The Secret of the Forest
Chapter 10: The Halloween Adventure
October passed by in a blur. What with the time-occupation of Quidditch practice on Albus’ and Scorpius’ part, and the lessons which were getting more difficult by the day, it was hard to remember what time of the month it was, let alone the day. Redgrow stopped teaching them simple transfiguring spells, and they moved on to the more advanced. Professor Macmillan started teaching them different jinxes and curses, and hinted that he might show some dark magic in their fourth year. Professor Ackerly was even more rough. He taught them advanced Charms, which were difficult. The students were motivated only when he promised a free lesson sometime in November if they mastered the Flying Charm.
“Which is so not going to happen if half the class stays on the path they’re on,” Alexis said quietly from behind Alexis, smirking a little and evoking a small smile from Albus and a nudge from Scorpius.
As the month passed, Albus’ interest in the forest did not relinquish its hold on him. Contrarily, he became more interested, and could frequently be seen gazing out the window at the forest beyond the grounds. Scorpius and Rose had to often shake him awake and drag him off further from the window to get his attention again.
That was about the only thing Scorpius and Rose did work together on. The two were so often split now, and Scorpius even had the guts to disagree with her on some spells, particularly for Defense Against the Dark Arts. There was one memorable incident in Potions class when Scorpius and Rose disagreed on how to make a proper Shrinking Solution. In the end, Scorpius mastered the Shrinking Solution faster than Rose did, and he frequently bragged about it, effectively making her go red, and stalking off with her nose in the air.
Albus was highly amused at this, because he never knew Scorpius to beat Rose in anything. That said, he never knew Rose to lose, so he didn’t know how she’d take it when it actually happened. Therefore, when Scorpius did manage to beat her, Albus was surprised, and took great care to pay attention to her reactions.
On Halloween morning, Albus woke up in spirits a little higher than before. It was quite early, so he stretched, walked outside the dormitory, and sunk into a green armchair by the fireplace. He rested there for about half an hour, and then moved himself out of the Common room.
Albus was under the impression he was one of the very few students who could possibly wake up at this time. Therefore, he was surprised to see two younger students awake too. Not any younger students, but Lorcan and Lysander Scamander. They were sitting against the wall of the entrance hall, conversing in low voices. They looked up at the new arrival, and waved as Albus walked over questioningly.
“Hi, Al!” Lysander said brightly.
“We were about to take an early morning trip to the Forbidden forest,” Lorcan said calmly. “Gonna punish Phoenix for his stupidity and narrow-minded intolerance. You up for it?”
Albus widened his eyes. Were they serious at this? He had to admit, he was curious about the forest, but he didn’t really take the time to consider what going in there would be like. He answered with, “I’d usually let Scorpius know, and I’ve got Quidditch practice later today.”
“What time?” Lysander asked.
Albus shrugged, “Three, most likely.”
“Wake Scorps up, let him know where you’re going, and we’ll leave in two hours,” Lorcan said, looking at his watch. “We’ve got plenty of time before three.”
Before Albus could even consider it, a throat-clearing cough was heard. He recognized the cough too. He knew it only too well. Turning around, he braced himself for the explosion he knew would come if he resisted, “Are you joking?”
Lorcan and Lysander froze. They didn’t bargain for this, and Albus wasn’t known to stand up to Rose very often. But then, he wasn’t one to listen to her either. Rose looked quite shocked and angry. “I’m telling my house prefects,” she said firmly. She wasn’t looking at Albus though. She was staring directly at the twins, probably Lysander in particular. “They’ll put a stop to this.”
“C’mon, Rose, we’re only having a bit of fun,” Lysander said assuredly. “We’re not even going fully in. Just the edges. Few meters in. Skim-like, you know. Besides, we have plenty of protection there anyway.”
“No, I don’t know,” she said dangerously.
“The Jibbies roam the edges,” Lysander said assuredly, as if he thought this would soothe her fears. “We’ll be completely safe. That’s their job.”
“Jibbies don’t exist, Lysander,” Rose smiled as if talking to a small child explaining the point of the tooth fairy.
“Besides, Riley will be with us,” Lorcan spoke up as if that settled the matter, eyes blazing dangerously as if expecting Rose to wave that aside. “He knows the forbidden forest better than any of us and”-
“And he’s a half vampire,” Rose said, oblivious or careless to Lorcan’s daring stare. “Merlin knows what he’s up to in there!”
Albus tried to settle it, and put in, “Rose”- but he stopped there. Lorcan went red in anger, “Half vampire my ass! He’s just as safe as anyone else and”-
“There’s a reason he was expelled!”
“OH! Expelled!” Lorcan seethed dangerously. “But he says suspended. Era is still a teacher, but he demotes her just by letting Redgrow do the sorting ceremony. Who’s the Headmistress anyways? Phoenix is a filthy liar. I’m going to raise hell before he suspends me. And he’ll regret such a move!”
Adrianna Longbottom was passing by, probably having heard the loud voices, and Albus didn’t want her telling her father, the Herbology teacher Professor Longbottom anything.
Rose was careless of who was behind her or not. In her opinion, the more behind her, the better. She ignored Lorcan’s argumentative attitude and turned to Albus instead. “Al, I’d have expected better of you,” she said, rounding on him now. “It’s one thing letting yourself get so influenced by the Slytherins, but allowing students younger than you to walk straight into danger… I’m seriously about to write to mum.”
