Chapter 4 The Aftermath of the Storm

The Hogwarts Hurricane

Chapter 4: The Aftermath of the Storm

During the last fortnight of the holidays, Albus was finishing up his snack just before lunch. Ginny was overlooking him eating as if making sure he wouldn’t try anything else dodgy. Mark was leaning against the door in a kind of protest against James. James had not let Mark get away with his assault on Albus earlier in the summer. Against Harry’s wishes and Ginny’s threats, he locked the front door magically and threatened to blow up Ginny’s wand if she unlocked it for Mark.

What surprised Albus was that he knew Ginny could beat James easily and force Mark’s domination through. For a wonder then, she allowed it to happen and chose not to get involved. Then there was the rumor Lily started that Hugo overheard Ron telling Harry, “Mark was a snitch though.”

Just as Albus finished the sandwich Ginny made him and made to go upstairs, a loud and official-sounding knock went on behind the front door. Albus could have sworn he heard this knock before. It had a familiar ring to it. Albus prepared to be ushered out roughly when Harry strode over to the front door and opened. Albus expected, judging by the sound of the knock that it would be the Minister or someone else high up like Lucius Malfoy (that would be amusing to see.) He was surprised then to see that the one standing there was not the Minister or even Lucius Malfoy but Hogwarts Headmaster Galadral Phoenix.

Of course it was familiar. Phoenix interrupted classes on a number of occasions the year before. Phoenix was blonde with a mane of facial hair covering his sides and his chin. A moustache attached itself to the beard cleanly giving him a lionish look that radiated a sense of strength from him. Sensing trouble, Albus walked out, needing to pass through the entry way to go upstairs. “I’ll just go”-

“No! You, stay!” Phoenix called down suddenly. “I need a witness! Potter, I demand a talk before Hogwarts starts.”

Harry was not deterred by Phoenix’s sudden and surprise anger or appearance. He eyed him steadily and in Albus’ opinion, bravely as he himself would have fled from this situation. “To what do I owe this… pleasure, Professor Phoenix?”

Mark froze as Phoenix demanded both Albus and Mark stay put. He stood to face Harry as if preparing for a duel and for a minute it looked like they would. Albus did not think there existed tension between his father and the Headmaster. There they were staring each other down.

“Mr. Potter, are you aware of a term- Muggles like using it- called a political shit-storm?!”

James widened his eyes in awe at Phoenix’s use of harsh language. Mark and Albus were both taken-aback ad Lily gave out a small shriek before running out of the room, past Albus and up the stairs.

“Language, Phoenix, there are children here,” Harry said bemused by Phoenix’s anger.

“Pardon my English, Potter but let’s not diminish what it is,” Phoenix argued. “Your risk in sending the foreign students to Hogwarts under the guise of protection will not go unnoticed. They’re refugees and their return will only spark a war.”

“Well, you’re Headmaster, why did you agree?” Harry tested.

“Simply because I believe in your cause,” Phoenix said bluntly. “Potter, if the political- well if things start spiraling out of control, I’ll play my part as we agreed. I’m a loyal player and frankly, I owe you, but you’re asking for a lot of pain. It could cost you your job. It could cost me mine.”

Albus and Mark stared at each other from opposite sides of the room, Albus on the foot of the stairs, rooted because of Phoenix’s command. Harry might have overruled that command but he did not bother. Albus was stuck.

“You’re right about one thing Phoenix,” Harry started. “There are people who will raise hell over this. But you see, there are murderers loose and they are plainly tied to the whole Pure-blood case. Sending children of Muggle-born’s to Hogwarts will enrage them and they will come out of the closet. We can lure them out and hopefully bring certain…” Harry looked over at Mark as he said this, “certain killers to justice.”

“Your job, Potter, Head of Aurors,” Phoenix emphasized. “And I for one cannot afford a controversial eye on how I run the school.”

“Unlike you, Phoenix, I’ll choose to lose my job over a bunch of innocent lives any day,” Harry said back strongly. “I will not allow any more to die if I have anything to say about it and on top of that… the day I step down is the day I put all my trust in my brother-in-law to take the reins in my stead. They will not win that way. If forcing my resignation is the best they can do, they’ve already lost.”

