The Secret of the Forest
Chapter 12: A Weekend Off
Albus didn’t know if Jennifer’s threats were empty or not, but if she was anything like his mum, she was dead serious. He went to bed that night with only one thing the next day to look forward to. He, Scorpius, and Rose were planning a date in Hogsmeade.
When he awoke the next day, Scorpius was already sitting up on his bed. He was fiddling with a piece of loose thread from his pillow. Walter was still sound asleep. Scorpius raised his head in acknowledgement to Albus, and put his pillow aside. “Breakfast?”
Albus shrugged, and followed Scorpius downstairs. Breakfast was quiet, and not much conversation was done. Breakfast was usually like this. Scorpius knew Albus to be cranky when he woke up, especially when forced up. It was only when Albus took his first bite when he was in the mood to be talked to. He just never responded.
Just before the lunch hour, Albus and Scorpius walked out of their common rooms and outside to the grounds. They joined the group of students walking toward the Hogwarts gates toward the village. Albus had never been to Hogsmeade before. Mark claimed to have been, and Scorpius bragged about having visited the Shrieking Shack. Harry had refused to give away the exceptionality of the village before Albus got to experience it as a third year with the rest of the school.
Albus expected Rose to come up any second and join them on their walk to Hogsmeade. Scorpius seemed indifferent about whether or not Rose joined them, and when she did join them, he actually looked a little disappointed.
Albus smirked as she took a spot beside him, but she had bad news, “Hey, Al. I can’t go with you,” and for some reason, she seemed positively delighted about it.
The look of delight prompted Scorpius to widen his eyes in sarcastic happiness, and jumped with glee, “Alright, congratulations Rosie. Way to go on not having to”-
“Shut it! I’m going to Hogsmeade with Daniel Dagger. Sorry about dumping on you, but you’ll enjoy yourself, right? See ya, guys.” And she ran off to join Daniel, and accompany him to Hogsmeade. Of course, Daniel had thrown Scorpius and Albus an angry look before whispering to Rose something. Something condescending no doubt.
Albus and Scorpius stopped to watch them go off. Albus nearly laughed, and only managed to keep a straight face when Scorpius scoffed, “What- what was that about? What idiocy. Guess it’s just you and me, then, Al?”
Hogsmeade was crowded with shoppers. A small village with houses and shops littered across it like a badly constructed Lego town by a child. The first shop visible as they entered the village was an inn, The Three Broomsticks.
They saved that shop till last though. They hailed James and his friends in Zonko’s Joke Shop, and visited the pet shop for their respective pets. They had lunch in a small restaurant, and remained there for a bit longer. Only when it was evening did they make their way to the Three Broomsticks.
A frizzy haired witch worked behind the bar, serving foaming hot glasses of what Albus knew to be Butterbeer. He just never had it. Albus looked over the room filled with tables and chairs, and spotted a lone empty one by the window.
“I’ll get the drinks,” Scorpius volunteered. “Butterbeer, Al?”
Albus took the empty table to claim it before anyone else could. As he waited for Scorpius to come back, he looked around. He could see Rose and Daniel sitting far off, nearer the door. They seemed deep in conversation, and James and Nigel was eyeing the both of them mischievously. Albus would’ve warned them, but he didn’t want to get himself involved in any pranks involving James, particularly after the last year.
Scorpius arrived within five minutes, carrying two glasses of Butterbeer. He set one down for Albus, and sat across. He stole one glance at Rose and Daniel, and scoffed again, “Little early for dating season to begin,” he muttered. “So, what girls are you after?”
Albus shrugged, “I dunno. I’m not really interested.”
“Why, are you gay?”
Albus laughed and took a swig of Butterbeer. He grinned, feeling a foam moustache over his mouth. Albus was about to respond when Mark came up, and said without warning, “The twins are gonna get snacks. Mind if I join you while I wait?”
Scorpius shrugged in indifference, and Albus sat back. Mark sat next to Albus, and Albus moved his chair aside to give Mark’s some room. Albus wondered if Mark would open conversation. There had to be a reason he came, and sure enough, “So, I hear you like Princess Laura, Scorpy?”
