The Hogwarts Hurricane
Chapter 8: Mark’s Angle
Albus watched as the five students followed Carl inside. Carl looked a little uncomfortable being the public one. Indeed, Albus could identify with him. He could imagine how it must be like if someone previously outside the spotlight was thrust within because of a language talent. Thankfully, the American wizard started conversation with him on their way inside.
Phoenix appeared at Albus’ side within minutes, beside him standing James. James looked uncomfortable too and Albus knew what Phoenix was there fore before the Headmaster spoke. “Come along, Potter. We both have parts to play.”
The rest of the school filed back inside as their Heads of Houses gave the go ahead. The noon sun was blazing down despite the cool air hanging around from autumn. “I do hope your father knows what he’s doing. That article from Rita Skeeter was enough and all of us know she is right. How she managed to find out, I cannot imagine. Does your father have security around his house or does he believe that his title and status will suffice?”
Albus did not sense in Phoenix’s tone that he was required to answer and so remained silent. Phoenix went on as they entered the entrance hall and turned to the doors of the Great Hall. “I believe we have a couple of students around your ages and same gender. They are perfect ages for bringing them into your dormitories.”
They turned to a small door looking out of place at the end of the Great Hall that led to a small chamber where the exchange students were waiting. Adam, Hai, Ben, Ellie, and Jimmy took seats in a small chamber off the Great Hall. A few students sat with them there. Students who volunteered to take them into their dormitories. Era was pacing around the chamber and Galadral Phoenix split from Albus and his brother and sat right across from them all. He faced them with a scrutinizing expression.
“As the sleeping arrangements are based off houses, gender and age, we’ll place our new friends with who they wish to be with. We have a few volunteers here I see. Let’s look at this.”
He stared around at everyone. Albus was sitting there. A reluctant Scorpius also sat next to him. James was there too, and a few others that Albus only knew by sight, including sixth year Slytherin prefect Joel Herbert, and fifth year Gryffindor Quidditch Captain Jerry Wood among them.
Galadral turned to Adam first, and said, almost commanded, “Introduce yourself.”
Adam nodded, and spoke rapidly in Arabic that Albus couldn’t understand, except that Adam was nervous. On cue, Carl nodded, and translated, face screwed up in difficulty, “Adam Musa… Cairo.” Carl had difficulty translating Arabic words, because it wasn’t one of his original languages. All else they really got from him was that he was twelve.
“Very well,” Galadral put his hands together. “Adam, Albus here has volunteered to take you into his dormitory. You’ll be a fine, fifth addition to the place so that’s good news. If you can join Albus here, he will lead you to the dormitory. Make sure he has a good stay. Oh, and…” he turned to Albus, “Don’t let me hear of trouble from any of you this year. I haven’t forgotten your fiasco with Mr. Wallader last year.” he warned Albus.
James groaned in disappointment. His spirits were quickly lifted up though, when the Australian introduced himself in English to be thirteen. Jimmy nodded at James, and agreed more than happily to take residence in his already large dormitory. Galadral looked directly at James, “I’m aware of seven in your dorm and if it was up to me, I would refuse your offer but alas… If I get one complaint about you involving Kat in any major prank, you’re getting detention for the rest of the year and suspension for a month.”
Heeding the warning, James led Jimmy Kat out. That only left the American, and the Chinese and French girls. Carl seemed to want to leave already but nobody else around his age was among them and so Phoenix had the American wizard Ben Franken stay with him. Hai found roommates with a fifth year Hufflepuff girl and Ellie Marina was roomed with a small dormitory of four Slytherin sixth years.
With nothing else to do, Albus nodded at Adam and led him out of the chamber into the Hall. Albus did not see what to talk to him about except what was on his mind. “So, hot in Egypt?”
“Very,” Adam nodded shortly.
“Ever played Quidditch?” Albus asked him as they turned out of the Great Hall.
Adam had what was a British accent but nonetheless broken due most probably to his friends back in Egypt who must have known more Arabic and required Adam to speak it too. “Not a lot, but I watch World Cup when it come.”
“Do you speak English at home?”
“Yes, little,” Adam said shortly.