“Do you know what can happen as a result of this?” Phoenix asked him lowly. “Let me fill you in, Potter. The Ministry will split cleanly down the middle. We’ll have two governments and a civil war will commence. I’ll be out of a job. All over five kids who have perfectly good lives in whatever countries they happen to be living in. Think of your country!”

“I am.”

“You may think so, but know this Potter, while I’ll play my part as we agreed, I will keep my job at any cost,” Phoenix said the last few words through gritted teeth. “Understand, Potter?”

“I understand you needed my kids to stand as witnesses… and now they see just how selfish you have the potential to be,” Harry said calmly, a smile curling at the edge of his mouth. “Watch out, Phoenix. After what you said today, you may just be out of a job unless you follow direction.”

The meeting ended there with Phoenix sighing and nodding resignedly. He left the room with Harry left standing there, rooted as much as Albus was. What Albus did not like was the look on Mark’s face. It was a kind of triumphant smile, like a sudden inspirational idea just whacked him on the head. He was not supposed to know about the exchange students and Albus would not put it past Mark to use cultural barriers to wage an Almighty War against Albus.

Apparently, Harry caught the look too. A week before the holidays were due to end, Harry considered forcing Mark and Albus to get along. Mark was confined to their room for the rest of that summer following a violent episode a mere day after Phoenix’s visit where Mark inflicted a bloody nose on Albus. Harry had no choice. A direct intervention was needed.

“This has gone far enough,” Harry said calmly. “So, I will not allow either of you into Hogwarts this year unless you hug right now and make up. And don’t you dare let me hear of another fight in school or I’ll pull you both out. Don’t think I won’t.”

Nothing happened. Indeed, Mark protested the idea and Albus turned so his back was facing Mark. Harry shook his head and took Albus and Mark by the shoulders. He brought them closer and said in a low voice, “Look, consider this important to your futures. If you cannot befriend each other, you two are in for a very miserable six years together, longer if I can manage it,” he added humorously. “You two must get along.”

Begrudgingly, Albus and Mark stood in front of each other, fixing each other with tense stares. Mark gazed hatefully at Albus and Albus’ eyes refused to look away from Mark’s. He never before felt what he felt from Mark that day and he would never forget that feeling. Small or not, feminine or not, Mark could be very intimidating and his eyes proved it. Still, Albus made the first move. They shook hands toughly, almost trying to crush each other’s hands and then, to Harry’s demand, they hugged reluctantly.

“I’m gonna demolish you, Albus Potter,” Mark whispered in his ear without Harry noticing.

“Bring it, Wallader, I’ll wipe the floor with you,” Albus said back before they broke off, fixing each other with murderous stares.

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Albus was grateful to run through the barrier between platforms nine and ten two weeks later. He jumped on the train, saying only a hurried goodbye to his father. Ginny hugged him once, and Albus allowed himself to hear a ‘Don’t get into trouble” from Harry before shutting the compartment window. Rose wasn’t too happy with Albus either, but she was more tolerant at least. She didn’t scold him for too long.

As he and Rose walked through, Albus caught sight of some students he recognized. Apart from Mark and the twins, there was also Malcolm, James’ arch-nemesis, and his gang. Nigel and Samuel, James’ best friends, were also around. Nigel was small with blonde hair save the red flecks at random points in it. Samuel was a boy with brown hair and a young face.

Beside Nigel was a small girl with blonde hair which seemed to lengthen over the summer. Upon catching sight of Mark, she jumped up, and started waving, “Hi, Mark! Mark! Mark, come here!” But Mark didn’t have to, even if he wanted to. Laura ran over to him excitedly, going red. “Hi, Mark. Umm… good summer?”

Albus left Mark to his female doom, and went off to find a compartment with Rose. He sighed in relief when the compartment opened once more. But he groaned in disappointment. It wasn’t Scorpius. It was just his younger friends, Lorcan and Lysander Scamander. Like Alex and Eric, they were twins, but their skins were lighter, and were dark blonde. Like their mother, they had silvery eyes, for their mother was great friends with his parents. Luna Lovegood married the grandson of a Magizoologist. Now, she and Rolf Scamander had twins who were starting Hogwarts this year.

