The Secret of the Forest
Chapter 5: Muggle Studies
Albus slept soundly that night but only after an hour of coming to terms with Riley’s absence. Permanent absence if what Phoenix said was true. Laying on his side, staring at his empty bed which was usually filled with the light, noiseless snoring of Riley Blackberry, the calm, lazy yet smart friend who dwelled mostly in the dungeons. Something Albus had never thought too much about until the previous year when his vampirism was revealed.
He had to admit to himself, it was different without Riley and somehow it felt wrong. Somehow, for some reason, he felt very sorry for him. Riley had attacked everyone the year before. He had registered garlic due to a prank by Walter Mold, another of their friends whom Albus had not had the pleasure of seeing just yet. After the strong smell, he had burst into a rage of which no one had ever or would ever have associated with Riley before then. Did he deserve what he had gotten? After all, he had never hurt anyone before.
When he rose the next day, he and Scorpius walked tiredly down to breakfast. Not a word was spoken just yet as both were too tired to speak, and both were just processing the disappearance of Riley.
Before they say, Rose came up, and Scorpius looked over at her groggily. She smiled, “Hi Al. Hi Scorps. What’s up? Got the timetables?”
Scorpius shook his head, but looked up with an apparent idea, “Wanna sit with us, Rose?”
It wasn’t everyday that a Gryffindor sat at the Slytherin table, the most recent being the previous year when Mark took a seat by Walter and Scorpius. As they sat down, Era, back from Hagrid’s hut, appeared to give them their timetables. Scorpius sighed, and looked at it.
“Look at today, Muggle Studies, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures, Double Potions,” he said tiredly. “If Muggle Studies sucks, just remember it was your idea.”
“Who was the one who wanted to take it?” Albus asked him testily. “Who was all for it?”
Scorpius said nothing yet. He seemed on the verge to want to say something and Albus had a feeling he was missing something about Scorpius when suddenly, someone greeted them from behind, “Hey guys,” a voice said tiredly behind them. The voice was different. Albus turned to see who it was, and surprisingly, he saw a , plump, plum-faced brown-haired boy smiling tiredly at Albus. He noticed he didn’t see him last night. It was Walter Mold.
“I didn’t recognize your voice,” Albus said tiredly.
Walter shrugged, and sat beside them. His voice had broken over the summer. Not only that but he appeared to have gone through a minor growth spurt. Still, that was one of their friends. The other, remained to be seen. Albus was wondering drowsily if Riley would be allowed to have meals with the rest of the school when the double doors of the great Hall opened wide, and in walked Hagrid. Beside him, looking embarrassedly small compared to Hagrid and unchanged, pale and black-haired, was Riley Blackberry.
Riley walked up to the Slytherin table. He alone looked awake. “Hi, Al.”
Riley’s voice wasn’t broken like Walter’s, but it prompted Scorpius to ask, “Do vampires age?”
Rose slapped Scorpius on the shoulder, and seized a book she placed on the table to hit him. Scorpius covered his head as she struck, and Riley shrugged in tiredness. Still the same old lazy Riley. “No, we don’t. But part vampires do. It’s kinda slow in ageing though.”
“Oi, where’s Phoenix?” Walter asked loudly, catching attention from Malcolm and Herald from across the table. Those who heard him looked up only to see Phoenix’s chair empty.
“Perhaps he’s busy,” Rose shrugged. “We’ll find out soon enough, I expect.”
Albus and Scorpius made their way to Muggle Studies. Albus wondered how the lessons would be. Rose had explained lengthily about the history of Hogwarts lessons. “The average Hogwarts students takes three subjects, really. But mum helped pass a rule to allow more subjects without too much difficulty and time turners. Of course, it did involve the increase of the school day, but it was in the name of”-
“A nerdy education that of which all can do without?” Scorpius finished for her.
It wasn’t every day, but this time, Rose slapped Scorpius straight across the face. Scorpius touched the spot where he was slapped, and muttered, “I’ll be sure to wash this face. Wow.”
Albus rolled his eyes as they took their seats in the back of the class. They weren’t the only who took this course. Albus saw his foster brother Mark sitting with Alex and Eric in the middle of the class. Sitting right behind Mark, and gazing at the back of his head dreamily, was Laura Creevey, and coincidentlally sitting behind her was Scorpius.
It occurred to Albus that Scorpius wanted to take Muggle studies just to get closer to Laura. But that would mean he had an eye on her for a while. Then again, he had his eye on her during the summer and as far as Albus knew, Scorpius saw nobody but Albus over the summer. That meant he did like Laura the previous year.
Before Albus could speculate further than he had, Professor Creevey walked in. This teacher was also the one who oversaw study time but he was also, in a way Albus’ savior. He had saved both Albus and Mark a few months before when intruders were caught from the forest and nearly killed them both. If Professor Creevey had not been there, Albus did not want to think of what might have happened. All he knew was that he was very grateful that Professor Creevey had shown up when he did.
