The Secret of the Forest
Chapter 3: The Wedding
The next morning, Albus was in low spirits and when Scorpius asked him why as they got dressed, Albus checked to make sure the door was shut and told him what had transpired the previous night. Albus had to admit he was curious as to what Scorpius’ reaction would be. His friend kept his head down and when Albus finished the rest of the story, Scorpius looked up, his face showing tremendous guilt.
“I’m sorry, mate,” he said lowly. It was one of those faces that Albus was sure was genuine. He held the same face the previous summer when Scorpius had talked Albus into going to Knockturn Alley, which ended in what became known as Hurricane Ginny. “My granddad still holds a feud with your family and- he just wanted to scare you. That’s what it was. Really, I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine, it was just…”
“Were you scared?”
“Liar,” Scorpius grinned widely. “Grandfather scares everyone. He scares me, sometimes. I refuse to believe he did not scare you. And from what you told me, he had one of his special scary looks. Whatever you think of it, just know it can’t get any worse.”
Albus believed him. He did. But the dispirited feeling did not leave. Albus came down at the last day of his visit in low spirits. His dad would be coming home later. He ate breakfast slowly. Scorpius also seemed quite gloomy. He promised Albus some fun with the peacocks and the fountain again, but Albus just shrugged. His eyes were still tired, but he wished Scorpus would stop talking. It was making him, Albus, feel more down in the dumps.
The day passed uneventfully. Scorpius was indeed trying to get Albus’ attention, and give him some fun, but it was in vain. Harry arrived halfway through the day to pick Albus up.
Scorpius grinned at Albus, “See ya, mate. Two weeks right?”
“You two need a break from each other,” Harry put in.
Albus nodded, and stood beside his dad. He shook Scorpius’ hand one last time, and nodded, “See ya, Scorps.”
“See ya, Al.”
Albus walked with his father to the end of the gates. It just crossed Albus’ mind that his dad made it through. He supposed that Draco or Lucius lifted the curse off the gates for the day to allow Harry to come in. When they made it out of the gates, Harry took Albus by the arm, and turned to Apparate.
Albus hated the feeling of Apparition. So did Harry, but he had to do it that day to get his son. Albus privately swore never to Apparate, especially in a battle. He couldn’t understand how one could Apparate, and stay conscious.
As he lay in bed that night, and looked around the room, he found himself surprisingly happy. Mark was breathing lightly on the bed at the other end, the river outside was flowing softly, and the crickets outside were chirping continuously. He was glad to be back. He enjoyed the Malfoy Manor loads, but there was no place like his own room.
He woke up the next day to a tuxedo laying at the end of his bed. Mark was already up, so Albus saw little point in returning to sleep. He sighed, and sat up in bed as Mark got into his tuxedo. It was the professional black with a white undershirt, and a red tie. He supposed the ties were to match their house color. Albus found a green tie for himself. As he climbed into his tux, Albus could sense Mark sitting on the bed. Albus’ bed.
Albus forced it over his head, and stared at Mark. “What’re you doing on my bed? You’ve violated the line!”
Mark shrugged guiltily, but he did not seem at all sorry, “You were out of the house, Al. I ought to take advantage of that one way or another.”
So juvenile was Mark’s defense that Albus could not think of what to say against it. He just sighed in annoyance and ignored him. He had just gotten out of a two year war with Mark Wallader. He did not need a third. In fact, Albus was looking forward to a life at Hogwarts that was free of any problems whatsoever. He even made it a point to tell his dad to keep him out of anything. For, in all honestly it was Harry who was responsible for Albus fighting with Mark in the first place. If he was not asked to keep an eye on him, Albus could have simply opted to ignore the boy.
Albus was so happy when the wedding was over that night. It was held in the Godric’s Chapel. Albus had to sit through two tedious hours of speeches and vows, and then he had to get up to a load of ooh’s and ah’s, and present the ring to Teddy. He didn’t even bother looking at his sister Lily, who was bridesmaid throwing flowers everywhere.
Alex and Eric were off trying some punch, Alex and Ron in a heated yet quiet debate of who could best the other in chess. This meant Mark and Albus were sitting beside each other spying Laura Creevey with her father. Harry, transpired had invited him as a thanks for his actions the previous year when Professor Creevey saved Albus’ and Mark’s lives during a small scuffle within the forest.
Laura Creevey, the princess of the study-supervisor was sitting with her brother on the other side of the courtyard. Mark kept throwing unusual glances over at her, sitting in silence with Albus. It was time Albus gave Mark his own test and see just how much Mark’s claim of disliking Laura was true. The perfect opportunity to bring the subject forth presented itself when Mark turned to Albus.
Albus’ heart leapt. For a second, he thought Mark might admit possible feelings for Laura, declaring competition against Scorpius. But instead, he asked him another question. “So, how was it, at the Malfoy’s place?”
Taken-aback, Albus shrugged, “Good, I suppose. It was fun. We had fun. We caught some peacocks, sprayed water, and relaxed in a hot spring. Ursa is hilarious when it runs away. Lucius Malfoy scared me half to death… and, oh yeah, Scorps like Laura.”
Albus expected Mark to shrug it off, or play it down, perhaps declare a good riddance or a better-him-than-me, but he didn’t. Mark just kept his eyes down, “Are you serious?”
“I think so,” Albus shrugged. “That’s what he told me.”
Mark shrugged, but not in the sense Albus imagined. There was a tiny inkling of regret there. “Fine. He’ll never get her anyway. He’s just committing suicide in terms of love life.”
“What do you care?” Albus asked suspiciously.
