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Introduction:

harry potter
A/N: Brief author's note prior to the chapter. This chapter is from Teddy's point of view, as I wanted to write the specifics of what happened during the mission to capture Greyback. An article in the Prophet just wouldn't do it justice. Hope you enjoy!
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Teddy Lupin had been a Junior Auror for nearly eight months. In that time he hadn't done much in terms of fighting dark wizards, and most of the missions he'd gone on had been rather boring. Up until the Azkaban break-out most of his work had consisted of paperwork and the occasional stake-out. Being an Auror, Teddy had discovered, was a lot more than chasing down Dark wizards and saving people's lives.

It was for this very reason that Teddy had been surprised when his godfather, Harry Potter, had approached him the previous day and told him of his newest assignment. He, Teddy Lupin, brand-new Junior Auror, had been assigned to the mission of capturing escaped werewolf, Fenrir Greyback. Greyback, the same werewolf who had infected his father with lycanthropy decades ago. Greyback, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives.

The mission, Harry had informed him, was very sensitive in nature and had to be handled with discretion. There was to be no mention of it to anyone outside of the people assigned to it. There were very few people assigned to the mission and they included Harry himself, the Head of the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and Ron Weasley. That was it. A few others had been assigned to keep an eye on the children Greyback attacked the previous month, but they weren't to be directly involved with the Greyback mission itself.

Harry had explained the details of the mission, including the fact that the whole thing had been Albus's idea, along with one of his friends, who happened to be the Head of the Regulation and Control of Magical Creature's son. Who also happened to be a werewolf. It took Teddy a few minutes to wrap his head around the entire situation. To make things even more insane, Albus's werewolf friend was the brother of Teddy's friend, Amy.

But when it came down to it, all of this meant that Teddy was going on his first real mission as an Auror.

Harry had instructed him to show up at the Hog's Head, in disguise, at seven o'clock. Once there, he was to order a drink and sit at the bar, avoiding contact with everyone. Harry, Ron, and Walter Eckerton were going to do the same.

Disguising himself was Teddy's main strength. Before he Apparated to Hogmseade he morphed his face so he looked a few years older and his hair so that it was a generic brown color rather than its usual turquoise. He finished off the look by shrinking himself and adding a few pounds. After donning a tattered old cloak, Teddy turned on the spot and reappeared in the alley next to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.

Teddy peeked inside the building and saw George working. If he hadn't been on a mission he would've stopped to say hello, but instead he turned in the opposite direction and headed toward the Hog's Head.

The pub was practically empty. There was an old witch at one of the tables, nursing a drink, and a bloke sleeping at the end of the bar. Ron was already there, sitting at a table with a goblet in front of him. He'd clearly attempted to disguise himself, but there was no mistaking his red hair. Harry and Walter didn't seem to be there yet.

Teddy ambled up to the bar, deciding at the last minute that his fake persona should walk with a limp. Aberforth was there and Teddy ordered a Butterbeer. Probably not the usual drink for the Hog's Head, but he needed to keep his head clear for the mission. He took the drink and began to sip it slowly, as he had no idea how long he'd need to pretend he wasn't an Auror.

A half hour later the door opened again and Harry and Walter walked in. Walter joined Ron at his back table while Harry went up to the bar. He sat next to Teddy.

“How's it going, Aberforth?” he asked quietly.

“Fine,” Aberforth grunted.

“We're here on Ministry business,” Harry said. “Might be here a few hours. Could be the whole night. Do you mind?”

“Not at all,” Aberforth replied. “Pub's yours, although I'll be leaving at eleven. Not much business on a Monday night.”

“We'll lock up when we leave,” Harry said.

Aberforth nodded and set a few more Butterbeers on the counter. Harry picked them up and gestured for Teddy to follow him to the back table, where Ron and Walter were now crouched over a piece of parchment.

Teddy sat down next to Walter and Harry sat next to him. He passed around the Butterbeers while Ron turned the parchment around so Teddy and Harry could see it. Teddy recognized it; it was Albus's map of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. Currently, it was magically magnified to show the Shrieking Shack and the yard outside it. Only one dot was there. It was labeled 'Matthew Eckerton' and was stationary in the Shrieking Shack.

“Moon just rose,” Walter said quietly. “Just a waiting game now.”

No one had told him, but Teddy knew the real reason why he'd been assigned to this mission, and it had nothing to do with his Auror skills. Sure, that had been a plus, but any of the other Junior Aurors were just as qualified. And the full Aurors were even more so. The reason was that he was the only Auror who was related to a werewolf, and thus wouldn't care that a werewolf at Hogwarts was an integral part of this plan. It was also the reason why Harry and Ron were there, when Auror Newman had previously been assigned to the Greyback case. Walter Eckerton didn't want any risk of his son's condition being leaked to the public, and putting Harry, Ron, and Teddy on the case would ensure that it wouldn't.

“Are you sure Greyback is even going to show up?” Teddy asked quietly as he stared at the map.

“Fairly certain,” Walter said. “Werewolves are attracted to the call of their own kind and Greyback is set on creating his own pack of young werewolves. He spent the last full moon lurking around the Shrieking Shack, after he attacked those children. He knows Matt's there. He'll come back.”

Teddy nodded. The minutes ticked by and the pub grew quieter. The old witch left, taking her glass with her. The man sleeping at the bar snorted and rolled over, nearly falling off his stool. Teddy finished his Butterbeer and set it next to the other empty glasses on the table, wondering if he should go order another or just remain seated.

At eleven o'clock Aberforth woke up the bloke at the bar and had to help him to the door and then physically shove him out of the pub. He gave a quick nod to Harry, Ron, Walter, and Teddy and then went upstairs.

“I suppose the disguises were a bit pointless,” Ron said as he pointed his wand at his face. His nose returned to its normal shape.

“Well, with the Hog's Head, you never know,” Harry said.

The group settled into silence again. Outside, there was the sound of faint howling. Teddy glanced at Walter and noticed that he winced slightly every time there was a particularly loud howl. Harry and Ron sent him sympathetic looks that Teddy tried to mimic. He didn't have any kids so he really had no idea what that was like, let alone having a kid with lycanthropy.

Teddy glanced down at the map and noticed three new dots had appeared. “Harry!” Teddy said as he pointed to the map.

All four men crowded around the map once more. One of the dots was indeed labeled 'Fenrir Greyback,' but the others were names Teddy didn't recognize.

“Meredith Jenner and Maxwell Jenner,” Teddy read. “Who are they?”

“They must be other werewolves,” Ron said.

“Or Animagi,” Harry pointed out.

“No,” Walter said as he shook his head. “Those are the two kids who got bitten last month.”

“You're kidding,” Harry said. “Dammit, this didn't cross my mind.”

“Mine either,” Walter said.

“What about the others?” Ron asked. “Newman and the two from the Werewolf Control Unit?”

“There they are,” Teddy said as three new dots suddenly appeared onto the map. They must've Apparated.”

“Yeah, well, they'd have no chance following three werewolves on foot,” Walter said.

“Let's go,” Harry said as he stood up.

Teddy stood and drew his wand. He followed the three older men out of the pub and shut the door behind him.

The Hog's Head was not far away from the Shrieking Shack. Within three minutes they arrived and found Newman and the other two wizards attempting to restrain the three werewolves.

“They're the kids from last month!” one of the Werewolf Control Unit employees shouted.

“Be careful with them!” Walter shouted back. “They've done nothing wrong!”

“We're trying!”

The two smaller werewolves were currently attempting to attack the Werewolf Control Unit employees and Newman, while Greyback seemed to care far more about getting into the Shrieking Shack. He was a much larger wolf, grey in color, and had bright yellow eyes. He was on the porch, biting at the door, and not paying any attention to the wizards around him. It seemed to Teddy that he had far more control over himself than a normal werewolf.

Walter and Ron joined the Werewolf Control Unit employees in trying to restrain Meredith and Maxwell. It was a difficult task because they had to do it without hurting them. Teddy was fairly certain that the law wouldn't care whether the two children were hurt in the process, but that had never been how Walter ran the department.