Scorpius shrugged, “Well, she’s kinda cute. What about you? Do I got competition?”
“Oh yeah,” Mark nodded, smirking.
Albus looked up in surprise. This wasn’t the first time Mark hinted that he too harbored feelings toward Laura Creevey. But then Mark specified, as he never failed to do, “Laura is so annoying, the competition is her feelings for me. But if you mean me getting in your way, I’ll just watch from the sidelines, shall I? What about you, Al?” Mark asked, turning toward Albus.
“I think- you’re both nuts.”
Scorpius laughed, and Mark looked affronted, “How am I nuts?” As Scorpius finished laughing, Mark’s eyes lightened as though he remembered something, and turned to Scorpius, “What’s with you and Daniel? I saw him glaring you just now.”
“Is he?” Scorpius said airily. “Well, apparently, the Ministry declared it a crime swaying young minds into a certain house.”
Mark rolled his eyes, but before he could respond, a voice sounded, “OI!”
Mark looked up, and without further ado, left off to join the twins. Rose’s shriek sounded all of a sudden as a firecracker went off, and Daniel was looking furious. A loud bang erupted from his wand, and James and Nigel fled the scene.
Scorpius and Albus finished the last of their Butterbeer, and got up. Scorpius stretched, and looked out. It was a clear sky. He motioned outside, and they walked out. They walked a short way toward the Shrieking Shack, and stopped at the gates. Scorpius fell against the gates, and closed his eyes.
When Albus let himself fall against the gates too, Scorpius asked quietly, “Do you think a guy like me could ever win Laura.”
Albus smirked, “Forget about it, Scorps. She’s infatuated with poor Mark. I don’t think you’re gonna win this.”
“That’s only young, innocent affection,” Scorpius excused. “She’s kinda cute, Al. You gotta admit. Laura would pop up to Mark, piss him off, and”- Scorpius grinned. He closed his eyes again. It looked as though he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
Albus was privately thinking fat chance, but that was something to think about. Scorpius liked Laura who was clearly attracted to Mark. Would Mark return Laura’s feelings? He guessed Scorpius’ wishes rested with the answer to that question. If Mark rejected her, she’d no doubt be hurt, and Scorpius would come forward smelling like a rose. Albus could see how Scorpius’ plan could work out.
Albus personally could not see what Scorpius saw in Laura. She was much too babyish and needy. She did not appear to be strong-willed nor did she appear to be individualistic at all. She was too reliant. When Albus pointed this out to Scorpius though, the boy only shrugged, “So what? That only means she’ll go for the stronger one… and everyone knows I’m stronger than Mark. When she chooses me, I’ll shape her the way I like and we’ll be a perfect couple.”
Albus was very close to responding harshly, because he could just imagine Rose’s reaction if she heard him say such a thing. Aside from that idea, Albus did not at all think Scorpius stronger but he was not in the mood to challenge Scorpius’ ego. Scorpius beat Mark once, but Albus had every reason to believe that had there been a rematch, Mark would’ve won and after the previous year, Mark showed he knew full well how to get his way.
If Scorpius was growing up, so was Mark, and Mark too may actually be a little more open towards Laura. After all, she wasn’t ugly. She was annoying, but cute as Scorpius had stated, and could be a beauty. Albus had more than enough reason to believe that Mark secretly harbored feelings for her. That would complicate it. No matter how it was looked at, this was a clear love triangle.
Before Albus could put more thought into the matter, another familiar face showed herself. Albus expected her to appear a lot sooner but at least he showed up. Alexis Ackerly seemed positively alone in Hogsmeade. She made her way to them and Albus’ mood brightened up. “Alexis.”
“Hi, Al,” she said happily.
And for the first time that year, the two engaged in something they had not done since the end of the previous year. Albus was honestly surprised that it had happened again. She reached out and hugged him, Albbus returning reluctantly and just catching Scorpius’ small smirk.
“What’re you doing, admiring the haunted dwelling?” Alexis asked snidely, a small smirk present on her face.
“Erm… yeah- it’s…” Albus stopped, at a loss for words. “It’s not really haunted is it?”