“I’m sure you recognize me from your previous years,” Creevey started. “I am Professor Creevey, a Muggle-born Wizard. We’ll be looking at the lives, social habits, and daily doings of Muggles throughout at least three years together, five for those who wish to continue. As first timers, I just want you to write an essay for me. Nothing big, and not graded,” he added, catching the look on their faces, “Just an essay describing the way you see Muggles now. I’ll look at it over the week, so your next lesson with me is off.”
Laura looked up expectantly. Creevey looked over the class. A lot of them looked young. Very young. Albus recognized Penelope Macmillan, a Pure-blood witch in his year, but Hufflepuff. Professor Creevey walked throughout the class, giving parchment to different students. He stopped at Laura’s desk for a little longer. He put a hand on her shoulder, and walked off.
“Thus the title Princess comes into being,” Mark muttered to Alex and Eric.
The class set to work immediately, except Laura, who was deep in conversation with her dad. She started writing later, the Professor looking over her shoulders at it. But she didn’t seem to mind too much. Still, Albus could not see what Scorpius saw in her. Or what she saw in Mark for that matter.
At the end, the bell rang and Creevey took the essays, assuring them that it didn’t matter if it was unfinished. Albus and Mark burst out laughing when Laura asked for five more minutes, and her father actually caved. She was allowed five more minutes, and then Creevey took it. Mark was recapping the hilarious ending to Alex and Eric, who were sniggering quietly.
As expected, Rose started a recap of the class, “Well, we obviously can’t say much, because we haven’t learned much of them yet. But I find Muggles rather interesting. In an intellectual sort of way, you see that they come up with ways to live their lives without magic. You could call it their own brand of magic. It’s rather interesting to see how they run and govern themselves, and we’re not the only ones with problems in government either. I’m aware of a”-
“Rosie, honestly,” Scorpius groaned. “Let’s stay in the here and now and…” he checked his timetable, “Defense Against the Dark Arts. Let’s go, and don’t recap the lesson, please. I want a peaceful lunch thank you.”
Rose didn’t hit, but she stayed too quiet. She didn’t even talk to Albus. The walk to the class was uneventful, and when they walked in, Rose took a seat by Walter at the back of the class. This act prompted Scorpius to mutter to Albus, “Sensitive, that one,” as Macmillan began explaining about the Tongue-burning Curse.
At the end, Macmillan had them practice the Curse on each other, and they left in quite a mouth pain Macmillan said would ware off within a minute. On their way down the Transfiguration Corridor, the Charm was wearing off a little when a door to their right opened, and out walked Hugo Weasley and Lily Potter.
Rose brightened up in happiness, and beamed at Hugo. The latter didn’t seem to notice as he was talking happily to Lily about the lesson. Redgrow followed them out and passed Lily, who looked down at her presence.
“Scared of Redgrow?” Scorpius asked Lily calmly in a drawling voice.
Albus noticed Scorpius leaned himself against the wall, crouching his head, and staring at them as if trying to be cool. “I wouldn’t think why, she’s not that scary.”
“She is,” Lily complained whiningly. She ran up to Albus. “Brother, Al, Redgrow gave us lines to write on matches and needles. Can you remember the incantation, because Hugo and I forgot it.”
“It started with an ‘A’, I know it!” Hugo said, racking his brains. “Accio… or something. That’s what’s coming.”
“I think what’s coming to your mind is Summoning Charm,” Rose said knowledgably.
“Yeah, the incantation is Acus, I think,” Albus recalled.
A little disappointed that she didn’t answer, Rose nodded all the same. “How’s first lessons?”
“Good, so far,” Hugo shrugged. He talked with an almost bored voice. “I had Charms with Professor Ackerly and Transfiguration with Redgrow.”
“Ackerly is fine,” Scorpius shrugged, “But, he gives a bit of homework sometimes.”
“Rose, what’s the effect of Pluma?” Hugo asked curiously as a Slytherin student who Albus recognized as Albert Bedram came by. “Albert won’t tell me!”
“It’s easy!” Albert laughed.
“Shove off, Albert!”
“Hey, you shove off!” Scorpius said angrily, getting up and facing Hugo. “Don’t talk to a Slytherin that way!”
“Says who?” Hugo confronted angrily.
“Hey, HEY!” Albus yelled.
“OI!” a louder voice yelled from behind. “What’s going here?”
Professor Ackerly walked up, glaring at them all. Hugo had just withdrawn his wand at Albert. Scorpius looked close to pushing Hugo against the wall, but stopped himself, probably because Albus was there.
“He insulted my ego,” Scorpius muttered, glaring at Hugo.
“Pluma is a bewitchment to make something lighter,” Rose answered calmly, and she walked away.
