Chapter 20 Owls Before the Storm

The Hogwarts Hurricane

Chapter 20: Owl Before the Storm

When Albus and Scorpius woke up the next morning, the school was in full buzz. Word was Riley became the first student in Hogwarts history to ever threaten a portrait. Even the legendary Tom Riddle never threatened a portrait. Gryffindors swore even their students had never threatened a portrait. According to the Gryffindors, (Mark told Walter), Riley attacked the fat lady with spells and curses. She fled her portrait in fear, and he knocked at it for ten minutes in a rampage.

Yet, no one saw it happen. The only one who was a first-hand witness was Laura Creevey, who needed a calming potion made by Professor Era, who wasn’t available until the next morning. Lysander had to take her to the hospital wing to be calmed down physically and verbally before Era could come up.

But no one was angrier than Malcolm. Malcolm exploded with rage the next morning. He seemed to be looking for the person responsible for giving Walter or Adam the garlic idea in the first place. Albus and Scorpius walked down from the dormitory to Malcolm holding court and even making a speech to a lot of willing listeners.

“All we know is that beast was yelling Mark’s name! I am declaring an all-out personal war on Gryffindor house, because they are the ones who are making friends with our number, especially Mark. Whoever wants to join, they can. If I find the person responsible for this… this atrocity against the Mold name, I will personally see to it that person is either expelled or the Headmaster himself is sacked… or preferably both. How dare he let a dangerous vampire in this ancient house? How dare these people think they can lash out at us through a beast? That’s attempted murder!”

Albus could hardly argue with Malcolm’s prejudiced thoughts at that point. Fresh from the horrors of the night before, Albus found himself agreeing with Malcolm. As the circle of listeners dissipated, Malcolm turned to Walter and even turned his eyes to Albus. Samantha was there too, and she was sitting close beside her eldest brother.

“Potter, over here!” he demanded so forcefully, Albus resigned himself to listen. “Walt tells me you found out about this recently. He won’t answer anything else so I’m interrogating you instead. When did you all find out about Riley? Exactly?”

“Erm…” Albus looked at Scorpius, who shrugged in indifference at Malcolm knowing. “Well… two nights ago, I think.”

Malcolm fell into deep thought, as if narrowing down possibilities. Samantha looked up at him curiously and neither Albus nor Scorpius were sure if they could leave. Then, Malcolm spoke again. “Two nights ago. No idea could have been given that night so it’s narrowed to only yesterday. Walt, answer me now or I’ll go to Mark myself. Did you see him yesterday?”

Walter looked up in apparent fear and tension and shook his head “I’ll tell you, but please don’t go after Mark. He’s not a bad guy. He protected me, I swear. He knew what Riley was and told me”-

“What?”

“Nothing,” he said hurriedly.

“So, you saw him yesterday and he put something in your mind! I don’t care if he protected you, he used you as a pawn!”

“That’s just like Mark,” Scorpius spoke up suddenly. “Like a mad genius. Everyone is his pawn.”

“Mark isn’t like that!” Walter said almost tearfully. “He begged me not to do anything. The garlic thing came from Defense Against the Dark Arts, ok? I asked Professor Macmillan at the end of class yesterday what happened if you used garlic on a vampire.”

“Why did you do it then?” It seemed it took every ounce of fiber Malcolm had to keep himself calm and he spoke through gritted teeth.

“I- I thought that maybe I could impress Mark and be- be a hero if I exposed Riley that way,” Walter admitted through heavy tears. “He was dangerous. I couldn’t just stay there and Phoenix… he wouldn’t care.”

“Malcolm, if Mark protected Walter, I don’t want him hurt,” Samantha pleaded, feeling empathy to Walter’s tears.

Mark himself was a bit shaken, and no one saw that before. As Albus and Scorpius left the dungeons, the first person they met was Mark, who threw himself at them both in relief. For a wonder, the twins were not with him. “Merlin, the school was insisting some Slytherins died!” he said dramatically. He seemed genuinely relieved that they were fine. “I thought for a moment that… well, at least you’re ok. Ok, fine. Hmph,” and Mark reverted back to his usual sour self. “Well, you saw what happened. Thank me later.”

Albus and Scorpius followed Mark to the Great Hall from the Entrance hall. As they took their seats at the respective tables, checkboxes appeared next in front of them magically beside their plates. Behind them, with his wand withdrawn was Professor Creevey. He had a small smile. “Professor Era sent me to give you these. Each student is to fill these in before breakfast is over.”