“That depends on your perception of the word,” Alexis shrugged. “It’s haunted if the rumors count. Even if they’re untrue, they still give the building a creepy atmosphere and…” she shivered, “It makes me uncomfortable.”
Scorpius backed away slowly to give the two space but it was not needed. Alexis blew out a sigh and reached into her pocket, “Just looking for you because- well, I thought you’d like these.”
Out of a small Honeydukes bag she gave him lollipops. These were not just any lollipops but blood-flavored and it made Albus widen his eyes in wonder. “Gee, uh…” he stopped, not wanting to come off as rude but she just giggled in a very un-Alexis like way. “Just try them. And… tell me what you think. Ok? I’ll… be going now. Bye, Al.”
In a matter of seconds, she disappeared down the hill back towards the village until her speck was just one of thousands walking among the houses. Albus did not know why he felt such a pang to his stomach when she handed him the strange candy but he did. Even Scorpius seemed at a loss, examining the lollipops. He shrugged, “I thought they were for vampires.”
“They are,” Albus agreed almost madly. “What do you reckon?”
“First thoughts, honest to Merlin?” Scorpius asked. “That… she’s been reading vampire romance novels, obviously. And she fancies you her… handsome and flawless love muffin.”
“You’re right, that’s giving you way too much credit,” Scorpius laughed. He handed them back. “Well, keep them and next time you see her, make sure you point out you’re not a vampire.”
“Right, Scorps, I think I’ll just ask Rosie or something,” Albus shrugged, pocketing them. “And not a word to Walter.”
“Lips sealed,” Scorpius smirked loyally. Scorpius looked down. He sighed sadly, and then looked up again, “Why do you call me Scorps?”
Albus looked up. He didn’t notice before, but evening was falling. He decided the best way to answer that question was with another, “Why do you call me Al?”
“Al is a normal name for you,” Scorpius defended.
“I learned that if you got a nickname, no one’s gonna stop calling you that,” Albus shrugged. “I went by Al since age seven. Besides, some people don’t like saying your whole name. At least mine is shorter.”
“Can’t you call me Scorpius?”
“If you got Laura as a girlfriend, what do you think she’d call you?” Albus challenged.
“What does Mark call you?”
Scorpius went quiet, “He calls me Scorpy.”
Albus lightened up, and grinned evilly, not unlike James, “Scorpy? At least I call you Scorps. Albus and Al are two different names. Seen Albert, people call both of us Al. Lily calls me when he’s around, and he thinks he’s being talked to. Confusion.”
“I don’t like being called Scorps or Scorpy. Laura is different. She’s a girl. You and Mark are boys, and we’re friends. I just like being called Scorpius. Not so bad, is it?” Scorpius stared up at the darkening sky. It seemed he wasn’t really banking on an answer. “You changed me, you know?”
Albus looked in surprise, “In what way?”
“Before I met you, I was quite prejudiced,” Scorpius said.
“What changed?” Albus asked sarcastically.
Scorpius grinned, and opened his mouth to respond. “If it weren’t for you, I’d be a racist. Well, more than I am now. At least I accept people like Hagrid and Riley now.”
“Yeah, but that’s because of Adam mainly, last year,” Albus reminded him before looking down thoughtfully. “If I hadn’t met you on the train, would I have made Slytherin?”
Scorpius looked taken-aback at the question, but answered, “Yes. Definitely. No doubt. Slytherin is who you are, and your personality, traits, and actions prove it. As with me. Why do you ask, anyway?”
“Nothing,” Albus shrugged simply. He wasn’t about to tell Scorpius that he just wanted to know how much Scorpius contributed to his life.
“C’mon, Albus,” Scorpius said, getting up and offering his hand. “Let’s go back to school.”
“Fine, Scorpius,” and Albus took Scorpius’ hand for support, and got up.
Albus was reminded of the time they spent at Malfoy Manor. He and Scorpius grew quite close during those days, primarily on the last day. He grinned to himself as he remembered. That was a good time, and it was a pity it couldn’t continue. But what really got to him was Scorpius’ calling him Albus, his full name. Not once, has Scorpius ever called him Albus. He heard his original name very few times in fact.