Harry nodded to Teddy and they walked slowly up the lawn, their wands out in front of them. If they could just catch Greyback by surprise then they'd be able to conjure some ropes and restrain him before he even knew what was happening.

They were only twenty feet away when it happened. Greyback suddenly froze and then turned around. He must've smelled them. With a loud snarl, he jumped the twenty feet separating them in one leap.

Teddy and Harry jumped back, sending spells forward as they did so. Greyback lunged, the spells not seeming to affect him at all, and made a swipe at Teddy. Teddy jumped to the side and sent another Stunner at Greyback.

Battling a werewolf was very different from battling a wizard, Teddy realized. And battling werewolves had not been covered in training. Sure, they'd learned and practiced the spells used against werewolves, but they'd never performed them on actual werewolves. The main difference was that werewolves didn't have wands and thus could not cast spells. But at the same time, they had teeth, claws, and were much stronger than the average human. Plus there was the fact that one bite would turn you into one forever.

Teddy and Harry took turns sending Stunners at Greyback and were able to confuse him enough that he didn't quite know who to attack. As they worked, they were steadily moving closer and closer to the Shrieking Shack.

Greyback soon realized that he was being cornered back onto the porch and decided to take another leap forward. He snarled loudly and lunged toward Harry, nearly making contact. Teddy jumped forward and sent another Stunner toward Greyback.

Greyback flew backward and slammed into the front door, his head making a sickening crunch as it collided with the doorknob. He slid down the door and landed on the floor, not moving.

Teddy looked at Greyback and then at Harry, who was getting up from the ground. Teddy hadn't even realized that he'd fallen over.

“Harry, you okay?” Teddy asked.

“Fine,” Harry said. “You?”

Teddy nodded and began to take a few cautious steps toward Greyback. Harry was soon by his side.

“Is he...” Teddy began.

“I don't think so,” Harry said quietly. “Just unconscious. Here.” Harry muttered a spell and ropes flew from the end of his wand. They wrapped them around Greyback until he was secure.

Teddy felt slightly disappointed. There was a part of him, a very small part, that wished he'd killed Greyback. Greyback had been the one who'd made his dad's life miserable, and he'd viciously attacked Victoire's dad when he wasn't even transformed. Yes, Teddy had to admit, there was a part of him that wanted revenge. A part of him that wanted to be the one who finally killed Fenrir Greyback.

Teddy glanced over to the rest of the group, but they'd finished, too. Walter was currently tying the two werewolf children up with ropes while the other men stood around watching. Ron looked up and met Teddy's eyes, then walked over toward them.

“Done?” Harry asked.

Ron nodded. “They're tied up and Stunned. I suppose we'll have to keep Stunning them until the moon sets.”

“So they weren't on Wolfsbane,” Harry said. “Interesting.”

“Walter said he'll personally make a visit to their house in a few days to discuss precautions for next month,” Ron said. “But still, their parents must be idiots. They could've been killed.”

“The parents are okay, then?” Harry asked. “I wonder what happened.”

Ron nodded. “Newman said they locked the kids in the backyard shed but didn't put any wards up. It must've been easy for Greyback to break in.”

“I wonder why they didn't listen to Werewolf Support Services,” Harry mused. “I know for a fact they visited.”

“Well, at least no one was hurt,” Teddy pointed out. He turned back to where the other werewolves had been tied up, but noticed that they were now being levitated to the porch of the Shrieking Shack by the Werewolf Control Unit employees. Walter and Newman were following them.

“What is that infernal racket?” Newman exclaimed, nodding his head to the Shrieking Shack.

Walter glanced a the Shack and then turned to Newman. “Ghosts. I've heard that place has been haunted for years, long before I moved to this country.”

Harry nodded. “It's been haunted since the 70s.”

“Loud ghosts,” Newman muttered. “Has the Spirit division ever looked into it?”

“Multiple times,” Walter said. “They're peaceful ghosts, just loud. We haven't had too many complaints, so haven't bothered to do anything about it.”

Teddy was amazed that Walter could lie so easily and freely. But he supposed that he'd been doing it ever since his son became a werewolf, so he'd gotten used to it.

“Let's get this lot back to the Ministry,” Harry said, gesturing to the three unconscious werewolves. Newman, take either Lee or Parks back to the children's house and inform their parents that they can pick them up at the Ministry tomorrow.”

Newman and Lee, who was one of the Werewolf Control Unit employees, Disapparated on the spot. Harry grabbed hold of Greyback and instructed Walter and Parks, the other Werewolf Control Unit employee, to each take one of the children. With an exceptionally loud crack, the entire group Disapparated.
***


Each of the werewolves were set up in an interrogation room to wait the remaining hours until sunrise. Teddy, along with Walter, had been assigned to keeping watch on Greyback, Stunning him when necessary. Harry, Ron, Parks, and Lee had been assigned to the children. Newman got started on the paperwork.

“So if a werewolf were to have somebody there to Stun them every hour or so while they were transformed, they'd be harmless, right?” Teddy asked as Walter Stunned Greyback for the fourth time. “Why don't people do that?”

“Repeated Stunning isn't healthy,” Walter replied. “It's why it's not allowed on most prisoners. It's only allowed on werewolves because they're classified as Beasts and not Beings.”

Teddy nodded. “What does it do to them?”

“Depends on the werewolf,” Walter said. “It has no long-term effects on plenty, but others wind up ill or with memory loss.”

“Can't say I'll be too upset if it has any ill effects on him,” Teddy said as he nodded to Greyback.

“Me either,” Walter said.

“I have to ask,” Teddy began, “did you get into Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures before or after your son was bitten?”

“Before. Ironic, isn't it?”

“Just a bit.”

“It's because of your father that my son is able to go to Hogwarts. I know you probably don't even remember him, but I'm forever grateful for him paving the way.”

Teddy nodded. “I wish I could remember him. I suppose it was really Dumbledore, though, who let him go to Hogwarts.”

“I never had the pleasure of meeting Albus Dumbledore. I wish I could say I have.”

Teddy and Walter lapsed back into silence. Teddy could hardly believe that he was sitting in an interrogation room with the werewolf who had turned his father. If only his dad could see him now.

Walter glanced at his watch. “Moon should be setting within the half hour.”

Teddy gulped and he hoped Walter couldn't hear his heart beating. He hadn't been nearly as nervous about facing Greyback as a wolf, but the thought of facing him as a human was slightly terrifying. He almost wanted the next half hour to last forever, but at the same time he didn't. It had been a very long day and he wanted to go home and sleep, eat, and see Victoire. Unfortunately, there was still a mountain of paperwork ahead.

Greyback began to stir, but Walter didn't Stun him. Instead, he conjured a simple set of robes, set them on the table, stood up, and gestured for Teddy to follow him out into the corridor. Teddy did so, but looked at Walter quizzically.

“He can't escape. He's got no wand and there's anti-Apparition charms on the rooms,” Walter explained. “He'll be at his absolute weakest as he transforms and despite the evils he's done, he deserves the respect of transforming alone.”

Teddy was impressed. He himself wouldn't have even thought about that, but Walter had clearly been planning that all along. Teddy supposed it came from having a son who was a werewolf. If Teddy's own father had lived, would he have similar thoughts?

There were no silencing charms on the interrogation rooms. Soon the corridor was filled with howling and was then replaced by painful shrieks. The shrieks soon gave way to a long stream of profanity.

“Let's go,” Walter said as he placed his hand on the doorknob.

Teddy had no idea what to expect when he entered the room. He'd only seen pictures of Greyback from the Prophet and black-and-white photos never did a person justice.

Fenrir Greyback was crouched on top of the table, dressed in the clothing that Walter had provided. His grey hair was stringy and matted with dirt and blood, and his face bore several week's worth of grey beard. His face was lined with deep wrinkles and Teddy realized that he had absolutely no idea how old the man was.

