Chapter 4 The Crumbled Parchment

The Enchanter’s Princess

Chapter 4: The Crumbled Parchment

Find the Enchanter’s Princess.

That was all Albus could keep in mind. One would have thought that with his father arrested, Albus and the rest of the house would be on edge but a remarkable sense of calm prevailed. This calm was not accompanied by good moods though. Behind the mask of calm the atmosphere presented, there stood an underlying tension behind each word spoken. Even Albus and Mark, who usually got along quite well were curt and short with each other. Albus tried asking Mark countless times about this famed Princess Harry wanted found but Mark was remarkably mum, even hinted that had he known who she was, he’d keep it to himself.

Ginny on the other hand kept herself secluded. After taking James aside and talking to him quietly for an hour following the arrest, both secluded themselves in their rooms and spoke no more of that fateful day. To alleviate some of the tension, Harry wrote to them regularly, insisting he was being treated fine and had excellent living conditions. He was not sent to Azkaban but kept on Ministerial grounds, almost always in the presence of a woman named Orgella or otherwise a D.A. member Ernie Macmillan or else Lucius Malfoy. This did not make Albus feel any better; however, because he knew that the witch, Orgella was in it with Soto, Macmillan left Hogwarts for whatever reason, and Malfoy was of unknown loyalty. To make matters more suspicious, the Ministry had not even announced that it had arrested Harry Potter.

“Well, of course they won’t say anything,” Rose sleuthed a day before they left. “They’ll have a full-scale riot on their hands.”

At eleven in the morning on September the first, Albus finally hopped onto the train with Rose, (who had pinned her badge to her chest already.) They were going back. The year was beginning and the next day, he’d find himself swamped with homework, classes, new teachers, and the prospect of meeting the new Care of Magical Creatures Professor as well as these infamed teachers the Ministry hired. Stepping on the train drove all thoughts of what had happened the previous summer out of Albus’ mind.

Albus and Rose walked across the train as it started rumbling across the tracks. Before they met Scorpius, Albus and Rose were hailed by Gabriel Dagger, the brother of Rose’s boyfriend Daniel. Gabriel was a plump third year who kept up a comical attitude for the first two years of Hogwarts. He grinned widely through his tanned face and smirked, “What up, Al?”

“Hi,” Albus said, clapping his hand in greeting. “How was your summer?”

Gabriel shrugged, and sighed, “I beat Daniel up in a fight!”

Rose stopped in shock, surprised. As trivial was this was, the very absurdity of the information made Albus widen his eyes too, “Really?”

And as he half expected, Gabriel sighed and looked down in mock confession, “No. I just said to get attention and because I’m unsuccessfully trying to woo Rosie where my brother did.” He grinned and nudged Rose playfully, “All for you, toots.”

Rose gaped open-mouthed as Gabriel disappeared into a compartment, laughing hard. Albus had to fight to keep a straight face as Rose looked affronted, “My word, what an offensive prat!”

“He’s just being funny,” Albus shrugged.

“I had no idea they changed the definition of funny from ‘inducing laughter’ to ‘plain offensive.’”

The compartment opened again and out came Daniel, smiling in a very un-Daniel-like way. Albus knew Daniel to be very harsh, offensive, and rude, especially conceited. But he always had a soft side when he dated Rose. He looked delighted to see her, and even faked a smile to Albus, “Hi, Rosie! Al, my good friend. How are you?”

Albus couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing and nodded, “Yeah, hi, Danny. We should spend a Hogsmeade weekend soon. Together!”

As Daniel broke off from hugging Rose, he turned to Albus and said from the corner of his mouth, “Quiet, you. C’mon, Rosie. Wanted to show you something.”

Rose looked split, “I do have the Prefect’s carriage to get to.”

“I could accompany you if you like,” Daniel offered sweetly, making Albus mime retching into the alleyway.

Rose seemed to be more ok with it now and Albus gave up and turned away just when she accepted his offer. He was about to reach the halfway point of the train when he finally found an empty compartment. He stepped in, thinking Scorpius was most probably in the Prefect’s carriage when two pairs of small feet scurried past him. Albus laid his eyes on two children, a boy and a girl, starting first year by the looks of them. Privately grateful that Scorpius was not there, he shrugged and made to turn around and look for another empty compartment when the boy spoke up, “You don’t mind, do you? Every other compartment is full.”

