The Secret of the Forest
Chapter 10: Late Night
The bitter fight over the weekend between Scorpius and Rose blew off by the next week. Lucy seemed to forgive Scorpius and Roxanne was indifferent. Albus guessed that as long as Scorpius kept his opinion to himself, nothing too bad would happen, because it looked like whatever Rose was mad about concerning Scorpius, Roxanne and Lucy would take her side, especially if it involved girls.
Divination wasn’t as fun as last lesson, because nothing new came up. Trelawney kept on predicting a kill-and-be-killed future for Scorpius, and Laura kept claiming to see a heart in her tea-leaves. What spiked Albus’ interest was Ancient Runes, that was taught by a witch called Professor Symphony Sorrow. Sorrow had long black hair, and red lips. White mascara on her eyes drew their attention away from her hair; however, as it gave her fair skin a darker color in contrast.
“If you choose to take this course, and continue with it during your last two years, you will see how to read the ancient runes that Muggles have founded for us,” she said enthusiastically. Anyone could tell she loved her subject. “If you take a look at this line of runes, you will see it looks almost English, and yet there is a key difference we will stress on this term. As I stressed last week, many of the ancient letters have similarities to our English alphabet. What we need to remember is that”-
“Professor, what’s that?” Eric pointed interestedly. Sorrow stopped speaking, taken-aback at the question. She recovered and answered the question though. She smiled, “In 1997, the school went through an uprising against the Death Eaters. I was part of it. This galleon proves my part, but it is different from that which Longbottom waers because I joined fairly later than the original 1995 uprising.”
Albus kept his eyes on her throughout the lesson, appreciating for once the amount of interest a lesson had to give. Scorpius was doodling on a spare piece of parchment. Though the class was interesting, it was still a class, and when the bell rang, Albus felt personally relieved.
He and Scorpius got up, and stretched. Rose caught up with them soon after, and began the overly long recap as usual. Scorpius rolled his eyes, but apparently Rose didn’t notice. “I was surprised to hear the Muggles discovered them at first, but I guess it’s kinda understandable you know. I think its old Germanic”-
“Rosie!” Scorpius said impatiently. “Do we have to listen to you too? I might as well skip the lesson, and you teach me afterwards.”
Not surprisingly, Rose turned on him, “You know, Scorpy, you’re really getting on my nerves. It’s not a crime to”-
“Excuse me, do you see Alex and Mark discussing the lesson?” Scorpius interrupted challengingly.
Rose stomped angrily, and walked haughtily back off to her dormitory. Rolling his eyes, Albus sighed and looked at Scorpius, “You two are truly waging warfare, you realize that, right?”
“Look me in the eyes and tell me you enjoy her recaps,” Scorpius challenged, smirking.
“Fair point,” Albus muttered, and the two went off for lunch.
Throughout the rest of September, Scorpius and Rose got on generally well. They had their ups and downs, but were otherwise good friends. Albus sent an apology note to Hagrid for what happened earlier, and informed him through Lysander and a still sulky Lorcan that everything was better now.
At least, things were better with Rose. Problems with Gryffindors had just begun. An almost full-scale riot in a school corridor erupted when bitter rivalries between the houses sparked by Scorpius’ annual desires to get someone into Slytherin came up.
James’ friend Daniel Dagger showed up, beside him Michael Finnigan. They marched forward, taking Scorpius by the sides and forcing him away into an empty classroom. Having a feeling what this was about, Albus muttered to Rose, “Stay here,” and left. He expected this to happen a lot sooner.
“ASS HOLE!” Daniel screamed as Albus slipped in. Daniel had brown hair too, but he wore what looked like a baseball cap over it.
“Quit yelling, you’re raising the dead,” Scorpius said warningly.
“This doesn’t concern you, Potter!” Daniel said, rounding on Albus now. “Your Malfoy friend here committed a crime too grave to”-
“A crime, is it now, getting a student to come into Slytherin?” Scorpius challenged. “Shut it, Dagger.”
“YOU shut it!” Daniel yelled, pushing Scorpius further against the wall, provoking Albus to draw his wand. Michael pointed his at Albus threateningly, and Albus was temporarily held off. Daniel went on, “You Slytherin scumbag!”
