Chapter 6 Secrets

The Hogwarts Hurricane

Chapter 6: A Secrets

Albus and Scorpius took to their dormitory after supper after taking the password from their prefect Joel Herbert. Scorpius was yawning heavily as Albus led him and Rose off from the Great Hall. Rose was escorting them to the dungeons before she would make her way to Gryffindor tower.

“Boy, I’m bushed,” Scorpius yawned.

Albus did not answer. He and Rose looked around the entrance hall for real this time looking for any changes that might accompany the exchange student program. There was nothing notable. The main staircase led the way upstairs to the higher floors and the moving staircases Albus thankfully only had to use a few times when going to classes.

“Good to be home, though, huh?” Albus put in.

Rose nodded slightly, smirking, “Especially for you, after that Knockturn Alley fiasco.”

“Don’t remind me,” Albus moaned.

He certainly did not need reminding of the small and harmless excursion he took into Knockturn Alley the previous summer, provoking uncalled for anger from Mark Wallader. Neither for that matter, did Scorpius who seemed to be with Albus in that regard. Riley Blackberry had just joined them where they stood and Walter was just on his way, chatting animatedly with Mark Wallader.

Albus hoped Walter being friends with Mark did not dent the year too much. Hopefully, if they stayed friends, Walter could influence Mark to lay off Albus for the year, particularly with foreign students being around. He did hope that was the case because he did not think he could manage another year of rivalry with the unwanted enemy.

Taking his mind off his foster brother, Albus turned to Scorpius and Riley questioningly, thinking once again about the coming students from abroad. “Where will the students sleep, you reckon?”

“It’s obvious isn’t it,” Rose said from behind them. She sighed, “Exchange students share dormitories with full time students. But Hogwarts has never taken part in one before. I wonder which nationalities we’ll be getting.”

“My dad’s trying to get a student from different continents of the world,” Riley shrugged.

Rose and Scorpius looked up airily, Rose thinking aloud, “That’s North America then. I suppose we’ll be getting an American wizard. South America”-

“No, there’s no South American country that agreed to travel this far,” Riley denied. “Plus, either way, we got an American.”

“What about Europe?” Albus asked. “We’re all British, and that’s European, isn’t it?”

“Well, yeah, but we’re not in mainland Europe,” Rose said thoughtfully. “Probably we’ll get a French or a German or something.”

“And Asia?” Albus asked curiously.

Rose nodded in agreement, “Probably Japanese or Chinese, or something along those lines. Geographically, the Middle east is part of Asia, but the culture is inherently different.”

“Then there’s Africa,” Scorpius counted last.

“And Australia,” Albus reminded him. “But that’s more than five.”

Riley stared up thoughtfully into space, “American, French or German, Japanese or Chinese, Middle eastern, African. Australian. If it’s about different cultures, then…”

“I know!” Rose said excitedly. The Middle eastern will be Egyptian. Covers Africa as well as the Middle East. Leave Asia open, which could be Japanese or Chinese, probably Russian or Indian. American is a definitely. Mainland Europe covers French, German, Bulgarian, anything… and there’d be Australian too.”

“American, French or German, Japanese or Chinese, Egyptian, and Australian,” Scorpius counted down. “Sound right. What do you reckon, Al?”

“Oi, Blackberry!” someone said, almost drawlingly, from behind. Albus recognized the voice way to well to mistake it. He didn’t usually speak in a drawling voice, but if he was trying to sound angry or superior… Looking behind, Mark was there. This time, he wasn’t with the twins. Albus hardly ever saw him without the twins at his back. This was a first. “Come here, I wanna talk to you.”

Riley, shrugging tiredly, disappeared behind the corner out of the dungeons entrance. Shrugging, Scorpius and Albus bade goodbye to Rose, and the latter led the way further in, and spoke the password, “Spit Venom.” The two walked in separated now from Walter and Riley. They went straight to their dormitory, and settled there. Scorpius and Albus sat on their respective beds.