Looking at the items, Albus saw they were extra lessons; their names and teachers. The time to choose their electives was upon them at last. As if on cue, a flurry of owls invaded the hall from the ceiling with a bunch of letters dropping on front of Albus, right on his marmalade. One letter from his father came with a newspaper clipping Albus pocketed to read later.

I took Care of Magical Creatures, Harry wrote. Hagrid’s brilliant. Divination is a mildly interesting subject, but its credibility is questioned. Nonetheless, it did predict both Wizarding wars so we cannot discredit completely. Ask Aunt Hermione about Arithmancy and Ancient Runes, but as a Potter, I think you should take Muggle Studies.

His mum wrote a separate letter, advising him to think through the decision. This will effect your life. What you want to do later will be effected.

One letter from his uncle Ron read Albus, take Divination. It’s a load of laughs. Whatever you do, steer clear of Arithmancy. It turned your aunt into a maniac. I would recommend Care of Magical Creatures because Hagrid is brilliant and whoever doesn’t take it has betrayed the family honor.

PS. Hugo says hi and that the Appleby Arrows beat the Montrose Magpies 240-120.

Albus might have listened to Ron if Hermione had not sent a letter tow seconds later disputing almost everything it said. Al, pay no attention to your drunken uncle. Divination is atrocious and Arithmancy is for those who are of a steady mind like you and I. Numerical values and symbols hold untold meanings Divination can never unlock. Ancient Runes give a good insight into old languages and a steady background on the origins of magic. Muggle studies is a great subject since you di not grow up with Muggles as I did. I highly recommend it, lest you understand your Uncle Dudley a little better. As for Care of Magical Creatures, it really is a great subject and Hagrid is a good teacher but as you know Hagrid, I feel I must warn you that the subject is dangerous. In any case, don’t go for a small amount of courses. Please, please Al try taking four courses. When I was your age, I signed up for five courses and needed a time turner. Five years ago, I lengthened the school day for people who wanted a broader learning experience. I advise you to take advantage of these changes I made.

Then, he got a surprise letter from Uncle Percy, Play to your strengths, Albus. Do you want to study the unknown? Do you want to play Quidditch? Do you want to look after magical creatures? Think very carefully, and let me know what you decide.

Take Divination Luna wrote to him. It’s an important subject, and gives one a greater knowledge of that which is beyond human capability to comprehend fully.

Albus sat with Scorpius in the dormitory, and talked it out with him. Scorpius seemed to be thinking along Albus’ same lines, whilst scratching his cat, Ursa. Albus stared at the list, and sighed, “Uncle Percy is right. I will want to study things.”

“Well, mum and dad seem to think I should take Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. What’s on your end?” Scorpius asked behind his letters from his mum and dad. They seemed to be quite long, no doubt filled with Draco’s history of Hippogriffs Albus never failed to hear from Scorpius or Harry.

“Well, the general agreement is that Care of Magical Creatures is cool to take. I guess I’ll take their word for it.”

“Well, ok but don’t blame me if you get slashed by a Hippogriff or… or scared out of your pants because of some death omen or something,” Scorpius shrugged. “I’m sticking with my gut and taking the ones inside.”

“Scorps, be honest, do you really think Hagrid would have you killed?” Albus asked him testily. “You met him.”

“No, but my dad”-

“Insulted a Hippogriff,” Albus finished for him, not meeting Scorpius’ eyes. He did not want to appear to more challenging than he already was. “C’mon, you know the subject is gonna be good.”

“Alright, alright, if I take Care of Magical Creatures with you, you take Ancient Runes and Arithmancy with me,” Scorpius offered. “Deal?”

“Deal, but no Arithmancy,” Albus told him. “I really don’t care about… (he read Hermione’s letter again) numerical values and symbols. No, you’re about to take Muggle studies with me.”

Albus thought he was being daring trying to convince Scorpius to take Muggle studies but Scorpius jumped at the chance and checked the box for it immediately. “Yes, with Professor Creevey. Ok.”

“You… want to take Muggle studies?” Albus asked with an eyebrow raised.

“Yeah, sort of… I mean… yeah,” Scorpius said airily and if Albus was not mistaken, he was being secretive about something. Albus was flustered about it for a minute but pushed it out of his mind and cleared his throat. “And. We rejected Arithmancy. Want Divination? Or… do we just stop at three?”

