The Secret of the Forest
Chapter 29: Meeting in Room 100
Albus would never forget Alexis till the day he died. In second year, she stuck by him, proved herself to be much more than a simple friend. She was like his sister but a sister he barely saw except during classes. Alexis managed to seep into his mind so much now, Albus started wondering if he was becoming obsessed. Of course, the suggestions Mark and Scorpius made occurred to him too. Whatever they felt towards each other, Albus could not figure it all out. Though Alexis was a good friend and extremely helpful, she was also confusing.
Was it not her who handed him blood-flavored lollipops? And Albus still had them, he remembered with a pang. Whatever she wanted Albus to get from them, he did not know. Alexis was of course not the only girl on his mind though. Albus and Scorpius resolved to patch things up with Rose, but couldn’t do so until the next weekend. Class work was piling up. As the next week passed, one student above all started gaining popularity. This time, the one getting the attention now was Lysander Scamander, the boy behind a recent Quibbler Article.
Rita’s Madness: In Defense of Vampires by Lysander Scamander
There was once a time when Werewolves were segregated against, a time where the world reacted against the employment of a half-giant, a time when half-bloods and Muggle-borns, a great majority of us looked down on those we considered mud, or simply those who lacked magic but possessed something just as great. Something we cannot understand as Wizards. Something called science.
Rita Skeeter tries to build up on fear and she tries so again. The half-giant fought for us in the Battle of Hogwarts, a Werewolf rallied more against the Dark Lord, and the Muggle-born’s were proven to be just as good as any other.
House-elves used to be under complete control of Wizards and their great power limited, Centaurs had next to no land area, and we changed. Centaurs were given sovereignty over forests and House-elves were given wages and days off even, the effort spear-headed by none other than Muggle-born Mrs. Hermione Weasley. Their power has increased. We’ve learned to see.
Yet we are still limited. We lack respect toward vampires. Despite countless Ministry laws, we still discriminate against them. Yes, some are horrible creatures but others are innocent. Professor Era of Hogwarts school has never harmed anyone before and she’s a full vampire. Riley Blackberry was innocent until he lost control over the smell of garlic and he’s a half-vampire. Otto Blackberry, a full vampire is Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation and brought to us exchange students.
In case we forgot, these exchange students had a huge cultural barrier and thanks to a school-wide prank orchestrated by a few students, they fought each other. Does that mean all foreigners are awful people? Is it fair to expel Riley or demote Era? Some would respond that Era was never suspended but they are wrong. Traditionally the Deputy Headmistress heads the sorting ceremony. This year, Era failed to head the ceremony. To quell theories that this was her choice, I asked Era herself.
“This was no choice. The Headmaster did not want to look bad to the community. I was quietly demoted and cast aside. I am nothing more than a teacher, maybe Head of Slytherin house and only because I’m the only Slytherin working in the school. Though I managed to hold Blackberry back and restrain him, I was demoted. It is unfair but vampires are still discriminated against.”
The end of prejudiced won’t be until the Ministry takes action against injustice. We all know this. Why does all fail? Giants are more brutal than any vampire but no one will see Hagrid sacked. In fact, of all Rita’s rambling against vampires, she only wrote one against giants. Why are we demeaning vampires when they learn to control their thirst well and feed off animal blood? I’m not calling for the end of vampire hunting, (so long as it is true and dangerous vampires) I’m calling for an end of prejudiced.
“I did nothing,” Riley Blackberry said to his own defense. “I was pranked and picked on throughout the year by another student until my secret was let out. As a further act of aggression they placed garlic in front of my nose. I survived fine during lunches, allowing the smells of other foods to overtake garlic, but it was to no avail the second the prank was committed. I was fine until then.”
What annoys us all is the fact that his own little brother was expelled too before he even entered the school. “And for nothing,” Nate Blackberry said angrily over lunch to me. “It’s the injustice of the Ministry. Even dad can’t do anything. We need the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to make a ruling and the Department of Education in on it.
“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.”
So there we have it. The only way through is more action. The Daily Prophet continues to let Rita Skeeter speak through it despite controversial views concerning Dumbledore, Snape, and even Harry Potter. Is the Wizarding world still so split to call for the destruction of an entire species of magical creatures? No. It’s time to take action. It’s time to rise up above such prejudiced and let the Minister for Magic himself step in. He’ll know better than anyone. He fought in the Battle of Hogwarts despite being underage at the time.
Lysander’s article had impressed countless, especially when Lysander went on a posting campaign with none other than Riley Blackberry and posted the article from the Quibbler all over the school. Nate Blackberry increased his own popularity and even Gryffindors cheered Professor Era on as she walked the halls. Professor Phoenix was once again under attack and it wasn’t Lorcan doing it but his twin brother. And who opted to help them both but Rose Weasley, who started getting very outspoken in defense of Riley and Nate. Her attitude even got Scorpius interested and he brightened up whenever she was mentioned. “Rosie is… sticking up for a Slytherin?”
