Gringotts to make sure that the Goblins do not give in to Incommodo’s demands of peeks into Phoenix’s vault.

Rumors are also abound that Harry Potter will reform Dumbledore’s Army, heroes of the second war if the Goblins wage an all-out war against the Wizards. Harry Potter refused to comment on the possibility and his wife Ginny W. Potter threatened to Jinx if further questions were asked.

As the skirmishes happened in Diagon Alley, all eyes turned to Galadral Phoenix, Headmaster of Hogwarts. Rita suggests that if Phoenix is reported to have left Hogwarts and Incommodo ever gains access to his vault and does not find the letters, he may have moved them.

Such a move would be difficult; however, due to the Ministry’s presence outside Gringotts as part of the siege. With the floo networks being watched by some on the Ministry loyal to Incommodo and potential owl interceptions by Goblins, Phoenix cannot change location or ask another to do so for him.

Phoenix remains steadfast and firm against the Ministry; however, insisting nothing was in the vaults and at the same time directing Ministry members loyal to him to watch Gringotts and make sure no one accesses his vaults without their consent. Harry potter is reported to have promised he would keep an eye but this goes unconfirmed.

“Wow!” James awed.

“Wonder what happens?” Nigel called, holding his hands out. “Bets that the Goblins wage war, place here. Bets that this will die down, place here. Who wants a chance to win money in a gambling match? Place all bets here!”

Some actually placed some bets, most of which were that the Goblins would wage a war. Scorpius actually reached his hand out to place a bet too, but Rose slapped his arm down with a disapproving look on her face. Albus and Scorpius walked back to their Slytherin table, Scorpius with a rather guilty look on his face. Before either of them could sit down, Mark’s hand reached out and grabbed Albus’ arm, making him flinch.

“Sorry, but… can you come outside, please?” Mark asked in a surprisingly polite voice. Albus bade goodbye to Scorpius and followed him out, hand in his pocket just in case a duel happened to occur. He already learned Mark was a dangerous person to be around.

“So, Walter told me what you found out,” Mark muttered quietly.

Albus stopped walking and froze. Alex and Eric showed up behind Mark too, and stood waiting with their arms folded. Albus took a deep breath. “How long did you know?”

Alex widened his eyes in horror as Mark held up his hand to calm him down. He kept looking at Albus. “So you do know.”

“Yes,” Albus answered. “How long did you know, Mark? Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“Since last year, and you never would’ve believed me,” Mark said truthfully. “Sorry, mate.”

Then, Mark got curious and asked with genuine interest, “What’ll you do about him, Al?”

“I dunno,” Albus shrugged shortly, still surprised that Mark had turned out to be a protective friend all this time.

“Don’t try anything stupid, Al,” Mark warned him. “Just tell Redgrow or someone. I’ll be surprised if the teachers don’t do anything.”

“Redgrow?” Albus asked. “Why not Era?”

“Won’t be as trustworthy being one Slytherin accusing another of vampirism,” Mark said pointedly. “Tell Redgrow and she might actually like you. You got nothing to lose. Hmph, and you ask me why I want you in Gryffindor. Believe me Al, you’re safer there.”

“Mark, I”-

“Think about it, Al,” Mark pleaded. “We can go up together to Phoenix’s office and ask for a resorting with the hat. It’s possible to change houses, Al, I know it. Besides, you can still be friends with Scorpius and Walter and everyone… you’re just safer and with your own kind. You’re with your family and friends, your real friends, and we could be friends. Please.”

Albus was completely silent. He did not know what to say to Mark in response except to reply quietly, needing serious thinking time. “I’ll think about it,” he muttered as he walked off. He stopped, a thought just occurring to him. It might provoke another confrontation with Mark seeing as how he was back to his previous strength once again, but so was Albus. He was ready. “One thing, though. It’s over, Mark. Lay off Riley already.”

It wasn’t Mark who answered. In fact, the boy was looking down in thought and Eric exclaimed. “Lay off Riley?”

“I’ve known him longer than you have and my dad is friends with his father,” Albus told them. “If my dad trusts them, it’s good enough for me and should be for you. So…”

He waited there for at least a minute before giving up on an answer. He gave his message and that was that. As a matter of fact, Mark usually argued. His silence might have meant an agreement.

Albus returned to the Slytherin table and sat with Scorpius, a little silent until Scorpius asked him for details of his talk with Mark. Albusd told him the story, leaving nothing out, particularly Mark’s offer at the end. This drove Scorpius to silence instead and it stayed like that for five minutes in awkward silence. Then, after Walter left Scorpius sighed.

“Al, please don’t,” he said quietly. “I mean, fine with being Mark’s friend and all. But if you can be friends with me in Gryffindor house, you can certainly be friends with him in Slytherin. I mean, you don’t seriously regret this, do you?”

Albus was very thoughtful about this. He had thought of Mark’s desire, yes, but he never considered the possibility that Riley was a vampire. But then, Riley was harmless. Of that, Albus was sure. But if he was not… if Albus was wrong like he was before about so many other people like Scorpius and Mark… Gryffindor would be open. If Phoenix allowed it.

“I’ll stay,” Albus muttered, spreading cheese on the steak sandwich. “But if Riley does a nut…”

“Then you’ll leave your best friend for dead and move to Gryffindor,” Scorpius nodded in mock understanding. “I understand.”

“Hey, self-preservation, right?”

“Yeah, sure,” Scorpius said in a continuously mocking voice. “Preservation. And… you’re under the delusion I take it, that it’s very self-preserving of you to change houses and suffer my wrath.”

“It seems you’re the one deluded, Scorps, that you could actually take Mark on,” Albus said back, smiling widely. He was thoroughly enjoying this. Scorpius knew that he could not take Mark on.

“You’re the one calling me Scorps, Al, you’re about to suffer my wrath now and no Mark to defend you,” Scorpius laughed. “That good enough for you?”

“Yeah, seeing as how you’re worried about me going to Gryffindor due to Riley, you’re doing a bang up job of it all by yourself,” Albus said, patting his shoulder. “Give up?”

“Whatever, let’s go to class,” Scorpius shrugged, apparently bored when he lost.

And went to class they did. Classes passed by normally. Riley did not do anything strange and even Mark did not let out his usual lectures on Slytherins. Even the twins were quiet. The day passed uneventfully and the night would have too if Riley did not do exactly what Albus and Scorpius were worried about.

As they lay themselves down to sleep, a loud screech sounded. It was like a banshee and Albus leapt out of bed, wand raised. Walter fled the dormitory first and Scorpius was about to follow when Riley fell out of bed. Unperturbed, he dashed at the snake hole himself. Scorpius backed away, about to faint as Riley came running. But he took a sharp turn, and flew up the steps at top speed, yelling something about “Mark,” “Walter,” and “prank.” They looked at each other in fear, and chased Riley down.

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