The Secret of the Forest
Chapter 19: Stories from a Weasley
Albus would soon find more reason to show Scorpius just why the Potter house was better than the Malfoy Manor. Scorpius would find just why he envied Albus for the liveliness of the house compared to a quiet life in the Manor. Scorpius had always grown up in a quiet place. His family were conservative aristocrats who possessed a large house and never failed to show it off. His grandparents were very quiet, especially after this legendary second war. His grandmother died when Scorpius was young, and his grandfather frequently left the house for ‘Ministry work,’ which would be later attended to by his father, Draco. To top things, Scorpius did not have siblings.
Albus was the polar opposite. He had an older brother and a younger sister, born into a family of Quidditch fans as Scorpius found out, and had a father whose influence could rival even that of Lucius Malfoy. The Second war had destroyed the Malfoy’s and left little of their former popularity intact while it made the Potter’s with one Head of Aurors and the other a Quidditch reporter and a former Harpies Chaser.
The family arrived later that day, and a surprise visit by Wizarding naturalists Luna and her husband Rolf Scamander. This could only mean that Lorcan and Lysander were there too. Sure enough, their heads poked from behind Luna, and they ran up and hugged Albus. Scorpius stood back to allow the greetings to take place, nodding at those that threw him odd looks.
Albus gave his whole family hugs as they arrived, envying Scorpius for only having to shake their hands. Albus always looked forward to Christmas stories by Uncle Charlie, but he first had to endure over an hour of his own storytelling to his family who heard enough from Harry to interest them.
“You went into the forest?” George asked longingly.
“We tried!” Albus cried, Scorpius throwing an accusatory look at Rose. “Then we got detention from Hagrid!”
“You set a record!” George whooped happily, showing Albus that he had succeeded in getting a rare whoop from his Uncle George. “Detention from Hagrid? No one ever managed? Not even me or- or…” his voice trailed away, and he grew quiet.
Albus saw that Scorpius looked at him questioningly, but Albus shook his head to indicate he couldn’t answer yet. Meanwhile, Uncle Ron asked excitedly, “What did you do?”
But it was Lorcan who answered this. “We had to beat a troll,” he said, much to the horror of Albus’ grandmother, Molly.
“I’m not kidding. The troll had to be blinded, beaten, and its memory modified before the forest was safe again,” Albus recalled.
“Why beat a poor troll though?” Roxanne questioned.
James and Louis looked at her incredulously, and it was Scorpius who answered. “He was killing Bugbears, Roxy. Why let them die?”
“I might’ve come close to getting a detention,” Fred shrugged beside James. “But Daniel told me off because I wet his bed at night.”
Scorpius burst into laughter at that comment, and Lysander was stamping his feet in hilarity. As the laughter quieted down, (Lysander was still sniggering) Roxanne turned on Fred, “Well, anyone would tell it was water, so”-
“But it wasn’t water,” Fred said longingly. “It actually smelt of cat piss. It stunk up the dormitory so bad, and Daniel lost his head!”
Albus was laughing with Fred at the story but his attention was diverted at the mention of Phoenix from Lorcan. He was in conversation with Aunt Hermione, who seemed to take a lot of interest in what Lorcan was trying to pull off. It seemed Lorcan was dead serious about his campaign against Galadral Phoenix.
“I don’t think you should be reckless,” Hermione advised him. “Venturing the forest with Riley will only get you into trouble, and make Riley look bad. It could make people think he lured you in or something. It’s the era of suspicion, and it won’t do to fight back by breaking the rules.”
“Well, I can’t give up,” Lorcan said dutifully. “Riley was just fine. Talked to him plenty. But he gets expelled over garlic like any other vampire. Nate is expelled before he did a thing, like the school is fixed against vampires, but oh- I forgot about Era, the deputy Headmistress before Phoenix demoted her in secret.”
“How do you know it was secret?” Rolf asked him from across the table, Luna perking her head up in interest.
“Oh, it’s obvious,” Lysander smiled. “He told the school Era was staying, but she didn’t do the sorting as usual.”