Before they could strike conversation; however, the hole opened again, and Riley walked in, mouth open in apparent fear. Scorpius grew more puzzled, and Walter walking in added to the puzzlement.

“What’s up with you?” Albus asked Riley.

Riley shook his head. Walter threw him a questioning look, but was turned down by a shake of the head as well. Riley laid back, staring at the ceiling, mouth in an O shape. He looked as if he died, and his pale skin merely added to the look. He could actually feign death quite easily.

“Oi, Riles, you were so active earlier, what happened?” Scorpius demanded.

Albus looked confused, and he looked at Scorpius surprisingly, “What are you talking about? Riley’s never active.”

“I wanna go to bed,” Riley muttered. And he closed his eyes. His breathing almost immediately became lighter. How could he fall asleep that quickly. He must’ve been acting, but Scorpius’ attempts to wake him, even light physical attempts, had little effect.

The first night passed without event and Albus was certain that Riley was just shocked at something Mark said. Whatever it was, it would lose meaning the next morning as most of Mark’s comments did. Albus learned to ignore them the hard way.

Albus had a restless sleep. He dreamt that a lioness was chasing him. Albus was running from it for dear life but at the end had no choice but to give up. He stopped running and faced the lioness, holding his hands up in defeat. “You win,” he said breathlessly. “I give up.” The lioness did not attack or pounce but roared in triumph before turning and cantering away, joining the rest of its group. Albus walked away, keeping eyes on the back of his head to see if the lioness changed its mind and pounced. It did not. Slowly and painlessly, Albus awoke from his sleep.

The first lesson the next day was Charms with Professor Ackerly and the Ravenclaws. He grinned at them all cheerily before ordering all to take seats as he took attendance. Afterwards, he resumed his grinning. “Well, all had a good summer?”

The class slowly nodded its consent and Ackerly clapped his hands together. “Well, we’ll start off reviewing today. Let’s see what we retained from last year. Wands out and feathers on your desk. Bonus points if you can summon it to you from my desk. I want to see levitation. Have your partner make it heavier whilst it is levitating and see how heavy an object you can lift.”

Albus of course had no idea how to summon yet and neither did no one else except a couple of notable students, Riley and Alexis Ackerly, a girl with a full pretty and skinny face much like Albus’ and brown pigtails. Albus knew her to be Professor Ackerly’s daughter. He ended up having to partner with her because Scorpius was paired with Riley and Walter paired with a Ravenclaw girl.

“Wingardium Leviosa,” Albus practiced and as hoped the feather started rising.

Alexis smirked and childish one and withdrew her wand. In a second, she muttered “Gravis.”

Albus had to work harder to keep the feather afloat and she made it heavier and heavier by the second until he finally dropped it. He was surprised it did not smash a hole in the desk. Alexis had fared better than he had but not so much better. This time, the feather smashed a hole in the desk in its shape, causing Alexis to laugh loudly. “Seen Muggle cartoons, Al? Just like that.” Albus had to laugh with her out of politeness and Alexis had a better idea. “Keep it on the floor. We’ll make it heavier and see just how heavy it has to be before both of us can’t lift it.”

As it turned out by the end of the lesson, the feather reached a very heavy weight before it proved impossible to lift. “It must’ve been what- five hundred pounds?”

“Major exaggeration. Three hundred max.”

Albus had to be honest, Charms was never that much fun. If he always had a fun partner like Alexis, he should look forward to Charms this year, especially because Mark was not in his Charms classes for once. The week passed without much event until Albus, Scorpius and Rose walked back from Transfiguration where they had also reviewed (and where Albus had a fiasco when Mark ‘accidentally’ transfigured Albus’ nose into a summer squash,) to see a bunch of sixth years already seated for lunch, prefect Joel Herbert among them. They were huddled together over a newspaper clipping. Before Albus could express any question about it, Rose ran up and spread the article in front of them to read, capturing interest in a second.