Albus guessed privately that Alex gave her a nudge for this one but he said nothing. The next Saturday morning, Scorpius got up and stretched. He looked over at Albus tiredly. “Where d’you think Rosie is?” Scorpius asked tiredly as Albus got into his clothes.
“Well, it’s still eight, let’s look in the Great Hall,” Albus yawned. “If she’s not there, we’ll wait by Gryffindor tower. She’ll pass by.”
No waiting was necessary though. Rose came up from behind them as they peeked into the Great Hall. Scorpius jumped, and Rose stared, “What do you want?”
“Well, we wanted to talk,” Albus said, looking down.
“It was all Al’s idea,” Scorpius added hurriedly, earning a punch from his friend.
Rose raised her eyebrows, and Scorpius took a deep breath, “Ok, ok. Rosie, I’m sorry for saying for being a jerk and saying girls were out of touch. But I hated how you embarrassed me at Hagrid’s, and told our parents and got us in trouble with… well, just about everyone in the school.”
“You could’ve been hurt,” Rose argued. “What else was I supposed to do? Scorpius, you claim to be Al’s friend, but you led him so badly astray”-
“You know, I don’t appreciate that,” Scorpius said heatedly. “I admit I talked Albus into Slytherin, but big deal. Didn’t he go into Gryffindor for a week? On top of that, we’re best friends!”
Scorpius’ declaration fully welcomed Albus back into Slytherin house. Now, he could remember why he loved the house so much, and what was so different about it. Albus was welcome there and belonged there. He was integrated into it. Gryffindor was too foreign for him.
“I’m sorry if I got you into trouble,” Rose said straight out. “Whatever you think, I didn’t mean for it to go that far.”
“Look, can we just start over and forget it happened?”
“Fine.” Scorpius said, and shook Rose’s hand. She drew him into a hug and Albus joined in. Scorpius went half red at the hug but said nothing. And on their way to Defense Against the Dark Arts, Scorpius muttered to Albus, “I hugged a Weasley. You owe me big time.”
The third years had a treat that week in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Professor Macmillan once again summoned Harry Potter to do a Defense talk, and the desks were moved aside. Albus was surprised too, because he didn’t expect another lesson with his father again. Still, Harry had his experience and had a lot to offer them.
“Today, we’ll be dealing with a Charm well beyond your abilities,” Ernie told them excitedly. “A Patronus is the Cheerful Charm that feeds off happiness and wards of Dementors.”
“Who can say what a Dementor is?” Harry called. “You, Miss…”
“Ackerly,” Alexis eagerly introduced. Harry gave a nod of recognition, having met her himself the year before. “Alexis Ackerly. And Dementors feed off filth and misery. ”
“Happiness is sucked out of you,” Rose finished.
“They come from filth and decay in abandoned or neglected places”-
“And they kiss you if”-
“Thank you, Miss Weasley,” Ernie interrupted. Albus and Scorpius threw smirks at each other. Rose had to provide information as well. Professor Macmillan continued, “The full power of a Dementor won’t be talked about till your OWL year, but we will show you the way to counter. Some of you will also get to try.”
“The important thing is to summon a happy memory, and use the words Expecto Patronum,” Harry instructed. “Let’s see…”
But the class failed miserably. Only wisps of silver smoke escaped the wands and Harry walked around the class, correcting students where they went wrong with the incantation, wand movement, or even a memory help. “Think of… the time you won the Quidditch cup, the House cup, when you found out you were a Wizard, when a younger sibling was born…”
At that moment, a burst of white light shone throughout the room and Harry looked around. The light disappeared and Alexis looked surprised. “It was my little brother. When he was born…”
“What animal?’ Harry asked interestedly.
“A tiger,” she shrugged. “I think. I didn’t get a good look at it.”
“Of course,” Harry muttered, and he went over to her end to work with her.
Alexis’ luck was the only piece in the class. Even Rose didn’t fare well, and by the end, only Albus and Mark managed what looked like an animal for only seconds. The rest were wisps of smoke and clouds.
“I didn’t expect much progress,” Harry began. “But I am impressed with the performance of some. So, those that managed an animal regardless of how long take twenty points. Macmillan was to show you how to cast in your fifth year. Well done all of you.”
“And remember our saying,” Macmillan said loudly. “Every curse has a counter-curse. Remember that.”
Albus left the class thoughtfully. His mind wandered to other things now. Alex made a promise to Albus, and even though Albus was now a full Slytherin once more, he endeavored to keep the promise. Mark had come by Albus’ table at lunch that day to tell him to meet them in Room 100 on the first floor at eight. Little did Albus know that Gabriel overheard, and he immediately resolved to see what was up.
