The Secret of the Forest
Chapter 15: Through the Fire
Hagrid motioned at them to step back, and he stepped forward. Crossbow raised, he walked silently over, and clasped his hand around the club which was still clutched tightly in the troll’s hand. The troll was large, grey, and dead-looking. Albus might’ve thought it was indeed dead if it wasn’t snoring. The club was too tightly clutched that Hagrid sighed, and nodded. He stepped back. “We’ll need to wake it up to disarm it of its club.”
Hagrid fired the crossbow once at the troll’s shut eyelids. “There, one eye is out. Lorcan…”
“Gotcha,” Lorcan said, stepping forward as the troll gave out a roar in pain. He raised his wand as the troll stood up, clutching its eye. Pointing his wand at the troll’s last eye, he yelled, “Diffindo.”
The troll dropped the club as it clutched the other eye. Hagrid fired once more at the forehead to keep it at bay, and backed away. He motioned at them to do the same, except Albus and Scorpius, who were due to move forward. “Locomotor Club.”
They both moved the club over to them at the same time, and Hagrid took it over. He picked it up, and backed further away. He fired one last time, and Lorcan and Lysander fired a spell of green light at the troll’s head in union.
“Modified its memory,” Lysander said happily. They were walking out of the ivy, and taking a straight route back to the entrance. Lysander seemed satisfied. “So, now it can’t even remember who did it to him, and its club is gone.”
“The troll is blinded,” Hagrid said, nodding approvingly, parting a bushes for them to pass. “Mission complete. A blinded troll. We had no need teh kill it after all.”
“I hope you’re satisfied,” Scorpius muttered. “Wait till my father”-
“What’ll yer father do about it?” Hagrid asked testily. Before Scorpius could answer, a rustling in the trees sounded. A few seconds of tension were followed by the appearance of two giant spiders. Albus and Scorpius widened their eyes, and jumped to behind Hagrid. Lorcan looked ready to do the same, but Lysander raised his wand, sweating, whispering “Acromantula.”
Hagrid stood firm, “Back. We’re on’y passing. We’re not botherin’ yeh.”
The spider didn’t move but started clicking menacingly and furiously. Hagrid was seen to grow nervous before now, and he backed away with his umbrella pointing at the giant spider. “Back, all of yeh. Back!”
The kids obliged as the spiders advanced. In less than half a minute, more spiders appeared to back the two up. Hagrid’s voice was shaking, “I’m warnin’ yeh. Yeh will stay back!”
But the spiders didn’t halt. They continued to advance, towering over all the kids and level only with Hagrid. Hagrid looked ready to throw himself at them when out of the darkness twenty arrows were fired. They fell short of the spiders but nonetheless scared the arachnids away.
The ones who fired were shown to be horses with a man’s chest and head. They were bigger than the kids and wielded crossbows. One was neighing triumphantly after the scurrying spiders. Another, which was white-haired approached Hagrid. “What’re you doing here, Hagrid?” it spoke in a wispy voice. “It’s not usual for you to visit this area of the forest.”
“Hogwarts detention,” Hagrid answered simply.
“May I ask the nature of the detention?”
“A troll has been killin’ Bugbear, and it’s been goin’ on a while. As nothin’ was done, we stepped in. Sorry to pass through yer territ’ry.”
“Acromantula are dangerous Hagrid, and you know it to be our job to confront any beats within this forest acting rogue. The forest remains in balance and the Centaurs have little need of a Hogwarts detention of foals to act as police force.”
“Well, if yer all high an’ mighty as police force of the forest, yer laws dictate yeh don’t harm foals, so back off and let us pass.”
“This last time Hagrid, because you are our friend,” the wispy-voiced Centaur replied menacingly. “Foals don’t come this far and not only are you passing through a restricted area, you bring innocents into harm’s way. We will deal with the troll.”
The centaurs cantered off and Hagrid, still sweating, turned to the shaking children. “Well, that was more than I ‘spected. Centaurs are good, but ruddy territorial, and since the Battle of Hogwarts, formed their own law enforcement in the forest. But that was an Acromantula. Yeh’re all lucky yeh were with me, and even luckier the Centaurs were around.”