Skeeter Challenges Ministry:
For the first time in decades, infamous journalist-turned-author Rita Skeeter challenged the Ministry, regaining her position as a journalist to question the Ministry’s intentions twenty years after the second war.

Her main point was the recent announcement by Headmaster of Hogwarts Galadral Phoenix. International Magical Cooperation Head Otto Blackberry was present for this announcement sparking skeptical questions concerning the Ministry. However, criticism was not restricted to Otto and Phoenix but Head of Aurors Harry Potter and Minister for Magic Owen Cauldwell.

Phoenix last week announced that exchange students are coming to Hogwarts to spend time there and receive a British Wizarding education. Otto’s presence there has drawn accusations by Rita that he was working behind the scenes with Phoenix to sneak foreign Wizards into the school without support from the Minister who apparently had no knowledge of this.

“I do not condone or condemn this action,” Owen Cauldwell said in a statement. “It is not my job to interfere in Hogwarts and the presence of foreign students does not bother me in the slightest.”

Rita Skeeter’s accusations drew off Cauldwell but a major one was made against Harry Potter who few months ago took in an orphan of recently murdered Mr. and Mrs. Wallader.

“Sources that shall remain undisclosed tell me that last summer, Harry Potter told his sons of exchange students coming to Hogwarts. This announcement was not a surprise by Phoenix at all. In fact, Harry Potter had prior knowledge of this. It seems to me, it is revealed to all, that Harry Potter, Otto Blackberry, and Galadral Phoenix have a secret alliance within the Ministry and for some reason snuck exchange students into the school illegally.”

Harry Potter refused to comment on the questions when the Daily Prophet went to press, raising speculation that he did indeed know of this beforehand. Mrs. Hermione G. Weasley commented; however, she said in a rather long statement, “Rita Skeeter spreads slander for a living. She attacked Dumbledore, Harry, Snape, now Phoenix and Otto at once. I am personally furious that Skeeter would manage to write another article. She has her reasons for lowering herself from author to journalist and she has her ways of finding out things others would prefer to keep quiet. We don’t know if these rumors surrounding Harry are true, but if they are I accuse Rita of spying. Something I believe is illegal in the Ministry. If she continues, I will expose her and that’s a promise.”

Hermione’s threat went unnoticed for now, lacking comment from either Rita or even Daily Prophet editors. The Daily Prophet will update as soon as more information is divulged.

Riley remained withdrawn, and he barely participated in any conversation in Charms or Defense Against the Dark Arts. Their Potions Mistress Forma Era asked a question to him in revision of the previous year, and to Mark’s amusement and Albus’ confusion, Riley answered quietly, as if he was sick. Professor Longbottom of Herbology took a particular concern for the boy when hardly a word was said on Friday.

When the weekend arrived, the Slytherin second year boys decided to take matters into their own hands. Taking their wands out, they went straight to the source. They found their target under a beech tree beside the lake. Scorpius in the lead, they walked up to Mark and the twins. Mark and the twins looked up just in the nick of time. Wands were drawn on both sides. Walter seemed to be hesitant on threatening Mark and even vice versa. Instead, Walter pointed his wand at Eric and Mark at Scorpius.

“What’d you do? Talk!” Scorpius said angrily, still walking forward although three wands were pointed at him. Scorpius should take a job as interrogator, Albus thought. He was good. He spoke like one in threatening situations.

“I have no idea what you’re”-

“Liar!” Scorpius yelled, raising his fist. Honestly, Albus was impressed. Scorpius was defensive. He usually chose to stay out of situation and here he was proving not only to Slytherin but Gryffindors too that a Slytherin was capable of sticking up for his friend. “You talked to Riley. Since then, he hasn’t said a thing! What’d you do to him?”

It seemed Mark got it then, because his face lit up. He smirked a very evil grin which really did not suit him at all. It made Albus hate him more. He was so horrible the previous summer, a very cruel child, and it seemed he was out for more. He laughed, and looked directly at Scorpius, eyes widening, “What are you talking about? I didn’t do a thing.”