“Exactly, plus the idiot acts as if Era is just fine, but every time I ask him directly if Era is still the same, he doesn’t answer,” Lorcan criticized. “But after the first Quidditch match, Era commented with Alex to combat his favoritism toward Gryffindor, and Phoenix yelled at her for it before. It’s like vampires are being singled out.”
“Do an article,” Rolf said promptly to Luna who charmed a pen out, which started writing on a parchment conjured in thin air.
“Wait, but don’t do anything yet,” Lorcan said pleadingly. “Let me confront him again. When I lose, I’ll let you know and you can release the article.”
“Yes,” Luna said happily. “Perfect. And make sure the Prophet gets wind of this. It’ll be great to cite them, and the Quibbler can combat the main newspaper and expose the secrets once and for all.”
“And I’ll get support in Gryffindor house,” Lysander said happily. “We love the Quibbler there. I can get people to read the Quibbler and when it comes out we’ll spread it. We’ll have supporters.”
“If you like, I can alert the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures,” Hermione offered. “I know a Centaur who’d love to take part in this. A couple of Goblins would be furious at the mistreatment of beasts, and we can vouch for them.”
“Thanks, mum, Aunt Hermione,” Lorcan said happily. “Do you think I’ll win this?”
“Only if you play your cards right, and send a petition later,” Hermione warned. “Think carefully. I want this woman beaten down as much as you do.”
“I will,” Lorcan said lowly. “But the Department of Education. Surely Mr. Potter can”-
“The Department of Education will never give in,” said Harry Potter himself, Head of Aurors. “It’s controlled by the only Pure-blooded fanatic left in the Ministry. Fortunately, his department only keeps tabs on illegal magic used. They have no power over who enters Hogwarts. I think the Magical Creatures department is enough. That’s Hermione’s job.”
“Mors Incommodo is very fanatical in some respects and I’d be very careful around him,” Hermione said warningly. “He despises Otto Blackberry and campaigned very hard to have him arrested at one point. He’s dangerous. That is why… I’ll leave it to the new generation to fix this problem. Harry was threatened to be suspended from the Ministry if I did not cease my campaign against Rita. So… I quit.”
“Ron, enough,” Hermione said. “Harry, this can be your response. I’ll stop the writing myself but that does not mean others shall too. It can be left up to the Quibbler,” and she gave a nod at Luna. “And Harry, this saves your job and mine as well. How about it?”
Harry was still on the point of refusing, but he just remembered something. Soto wanted Harry as Head of Aurors. He said so the previous year. If Phoenix, Potter and Blackberry keep their positions at their respective posts, that may bode well for us; particularly with Harry Potter. We need him if I am to achieve my goal. “But, Soto wants dad up there.”
“What?” Harry and Ron said in unison and Albus immediately felt guilty. He was not supposed to be getting himself involved in this. But this was serious. It could not stay secret and Albus never considered what Soto said important enough to tell. He looked at his father, “Soto wants you as Head of Aurors. Phoenix and Blackberry too.”
Albus was hitting himself inside for saying this given their moods. Hermione had just decided to stop writing and now… Harry Potter? Scorpius looked up from his plate slowly as Harry nodded, “You’re right.”
Before Albus could ask him anything, a familiar voice snapped him out of it. A Christmas tradition was at hand. “Ok, ok, who wants to hear my own stories?” Charlie asked, getting up and rubbing his hands together.
Albus nodded at Scorpius, and got up. This was the quieter moment for the kids, especially the younger ones like Lucy or Lily. Albus and Scorpius took a seat on the floor behind everyone, sitting against the wall lazily, and listened to Charlie tell his stories.
“Well, I got two good ones. Who likes the violent Hungarian Horntail? Or… the Beach attack?”
“It depends, what attacked the beach?” Lucy asked.
“A Chinese Fireball,” Charlie answered.