“You amazing piece of”- (Scorpius had cursed at Daniel so bad, Michael’s eyes flared.) Daniel raised his fist, forgetting wands, eyeing Scorpius furiously, “Any last words, Malfoy?”
Michael’s wand was still pointing at Albus, but Albus couldn’t stay put. Scorpius had defended him before in a situation worse than this. A rather poor way of repaying the favor if Albus stood back. That in mind, he yelled, “Tarrantellegra!”
At the same time Albus fired, Michael fired. Albus felt his face collide with something hard, like a frying pan. Feeling dazed, he shook his head. Scorpius rushed Daniel angrily. Daniel pushed back angrily, punching every part of Scorpius he could reach. Albus fired a Furnunculus Curse, and then fired, “Bat-bogey Tentatio!”
Michael had the blast, and his boogers started flying out and morphed into giant bats, attacking him and Daniel. Michael spun around, firing a counter-curse. Albus and Scorpius stood to face Daniel and Michael in the room, wands pointing threateningly. A duel looked certain until the door opened again. Albus thought first it was James to balance the odds in the Gryffindor favor. His heart leapt when it turned out to be Gabriel.
Scorpius’ new friend, Gabriel Dagger, chose one break between classes to hang out with him, Albus and Rose. Rose had a sweet interest toward Gabriel, who had informed them all immediately that humor was his priority in life. Gabriel was a very tiny boy with brown hair and green eyes. He was a little stout, but not too plump. He had a full look about him; a look of health and happiness, coolness, and easiness with just about everything.
“Hey, what’s up bro?” Gabriel grinned widely, face alight with happiness despite the situation between his house and his older brother. Daniel went red in the face, plainly deciding not to fight his little brother. He walked out, Scorpius grabbing Gabriel and Albus and running out after them but going the other way, yelling, “Thanks for that, mate!”
In Albus’ opinion, a boy like Gabriel couldn’t have had a better debut in Albus’ social life. His wide grin to rival Peeves the Poltergeist and his humor enough to rival James and even Fred defined him all over.
October begun, and things still remained the same. Riley remained in the forbidden forest, or as he recently informed Albus, Hagrid’s hut during weekdays. On the weekends, Riley ventured into the forbidden forest with his brother Nate, and wasn’t seen till Sunday evening. Half way through October, Riley and Nate were with Lysander and Lorcan, the latter having wanted Riley’s help on some assignment for Defense Against the Dark Arts.
That same night, Albus, Scorpius, and Rose ventured downstairs a few minutes after hours to see if Scorpius forgot his cauldron in the Potions room. On their way back, empty-handed, they passed a widow, and Albus stopped dead. There was a faint orange glow of light far off beyond Hagrid’s hut. It was near the forest.
“What is that do you reckon?” Scorpius asked.
“Well, one way to find out,” Albus said, and dragged Scorpius out of the castle. Rose followed at a fast pace.
“We’re after hours,” she hissed angrily. “Redgrow is going to kill us if we’re”-
“Well, shut up, and maybe we won’t get caught,” Scorpius hissed back. “Besides, Redgrow is your Head of House. She needs Era to deal with us.”
“Any teacher can give detention to any student,” Rose hissed.
“And as long as you keep talking, that remains a mortal fear, so shut up,” Scorpius hissed back angrily.
They pushed the oak doors open, and walked out into the cool frost-bitten grounds. Trudging through the wet grassy lawn, they followed the light which was now recognizable as a lamplight. As they got closer, they recognized the group of four.
“What’re you doing here?”
“I was inviting the twins into the forbidden forest with me,” Riley said conversationally. “Wanna join us?”
The Scamander twins’ faces were illuminated by the dim orange light, and Nate was beside his brother, plump face recognizable even in darkness. Scorpius gaped at Riley in the darkness, and glanced at Rose, as if surprised she didn’t say anything till now. “When? Now? Are you mad?”
“After the Qudditch game, before the Hogsmeade weekend,” he answered. “I think I’ll be able to go,” he added as an afterthought. Being a half vampire took its toll hard on him sometimes. “But it’ll be a weekend, and curfew isn’t till ten. We could sneak out, and venture the forest.”
“I’m going to prove a point,” Lorcan muttered. “Venturing the forbidden forest with Riley Blackberry, a dangerous and crazed half vampire is perfect to prove the point. Idiot Phoenix.”