“What’d you say to him?” Scorpius breathed threateningly.

“Nothing important,” Mark answered vaguely, getting more and more on Albus’ nerves. Mark was too cool for this situation. He didn’t seem flustered at all and drove Albus nuts. “Nothing that concerns you at least.”

“Are you ever going to leave us alone?” Albus found himself yelling. Mark had become his foster brother over the summer, but even so, Albus got mad at him for a few things. This was one time too many. “So you hate us, stay away from us! We did nothing to you. First you attack me over the summer and give me hell, even James got mad; now you’re going for Riles, and getting us mad! You’re making life for everyone a living hell! Leave Riley alone.”

“Not likely, Potter,” Mark said lowly, staring down at his own feet. He didn’t quite meet Albus’ eyes there. “We’re two different people.”

At that, Scorpius, Albus and even Walter pointed all their wands at Mark, prompting Alex and Eric to point their wands at different targets. Eric seemed genuinely angry, “Leave Mark alone. Go away or we duel.”

“Fine by me, we kicked your sorry asses last time around!” Scorpius said. This was one step too for though, and spells were fired. Scorpius and Albus dove out of the way and only Walter stood unscathed from the attack. Albus was still upright and his wand pointed straight at Mark’s face.

Scorpius was red with anger. He glared at Mark with unmistakable hatred before he took Albus by the shoulder, and dragged him and Walter away. There was silent laughter followed by loud laughter from the Gryffindor second-years as the Slytherins retreated.

Back in the dormitory, Scorpius pounded his fist on the bed, and threw his pillow away in anger, “What the bloody HELL?”

“Calm down, Scorps,” Walter said in a low voice.

Wrong word. Scorpius turned on Walter, and eyed him angrily, “The name is Scorpius. And no, I won’t calm down. I’m starting to hate that kid and his carrot-top friends! He says something to Riley our first night back, and- and- reduces him to- to nothing! Well that’s it, I’m gonna force Riley to talk whether he likes it or not!”

“You’re playing into Mark’s hands,” Walter pointed out. “Did you see his face? What do you care?”

“It threatens the wellbeing of our dormitory and a Slytherin no matter how careless looks after his dormitory. If he can get to Riley, Walter, were next… and you’re actually friends with him. You’re perfectly placed for him.”

This suggestion did nothing visible to Walter and Albus stayed quiet. Walter was indeed placed perfectly. He was friends with Mark which meant that if Mark wanted to give Albus hell, he could do it easily through Walter. With Albus’ cousin in Gryffindor, it couldn’t help his case either particularly if this cousin lived with Alex and Eric.

Roxanne.

Albus looked up, face lit up with a sudden inspiration. If Mark played dirty through Rose, he could ask Roxanne for help. Probably even Lorcan and though Lysander was in Gryffindor, he was more likely to side with his twin. As long as Albus got to them first.

Scorpius stayed true to his promise as usual. When Riley came up to the dormitory in his newly usual, gloomy self, Scorpius walked up to him whilst he was laying down, and stood over him, “What the bloody hell, Riley? You let Mark get to you, whatever he said?”

“Forget about it, Scorps,” Riley said lowly.

“No!” Scorpius said angrily. “And quit it with that name. I have one name, not five! What could Mark possibly have said to you that made you so withdrawn? You’re not even talking to us anymore. Are we friends or not?”

“Get out of it!” he said in a half-lazy but clearly angry voice. Riley usually reserved anger for extreme situations. He was always too lazy to do anything remotely like yelling, even show emotion.

Scorpius jumped back about a foot, and stared in surprise. His cat, Ursa, hissed angrily at Riley, and Riley spat at it. Then, there was a commotion. Ursa might have managed to scratch Riley if Scorpius didn’t hold him back. He gulped, and trying to throw misery aside, he nodded, “Ok, Riles. Fine. Be that way. But you’re one hell of a weak Slytherin if you’re gonna let Mark get to you. Let whatever he said play on you like a plague so you act exactly as he wants you to!”

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