“Hi, Al!” Lorcan and Lysander said in excited unison. They scurried over to where he sat, grinning all over. Albus was hardly paying attention to their sleculations over Hogwarts. He believed they’d make Ravenclaw but Albus was proof traditions could break. Lorcan was identical to his twin. They were both short, and kind of skinny with blonde hair lying ruffled on their heads.

The compartment opened again, and Albus brightened up. Scorpius stared around at the half-full compartment. He looked around, his cat Ursa doing the same. “Are these my replacements?”

“Don’t be stupid, they’re family friends,” Albus laughed.

Rose jumped to introduce everyone, “Ok, Scorps, this is Lorcan. The one beside him is Lysander.”

“Hi, and never call me Scorps, Scorpy, or any supplementary name than Scorpius,” Scorpius nodded, shaking Lysander’s hand. Scorpius looked back at Albus, and asked, “What happened over the summer?”

“Well, mum was angry for the whole summer, officially breaking the record,” Albus said. “A Hurricane was waged, and I’ve never, ever seen her so angry before. Mark swore to demolish me and dad may pull me out if I fight with Mark again. I’m quite glad to be on the train now.”

“Sorry ‘bout that,” Scorpius said guiltily. “I told Walter he shouldn’t have sent you a letter with those kind of words. He’s sorry if it caused more damage. Did it?”

“If you mean grounded, no not really. I just can’t ever visit his house and… I’m grounded till I’m fifty,” Albus laughed.

“The thing about Hurricanes is that they tend to subside eventually, no matter how much damage they cause,” Rose said sagely. “I wouldn’t worry, Al.”

“To hell with the trouble, I got a great addition to my photo collection,” Albus found himself grinning, trying to steer the subject to something else. “Thanks, Scorpy.”

“Yeah, I said I was sorry, not open to being called ‘Scorpy,’” Scorpius laughed. “Stop it, or I’ll have to Hex you.”

Albus rolled his eyes as the twins took seats beside him. Maybe it was how full the compartment was, but lack of conversation hung in the air. The twins didn’t know what to say to Albus in front of someone they didn’t know. Scorpius eyed everyone in the compartment with tired eyes. Albus could sense what was coming. It happened the year before and there was little reason it wouldn’t happen this year.

As Albus expected, Scorpius opened conversation, “So, which house?”

Albus gazed intermittently out the window. He tried not to pay attention to Scorpius’ obvious attempt, but he had to look every now and then. Rose would undoubtedly try stopping it.

“Ravenclaw, like our mum,” Lorcan said happily.

“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure,” Lysander agreed.

“Well, better than Gryffindor,” Scorpius breathed. “But, you know which house is really good is”-

“Slytherin isn’t good, Scorpy,” Rose interrupted angrily.

“You’re prejudiced,” Scorpius accused. He picked his cat, Ursa up once more, and started stroking its back and scratching its neck. “Just because of its dark history, that makes me evil right?”

“No, but Lorcan and Lysander are very smart,” Rose said, straightening herself up as she always did in an argument.

“You’re not sacrificing your brains if you go into Slytherin,” said Scorpius, talking more to the flabbergasted twins than Rose. Ursa was meowing softly, almost like a moan. “It’s about cunning and self-preservation. You’re using your brains. You’d do pretty well, Rosie.”

Before the kids could answer, Rose fired back, “Hark, who’s talking, Scorps? You went into Slytherin because your parents were in Slytherin. Be serious, and stop being that way. Saw how much trouble you got Al into? Knockturn Alley? I ask you?”

“Knockturn has nothing to do with Slytherin,” Scorpius said defensively. “Hagrid goes down there all the time for poisons that kills pests and slugs that ruin the school grounds.”

Albus looked over at her. He hoped Scorpius would win, because he’d be grateful for someone else his family knows who’d be in Slytherin. He knew Rose could be convincing. Too convincing. But as Albus had new first hand experience with Scorpius, the latter could be very influencing, especially to children.