Later that day, the meeting took place just as planned but with a twist. The room filled with a number of people. Mark walked in followed closely by Laura Creevey, Alex and Eric, Walter, and Gabriel Dagger was behind them. Beside Gabriel was Lorcan and Lysander Scamander. Next came James Potter, who was followed by Samuel Redgrow and Nigel Creevey whose name Albus knew was also Colin after his late Uncle. Coming in last, at the far rear, was Roxanne, Lucy, and Hugo Weasley and Lily Potter. Rose came last, and she stood against the door, listening in, but not part of the group.
Alex looked around, and went a little red, “Ok. Umm… well… we only really expected four or five here. Not the whole school.”
“We’re here to mainly tag-along and annoy the hell out of you,” Gabriel said smirking.
Looking at Gabriel as if he was rather peculiar, Samuel responded, “We’re just curious.”
“Well, we kinda promised ourselves an excursion into the Forbidden Forest,” Alex said tentatively, careful not to look at Rose.
Before Rose could even think of responding, James broke out into a wide grin, and said, “Brilliant!” He turned to Samuel and Nigel excitedly. “We could get the whole group, it’d be a cinch!”
“Bloody brilliant!” Hugo exclaimed. “Alright, I’m in.”
“You coming Lils?” Scorpius asked her kindly.
“Yeah, ok,” Lily shrugged.
“Are you sure you wanna do this?” Eric asked Albus. “Because this is dangerous, and requires a Gryffindor bravery.”
Scorpius looked down shiftily, and said, “Well, it was Al’s idea really. I’m just following him into it.”
Albus raised an eyebrow at him, and looked back at Alex, “Yeah. I think we can prove we have as much bravery as you do.”
“Then, right after the next Quidditch match, around six, in March, we’ll go for it. That’ll be three weeks. Outside Herbology Greenhouse Three. Six in the evening. Agreed?”
Upon everyone’s consent, except Rose’s of course, who was this time powerless against so many students, Alex and Mark made to leave the room, but then Lorcan cleared his throat, “Wait.”
Lorcan took out of his pocket a pong piece of parchment. It was filled with names. Hugo took it, and read it aloud, Lily looking over his shoulder, “This is a petition arguing for the release of student Riley Blackberry. Last year, he was suspended for attacks on students due to a taste of garlic in his nose. The banning of garlic is nothing compared to losing a student many in the school liked. While he may have lost control, he is more in control now and kept in control for a year before his outburst. Nate has no offenses and Era was allowed back in for protecting the students. Therefore, a voice of the students speaks up and urges the Headmaster and by extension the Minister to reconsider and allow our friend and his brother back in the school.”
“It’s a petition, for Riley’s return to the school. Do you think you all can sign it?” Lorcan asked uncertainly.
Hugo nodded, and took a quill from Lily’s bag. He stuck his tongue between his teeth and signed his name on below Albert Bedram. Lily was next. She reached out to hand it to James, who smirked, “That, we can do.” And he was the next to sign. Everyone in the room signed the petition, the room for five minutes was filled with scrambling to sign it, some asked to borrow a quill, and then Lorcan left, thanking everyone.
Alex and Mark left the room first. Eric left after them. Lysander stayed behind; however with a pen and paper. They obviously wanted something more but not from everyone. They had their eyes on Albus.
“Can you say something on Riley’s behalf?” Lysander asked timidly. “Just to help bring Riley back. It’ll appear in the Prophet next article I write.”
“What do you want me to say?” Albus asked.
“Just tell me what you think of him,” Lorcan said lowly. “Make it count too. I’ll just die if I lose this.”
“Say…” Albus started, well aware that what he said would be heard by others. “Say that he surprises me with what he has to say when you finally get a conversation going with him. He is tremendously smart and few others can compare.”
Albus could tell he struck gold this time. Lorcan seemed happy. Lysander was copying what Albus said down and they both left very satisfied. Soon after, everyone filed out as they liked. Soon, it was just Albus, Scorpius, and Rose left. Albus felt uncomfortable, but knew he couldn’t stop Rose from saying what she felt she had to, “I hope you know what you’re doing. You’re walking into a deathtrap.” And she left last.
Scorpius sighed, “Are you sure about this, Al? Why do you wanna go so bad?”
“Scorps, it’s the forest,” Albus said longingly. “We know why it’s forbidden. But quite honestly, the forest and the Hogwarts grounds are Unplottable. After something so long and so horribly bad, isn’t there anything good at the end. I wanna know what comes after. I wanna know what the silver line is pointing towards, and why only we can see it.”
“But this comes at the expense of too much,” Scorpius complained.
“Nothing will happen,” Albus said confidently. “Because not only are we high in numbers, but the Centaurs would help us if they had to. And, we know what’s in there, and we know quite a bit of spells to help defend us. On top of that, if it gets too dangerous, we’ll pull out.”
Scorpius gaped at him, “Al. Are you seriously underestimating the situation? You know, despite what Phoenix or the sorting hat said; sometimes, I think you really are a Gryffindor at heart.”