“Don’t get yourself into trouble, mate,” Scorpius warned.
“Bah, trouble,” Lorcan said dirtily. “He’s in trouble. He can’t expel me or the Daily Prophet will have a field day and a Quibbler could write stories on him, citing the Prophet. He doesn’t scare me!”
Albus thought it obvious Riley wanted some company in the forest sometimes. Scorpius looked down thoughtfully at his sneakers. Albus knew that look. It was a look Scorpius saved for speculations, “Ever wondered what’s beyond the Forbidden Forest?”
Lysander looked at Scorpius as if he never saw him before. Beyond? He shrugged, “Well, I know some of the beasts, and why its forbidden, but what’s beyond it… is a secret society lying in wait before making its move to save or destroy the Wizarding world. Mum was writing about it.”
Rose looked skeptical. “I dunno what you’re”-
“We have proof!” Lysander said defensively.
“The only proof you have is the idea of a couple of lunatics!”
“The couple of lunatics happen to be my mother and her father!”
“Never really spared a thought,” Albus said thoughtfully, interrupting the spat. “What beasts are in there, Lorcan?”
But it was Nate who answered, and he answered in his eleven-year-old voice, in a tone as if telling a horror story, “Other vampires. Dangerous ones, that is. Not like us. But they’re far in. Very far in. I know there are Werewolves there. Any vampire can hear them at night.”
“Rivalry between you two?” Lysander asked interestedly.
“Vampires and Werewolves… are known to have bad blood,” Riley said slowly, as if weighing his words carefully. “Not in a rivalry sort of way though. See, erm… vampires can control their thirsts, but Werewolves are savage and… not tame. They attack unknowingly. So, when the Werewolves are in their forms… they attack vampires, who look human anyway… and we defend ourselves…”
“Actually, that’s not entirely true,” Lysander said seriously. “Some people think vampires and werewolves are in a secret alliance to bring the half-breeds up to power.”
“What else, besides vampires and werewolves?” Albus asked, deciding to ignore Lysander’s quirky theories.
“Centaurs,” Riley smirked. “I’ve met some of them, and a couple of Unicorns. But there’s mostly dangerous beings there. If you go far enough in, you get to the lair of the Acromantula. They’re vicious. There’s a gang of trolls not too far in.”
“And Hagrid has a three-headed dog in there,” Albus recalled. “Dad told me.”
“I don’t know what else,” Riley said, shaking his head. “But I know there are more, and they are vicious. It’s a foolish attempt to scout the forbidden forest the entire way. I have no clue what’s at the end.”
“Yeh four done yet?” a growling voice interrupted them, making Albus and Scorpius up. “Oh, hello Albus? Scorpius, Rose… how’re yeh?”
“Hagrid? He knows we’re out here?”
“Yeh think the doors would be open this late,” Hagrid asked shrewdly. “Back ter the castle with yeh lot. Almost eleven.”
“See you,” Riley waved goodbye as Hagrid escorted Lorcan, Lysander, Albus, Scorpius, and Rose back to the castle.
Albus looked down thoughtfully as Hagrid walked them back up. They weren’t half way back yet, and he could tell Scorpius was also deep in thought. Lorcan was the first to open the subject on Albus’ mind. “Hagrid?”
“What’s in the forest?” Lorcan asked.
“Not thinkin’ of goin’ through it, are yeh?” Hagrid asked shrewdly. “Yeh can’t. Yeh’d need summat with good skill, and magical creature knowledge. On’y one’s me, an’ I’m not tellin’ ya a thing.”
“We just wanna know,” Scorpius said innocently. “Besides, if they were that dangerous, Slytherin values dictate I stay safe, right?”
Hagrid scrutinized Scorpius’ innocent face for a bit. His mouth twitched, and Hagrid said, “It’s safer if yeh don’t know. So yeh don’t try anythin’ stupid. Here’s the stop, good night?”
Albus went to sleep thoughtfully that night. “Night, Al,” Scorpius’ voice said from the darkness. Albus responded with a good night in return, but laid awake. He could sense Scorpius was also awake. What was in the forbidden forest besides trolls, vampires, werewolves, centaurs, and Acromantula? What dangerous beasts?