“Well, let’s take four and who knows, Rosie might think we’re serious students and help us for once. Aunt Hermione lengthened the school day for people who wanted to take more subjects. Either way, our schedules will be full and some might be fun! Apparently, Divination is a load of laughs and Magical Creatures is with Hagrid.”

“That was your Aunt?” Scorpius gaped. “Al, you bastard!”

Nonetheless, they shook hands happily on it, and turned to their respective lists. Slowly, Albus wrote his full name, taking care to remember his middle name. He wrote his age and year, his birthday, and then checked the lessons Divination, Ancient Runes, Care of Magical Creatures, and Muggle Studies. Albus was about to raise his hand for Creevey to come on over but Rose came over first with her own checklist. She placed it beside Albus’ and read from his.

“Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, Ancient Runes, and Muggle studies. Brilliant, Al, you’re in three of my courses. I do hope the teachers are good. Mum says Divination isn’t worth it though and I do think Ancient runes will be fascinating. I took Arithmancy though. I advise you to rethink your decision, please.”

“Well, I would have, but Al told me to take Care of Magical Creatures,” Scorpius mumbled.

“Al, forsaking knowledge for a dangerous subject?”

“Yes, because Hagrid is a good teacher and Arithmancy is for nerds,” Albus grinned.

“What?”

“Yeah, and your mum swayed me to think this way so… not my fault,” Albus laughed, taking the article Harry had sent out and opening it in front of Scorpius and Rose to read. Harry apparently wanted to keep Albus updated so here it went. This time, Albus’ article was summoning Gryffindors over to the Slytherin table to read it and that included the most anti-Slytherin personalities Daniel Dagger, Mark Wallader and the Wallaby twins Alex and Eric.

Diagon Hostage Crisis: Goblins Make Demands
Late last night, Education Head Mors Incommodo sent two Ministry members in to Gringotts to confront the Goblins. The confrontation within was not commented on and the happenings inside are unknown as of now. However, it is clear two Goblins ran out with one Ministry worker giving chase. The chase ended when the Goblins seized a passing family, a knife on their son’s neck.

It is unclear what became of the Ministry worker, but some Goblin sources hinted at the possibility of him being dead, raising speculation that s scuffle went on inside. Incommodo is reported to be furious.

The violent hostage crisis is still happening as the Ministry scrambles to make an agreement with the Goblins with Otto Blackberry and Harry Potter in the lead. Phoenix remains in Hogwarts dealing with what Otto said were “internal problems.”

Incommodo condemned Harry’s involvement; however, and took a stance against Otto, claiming that “This is in the hands of my Department. The presence of an Auror force, let alone the Head himself only raises suspicion of secret letters within the vault. Why are there exchange students within when neither me nor the Minister gave consent?”

Harry did not respond to the accusation yet co-Head Ronald Weasley released a leak that Hogwats had other problems other than worrying about exchange students and why they were there. The war of words reached a climactic showdown when the hostage crisis ensued.

The Goblins dragged the family inside the bank and shut the doors demanding Incommodo’s forces to leave the grounds, Harry Potter’s assurance that Aurors would never go near the bank again, and free banking for all Goblins.

Agreement seems unlikely as Incommodo refused any compromise until he knows the whereabouts and fate of the other worker who is presumed dead inside Gringotts. Senior Goblin officials were quick to point out; however, that time is of the essence. “If the Ministry is too slow with us, we’re killing the hostages and we’ll fight the Wizards off our grounds instead. What happens after that is up to them but we will not be pushed by any Wizard.”

Journalist Rita Skeeter offered to mediate a solution to this evolving conflict though as the starter of this exchange-student conflict in what is now being popularly known as the Skeeter Scandal. No comment from either Goblins or Incommodo yet.

“Thought you got that article, he sent me the same thing,” Mark shrugged as Albus and Scorpius got up to turn their choices in to Professor Creevey.

After they finished turning their choices in (Mark for a wonder chose the same subjects Albus chose,) they walked outside the hall. Alex and Eric returned to the table to finish their breakfast.

Just as they walked outside, as a first shot of the war Malcolm declared, an ambush took place on Mark. Herald and Gerald, the twins who had yesterday successfully fended an attack from Riley that might have blown Albus, Scorpius and Lorcan off jumped on him from behind and two older Slytherin students forced him off the floor and against the wall threateningly.

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