“Fireball!” Scorpius called out unexpectedly to Albus’ surprise. Albus himself hadn’t called for a story since he was ten. “Sorry,” Scorpius whispered half guiltily. “But the Fireball sounds interesting.”
“You know that Chinese Fireballs are almost snaky,” Charlie set down. “A long-tailed red snake dragon with what looks like streamers flowing from its head. It gives it an almost beautiful look. But the beauty is not to be toyed with. That long tail can do what a snake can do and worse.
“So, we got a few Slytherin students here, and they know snakes. They can tell you what snakes can do. I’ll have you know a Fireball can do that and more. It can bite, wrap itself around you, and crush your bones if it does so too hard. With its fire-breathing that gives it the name Fireball, it’s a very deadly dragon, second only to the Hungarian Horntail.
“Now, with its hard scales, dragons are hard to subdue, so this time, deaths were involved. The Fireball attacked the beach over an undercover Wizard who carried an egg with him. The Fireball set out to retake its egg, and it massacred the beach the Wizard was hiding in.
“It took complex magic, used only after two teammates of mine died trying to protect the beach and backup arrived from the Ministry. Water was taken from the sea to drench the dragon, but saltwater left a bitter taste in its mouth and I think it might’ve affected the fire breathing nature of it, because there was less of a mushroom of fire, and more of a small sphere.
“The dragon had to be put to sleep, and thankfully, no Muggles were killed, though many injured and one seriously. You have no idea how many memories had to be modified…”
After a lot of wows from the girls and envious clapping from Lorcan and Lysander, the latter jumped up excitedly and yelled, “Hungarian story!”
“Ah, this one is quite interesting,” Charlie said happily. “Short and cute. Word reached Romania of a Hungarian Wizard taking a Hungarian Horntail as a pet. We set out to convince him that it would fail and his attempts would lead to ruin and his own death.
“He was stubborn, and refused to listen, so we had to seek permission from the Hungarian and Romanian Ministries to remain in Hungary and watch the development of the Horntail.
“It was quite the educational experience too, because we learned things we never knew. The Horntail laid ten eggs, and the highest we had recorded was five. Then, it was refusing to share any of its territory, even with its master at a young age.
“Naturally, when the Horntail reached maturity, it had its way with the house and we barely managed to get the poor Wizard out. A Horntail by nature is vicious and”-
“The most dangerous dragon ever bred,” Lysander finished wisely, to an approving nod from Charlie.
“Yes, dangerous. It can lay up to ten eggs, now we know, and its fire range is the longest recorded, especially this one. What was also strange was that this attempt, if anything, kept the Horntail somewhat emotionally attached to the area it was in. We had to force the evacuation of Muggles in the area, new dwellings given to them, and memories modified.
“This might not have had to happen if the Wizard had just listened, and gave the Horntail up. You know your gamekeeper Hagrid tried raising a Norwegian Ridgeback and if it wasn’t for Harry, Ron and Hermione, things might’ve ended up the same way.”
Lorcan spoke up, “But Ridgebacks are less violent than Horntails, so…”
“That’s right, we don’t know for sure, and thankfully we never found out,” Charlie nodded, getting up. “Now, it’s getting late. So, goodnight and Merry Christmas.”
The kids all tiredly bade goodnight, and Scorpius hung back with Lorcan and Lysander to congratulate Charlie. Albus didn’t want to say anything, because he was worried it would affect Scorpius’ decision making, but he seriously thought Scorpius was enjoying this a lot more than he ever enjoyed the Malfoy Manor.
A/N: Hi readers and reviewers. Ok, I am aware that I have not been interacting much like this for a while because quite frankly, there’s not much to say, but this is where things get less… well inactive… and more interesting. I am not saying this story is coming to a close. In fact, we’re a little more than half way through it by now. But I am saying that things will be picking up starting chapter after next, bringing answers to questions pertaining Phoenix, Riley, the forest and yes, Mark and his relationship with Albus with the twins poking them both from behind. After months of friendship, it is time to pay another visit to those two concerning what Mark’s goal has been with Albus this entire time. Enjoy the reading.