Greyback took a deep sniff as Walter and Teddy entered. He grinned and let out a maniacal laugh. “Head of the Department,” he muttered. “Guess I'm popular.”

Teddy froze, all his training suddenly out the window. He could hardly believe that this man had attacked his father when he was only a child. Fenrir Greyback was far more sinister in person and Teddy felt a pang of sympathy for his father as a five-year-old.

“So you found me,” Greyback said. “How'd you do it?”

“We were waiting for you, Greyback,” Walter said. “We knew you'd return to Hogsmeade.”

Greyback sneered. “Yeah, wanted to go back for that werewolf in the Shrieking Shack. He smelled young, impressionable.”

Walter paled. “You'll never have the opportunity to go back.”

“We'll see,” Greyback replied.

“Enough chat,” Walter said, turning to Teddy. “Arrest him.”

Teddy snapped out of his thoughts and immediately went back into Auror-mode. He set himself apart from the situation and ran on autopilot.

“Fenrir Greyback, I am Auror Ted Lupin and you're under arrest,” Teddy began.

Greyback's eyes grew wide. “Lupin. Any relation to Remus Lupin?”

“He was my father,” Teddy said proudly.

“I made him who he was,” Greyback said as he stared directly into Teddy's eyes. “I changed his life.”

“Fenrir Greyback, you are under arrest,” Teddy repeated, ignoring him. He conjured a pair of handcuffs and walked over to Greyback. “You have the right to remain silent. I suggest you use it,” he said as he cuffed the werewolf. “If you choose not to be silent, anything you say can be used in your trial. You will have a trial. If you cannot find representation, we will find it for you.”

Teddy grabbed Greyback's arm and pulled him off the table and into a standing position. As he did so, he met the older man's eyes. They were yellow, pure yellow, and completely unforgiving. He looked like the face of evil, as if Greyback had no human soul left. It was in that moment that Teddy knew for sure that this werewolf held no similarities to his father. Greyback lived to spread evil, while Remus Lupin had lived to stop it.

Teddy slapped a set of handcuffs on Greyback. He opened the door and pushed Greyback out into the corridor, still holding onto his arm. Walter followed and the two walked alongside each other as they led Greyback to the holding cells.

Harry was waiting for them when they arrived. He shoved Greyback into a cell and locked the door behind him.

“Your dad would be incredibly proud of you,” Harry said to Teddy.

Teddy nodded and gave Harry a half-smile.
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A/N: I hope you enjoyed the Teddy chapter! I had a lot of fun writing it. Thanks for all the lovely reviews!

The rights Teddy read to Greyback are adapted from the Miranda Rights, created by the United States Supreme Court in 1966.

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Albus awoke the next morning to the sound of an owl pecking at the window. He rose from his bed and went to let it in. The owl was unfamiliar, but he vaguely recognized it as the breed of owl the Ministry of Magic used. The letter was addressed to him, so Albus took it, let the owl back out into the cold, and set down on his bed to open it.

Albus-

We got him.

-Dad

That was all it said, but it didn't need to say anything else. His dad probably couldn't say anything else in a letter, anyway. Albus folded up the parchment and shoved it into his bedside table. He glanced at the clock and realized there was no point in going back to bed since classes would start in two hours.

Instead, he got started on that week's Charms reading while he waited for John to wake up. This took a good hour and when he finally did wake up, it took him fifteen minutes to fully wake up and get dressed. John was not one for mornings.

Albus waited until they were in the Great Hall for breakfast to tell John about the letter from his dad, so that he could tell Kaden, Rose, and Amanda, too. Luckily they managed to find a relatively secluded part of the table.

“I got a letter from my dad this morning,” Albus said as he scooped eggs onto his plate. “They got him.”

“Oh thank God!” Rose exclaimed.

“Did he tell you about it?” John asked.

“No,” Albus said. “But I'm sure it'll be in the Prophet tomorrow.”

The group decided to eat a very quick lunch later in order to visit Matt before their afternoon classes. Albus wanted to tell him about Greyback as soon as possible.

Albus found it incredibly difficult to keep his mouth shut during potions because the rest of his classmates were discussing Greyback and whether he had attacked anyone the previous night. Janie Creevey swore she saw him on the grounds from her dormitory window last night, but Karina and Marina said it was only a dog. Two of the Slytherins said they heard howling all night, and Scorpius said one of the older students had received a letter from his brother claiming to have seen Greyback in Diagon Alley. It seemed that Albus and his friends were the only ones in the entire castle who knew Greyback had been captured.

Scorpius Malfoy left potions early after speaking in whispers with Slughorn. Whatever it was it was a good excuse since Slughorn actually let him go. Albus thought this was very curious, but didn't dwell on it since his mind was still racing about Greyback. He wanted details about the capture, but probably wouldn't get any until he read the article in the Prophet.

“Anyone know why Malfoy left?” John asked as they hurried up to the Great Hall for lunch.

“No idea,” Albus said. “Maybe he was ill?”

“He didn't look ill,” John said. “I suppose if he is ill we'll see him in the hospital wing.”

Albus and his friends ate the fastest lunch they'd ever eaten and rushed up to the hospital wing. Kaden had Herbology after lunch and would need a good bit of time to get there, so they wanted to spend as much of lunch as possible in the hospital wing.

Madam Pomfrey was busy berating a student for trying to charm her hair pink and had charmed it all off instead and didn't notice Albus and the others walk in. Only one bed was occupied and the curtains were drawn around it.

“Guess Malfoy's not here,” John said as he led the group over to Matt's bed.

John pulled the curtains back and Albus saw that Matt was sitting up in bed, eating lunch. This month he was sporting a bandage wrapped around his entire head and ones on his hands as well. He seemed to be having a bit of difficulty holding his sandwich.

“They better have caught him,” Matt said as he dropped his sandwich. “Dammit. I can't go another month wrecking my hands.”

“They did,” Albus said. “My dad owled me this morning, but he didn't give me any details.”

“I knew he was there,” Matt said. “The wolf wanted to get out again and this time I banged my head repeatedly against the door.” He gestured to the head bandages.

“I don't think you'll have to worry about that again,” John said. “They'll probably put twice as many guards on Greyback's cell.”

“I think this is the worst headache I've ever had in my life,” Matt muttered.

John grinned mischievously. “Shall Kaden and I do a repeat of last week's prank?”

Matt gave him a look of murder. “If you do, I'll kill you and I won't be responsible for my actions.”

“Just kidding,” John said.

“Madam Pomfrey wants me to eat lunch and then she's going to give me enough sleeping draught to sleep until dinner. I can't wait.”

“Well, I'm going to have a lovely afternoon of fertilizing magical plants with dragon dung,” Kaden said. “So aside from the turning into a wolf thing and the raging headache, I'm kind of jealous.”

“I'd take the dragon dung,” Matt said and then turned to Albus. “Embry is announcing who gets to watch the last debate today, isn't he?”

Albus shook his head. “They've actually put it off two more weeks. It was in the paper this morning. I guess they want it fresh in people's minds or something. Plus, we've got Quidditch Saturday and dueling Sunday.”

“Is Gryffindor playing?” Matt asked.

“Hufflepuff and Slytherin,” Albus said. “If Hufflepuff wins, then we'll be ahead in points. But if Slytherin wins, we'll probably be behind them.”

“Here's hoping for Hufflepuff, then,” Matt said. He glanced at his half-eaten sandwich. “I think I've given up on eating. I don't mean to kick you lot out, but I'm really looking forward to sleeping.”

“Not a problem,” Albus said. “We'll see you later.”

“I think I'll be back tomorrow,” Matt said. “Unless this headache doesn't go away.”

John glanced at the clock. “Brilliant. There's enough time for me to run back to the Great Hall for an eclair before Transfiguration.”

“I'll join you,” Kaden said.

“Me, too,” Albus agreed.

The girls decided that a second dessert was in order as well, so the whole group hurried back to the Great Hall before their next class. On the way there Albus realized just how much better he felt now that Greyback was once again behind bars.
***


“Teddy arrested him!” Albus exclaimed at breakfast the next morning. He'd just finished reading the article about Greyback.