“I don’t,” Mark shrugged, “Just surprised, really. I can’t think why someone would like Princess Laura. Especially if we’re talking about someone like Scorpius.”
“Scorps like his girls to be submissive,” Albus said half-jokingly.
“Laura is not submissive,” Mark shook his head quickly. “That’s just a misperception you all have about her but she is not submissive. She simply knows who the good people are. She’s really good at it… and unfortunately that can be annoying.”
When Teddy and Victorie finally kissed, he sighed in relief. That meant half of it was finally over. The hell was over. Now, Albus had to go through a couple more hours of dinner and dancing. While the dinner wouldn’t be so bad, the dancing was hell. Albus had to dance with the flower girl who was none other than Lily, his own sister, enduring laughter from Mark and some unkind smirks from Eric.
“This means nothing Lils,” Albus muttered as he took her.
He felt so weird dancing with his sister. Lily put a smile on, but he knew she didn’t like this anymore than he did, especially because they both had to endure James’ snide remarks saying “I don’t care what anyone says. You’re still my brother.”
That was until Laura approached Mark.
Mark was sitting with James and Nigel, laughing at Albus and Lily, amused by the dancing until Laura, blushing madly, came up. She tried desperately, but it was in vain, to hold a smile back. She couldn’t hold it if her life depended on it. Albus and Lily happened to be passing the spot when she plucked up the courage to everyone’s surprise, and asked, “Mark. Could I- could you… please dance with me?”
Laura’s emphasis on the world please showed that she was clearly desperate. But then, it was too innocent for Mark to reject. James and Nigel pushed Mark forward, yelling, “Go on, Mark! Don’t be afraid!”
“Well, I’m done, are you?” Albus said immediately, taking a seat by James.
“Oh yeah,” James said happily as Mark allowed himself to be taken by Laura onto the dance floor. Harry came to sit with them after finishing with Ginny, who joined them too.
Upon spotting Mark, Harry peered through the half darkness, “Is that the Laura girl I always hear about?”
“Yup,” Albus said happily, earning a nudge from Rose. He bent over to James, and whispered, “This is gonna be gold at school. Wait till Scorpius finds out.” For Albus told James too that Scorpius liked Laura. Of course, Harry sternly warned James to keep his mouth shut about it.
“She’s cute,” Harry commented, but added hastily under Ginny’s accusing stare, “In a- childish, innocent, erm… probably vicious, almost ugly sort of way. Of course she’s ugly! What was I thinking?” When Ginny continued staring at him, Harry cast around for a distraction, “Oh, look! Ron and Hermione are done. I’m gonna go and impose on their family.” And he hurried off.
“You’re father is foolish,” Ginny laughed. “Well, I dunno why Mark tries so hard to stay away from her. It only increases the likelihood of them getting together. I think he should embrace her.”
“Five galleons says they kiss,” James grinned, trying to ignore Ginny’s disapproving stare.
“Ten says they get together by the end of this year,” Albus whispered back to James’ raised eyebrows.
“Twenty says they’re caught”-
“James!” Ginny interrupted warningly.
Albus and James burst out laughing, even Ginny grinned and got up to walk over to where Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting. James nearly won his bet, but Mark managed to maneuver cleverly by claiming a wasp was too close. He hurriedly sat with Alex and Eric, saving himself very narrowly.
Alex and Ron finished their argument, both swearing to play each other before the summer ended. What Alex didn’t expect was Ron setting a chess board up without warning on the long table and ordered Alex down. Ignoring the rolling of Hermione’s eyes, he directed his pieces first.
“Your go, Wallaby,” Ron said challengingly. “Defeat me and you’ll receive twenty galleons in payment from me.” Alex prodded his pawn forward to block Ron’s progress, smirking widely. Ron continued, “Lose to me, and you’ll forfeit all rights to the upstairs bathroom and no pocket money for a month.”
“Alright everyone, make way, this is gonna be good,” James yelled, biting off his chicken steak sandwich. He was right behind Alex, watching over his shoulder at the progressing game.
Despite the game beginning with Alex blocking Ron, Ron was coming in from all sides. Alex could of course see this, and he kept his pieces together in the center around the king, sending only his two castles and a knight into battle.
“Place your bets!” James yelled to the enlarging crowd, ignoring Ginny’s stares and apparently oblivious to Ron losing a bishop. “Twenty galleons says Uncle Ron wins this match.”
“I’ll take that bet,” Mark said promptly. “Alex will win this.”
Mark spoke too soon though. Alex had just lost his castle and a second bishop had broken some of his defenses around the king. Alex was forced to trim them down more by sending a knight into battle and move the king into a corner.
Even Albus placed a bet for Alex when it looked like Ron’s king was in undeniable check. He didn’t fully understand how Ron got through the ordeal, but it did have casualties. Both knights had been lost, and according to Harry they were Ron’s best pieces. His queen was destroyed by a knight and Alex’s queen then took the battlefield and dominated. Ron was in danger.
Within the hour, Ron had admitted defeat and slapped twenty gold coins to Alex’s outstretched hands, James groaning as he too lost some money, Harry grinning. “Well, eventually you lose and pay a lot. That goes for Ron as well as James.”
“That’s what you get for gambling,” Hermione muttered to James, who went red. He had already suffered one hurricane. He didn’t need a second. That would’ve been too destructive. “That’s why Rita’s gamble on trying to outmaneuver me will fail,” Hermione muttered.
Ron rolled his eyes, “Oh, Hermione, drop it.”
“I will not,” she said angrily, looking ready to flare. “She’s asked for it. Ron, she’s spying on us all. You know that right?”
“Calm down, Hermione, she’ll meet her end,” Harry assured her.