Albus stopped. If they were all already full, he had no business checking them. He sighed and took a seat across the kids, regarding them from the corner of his eyes as he feigned looking out the window. It was a small boy and a girl, twins by the looks of their faces. The two looked similar. But Albus could not put his finger on their hair color immediately due to what looked like green swimming hats as if they had just gotten out of a pool and kept their hair dry. Albus could only tell they had brown hair due to their eyebrows and a small fringe sticking out of the hat on the boy’s forehead. Both also wore green, thick-rimmed glasses.

There was a severe lack of conversation between the three as the train rumbled on through the countryside. The twins were in quiet conversation. The girl seemed to be doing most of the talking and the boy was muttering something to her under his breath. Albus was too impassive to care. He had other things to think about. Wondering vaguely where Lily and Hugo were, he yawned and did a double-take when the compartment door opened again. Albus was surprised to see who was standing there, folding his arms and looking around.

It was Seth Lean, a small second year boy with blonde hair and blue eyes. Beside him was another boy who Albus did not pay too much attention to yet. He was too focused on Seth. Albus could not believe it. It was enough that the boy had the gull to kneel next to Hagrid’s grave when he died, but to stand there, facing Albus so casually when he actively helped his father Soto in abducting Alexis and Lily and almost had them both killed. Seth looked around impassively himself eyes half closed in boredom. Then, he turned them to Albus, “Where’s Scorpius?”

Albus kept his face cool as he addressed the second year boy, “Not here. He’s prefect, isn’t he?”

The boy and girl looked from Seth to Albus with mouths slightly open. Seth hastily stuffed a crumbled piece of parchment into Albus’ hands and returned to his position. It was not the first time Albus received a crumbled parchment in days but he was more taken by Seth’s friend. Albus just realized he was there. His stomach gave another jolt with recognition and widened his eyes. The boy was a hostage Soto had taken the previous year. Seth had surely helped in that too yet the boy was so easy around him, as if they were old friends.

“Ok, Simon,” Seth said. “We’re clearly not wanted here. We’ll find another. Maybe Joseph and Angela found a free one.”

And the door shut, Albus feeling almost dejected. What the… Was Soto up to something again? What was Seth even doing still at school? Should Albus bother to read the parchment given to him? For trying to kill another student, even if it was indirect… surely it amounted to expulsion.

Albus stuffed the parchment into his pockets and was snapped out of his thoughts when the girl asked him, “Who was that boy?”

“The blonde one? Erm… Seth Lean.” He put emphasis on Lean, hoping to catch her attention with it.

She waved it off though, clearly not interested, “The other one.”

“Oh…” Albus didn’t know the answer to that but before he could answer her, the compartment door opened up and in walked Scorpius Malfoy, grinning all over, prefect badge shining on his robes which he already put on. He looked mighty proud of himself as he greeted Albus so formally, shaking his hand like he was just elected Mayor. Albus raised his eyes as Scorpius sat down beside him, staring at the kids with mild interest.

Albus bent to Scorpius’ side and whispered, “Shake my hand one more time, as if you’re the Mayor… and I’m Jinxing you.”

“Fair enough,” Scorpius shrugged. “I felt weird doing it. Just thought I would after Penelope Macmillan gave me greeting. She’s Hufflepuff- wait…” his eyes moved over to the twins. Albus expected Scorpius to ask their names but instead he just nodded, “Alpha. Proxima.”

Scorpius knew them, clearly. The girl, Proxima just said, “Hello, Scorpius” while the boy nodded in mere acknowledgment. Scorpius turned to Al and grinned. “The twins are Alpha Greengrass and Proxima Grenngrass. My cousins.”

“Oh, erm… pleased to meet you,” Albus said awkwardly. He always felt weird around Scorpius’ family. It was no wonder he felt misplaced with those twins.

In an effort to keep things simple, he turned back to Scorpius, “So, who’s Slytherin prefect?” Albus asked curiously as Alpha and Proxima stopped their chat and turned to them, ears on their every word.