“Seriously?” Rose exclaimed, grabbing the Prophet. “I didn't even know he went on that mission.”

Albus nodded. “It was him, my dad, your dad, and Matt's dad. Plus Newman and a few Werewolf Control Unit employees. And those kids who got attacked last week were captured, too. Apparently their parents didn't put any wards up on the shed they were in.”

“That's stupid,” Rose said.

“Was anyone hurt?” Amanda asked.

“No,” Albus said.

“Oh, look, they've quoted Laurentis,” Rose said. “Listen to this. 'Greyback's recapture is wonderful news for wizarding Britain. I applaud both the Auror Department and the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures for their collaboration in this capture, especially Harry Potter and Walter Eckerton. However, there are still four prisoners at large. The work is not done and we must remember this before celebrating.'”

“Did they quote your uncle?” John asked.

“No,” Rose said. “It says he hasn't made a statement about it yet.”

“I honestly think that this is only going to make his support of your dad look better,” Amanda said. “Laurentis can try, but this is a success. I mean, just look at the article. Absolutely nothing went wrong with that capture. There were three werewolves on the loose in Hogmseade and nobody got attacked. It's that simple.”

Albus hadn't thought about it in that way, but it was true. Three loose werewolves would normally be a nightmare for a quiet village like Hogsmeade, but thanks to the Aurors and the Werewolf Control Unit employees, nobody got hurt.

“I'll just be happy when this election is over,” Albus said.

“You're telling me,” Cedric said as he sat down across from Albus. “I don't even care who wins anymore.”
***


Hufflepuff somehow managed to squash Slytherin during Saturday's Quidditch match. Albus chalked this up to the fact that Hufflepuff had the best team they'd had in years, and that Slytherin's Keeper had landed himself in the hospital wing after blowing up his potion on Friday, earning him a ban from the match by Madam Pomfrey. But whatever the reason actually was, it was certainly beneficial to Gryffindor.

Albus awoke early on Sunday, suddenly riddled with nerves about the dueling tournament. This month's tournament was the second to last of the year since all the professors had agreed to end it earlier due to exams. Many of the seventh years had expressed that they couldn't supervise practices while studying for N.E.W.T.s. But this meant that Albus only had two more chances to secure a win for his team, something that hadn't happened yet this year.

Albus and Amanda were the first of their team to arrive in the Great Hall before the tournament. The rest of the team trickled in slowly as they waited. Five minutes before the tournament was scheduled to begin, the only person missing was Malfoy.

“It's not like him to be late,” Amanda commented. “Usually he's here early telling you what an awful job as captain you do.”

“No, it's not,” Albus agreed as he stood up to get a better look at the doors. “I don't see him.”

“He wasn't in potions the other day,” Amanda reminded Albus. “Actually, I haven't seen him since he left potions early on Tuesday.”

Albus thought back and realized Amanda was right. “Oi!” he called to his group of Slytherin teammates. “Any of you know where Scorpius Malfoy is?”

“He went home,” one of the third years said. “No idea why. He hasn't been here since Tuesday.”

“He went home?” Albus repeated, staring at the third year. “That's odd.”

The third year shrugged. “He didn't tell anyone anything about it. He just left.”

Albus had to admit that this news gave him as much disappointment as confusion. Scorpius Malfoy was one of the team's best duelers, no matter how annoying he was.

“No one goes home when it's not a holiday,” Amanda said.

“Yeah, not unless they're really ill or something awful happened to their family,” Albus said.

“Attention students!” Neville called out. “The tournament is about to begin!”

Albus managed to push all thoughts of Malfoy out of his mind for the duration of the tournament. Most of his teammates dueled well, although only Albus and a few other fourth years won both their duels. In the end they secured third place, which was certainly better than a good portion of the rest of the teams, but still wasn't first. They were still in the running for winning overall at the end of the season, but they'd need to do really well in the final tournament.

Albus and Amanda met the rest of their friends in the Marauder's Den after the tournament was over.

“Did Malfoy skip the tournament?” John asked as soon as they entered. “Not that I'm complaining since your team probably would've beat mine if he had showed.”

“Apparently he went home on Tuesday,” Albus said. “I'm assuming that's why he left potions early, but no one has any idea why he went.”

“Maybe his parents took him on holiday,” Matt said. “They seem the type to do that.”

“You're not allowed to miss classes unless it's a good excuse,” Rose pointed out. “I don't think going on holiday is a good excuse.”

“I think something bad is happening to someone in his family,” Amanda said quietly. “Remember that letter he was reading during practice? And how quiet he's been lately?”

“I'll ask Elsie Willinson,” Rose said. “I tutor her tomorrow. Chances are that Malfoy told Felix about whatever's going on so maybe Elsie knows, too.”

But whatever was going on with Scorpius Malofy, Elsie Willinson was just as clueless as Albus and his friends. She either had no idea or refused to tell Rose, despite the fact that Rose prodded her about it ever ten minutes during their tutoring session on Monday.

Malfoy returned to classes on Tuesday, walking into potions fifteen minutes late, and Slughorn made no mention of his tardiness or the classes he missed the previous week. Albus attempted to watch his face during class but he gave no clues about his emotions.

“Hey, Malfoy!” Albus shouted as they left the classroom a short while later.

Malfoy spun around and met Albus's eye. He didn't look angry, nor was he sneering. Instead, he just looked lost. “What do you want, Potter?”

“Missed you at the tournament Saturday,” Albus said, hoping Malfoy would tell him where he'd been.

“Bet you didn't win without me,” Malfoy replied.

“Third place,” Albus answered. “Where were you?”

“None of your business, Potter,” Malfoy said as he turned around. He sped up and was soon lost in the sea of students hurrying to the Great Hall for lunch.
***


The following week passed quickly and Albus soon forgot about Malfoy and his mysterious disappearance. The election was now only a week away and everyone in the castle, students, professors, and ghosts alike were talking about it. With only one debate remaining, it was up in the air as to who would win. The Prophet published a poll they'd taken and neither candidate had a significant lead on the other.

“Kingsley Shacklebolt, former Head of the Auror Department, was the last Minister of Magic selected by the Wizengamot,” Professor Banks said in class two days before the final debate. “His selection was very quick and he stepped into office the day after Voldemort's death. While most of the wizarding world knew that the Ministry needed an overhaul, they also needed someone to take charge and supervise the overhaul.

“Shacklebolt held office for three years while supervising the drastic changes that made the Ministry of Magic the governing entity we see today.”

Albus had met Kingsley Shacklebolt a few times and found him slightly intimidating, but funny at the same time. He just had a very commanding presence and Albus wasn't surprised he'd been made Minister of Magic after the war.

“The three years Shacklebolt held office were very tumultuous. Decisions had to be made, drastic ones, and they were not easy. The first and most obvious decision was the decision to change the way the Wizengamot was set up. The Wizengamot as it was was incredibly corrupt. Remember that prior to this redesign every pureblooded family held a seat on the Wizengamot, but this left half-blood and Muggle-born witches and wizards without representation.

“Shacklebolt, along with the other Ministry officials working to reorganize the Wizengamot looked to the Muggle world for inspiration. The previous Wizengamot bore more resemblance to the Muggle House of Lords, the Upper House of Parliament. It was decided that the Wizengamot ought to more closely resemble the House of Commons, the Lower House of Parliament. In the Muggle world, these representatives are called Members of Parliament, MPs for short, and are elected. In the wizarding world, they are simply called members of the Wizengamot.

“Members of the Wizengamot then began being elected by the general public, much like MPs are elected in the Muggle world. Each member has a district, although figuring out these districts was far more difficult than it was in the Muggle world. Does anyone have a guess as to why?”

Amanda raised her hand. “Yes, Miss Tagger?” Banks said.

“Witches and wizards aren't as uniformly spread out throughout the United Kingdom,” Amanda explained. “In the Muggle world the districts are very much based on towns, but wizards don't really have towns.”