Scorpius didn’t answer. Albus could see Scorpius was very scared now of what was in there. Albus felt a rush of cool, fresh air as they stepped outside into the grounds once more. Clabberts and Bugbears were one thing, but Centaurs, Trolls and Acromantula… Something else. Neither of them could sleep immediately when they got back to the dormitory. They lay awake in bed till three in the morning. Words couldn’t describe the feeling in the dormitory. Walter was sleeping soundly, but Albus and Scorpius were wide awake, thinking about their excursion.
Finally, with one last word from Scorpius, ‘Brutal,’ they fell asleep.
The next morning dawned slowly for Albus. He woke up pretty late in the morning. It was eleven, and nearly time for lunch. He expected Scorpius’ bed to be empty, but he was still sound asleep. The only beds empty were Walter’s and Riley’s, and Riley’s bed was explained easily. He wasn’t allowed in the dormitory.
On cue of Albus waking up, Scorpius woke up soon after as if they were linked. He rubbed his eyes, and looked around. “What time ‘s it?” he asked groggily.
“Eleven,” Albus responded yawningly.
The two sat up in their beds for a full hour, doing absolutely nothing but talking. Walter did not return either, so it was just them. The day was free, and neither of the two saw Walter or Riley for the day since they stayed up in the dormitory, venturing out only for Lunch and Dinner. Walter returned upstairs at seven in the evening.
Albus looked at his watch and then spoke, “Listen, Scorps. I gotta be down at one. I’m gonna talk to my dad in the fire for a bit.”
Scorpius shrugged, “Fine. Whatever.”
Albus ventured downstairs at twelve-thirty, and sat in front of the fireplace. There were yellow eyes above them that Albus heard were supposed to resemble a Basilisk’s. The Common room was mercifully empty, so Albus was assured privacy. Scorpius was good enough to set off Dungbombs if anyone thought of venturing downstairs, so Albus would have warning if anyone was coming.
At exactly one o-clock, the fire turned green. Albus looked up, heart pounding, and there his dad’s head sat, staring at him. Then, it smiled. Albus couldn’t help but grin back, “Hi, dad.”
“Hi, Al,” Harry said, nodding a bit. “What’s up? Need something?”
“Just someone to talk to,” Albus muttered. “Things are not going so well.”
“Oh yeah,” Harry asked, and there was a smirk on his face. A smirk Albus knew but did not like. “Uncle Ron’s got a note from his daughter. Said something rather interesting.”
Albus rolled his eyes, and fell back, “Aw, man! Why’d she go and tell on us like that. It’s bad enough she told Hagrid. Now she told you too.”
“You know she’s only looking after you,” Harry said defensively. “The Forbidden Forest, Al?”
“We only wanna know what’s beyond it,” Albus explained. “Tell me you were never curious.”
“It never crossed my mind,” Harry said honestly. “I wanted a quiet life. Something you specifically stated you wanted too. Rather ironic, isn’t it? And what’s up with Scorpius and Rosie?”
Albus sighed, and explained everything. Everything that happened between them. Harry nodded understandingly, in a way that told Albus he’d been there. How Rosie wasn’t happy with Scorpius for luring other kids into Slytherin, how Scorpius called girls out of touch, and how Rose got him back publicly in Hagrid’s hut, and then how Rose told both of them off to Hagrid, “And Rose isn’t even right. When did Hagrid ever give detention?”
Harry looked thoughtful for a minute, and then said, “You’re the first, Al. But never mind that. What gives Scorpius such an interest in getting other kids to join Slytherin house?”
“He told me he just wants to show that Slytherin is not evil,” Albus sighed. “But he’s right, dad. For once, I’m not alone. Lorcan is there too. Roxanne and Lucy… we’re finally in. But I don’t think Rose ever forgave him for that. He left Lily alone, but he got another kid in return.”