For the second time in five minutes alone, Albus wheeled around, as did Rose. There, standing in the doorway, was Albus’ best friend, Scorpius Malfoy. Albus exhaled a sigh of relief. At last, someone who’d fight Rose, Albus was never so happy to see both of them facing each other. Rose only rolled her eyes.
Thankfully, Adrianna walked away uninterested in anything they were talking about. Albus looked at the groggy Scorpius and asked, surprised as Rose was to see him, “When did you wake up?”
“It’s Halloween, we’re always up early,” Scorpius said tiredly. “Now, what’s this about?”
By eight, Albus, Scorpius, Lysander, and Lorcan had managed to win over Rose, and venture into the forest before Hagrid woke up to stop them. Rose accompanied them out of the excuse of protection, and making sure they didn’t do anything stupid, like pass the few meter mark. Of course, she also had another excuse. That was taking a look at what they did and hold more against them when they got back and she told a Prefect, or worse, the Slytherin Head Boy Joel Herbert.
Lorcan was telling no lie. They weren’t planning a far excursion into the forest. Lysander led the way, and right behind him was his twin, beside whom walked Albus and Scorpius. Rose followed behind them all, rolling her eyes and clicking her tongue impatiently.
The trees were thin at this edge, but looking in, Albus could see one of the reasons the forest was designated as dangerous. Even in daylight, the forest beyond was darkened and little sunlight made it through. The area they were in seemed to only be semi-dangerous. Sunlight flooded them from the opening edge, and the morning noise was still heard. Yet, it was dark too, especially as they went deeper inside. Soon, the morning noise grew from distinct to nothing at all.
It was quite dark, and near nine by the time Lorcan stopped at a certain point, and turned back, “If we go any further, it’s a death wish judging by the creatures we already know are there. We don’t even know all of them, so I say we turn back now.”
“Finally, some sense,” Rose whispered to herself.
“I say we keep going,” Lysander shrugged. “The Jibbies are still in great number here.”
“Oh, why not show us these legendary creatures?” Rose challenged calmly with a smirk of superiority.
For a moment, it looked as if Lysander was going to do so, but then his expression changed into one of disappointment. “Can’t,” he he said dejectedly. “One just went up your nostril.”
This elicited a laugh from Albus and Scorpius and a gap of amazement from Rose. Lorcan just smiled and pat his brother’s back. They nonetheless walked on their way out. It was like rewinding. Light came back little by little, and the morning sounds returned from distinct to clear. Albus felt a strange relief. He got a taste of the forbidden forest now, and he had to say it was interesting. He was immensely curious about what was beyond it.
Breakfast hadn’t started yet, so Albus and Scorpius took a seat against the wall of the Entrance Hall, and sighed contentedly, as if they were warming themselves at the Malfoy springs again. At a quarter till nine, Albert Bedram spotted them sitting against the wall, and imitated. This made Albus look around nervously. If Hugo or Lily came up…
It was uncomfortable last time, because apparently Hugo and Albert had something against each other. If Hugo confronted them again, Albus would be lost, especially if Scorpius decided to defend Albert. But wait a second…
“Oi, Scorps, Albert, what’s up? Do you guys know each other?” Albus heard himself ask this in a tired way. At the time, he reminded himself of his lazy friend, Riley Blackberry.
Albert nodded, “Yeah, he saw me on the train. Pleasant surprise to hear he’s also Slytherin when I was sorted. I was quite worried.”
“What house did your parents make?” Scorpius asked tiredly.
“None. I’m Muggle-born. It was Hagrid who took me to Diagon Alley. Got my books and stuff, and parents were so pleased. But the Gryffindors…”
“So, you don’t like Gryffindors?”
“So stupid!” Albert laughed. “So weird and stupid, reckless, arrogant, self-righteous…”
Scorpius smiled thoughtfully. Albus knew Scorpius was remembering when he himself said those same words when trying to convince Albus of Slytherin’s good traits. They grinned at each other as they thought the same thing, Scorpius feeling kind of guilty.
“But you should’ve seen him with Gabe,” Albert recalled happily. “I asked what he’d go in if he had the choice. He said Hufflepuff, so Scorps told him about Slytherin. We decided to wait and hope, and he actually made Slytherin.”
Scorpius smiled arrogantly, “I like to see myself like that. A knack for seeing the Slytherin in destined Slytherins disguised as something else. How pathetic.”
Just then, Hugo and Lily walked down the staircase. “Hi, Al!” Lily yelled happily.
Albert and Albus looked up in response, but Albert looked back down. Lily seemed happy, but Hugo glowered at Scorpius and Albert, the latter sticking his tongue out.
“It’s my sister, Albert,” Albus said happily, getting up and patting Lily on the back. She smiled happily and nodded at Scorpius.
“Is breakfast ready yet?” Hugo asked calmly to Albus.
“I think so,” Albus responded. “Let’s go.”
As he sat for breakfast that morning, he looked up at Hagrid. Hagrid waved at him, unknowing of their little excursion. Did Hagrid know what was beyond the forest? Albus decided for the time being to put the forest out of his mind, because he found himself sitting across from Scorpius that day due to the fact that Lucy and Roxanne were beside him, reminiscing through their lessons, particularly Charms and Defense Against the Dark Arts.