“Correct,” Banks said. “Because of this the districts, if shown on a map, would look vastly different in terms of size. For example, London has three separate districts because there is a very large wizarding population in London. It's far easier for wizards to blend in in a large city than a small town since things generally go unnoticed in big cities. On the other hand, Wales only has two districts, and therefore two representatives, since it's much less densely populated by wizards.”

Albus didn't have a clue as to who his district's representative was, or even what district he lived in. It was one of three, as he now knew.

“I've taken the liberty of printing a map with a list of all the representative and district numbers,” Banks said as he began passing out sheets of parchment. “I'd hazard a guess than very few of you know what district you're in or who your representative is.”

Albus looked at the sheet after he received it. London seemed to be divided into West London, North London, and East/South London. North London, where Albus lived, was District Two, currently represented by a bloke named Oliver Prang.

“Elections are held every five years,” Banks said. “None of the representative are up for election this year, but most are up for election next year. None of you will be of age to vote in next year's election, but I suggest you read up on your representatives views and beliefs anyway.

“To entice you to learn,” Banks continued as he walked around his desk, “I am assigning an essay, due in two weeks. Figure out who your representative is and write me a foot-long essay detailing your representative's beliefs and whether you agree with them or not. I suggest looking at old copies of the Prophet as well as archived transcriptions of Wizengamot meetings, both available in the library. You are welcome to use any other sources as you see fit.”

There was a general groan from the class, which made Banks grin. He always seemed to love assigning homework.

“Now onto the more exciting news,” Banks said. “This Saturday is the final debate and four of you will be able to attend. I apologize in advance for those whose names have not been chosen, but there simply were not enough debates. As usual, the rest of you will listen to the debate in the Transfiguration classroom.

“The two from Hufflepuff are Sam Bordeaux and Cassie Hornell. The Gryffindors are John Brickston and Janie Creevey. Your essay on this debate, to be formatted like the previous two, will be due in a week. Class dismissed.”

“I knew it would be me,” John said as the packed up. “Bilius and Ethan have already gone and you two get to go every time.”

“I hadn't even realized that,” Albus said.

“Karina's the only one of us who won't get to go,” Rose pointed out.

“That essay, though...” John said. “The one on our representatives. That's going to take forever.”

“Not if you do your research right,” Rose said as they left the room.

“Any of you in District seven?” John asked.

The rest of the group shook their heads. They compared district numbers, but none of them were in the same. Rose and Matt were the closest, with their districts bordering on each other.

“I guess we're all doing our own research then,” John said with a sigh.

Rose gave him a satisfied smirk, clearly happy that she wouldn't have to cope with John attempting to bum off her research. Albus wished that he and Rose were in the same district because he, like John, did not relish doing this research. Usually they only had to use their textbooks for research, but not this time. This time, their textbooks wouldn't help at all.
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A/N: Thanks for all the reviews! It's time for the annual Dobby awards at HPFF and nominations are now open! Head to the forums to nominate your favorite story (such as this one, *hint, hint*). There is a link to the forums on the right side of the page. Be sure to read the rules before you nominate! We hate having to disqualify stories for broken rules.

The information about the Muggle Ministry was adapted from the House of the Lords and the Parliament Wikipedia pages. I hope I got everything right, but I'm not British, so feel free to point out any errors.

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As the week progressed more and more of the Prophet was dedicated to election coverage. By the time Saturday arrived it became nearly impossible to find a single article that wasn't about the election. There were editorials, interviews, statements from the candidates, opinion polls, and more. Albus was getting so tired of it that he didn't even glance at Saturday's edition.

“Place your bets here!”

Albus glanced up from his breakfast to see James, Cedric, and Ben walking up the aisle between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables carrying a jar filled with coins.

“We're taking bets!” James shouted. “Any takers?”

“What are you betting on?” Albus asked. “Who wins?”

“No, that's boring,” James said. “We're taking bets on how long it'll take the debate moderator to bring up that crazy Australian bloke who kidnapped you last year. This debate is on International Magical Cooperation, after all.”

It hadn't even crossed Albus's mind that last year's incident would be brought up in this debate, but James was probably right. It was the biggest international scandal wizarding Britain had seen in years.

“What's your bet?” Albus asked his brother.

“Ten minutes,” James said. “We've had a few people say it'll happen right away and others who are giving it as long as a half hour.”

“You do realize that your dad's the one moderating this debate, don't you?” Rose asked, setting down her copy of the Prophet.

James, Cedric, and Ben exchanged a glance. “Er, no, we didn't know that,” James said. “How do you know?”

“Says right here in the paper,” Rose said, pointing to it. “He might not bring it up.”

“I hope he doesn't,” Matt muttered. “I'd rather just forget Lubar's existence.”

“He might still bring it up,” James said. “It was a fairly big incident.”

Rose shrugged. “It's possible.”

“So what would Uncle Percy say if he knew you three were taking bets on the debate?” Albus asked with a grin.

Cedric paled. “He's not going to find out. Everyone who places a bet is sworn to secrecy. We've had them sign something. If they say anything their faces will turn orange.”

“Isn't that like what Aunt Hermione did for the D.A?” Albus asked.

“Sort of,” Cedric said. “But we've told people about it, so they know what they're signing.”

“Any bets, then?” James asked.

Albus and his friends all shook their heads no. Last year's incident was far too personal for them to place bets on whether it would be a debate topic.

“We're wasting time, then,” James said as he led Cedric and Ben further down the aisle. “Place your bets here!”

“They're idiots,” Rose muttered.

Albus agreed.

An hour later Albus, Rose, Matt, and John were back in the Great Hall for the debate. Albus soon realized that this debate would be watched by even more people than the past ones, with many people standing in the back due to lack of seating. Personally, Albus thought most people would've already made up their minds since the election was only four days away, but clearly it was still a popular event.

John had to sit with the other students who'd been picked while Albus, Rose, and Matt sat up front, like usual. All of Albus's cousins were there, including Georgia, who looked like she was forcing herself to smile.

“Hey, Georgia,” Albus said.

“Hi, Al,” Georgia replied. “I'm so glad this is nearly over.”

“Me, too,” Albus agreed. “How is the team?”

Georgia's fake grin grew genuine. “Oh, they're wonderful! Connor Blythe, the Keeper, he put in his notice that he's only going to do one more season after this one and he told me he's recommending me to take his spot. Me! And I've only been on the team for a year!”

“That's wonderful!” Albus exclaimed. “You'll have to get me tickets to your first match.”

“Oh, I expect everyone in the family to be there at my first match as permanent Keeper,” Georgia said. “And I want Dad right there in the front row, cheering me on.”

“Well, if he wins, he'll have to keep supporting you,” Albus pointed out.

“Yes, well, I want it to be real,” Georgia said. “We'll see.”

“Could everyone please take their seats?” Kendrick announced in a magically amplified voice.

Georgia left and went to her own seat, as did everyone else who was still standing. The room grew quiet and Kendrick took a few steps forward.

“Thank you. I'd like to welcome you all to Hogwarts. This is the last debate of the election and I appreciate the Ministry allowing Hogwarts to take such a big role in it. It has been a wonderful learning opportunity for staff and students alike. Remember, Wednesday is election day, so please cast your votes. Now, I would like to introduce today's moderator, a man who needs no introduction, Mr. Harry Potter, Head of the Auror Department!”

The room erupted in thunderous applause. It seemed that no matter how Laurentis tried to discredit Albus's dad, no one could take away the fact that he remained the Boy Who Lived.

Harry walked forward and took his place behind the moderator's podium. “Thank you, thank you,” he said and the crowd grew quiet once more. “Now, please welcome our candidates, Mr. Percy Weasley and Ms. Patricia Laurentis.”

The candidates received considerably less applause than Harry did, something Albus found incredibly funny. If his dad ever decided to run for Minister he'd have the thing won before the race even began.

“I am sure both our candidates know the rules by now. Five minute answers and five minute rebuttals,” Harry began. “Mr. Weasley, you will begin.”