“Tiffany Morgan,” Scorpius shrugged. “She’d be pretty… if she didn’t have warts the size of walnuts.”

“Ah, you’re exaggerating,” Albus shrugged. “Not that big, they’re pimples actually.”

“Well, speaking of girls, when we walked out, we caught Daniel snogging a girl,” Scorpius informed him.

“Rose?” Albus asked, semi-interested.

“Nope, completely new,” Scorpius shrugged like the matter hardly concerned him.

“Hold up,” Albus took a minute to gather what he knew. Rose and Daniel met up, Daniel took Rose to the Prefect’s carriage… and then snogged a girl right outside the carriage where he was bound to be caught? “Daniel took Rose there. Why’d he”-

“I dunno, why’re you asking me?” Scorpius demanded. “All I know is we caught him snogging a girl, Rose got all huffed up and Alex had to comfort her. And there’s Daniel just standing there like he just realized something was wrong.”

“Wait, Alex?”

“Gryffindor Prefect,” Scorpius added.

“And he comforted- I knew Daniel was a git but I didn’t know he was a prat.”

“You didn’t?” Scorpius said in mock surprise. “I caught that whiff from first year! Anyways, that’s a separate issue. Hufflepuff’s got Joey Stumleway and Penelope Macmillan. Then, we got Ravenclaw’s prefects…”

“Alexis?”

“Naturally,” Scorpius answered with a smirk at Albus. Alexis’ name drove Rose from his mind in a heartbeat. Scorpius knew Albus harbored feelings for Alexis since their fourth year though their relationship went back much further. Back to second year. And as Albus remembered her and remembered that their relationship had ended before it had a chance to fully blossom, his stomach panged. Scorpius, after watching Albus’ expression, finished, “And Tommy Peakes is the boy.”

The glow Albus felt at seeing Scorpius again had dimmed somewhat once Alexis was mentioned. He found he didn’t care about how it went in the Prefect’s carriage. Alexis was Prefect. Prefect. Albus had not felt jealousy before, but now he certainly wished the badge went to him instead of Scorpius, if only so he could be the one with Alexis, patrolling the corridors with her and talking to her all over again, like they used to. He knew it was wrong, especially because he had the Quidditch Captain badge and he knew he wouldn’t have enjoyed being Prefect.

“Erm…” Scorpius said tentatively. “Also, I wanted to tell you, Alexis is Ravenclaw Quidditch Captain now. She had that badge pinned to her too.” Albus’ stomach did a double lurch. Quidditch Captain. I’ll need to agree on Pitch booking with her. He almost felt better. Almost. Scorpius ploughed on, “Imagine the gold Alex will have when you shake her hand before the match.” Her hand. What if I hugged her instead of shaking her hand? Would she like that? Suddenly, the world seemed so bright.

Scorpius then started engaging with his cousins. Alpha was silent and kept his eyes fixed on Albus while Proxima seemed to be doing most of the talking. She told Scorpius about their father and what he planned to do. Scorpius clearly seemed very uncomfortable but he still kept the conversation going. Something was not right here. Scorpius never got into conversations he was not comfortable with.

Nonetheless, Albus took the opportunity to read the crumbled piece of parchment Seth had stuffed into his hands. He was only mildly surprised at who had written to him. He recognized the writing of Soto Lean. Of course he would have Seth pass it on.

Dear Mr. Potter,

I have been made aware of your father’s unfortunate predicament. I have used my son to pass this message on to you. I assure you our communications will be scarce, far and between; however, if you desire your father to live, please take whatever my son may have to say seriously. I suppose for the first time, our interest align completely. It is not within any of our interests to see Harry Potter killed. Indeed, such a tragic occurrence would only serve to solidify the power of our Mad Minister.

For obvious reasons, keep this letter away from prying eyes. We do not want unneeded attention. The first thing I must ask you to do is to keep a very close eye on a student in your year, Aries V. Kimble. She has used Dark Magic on me mere months ago and I have suspicions she may play an important role in the future of the Wizarding world. By all means, keep what you find out a secret but be prudent and wise in your judgments. A single false step may mean your father’s life.