“But girls are not out of touch,” Harry shook his head. “I think that was quite sexist actually. Plus, he might have good intentions, but it gives Slytherin house the image of some outside cult.”
“What does everyone have against Slytherin house?” Albus demanded. “And that didn’t make her right to attack in Hagrid’s hut several weeks back though. It puts me in the middle, and both of them are expecting me to take their side. It’s so annoying. Now, thanks to her, I had a detention in the forest. Were you ever in the middle like that?”
“Oh yeah, loads of times,” Harry laughed. “I knew a boy and a girl at Hogwarts a lot like Scorpius and Rose. Kept going for each other in their third year. Wasn’t my favorite time. From criminal damage to a Firebolt, to the murder of a rat. I was busy trying to get them to talk again.”
And Harry smirked even more. “They got married.”
“And they became your aunt and uncle.”
“Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione?”
“So, if everything goes the way their fight did,” Harry stared up thoughtfully. “They should continue the fight till the fourth year, and then get married after the seventh.”
“I’m just kidding, Al,” Harry laughed. “How’s things with you and Mark these days?” Harry asked in a change of subject.
“Better,” Albus shrugged. “We’re on- speaking terms. At least we’re talking.”
“Is that girl still annoying him?”
“Laura? Yeah. She doesn’t quit. Ever faced that?”
“Oh yeah, your mum was quite infatuated with me,” Harry said, grinning. Albus could hear laughter from Harry’s end, and he was sure Ginny heard. “Anyways, your mother is calling me to bed, so I’d better go. See ya later, or talk to Teddy. He’s available.”
“Yeah,” Albus said thoughtfully. “I would like to talk to… to”- he stopped, his ears on the alert. Someone was coming downstairs. Harrt read the look in his eyes correctly and nodded hurriedly.
There was a faint pop, and Harry’s face disappeared, leaving Albus in darkness again. Silence ruled the night afterwards, and Albus sat there thoughtfully for fifteen seconds when stifled laughter was heard, “Wait till I tell Malcolm about this.”
Great. Albus whipped around, widening his eyes. It was Samantha Mold. Samantha wore her brown hair in pigtails, and she was skinny, skinnier than usual. Albus remembered meeting her last year, and noting her anorexia, but this year there was a difference. She was still very skinny, but she seemed better. It wasn’t that big a difference, but Albus could tell she put on a little bit of weight. One similarity was that she still had her sour face.
“Talking to daddy, Potter?”
“You wouldn’t,” Albus said, near anger to her.
Samantha just laughed, “I could, but that would be low. Why not ask your friends for help? Don’t have any?”
Albus never really liked her. He preferred her staying away from him. This year, he noted her lack of hygiene and cleanliness. On top of her sour face, she didn’t have a good smell. Did she take a shower?
“I do, but they’re fighting, and others aren’t involved,” Albus said defensively, walking to bed. The smell grew as he got nearer to her on his way to the descending pathway to the dormitories and as he passed, before he could stop himself, he sniffed the smell out, coughing, “Did you take a shower?”
As expected, she looked highly affronted, and her sour face was justified this time, “Well, you got nerve! I have a good mind to tell Malcolm. Hmph, the bathrooms were taken, and curfew was near. I’m sorry if I’m an insult to your sense of smell, I’ll take one tomorrow morning.”
Take two, Albus thought meanly to himself, in a fuming mood for being interrupted. Thankfully she couldn’t hear his thoughts. He walked upstairs to his dormitory again, looking at his watch. It was half past. He climbed into bed, realizing how tired he was. He yawned. Walter was snoring quite loudly, and Scorpius was breathing lightly. But as Albus closed his eyes, Scorpius could be heard muttering in his sleep.
Scorpius and Rose weren’t going to quit. Albus had a feeling this fight would ware off by the end of the year, and Rose already started the dating world with Daniel Dagger. He doubted whether Scorpius could care less though, and besides, Scorpius had a crush on Laura. Yeah. It wasn’t going to happen. Now, Albus just had to do some damage repair to their friendship, and restore things back to normal.