Albus had to stifle his laughter at the fact that this dad called Uncle Percy 'Mr. Weasley.'

“The first question is very general,” Harry said. “In your opinion, how is Britain's relationship with its foreign neighbors? Should the Ministry be making more of an effort to work with its neighbors or are things fine as they are?”

“I think overall our ministry has a good relationship with foreign ministries and governments,” Percy began. “We have no current feuds with any foreign countries and all foreign talks have gone well in the past few years. However, I believe there is always room for improvement when speaking of relationships with other countries. There are always chances to reach out to our neighbors, and you never know when such relationships will be necessary.”

“Ms. Laurentis.”

“My opponent makes fair points,” Laurentis said. “And while I feel that furthering our relationships with foreign ministries is an excellent idea, I wonder if that is really where our energies should be focused right now. There are many issues we need to address here at home, and as Mr. Weasley said, our current relationships with foreign nations are good.”

“The Department of International Magical Cooperation deals solely with international magical cooperation,” Percy pointed out. “Working to fix issues at home is obviously a good idea, but what do you suppose this department does while we do that?”

“Well, yes, of course, that department is always working on international issues,” Laurentis said. “I was merely speaking of the Minister and his immediate officials.”

“Thank you,” Harry said. “Next question. The topic of changing the classification of werewolves from Beasts to Beings was brought up at the last debate. Both of you expressed no desire to bring this up with the international community. Have either of you changed your position on this in light of the recent capture of Fenrir Greyback? If not, will you explain in more detail why you feel the way you do? Ms. Laurentis, you may begin.”

Albus glanced at Matt. Maybe now they'd figure out exactly why Uncle Percy didn't want to change the werewolf classification, more than just it wasn't worth the effort.

“The capture of Fenrir Greyback was undoubtedly a success. I hope nobody has misconstrued my words on that. The fact that it was done without any injuries, let alone fatalities, was nothing short of amazing. The Aurors and Werewolf Control Unit employees who executed the plan of capture are to be applauded. However, I fail to see why the capture of one werewolf should affect our decisions on the group as a whole. If anything, if werewolves had been classified as Beings during that capture the Aurors and Werewolf Control Unit employees would not have been able to use the methods of capture they used. To be honest, I fail to see any benefits of reclassification.”

Albus felt Matt tense next to him. Laurentis really was clueless, wasn't she?

“Mr. Weasley.”

“I agree with my opponent about the capture of Fenrir Greyback. However, I disagree with her about the potential benefits of reclassification. First, the Aurors and Werewolf Control Unit employees could have used the same methods they used last night, as Head of Department Walter Eckerton does not allow any method of capture that would not be allowed if werewolves were classified as Beings. In terms of Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures rules and regulations, werewolves are to be treated as Beings. This has been the case since Eckerton took over as Head over a year ago. Perhaps Ms. Laurentis is unaware of this fact.

“As for benefits, those with lycanthropy would be able to secure jobs far more easily and would have the same rights given to goblins, house-elves, centaurs, vampires, and humans alike.”

Apparently his uncle had much more of an opinion than the one he gave at the last debate, Albus thought.

“Your time is up, Mr. Weasley,” Harry said. “Your rebuttal, Ms. Laurentis.”

“Then perhaps Walter Eckerton ought to take another look at the law,” Laurentis began. “Because it is perfectly legal of him to use more harsh methods to bring werewolves into capture. But since this capture was a roaring success, I will not fault him for that. As for werewolf rights, I have yet to hear of any complaints by werewolves about their rights.”

“That's because they don't complain to you,” Matt muttered under his breath.

“Your rebuttal, Mr. Weasley.”

“As I did not have time to fully answer the question, I will continue,” Percy said. “While it would be beneficial for werewolves if they were reclassified as Beings, I do not think it's feasible. It would require agreement from all nations, which is frankly asking a lot. I know for a fact Australia would never be on board, and considering our rocky relationship with that particular country, I do not feel it is in our best interests to begin talks of the reclassification of werewolves. In conclusion, I feel it would be a worthwhile endeavor, but given the unlikelihood of it amounting to anything, it would be a waste of manpower.”

“Thank you,” Harry said. “Next question. In regards to our rocky relationship with Australia, as Mr. Weasley put it, do you feel it would be beneficial to continue trying to get Ralph Lubar extradited to the United Kingdom? Mr. Weasley.”

Albus glanced at his watch. Whoever betted on forty minutes would be very happy, he thought. Albus had been hoping this topic wouldn't be brought up, but he supposed it was too big of an issue not to be.

“If elected I would defer this decision to the Department of International Magical Cooperation, since they possess the necessary expertise on the subject. However, it is my personal belief that it would be worth pursuing. I believe it is important to send a message that Ministry employees, even high-ranking officials such as Ralph Lubar, are not above the law. What Lubar did was terrible and in no world should he get away with it.”

“Ms. Laurenits.”

“Notice how Mr. Weasley did not mention that his nephew was one of the children kidnapped by Lubar,” Laurentis pointed out. “I think this might cloud his judgement a little. I disagree with him about this particular topic. We've been trying to have Ralph Lubar extradited for nearly a year and Australia has not budged. Why bother continuing to make efforts toward this when it is clear they will be fruitless?”

“If we give up, it will be telling the public that anyone can go commit a crime in another country and not be punished,” Percy said. “More than that, it demonstrates the corruption of the Australian government and having our citizens believe their government to be corrupt will not help international magical cooperation.”

“The possible corruption of the Australian government is not any of our business at the current time. We cannot force them to extradite Ralph Lubar and it is my personal opinion that they will never do so. I daresay that the Department of International Magical Cooperation has more pressing matters to deal with.”

“Thank you both,” Harry said. “We have time for one more question, but in light of the fact that the election is on Wednesday, I am going to give each of the candidates a chance to make a general speech instead. Mr. Weasley, you may speak first.”

“Thank you, Harry.”

Percy seemed unable to call Harry 'Mr. Potter.' Albus giggled at this.

“I would like to thank Professor Kendrick and the rest of the Hogwarts staff for being so accommodating, as well as the students. None of the students sitting in this room right now were alive before the Ministry was reorganized in 1998 through 2001. None of the students in this room were alive during Voldemort's reign of terror. They read about both of these in history books, because to them, it is simply history. To me, and the rest of the adults in this room, the previous Ministry and Voldemort are our past, our memories. We remember the terror, the unknown, the fear.

“I was a part of the reorganization of the Ministry. We all know the years that have followed- the years where we have lived without fear, without terror, without the unknown. I have been with the Ministry every step of the way since Voldemort's defeat and I will make it my duty to continue the peace that we've had for over twenty years. I will keep this short because I, like most of you surely do, believe that the best speech is a short speech. If you want a Minister who will continue the success of Minister Hartwell's time in office, vote for me, Percy Weasley, on Wednesday. Thank you.”

There was a smattering of applause, but it didn't last long. Albus had a feeling that most of the rest of the students wanted the election to be over.

“My opponent routinely brings up the past. He speaks of the war, Voldemort, and the old Ministry, but never once has he discussed the future, except in vague statements about keeping things the same. It's true that I was not involved with the reorganization of the Ministry over twenty years ago. I got into politics later in life. But I do not feel that this will make me an inferior minister, nor do I think it will be particularly beneficial to Mr. Weasley.

“History is just that. History. We certainly need to learn from our history to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes we did before, but it is not necessary to have lived through history to be a successful leader. There are plenty of Ministry employees, even a few high-ranking officials, who were not here during Voldemort's reign. Walter Eckerton, for example, did not live in Britain during Voldemort's reign. Yet he very successfully runs the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.

“In short, I believe we need to focus on our future rather than our past. If elected minister I will make progressive changes in not only our ministry and laws, but our educational system as well. Things have been ran the same for over twenty years, and while I am not denying the success, I think we have needed change for a while. Escaped prisoners are running free. Hogwarts lessons are being taught the same way they were when these children's grandparents were in school. The ministry, along with its laws and policies, needs to adapt as the years go by. If you feel change is needed, if you are at all upset about the way things are, vote for me, Patricia Laurentis, on Wednesday.”