Soto Lean,
Head of the Purifiers,
Honorary member of the Pure-blood Reservation.

Albus crumbled it up again and stuffed it in his pocket just as Scorpius finished his awkward conversation with his cousins. He turned back to Albus, keen on talking again. Albus and Scorpius went back to discussing the Slytherin Quidditch team. Scorpius seemed to be of the mind to hold tryouts for Keeper and Chaser, with a chance of pushing Mold and Jennifer off the team. Scorpius was explaining in detail why Jennifer was kicked off. “Jennifer just wasn’t cutting it. I know she’ll be mad but remember what she did in third year just ‘cause you changed to Gryffindor? Well, she’s not worth the team captaincy. I thought that under different command, we might have a chance, especially since she pushed for Formation Cerberus last year. Now, we discover that your cousin is an expert and Gryffindor’s usually our first match anyway. We need a lot of training and she just doesn’t give it.”

“But she picked me for Captaincy,” Albus said pointedly. “So, she seems to be taking it rather easily.”

“Yeah, that’s cause Lorcan had a word with her at the end of last year,” Scorpius shrugged. “Set things straight for her. Honestly, as weird as this may seem, I have a feeling that after being knocked off her broom last year and Hugo showing off professional skill in Quidditch, she was kind of humbled. I almost think she wanted this to happen.”

“Well, if she tries out and makes the best Keeper, I won’t hesitate,” Albus pointed out. “She was really good.”

“Yeah, but there’ll be others,” Scorpius said confidently. “Think about it, if you kick Malcolm and Jennifer off and replace them with better people, we won’t be so split anymore. Then, we could finally win that damned cup.”

Their conversation lasted well into the ride. Halfway through, they were joined by an irate Rose. Albus and Scorpius stopped their talk then as Rose walked in, ears red and breathing heavy. The two stared at her apprehensively and Albus was on the point of asking her if she was ok when Scorpius opened his mouth to do the same. Catching his eye quickly, Rose just said in a very short, curt manner, “I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to sit here in peace. So, don’t bother me.”

“Well, erm…” Scorpius stopped, throwing a tentative look at Albus before continuing, “Is it ok if Al and I talk Quidditch? Only”-

“D”- the train lurched and started slowing down, interrupting whatever Rose was going to say. Whatever bothersome thought concerning Daniel was on Rose’s mind quickly faded away as the train went slower and slower. Rose peered out the window. It had started raining but the sky suggested it was still late afternoon. “No… no, we can’t have arrived yet.”

“Why did it stop?” Scorpius asked

“If I knew, I’d tell you,” Rose told him almost testily.

The train did lurch to a stop and the babble of voices outside quieted suddenly. Albus got up and slid the compartment door open. The lamps were still on and others were peeking out of their compartments too. He was on the point of asking one of them at random what the issue may have been. If perhaps they had seen anyone coming aboard. Albus turned to Scorpius and Rose to ask them to see if anyone was on their way in but he found Scorpius was already staring and he had a red face of fear. Albus never knew Scorpius to be afraid. “Scorps, what”-

“Uncle Rojer,” Scorpius breathed. “He married my Aunt Daphnee but his kids took the Greengrass name.”

At his words, the twins jumped up and headed out of the compartment. Scorpius watched them go before sighing, “They’re ok… but Uncle Rojer is convinced that the Malfoy Manor should go to him. He got into a big fight with Father summer before last and he actually dueled with Grandfather. I think he means to make it up this Christmas but… I thought he’d come to Hogwarts by himself. Why the train?”

“Well, his kids obviou”-

“No, no, Rosie, you don’t understand,” Scorpius said half-exasperatedly. “Uncle Rojer never gets into big crowds unless he wants something.” Scorpius, with what looked like great difficulty, gulped and shuddered. Then, he said suddenly, “Al, I need your Invisibility Cloak.”

“What?”

“Just give it, now!”

Albus opened his trunk for it and took it out. Before he could so much as grasp it, Scorpius snatched it and whipped it over himself and not a minute too soon for just then, as he disappeared into thin air, the compartment door opened.