Rose and Scorpius continued arguing even as the compartment opened. Albus’ friends Riley Blackberry and Walter Mold joined them now. The room was becoming quite full. Riley had pale skin and black hair in locks. Riley just nodded in short response to Al and sat back, almost immediately closing his eyes. Walter had brown hair and a plump face.

Albus nodded in response, and they took seats beside Scorpius and Rose, who stared each other past the two new arrivals to continue fighting. Rose was on different tact same subject now. That meant Scorpius was shooting her arguments down. Still, Albus underestimated her if she could still use Knockturn Alley against him.

“But some of us aren’t allowed there. Albus included. He followed you, just because”-

“What’re we talking about; Slytherin or Knockturn Alley?” Scorpius asked testily. “My point is that Slytherin isn’t too bad.” He spoke with a way that almost hooked you to him. That was why Albus had followed him before. Scorpius spoke in a way that made you feel at ease. He didn’t have that before. He must’ve developed it over the summer. “So, you go into Slytherin. Doesn’t mean you’re evil.”

Rose opened her mouth to keep arguing, but then Albus stepped in. He appeared so suddenly, he may have Apparated. He covered his cousin’s mouth, and said, “I wanna hear this,” as the Scamander twins introduced themselves, taken-aback, but listening all the same. Lysander decided to speak for both of them.

“It is not what we hear that matters, it is our choice in the end that decides the outcome,” Lysander said in a voice that was very like his mother. “But undergrounds spaces are full of Dumblings, and they’re very bad for your skin. Mum told me.”

“Dumb- Rosie, what’re Dumblings?” Scorpius asked, taken-aback, all hopes of converting to Slytherin house lost to him for that moment. “Wait… Am I- am I missing something?”

“It’s called lack of sun, Sander,” Rose rolled her eyes, apparently as lost as Scorpius was.

“That’s a common misperception, but Dumblings are the cause, definitely,” Lysander insisted. Lorcan, thankfully, also found this wild accusation on imaginary creatures alarming and chose not to comment, going red instead.

The conversation was dead thanks to Lysander. It was all up to their own minds. If they were smart, they’d stay in Ravenclaw. The room was so quiet, they could hear Riley’s steady breathing and Ursa’s purrs.

Scorpius then sat back down next to Albus, and muttered so only he could hear, “I gotta start a Slytherin recruitment center.”

The door burst open again, and Mark marched in with the twins. “We thought we heard yelling. What about Slytherin and Gryffindor?”

“Out, Wallader,” Albus and Scorpius said in unison, jumping up and wands withdrawn. “Relax, we just want to talk to Riley… in private.”

“Sorry, he’s asleep,” Walter said apologetically.

Mark scrutinized Riley closely for a minute and then scoffed, “He’s faking. Slytherin coward.” Mark’s eyes rested on Lorcan and Lysander next. “Who’re those people?”

“New students whom you’ve just shown how generalizing Gryffindors can be,” Scorpius smirked. “Are you guys considering Gryffindor?”

Lysander shrugged, taken-aback at being asked to speak at last. “Well, I wanted Ravenclaw. But now I dunno. What do you reckon, Lorcan?”

“I dunno, it’s not really our choice, is it?” Lorcan asked, deeply conflicted himself.

“Yes, it is!” Albus and Lysander said at the same time. Albus continued, “The hat takes choices into account. You need to fit in.”

Lorcan seemed in an internal battle. Albus knew the face. If Scorpius could make more points, they may have a chance. And it seemed Albus could trust Scorpius when he did indeed continue the battle.

“By the way, we’re not cowards,” Scorpius said proudly. “We’re pragmatic. We consider every option, and act wisely and rationally. We’re realists. At least we’re not prejudiced.”

Eric gave a false cough that sounded like ‘Muggles,’ but left the compartment before Albus could push the issue further. He did not want one of the twins making Gryffindor and then thinking that Albus was a Wizard supremacist. Still, it was up to the sorting hat now.

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