There was another smattering off applause. Albus didn't clap at all and neither did any of his cousins. If the election was based upon familial support, Percy would have it in the bag.

“I think your uncle may have won my parents' support back,” Matt said as they left the Great Hall.

“Yeah, he made himself sound a bit better today,” Albus replied. “Laurentis just doesn't get it.”

“Nope,” Matt said. “But she doesn't seem to have an issue with my dad, which is good if she gets elected.”

“What if she wins and she stops trying to get Lubar extradited?” Rose asked as they met up with John.

“She can't. The man is insane,” John said.

“Honestly, I think it would be better if he wasn't extradited,” Matt said quietly.

“Why?” John asked incredulously. “He kidnapped us and tried to bring Voldemort back!”

“He wasn't really a part of that,” Matt said. “That was the Willinsons.”

“But still,” Albus said. “Why?”

“Because if he gets extradited he's going to be angry,” Matt explained. “He's got quite a temper. And when he doesn't get his way he attempts to ruin the lives of those who stand in his way. Just think about it. If he were brought back here, what's stopping him from making my...condition...public?”

“He couldn't do that,” Albus said. “It's illegal.”

“You think Lubar would care? He did it in Australia!” Matt snapped. “He's already broken the law. And even if he got in trouble for it nothing could take what he said back. It sucks that he's not getting punished, but I think it would be better if the world just forgot about the whole thing.”

Albus hadn't thought about it like that before. Matt did have a point. But there was a part of Albus that just wanted to see Lubar behind bars.

“Plus, there's no way Australia will extradite him,” Matt said. “Your uncle and Laurentis are both right about one thing. The Australian government is very corrupt, and I don't think anything will happen until that corruption ends. Lubar won't be punished, and werewolves won't get reclassified as Beings.”

“So even though you moved, the Australian government still has some control over your life,” John said. “That's messed up.”

“Yeah, it really is,” Matt agreed. “But it's the way the world works.”
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A/N: Thanks for all the reviews! Once again, I'd like to shamelessly plug my stories for Dobby nominations! Head over to the forums to nominate my (or any other) stories for a Dobby award! Be sure to read the rules before nominating.

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Albus had been hoping classes would be suspended the day of the election, but there was no such luck. Kendrick organized it so that the Great Hall would be the polling place and that voting would not affect the general student body. Hogwarts was the designated polling place for the district it was in, so there would be other people coming to the school to vote. Albus's cousins who were of age (Bradley, Fred, and Heather) all voted after breakfast, as soon as the polling station had been set up.

Albus and his friends spent most of Herbology watching people walking from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts in order to vote. It was very distracting and Neville didn't bother telling people to get back on task.

“When are we going to know who won?” John asked as they walked back to the castle for Defense.

“It'll be in the Prophet tomorrow morning,” Albus said. “That's the official notice, but I'm sure we'll find out earlier. Bradley and Cedric have to go to the end of the election party tonight. It starts at six and the polls close at eight. They're announcing the winner at the party at eight-thirty. Bradley and Cedric will be back after that and I give it about five minutes to spread around the castle.”

John laughed. “You don't have to go to the party?”

Albus shook his head. “My parents gave me the choice. I said no. James and Lily aren't going, either.”

“What about you two?” John asked Rose and Matt.

“No,” Rose said. Matt shook his head.

“Good,” John said. “We should have our own party here. A party to celebrate the end of this election. Maybe it'll mean Embry will let up on the essays. Anyone else writing their debate essay during Defense today?”

For the past few months most people had used Defense as a study hall. The worksheets Young assigned never took longer than fifteen minutes and he didn't seem to care what his students did with the rest of the class. Just as long as they weren't being loud. Albus didn't think anyone had used any Skiving Snackbox sweets in Defense this year, since there wasn't much point.

Albus, Matt, and Amanda all still needed to write their essays as well. Rose had written hers immediately following the debate, but the rest of them didn't see the need to do it right away.

“I can always finish it in History of Magic, too,” John said as they entered the castle.

“Let's go peek in the Great Hall,” Albus said as he led his friends over to the right.

Albus glanced inside and saw that there were four small cubicles curtained off where the staff table should've been. A short queue of people were off to one side and seemed to be waiting their turn for the cubicles. It didn't seem very exciting.

“Any comment on the election?”

Albus turned and saw a reporter lurking near the doorway. He didn't recognize this particular reporter.

“No, thanks,” Albus said as he steered the group away from the Great Hall, and thus away from the reporter.

“I don't think they're allowed inside,” Rose mentioned. “So they can't bother people who are voting.”

“That makes sense,” Amanda said. “Well, let's go get those essays done with. Then we'll never have to write essays on debates again.”

Albus nodded. No more debate essays. Now that would be a good thing.

The remainder of the day passed quickly. Albus, Matt, and Amanda managed to finish their essays during Defense, but John only got halfway done. Voting was suspended during lunch and then again at dinner. Albus overheard a few of the sixth and seventh years talking about voting and the election during dinner. A couple of Ravenclaws even got into an argument about it.

“Let's make a pact now not to get in any fights over the next election when we can all vote,” Rose said as they watched one of the arguing Ravenclaws storm out of the Great Hall.

The rest of the group heartily agreed. Albus couldn't imagine ruining a friendship over something as silly as an election.

“This party that Bradley and Cedric are going to,” John began, “it's for both your uncle and Laurentis?”

“Yeah,” Albus said.

“That's going to be awkward when they announce the winner,” John said with a laugh.

“It's supposed to promote good sportsmanship and that sort of thing,” Rose explained.

“Still...I can't imagine Laurentis being a good sport,” John said.

After dinner Albus and his friends returned to the common room, deciding that it might be interesting to spend the evening there rather than the Marauder's Den. They also wanted to hear firsthand from Bradley and Cedric who won.

The common room had the distinct feel that Gryffindor had just won a Quidditch match. James, Fred, Heather, Mark, and Ben had taken it upon themselves to have a party to celebrate the end of the election and thus the end of debates and essays on debates. There were cases of Butterbeer and trays of biscuits and nobody was working on any homework.

“Maybe now things can get back to normal,” Albus said as he opened a Butterbeer.

“If Uncle Percy wins things will never be normal again,” Rose pointed out.

Albus shrugged. “I don't know. Amanda seems fairly normal and her uncle's the Prime Minister.”

“That's because nobody here cares about the Prime Minister,” Amanda said. “At home everyone knows I'm the niece of the Prime Minister. My sister and brother certainly aren't anonymous at their schools. My sister's at university now and she says it's a bit better than it was in secondary school.”

“Albus, you're Harry Potter's son,” John said flatly. “No matter what happens, you're going to be well-known.”

Albus supposed that was true, but sometimes he wished it wasn't. Sometimes, he wished he could make his own way in the world and not have his dad's name tied to him.

“Did you ever get the map back from your dad?” Matt asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“Just curious,” Matt said.

Albus reached into his bag and pulled the map out. He'd taken to carrying it around with him all the time, but he wasn't sure why. After setting it down on the table he revealed it and focused on the part that showed Hogwarts.

“There's still a bunch of people voting,” Albus said, gesturing to the Great Hall. About a half dozen or so dots were milling about.

“Madam Rosmerta's there,” Amanda pointed out. “I wonder who she's voting for.”

“No idea,” Albus said. He glanced at his watch. “Half hour until the polls close.”

“How long do you think Bradley and Cedric will stay?” Kaden asked.

“Probably not long after the announcement is made,” Albus answered. “They don't really like going to those things.”

“Albus,” John said, pointing to the map. “Is it just me or is Malfoy going into Moaning Myrtle's toilet?”

Albus peered down at the map. Sure enough, a dot labeled 'Scorpius Malfoy' had just entered the second floor girl's lavatory. That didn't make any sense.