Albus still had no idea what to say. Every time he asked a question, Adam responded shortly and stopped. With Adam on the responsive, Albus was worried he would have trouble fitting in and create problems. Yet another boy Albus was told to befriend and he couldn’t help but remember what had happened the last time he was told to befriend someone.
As if on cue, Mark Wallader appeared from the main steps, Riley Blackberry right behind him. The twins were absent but Albus did not think too much of it. Just ignore it. Just ignore. You do not want another problem. Not with Adam involved.
Albus ripped his sight away from Mark ad turned to the dungeons. Feeling he had better at least try to keep the conversation up, he said, “These are the dungeons. I suppose you’ll be getting a Slytherin schedule so you’ll see a lot of them this year.” He spoke the password to the snake. When he spoke the password, he turned to Adam, expecting an impressed face, but the boy was passive.
Adam smiled uncertainly, and Albus shrugged, and led him up. Thankfully, the Common Room was near empty. Everyone else was still outside. Albus directed him up to the dormitory. He regretted volunteering but he had little choice. He just hoped this worked better than last year. He didn’t think that Phoenix would split them up based on year and gender. Scorpius was waiting for them upstairs. Careless of the guest, he confronted Albus quietly, “Why’d you do this to me?”
“To shut you and Riley up,” Albus muttered back with a half-truth as Scorpius still did not know of Harry’s secret conversation despite Rita’s accusations. Albus turned to Adam. “Well, there’re the beds, and- well, I’ll sleep on the floor, I guess, until”-
Adam interrupted, “There is, eh… Hamsa.”
“What? Do you speak any English?”
Adam shook his head in quick impatience, and pointed to the beds, “Five.”
Albus looked at the beds again. Upon counting them, he learned that another bed was added. Wiping his puzzlement away, he muttered to Scorpius, “That was quick.”
“Riley still isn’t up,” Scorpius yawned. “He had an owl and as much as I’d love to read it, he’ll probably kill me so…”
“He was with Mark in the entrance hall,” Albus shrugged, knowing this talk must have sounded foreign to Adam. “I’ll go get him. Uh… entertain him, can you?”
“I can entertain myself and I understand English you know,” Adam replied indignantly.
Albus walked out of the dormitory and climbed out of the snake mouth into the dungeon corridors, knowing he had lied. He really wanted to see Riley to overhear a potential confrontation between the two. He walked back up and just where he left them, there stood Riley and Mark sitting against a wall beside the entrance to the dungeons. Alex and Eric were present this time. They must have shown up during Albus’ absence. Albus was still within the shadows of the dungeon corridor so they did not notice him.
“Solve your own problems, Blackberry,” Eric yawned.
“You’re powerless now,” Mark smirked and Albus could hear the smirk in his voice, could almost see the evil smile on his face. “You probably have no choice but to kill us. You’re a second-year, and even if you do manage to commit murder, you’d be expelled.”
“Plus, we’ll expose you,” Mark said angrily, rubbing his arm. “We know what you are.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Riley denied.
“Then why take so much offense?” Alex challenged. “If you were innocent, you got nothing to fear!”
“When did you take up role as Hogwarts police?” Riley challenged him. “Phoenix lets me in the school. It ought to be good enough for you. You’re just trying to make life difficult for everyone.”
“No, just snake slime like you,” Mark fired back. “And it’s for that reason we don’t really like Phoenix too much either. You should’ve seen him over the summer. Not too pleasant outside of Hogwarts, is he?”
“Snake slime? I’ll be sure to tell Walter you called us that,” Riley grinned. Albus could sense the grin on his face and was pleased to hear the words spoken. That was the Riley he knew. Mark was friends with Walter.
“Mark doesn’t care,” Eric said to Riley, smirking back.
“Speak for yourself,” Mark muttered to Eric, and he stepped forward. “Do what you like, Riles. But the twins and I will take on the role of police when it comes to you. The rest of the students, even your so-called friends, may be oblivious to your existence, but I know everything. If you do anything to anyone, I swear, you’ll have me to answer to me.”
“Oh, caring for snake slime, are we?” Riley challenged.
“I care for everyone,” Mark declared. “I repeat, if you do anything to harm Albus, Scorpius, Walter, or anyone else, especially any of us, I’ll”-
“What?” Riley challenged. “What, Mark, will you do to me? Commit murder? Second-year?”
