Albus Potter and the Goblin’s Amulet
Chapter 29.5: Bonus Flashback
“Knight to King’s Check,” Alex whispered in Eric’s ear. “You have him.”
“Knight to King’s Check,” Eric smirked.
Ron stared for a while, his wife Hermione looking over and Rose standing beside her, folding her arms. His mind was working, clearly trying to find a way out of himself. Eric looked intensely and Alex smirked, already knowing what the outcome would be. Ron knocked his King down. Alex and Eric gave each other high-five and Ron’s ears went red.
“Clean the basement,” Hermione handed him a duster. “And you know our agreement. No magic.”
“I would’ve won if Alex hadn’t been helping,” Ron complained.
“You never said he couldn’t,” Eric repeated as he said this before.
“As good as you are at chess, it astounds me how you fail to catch a loophole your own sons give you,” Hermione lamented.
“Yeah, I beat dad at a game of Quidditch board ‘cause he didn’t see my feint,” Hugo said brightly. “And its rules are pretty similar to chess.”
“Perhaps he just lost because he’s losing his touch,” Eric offered.
“Hermione, they’re bullying me,” Ron said as he took the duster and set off downstairs grumpily.
“Eric, Hugo, don’t bully your father,” Hermione said casually as Ron bounded off and added when he was out of earshot, “It’s not his fault he has special needs.”
Alex and Eric raced up to their room, Eric partaking in a game of Quidditch chess with Hugo and learning the basics of the game which Hugo was more than happy to point out. “Al plays me all the time when he’s off school.”
“Is he any good?” Eric grunted, examining a seeker piece.
“Meh… no he sucks,” Hugo admitted.
Alex looked at Hugo interestedly as if he just got a good idea. “Oi, Hugo, can I ask you something?”
“Why do you like Al?” Alex asked honestly. “Cousin aside.”
The very air was tense after this question was asked. A part of Hugo wanted to punch Alex right in the face but that would not have helped. The tension seemed to summon Rose up as well. These kids were the ones to have come back during the Christmas holidays. As the twins were in a fight with Mark, they opted to leave Hogwarts while he chose to stay.
“Al is my friend,” Hugo said simply. “If not my cousin. He- he gave me this Quidditch board game for my eighth birthday, he talks to me all the time even if I’m younger than him. He never cared. Apart from Al and Lily, I can’t talk to any of my cousins. Not even James. But Al and I support the same Quidditch team, we watch their games together in the summer and he never did anything that made me think he’s bad.”
Rose seemed very satisfied with Hugo’s answer but Eric was not, “Doesn’t it bother you that he’s in Slytherin?”
Hugo seemed to have found this very upsetting. “Why would it? What if I am in Slytherin? Or Lils? If Albus is awesome to me before Hogwarts and he’s sorted into Slytherin, it’s obvious they got a bad rep. Because Al it not a bad guy.”
“Did you know he made friends with a Malfoy?” Eric muttered.
“Eric, lay off him!” Rose said sharply. “And give it a rest already or I’m telling mum.”
“Al is an idiot and he gives Mark enough grief as it is,” Eric said defensively. “I can say whatever the bloody hell I like.”
“Then you’re a jerk!” Hugo said angrily, going red.
“Yeah, take his side,” Hugo yelled back. “Do you know how much I had to listen them hating on my cousin last summer? I don’t care about him! I’m loyal to my family, not to Eric!”
And he snatched the seeker piece from Eric’s hands, packed up his board game and left, leaving the twins and Rose standing surprised. A minute passed and Alex sighed, “Eric, go apologize.”
Eric grunted and walked off, not saying a word. Whether he went to apologize or simply walk away, Alex did not know but he was glad to be alone with Rose. For some reason, Alex felt he could talk to Rose. Here was the only person he knew besides Mark who he could talk to on an intellectual level. This time, the conversation could not be intellectual though. Alex was still very bothered by his fight with Mark.
“Why are you two fighting anyway?” Rose asked when Alex folded his arms.
“Me and Mark?” he asked quietly. “Or me and Eric?”
“Both,” she offered.
“Eric fought Mark… because he forgot who his friends are,” Alex said simply. He turned to Rose. “Mark hangs out with Walter more than us now. It’s like… he’s completely given up on us.”
“Well, you two are intolerant towards his foster brother,” Rose said reasonably.
“Fine, I don’t care about Al,” Alex shrugged. “It’s Walter. It’s Mark’s general shift, like they beat him.”
“Last I saw, Alex, Mark is not mates with anyone in Slytherin except Walter,” Rose recalled. “What did he do to you?”
Alex took a while to take in the question. He knew the answer of course. “Hugo talks about loyalty; well, when Eric raised these issues with Mark, they fought and by the time I came up, Mark had Jinxed him. Well, Eric’s my twin. If you Jinx him, it’s personal. But Eric… he started all this. He… won’t give it a rest. I already told him it was none of our business but no… he never quits it. Eric is… kind of stubborn.”
It seemed the conversation had ended there. Alex and Rose walked down in silence, not saying a word to the other except quick furtive glances and lame comments on the extreme cold they were both feeling. Once they reached the first landing, Rose seemed to have just remembered something and turned to Alex, “Close your eyes.”
“Just close them,” Rose said impatiently.
Alex obliged and Rose reached into a loose wooden plank to pick out a book. Putting it back in place, she placed it in Alex’s hands and commanded him to open his eyes. Alex took a while to register what he had in his hands before he finally read the title. “A Wolf Among Vampires. Rosie, how did you get this? How’d you”-
Rose went red and leaned against the plank, “I saw the Vampire Among Wolves in your bookshelf so I suspected you were looking for the sequel. Besides, after Herbological Theory, I owed you.”
Rose had a small smile on her face as she wished him Merry Christman and it was not until they reached the bottom landing when Rose nudged Alex and pointed. Sitting at the kitchen table, apparently completely fine and having forgotten about their recent argument, was Hugo and Eric, both of them cheerfully debating Quidditch with Ron in a three-way argument.
“Chudley Cannons vs. Appleby Arrows vs. Wimbourne Wasps,” Alex commented.
“You support the Wasps?” Rose asked interestedly.
“Eric does, I’m a Falmouth Falcons fan,” Alex noted, taking a seat beside Eric.
“Anyways, Hugo, you promised your mother you would water the Alihotsy and the Moly section,” Ron reminded.
“I hate feeding those stupid plants,” Hugo complained.
“Hugo, language,” Hermione warned from the doorway to their living room. “Your grandparents are coming over and we don’t want the garden acting up. Rose, the Tentacula. Hop to it.” And she marched her kids from the kitchen and out to the backyard. Alas, waiting for them there was Lily Luna Potter, their cousin and Hugo’s best friend. The two met in an immediate embrace before Hermione broke them up and reminded Hugo of the watering. Lily immediately offered to help and they disappeared into the garden together.
Ron sighed and rolled his eyes, “I’d better get to the Leaping Toadstools before she puts me to work.”
Once he walked out, Alex turned to Eric, who went quiet again. They both knew they had to make it up with Mark, and no one was on their side to give them a victory. They had to make the first move and perhaps, somehow, eventually make peace with his choice of friends, especially Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy. It was only a matter of time.