The confrontation ended with Hugo and Scorpius getting off on a sour note, completely on the wrong foot, and Scorpius throwing one last glare at Hugo before walking with Albus and Professor Akcerly down to the Great Hall. As they sat down with an annoyed Albert, the boy shook his head and said, “Gryffindors are so weird.”
“Tell me about it,” Scorpius sighed, “Your family is nuts, Al. I think I want to have you over for Christmas instead.”
Lorcan Scamander met them at the lunch table and sat down beside Albus, looking sulky. When Albus asked what was wrong, he just shrugged and waved it aside, taking a bite in piece. Scorpius shrugged and went on eating what he could get his hands on. Albus sighed and did the same, thinking everyone was in a bad mood for some reason.
First Albert, then Hugo, and Scorpius’ liking for the Potters decreased, and Lily was probably mad at Albus for befriending someone like Scorpius. In any case, Lorcan was definitely angry at something and Albus had no idea what. He had to feel grateful that he was not given a job this year. A job from his father on top of social drama was exactly what he needed to complete the process of an impending heart attack. When would this end?
After lunch, they had Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid. Albus was looking forward to this lesson because Harry had always spoken very highly of him. Hagrid met them by his hut at the end of the courtyard by the forest entrance, smiling and waving at them all. “O’er here! Got a real treat fer the first lesson. Third years over here.”
Scorpius took a seat against a tree and Walter leaned against another tree, folding his arms and listening coolly to the lesson. Hagrid wasted no time, “Every third year class goes through this. I consider these creatures special and damn useful if yeh know how teh treat them.”
“What are they?” Scorpius and Walter said at once.
In response, Hagrid whistled loudly with his fingers in his mouth. Scorpius looked around with a puzzled look until from the air flew a surprisingly large creature. A half horse half eagle, Albus knew from his Aunt Hermione exactly what it was. “A Hippogriff!” he exclaimed.
“Five points teh Slytherin,” Hagrid said happily. “Now, who can tell me how Hippogriffs come into being?”
Rose raised her hand readily and so did Alex Wallaby. Him and Mark were standing beside each other closest to the Hippogriff and Eric as on the other side, examining it at a good distance. Hagrid called on Rose. “Hippogriffs are made when a horse eats the egg of an eagle.”
“Five points teh Gryffindor,” Hagrid nodded gruffly. “Now, who can say how their trust is gained?”
Three people raised their hands. Alex and Rose were a given but to Albus’ surprise, Scorpius had his hand up. He looked downtrod when Hagrid didn’t call on him though and called on Alex instead. “Bow and wait for it to bow back.”
“And if it doesn’t?” Hagrid asked testily.
“Back off and don’t bother it,” Mark said significantly. “Unless you have something to feed it.”
“Precisely!” Hagrid said jovially. “Five points each teh Alex and Mark. Now, the put this in action… Albus if yeh please.”
“Uh, Hagrid…” Albus said uncertainly. Scorpius, he noticed had his hand up since Hagrid asked about how to gain their trust. He looked determined. Hagrid looked over at Scorpius and nodded gruffly, winking at Albus. “Alrigh’, we’re gonna have two tests to reinforce the idea. Show how it is done. Albus, Scorpius, come forward. Albus, you first.”
“Right,” Albus said happily. He bowed to the Hippogriff and almost instantly the Hippogriff responded.
As expected, the Hippogriff stepped toward Scorpius without bowing so that Scorpius backed off, fearful of the bird’s wrath. Hagrid commented, “They can smell fear, yeh see. Malfoy, back off or yeh’ll get hurt and”-
“Accio!” Scorpius yelled, summoning a piece of meat over. The Hippogriff stood on its hind legs threateningly just as Scorpius threw the meat slice over. The Hippogriff gobbled it up and Scorpius backed off further and bowed again. Albus held his breath with the rest of the class as slowly, the Hippogriff considered Scorpius and finally bowed back.
The class clapped. Hagrid nodded approvingly, “Excellent. Ten points apiece teh Slytherin fer good judgment and handling. Well done. As we see, Hippogriffs are proud, and this one in particular had an intuition that Malfoy was not teh be trusted. Malfoy fed him a slab of meat and gained trust. This kind of earned trust can be stronger in some respects but by intuition the Hippogriff trusted Potter as well. Albus, if yeh’ll ride him now.”
“What the bloody?”-
Hagrid picked Albus up and placed him on the Hippogriff’s back, patting his back hard as Albus fought to stay on. “Don’t ruffle up his feathers, and treat him with respect. Do not bother him in any way. If yer afraid, he’ll throw yeh off. Clear?”
“Clear,” Albus gulped.
“And this goes right, yeh’ll get fifty points for an example well shown,” Hagrid told him. “GO!”
The flight went well and Albus got his fifty deserved points. He finished the flight just as the bell rang and the class clapped for both Albus and Scorpius, the latter whom bowed back. Hagrid gave him a strong pat on the back and nodded at Rose who walked over as the rest of the class walked back to the castle. “Well, who want tea in me hut?”