“No, but I can pull some strings,” Mark smirked, stepping back. “I’ll turn you in to the Ministry. I’m sure Malfoy’s grandfather would love to get his hands on you… and your father for that matter. So no pressure, Blackberry! Lay a hand on anyone and pay with your life in such a way, you’ll wish for death.”
Riley threw one last glare at Mark and the twins, and then left. He turned a corner to his dormitory just as Eric turned on Mark, “What do you mean, ‘speak for yourself?’” Albus quickly shrunk back into the deeper shadows of the corridors and ducked into a sideway door as Riley passed. He sat against the door, aware of his own breathing. He hardly understood what he had just heard, but was that Mark sticking up for Albus against Riley?
“Oi, take a look at what we found out about Otto Blackberry. This is gonna be gold at Hogwarts.”
Maybe Mark is not the bad guy. Maybe Riley is. Maybe, just maybe Mark found out something and out of care, genuine care I know him to possess however much he denies it, he challenges the boy. No, I know Riley better than Mark. It doesn’t tie in with his actions at Diagon Alley. He made my summer hell. Plus, what is wrong with Riley. What could possibly be wrong with him that Mark feels the need to blackmail over? Damn it Mark, what is your angle?
Albus, hoping to catch more, quietly opened the door and returned to the entrance to the dungeons where he could remain hidden. Mark was still where he was but the twins were once again absent. Mark was not one for talking to himself but even more trouble for him popped up out of nowhere. Laura Creevey, the small fan girl from the train, appeared at his side so fast, Mark might’ve guessed she learned Apparition for the specific purpose of stalking him. “Hi, Mark! What’s your next class? Did you make Seeker yet?”
“Egh… not till tomorrow Laura, and uh… the tryouts are in the bag,” Mark muttered in an annoyed tone.
“What’s up, anything wrong? What’ve you been doing?”
Laura was smaller than Mark by a head. Mark considered her for a second, and then smirked. Looking away from her at the twins, said, “Well, quite literally, I’m plotting an evil scheme.”
Guess the whole Riley thing is over for now. Damn you, Mark! What the bloody hell is your angle?
James grinned widely an evil grin, looking at Fred and Louis. Samuel looked on silently, saying nothing. Louis shrugged and said, “I could play the handsome confidant and get their innermost secrets. And we have Jimmy Kat in our dormitory. Didn’t think Phoenix would trust us, but he did.”
“Think we could get the translator to join us?” Nigel asked suggestively.
“Nah, that’ll never work, he’s too close to that Otto bloke and the American student Ben,” Louis waved aside. “But that said, we could use him to get info on the American. If we play our cards right…”
“Oh yeah,” Daniel grinned from the bed, baseball cap on over his eyes. “And I happen to have heard something from Rose. She got it from that Slytherin kid, Mark’s mate. There’s a problem between Blackberry and Wallader. Dunno what. Whatever is annoying them, we could stoke some tensions between them… we could get something going.”
“Does that mean making nice with Mark?” Michael asked, rolling his eyes.
“Absolutely not,” James said immediately without consideration. “Arrogant ass. He pissed me off last summer so I’m hell bent on making his life hell. Exploiting the fire between them might give Mark his just reward.”
“Yeah, he was a real ass to Potter this summer,” Samuel grinned. “Well, keep annoying them then. We’re the only ones keeping them in check. We could pull their strings and get them to do something really drastic.”
“Speaking of them…” James grinned.
The door opened wide and the Australian foreign exchange student walked in. “Hey mates,” he said in a thick Australian accent. “Sorry I’m late.”
“Hey, Kat, how do you feel about exercising abusive power over people of a lower age than you in an attempt to do your bidding?” James asked casually as if it was a common question.
Mark was not up for this at all. As the eight Gryffindor students came in and tormented him and the twins and Mark’s head was forced up to watch as they force fed Eric dry Doxy droppings, he realized something he should have known a long time ago. This was going to be more difficult than he thought. There was too much fire from all sides for him to handle. He could not drop Riley for reasons of his own, Albus hated him because of how he acted throughout the summer causing an unexpected hurricane, and James was resuming his bullying policies for another year in defense of his brother. What he needed was for Albus to get out of his way.