“What the hell is he doing in there?” Matt exclaimed. “Why would anyone go in there?”

“Myrtle's there,” John commented. “Look, she's floating over toward him.”

“But why?” Albus asked, still utterly confused. “Why would a bloke go in there?”

“Maybe the map made a mistake?” Kaden suggested.

“Dad says the map never lies,” Albus explained. “Well, there's only one way to find out. Let's follow him.”

“Sounds good to me,” Amanda said as she stood up. “This party is getting boring anyway.”

John and Kaden nodded their heads in agreement. Rose raised her eyebrows.

“No way,” Matt said, shaking his head vehemently. “There aren't enough Galleons in the world.”

“Oh, come on, it's just a girl's loo,” Amanda said. “Look, there aren't even any girls in there besides Myrtle. And she's a ghost!”

John laughed. “Myrtle's got a bit of a crush.”

“John, shut up!” Matt said, his cheeks turning red.

Amanda and Rose burst out in laughter. “Seriously?” Amanda said.

“Yeah, we had detention in there once,” John explained. “Myrtle spent the whole time flirting with Matt. It was hilarious.”

“I said, shut it!” Matt shouted.

“Oh, come on, she's just a ghost.”

“I'm not going. I refuse.”

“Fine,” John said. “Suit yourself. Rose?”

“I'll stay here, thanks,” Rose said. “You're wasting your time anyway. It's not like he'll tell you anything.”

Albus didn't care. He still liked the idea of going because it felt like he was doing something, making some sort of progress on figuring out why Malfoy had been acting so oddly the past few months.

They didn't bother bringing the Invisibility Cloak since there was still an hour left until curfew. On their way there, they spotted Peeves unscrewing chandeliers in honor of April Fool's Day, but ignored his cackles.

Albus watched the map as they went. Malfoy remained in the lavatory as they walked quickly down flights of stairs. But they got stuck on the stairs leading to the second floor corridor, after the stairs decided to lead them directly to the first floor rather than the second.

“He's leaving!” Albus exclaimed as they got back on the stairs after their slight detour.

“Maybe we can catch him on his way back to the dungeons,” Amanda suggested.

Albus nodded. “Let's wait here, then.”

Their current location gave them an excellent view of the Great Hall. A few Ministry officials were currently carrying pieces of the voting cubicles out of the room, polling clearly over. It would only be about a half hour until they had a new Minister of Magic.

John nudged Albus. “There he is.”

Albus turned away from the Great Hall and saw Malfoy walking down the staircase. He looked extremely determined.

“Malfoy,” Albus said.

“Potter,” Malfoy replied.

Albus suddenly had no idea how he was going to ask Malfoy about why he was in the girl's loo without revealing the map. If they caught him in there it would've been easy to say they saw him going in there, but now he was just walking down the stairs, perfectly innocently. He'd have to be really careful about it.

“So why were you in a girl's loo?” Amanda asked.

So much for being careful, Albus thought.

Malfoy paled. “Er, I wasn't.”

“Yes, you were,” Amanda said. “I was in there, too. Second floor, Moaning Myrtle's toilet? Ring any bells?”

“That loo was empty,” Malfoy said quickly. “I checked.”

“Next time check a bit harder,” Amanda said. “I was in the last stall and when I heard you come in I had to stay there because you're a bloke and it would just be weird to come out of a bathroom stall and come face to face with a bloke. I heard you talking to Myrtle, though.”

“I...er...that's not any of your...business,” Malfoy stammered.

“Then don't conduct your business in a girl's loo,” Amanda said with a laugh. “Let's go. We don't want to miss the news about the new minister. Clearly Malfoy's a bit unhinged.”

Amanda turned and set off up the stairs. Albus, John, and Kaden followed, leaving Malfoy frozen in their wake. Albus glanced back and saw that he was still as pale as Matt is right before a full moon.

“Amanda, what was that?” John exclaimed once they'd reached the second floor.

“That felt good,” Amanda said. “He just really irritates me, and this time we had something on him. I could tell Al didn't know how to ask him without telling him about the map. But I figured it'd be pretty easy to pretend I'd been in the loo with him.”

“That's brilliant,” John said.

Amanda grinned. “I have my moments.”

“Whatever it was, I don't think he'll be going in that loo anymore,” Albus said. “I just wish we'd figured out why he was in there in the first place.”

“Seriously,” John said. “The only way you'd catch me in a girl's loo is if you paid me a load of Galleons.”

“Or you got detention.” Amanda smirked.

“That doesn't count,” John said.

“Oh, shut it, both of you,” Albus said. “Let's hurry up and get back to the common room.”

When Albus, John, Kaden, and Amanda returned to the common room they were greeted by loud groans and sighing. Confused, Albus turned to his brother, who was nearest the portrait hole.

“We thought you lot were Bradley and Cedric,” James said.

“James, it's not even eight-thirty yet,” Albus pointed out. “They won't be back for at least a half hour.”

“Oh, right.”

Rose and Matt were in the middle of a game of chess. Matt was losing spectacularly.

“Did you find him?” Matt asked as Rose's bishop crushed his queen.

“Yeah, but not in the loo,” Albus said. “Caught him on his way back to his common room. He wouldn't tell us a thing.”

“Of course he didn't,” Matt said. “And he probably denied he was in the loo anyway.”

“He would've,” Albus said. “But Amanda told him she'd been in there and then told him off for being there. It was brilliant.”

“Wish I could've seen that. I've always wanted to tell off Malfoy.”

“You should've come,” John said. “We didn't even see Myrtle.”

“Still...not taking any chances,” Matt said. “King to D6.”

Rose instructed her knight to move closer to Matt's king. “Checkmate.

Matt sighed. “One day, I'll win.”

“Me next!” Kaden exclaimed. Everyone else laughed. “What? I've gotten better,” Kaden muttered.

Albus, John, Matt, and Amanda settled down to watch as Rose clobbered Kaden. Albus could've sworn he saw Kaden's chessmen quiver as they were set up on the board. Rose's queen was most definitely grinning maliciously. Over the next half hour Kaden's pieces were viciously slaughtered by Rose's, but not without putting up a fight. Kaden was in fact getting better.

“Exploding Snap?” Matt asked after Rose and Kaden repaired their chessmen.

“Yeah, all right,” Albus agreed. The others nodded.

Albus ran up to his dormitory to retrieve his Exploding Snap cards. As he returned, the portrait hole opened.

The entire common room froze and was silent. Not a single person moved. Not a single person said a word. Even the first years, who had been tossing a Quaffle around, were still. Albus stood on the bottom step to the dormitories and waited.

Bradley walked inside, followed by Cedric. Neither seemed overly excited, but that didn't mean that Percy hadn't won. After all, they, like Albus, didn't really want Percy to be Minister, but they didn't want Laurentis as Minister either.

“Well?” James asked.

“Dad lost,” Bradley said quietly. He whispered something to James and then he turned and left the common room, followed by Cedric.

Albus couldn't believe it. He hadn't realized it until now, but he truly had believed that Uncle Percy would win. He had the support of Harry Potter. Didn't that mean anything anymore?

Albus returned to his friends and set the box of cards down on the table. He sat down and didn't say a word.

“What does this mean?” Amanda asked quietly. “Will she do everything she said she was going to do?”

“That and probably worse, too,” Albus said.

James walked up to the table. “Al, Rose, we're all going to the Room of Requirement. Bradley and Cedric want to give us more details.” He glanced the rest of the group. “Sorry, family only.”

“We'll see you later,” Albus said as he and Rose stood up.

Albus, James, and Rose walked to the Room of Requirement in silence. When they arrived they saw that the door was already there. They walked inside.

The rest of their cousins had already arrived. Albus took a seat on the last remaining couch and James and Rose sat on either side of him. Nobody was speaking, so he glanced around and watched all of his cousins.

Bradley, Cedric, Heather, Mark, Ben, Fred, Hugo, Lily, James, Rose, and Angie. And himself. They were the middle group of cousins. Not the oldest, not the youngest, but the ones in the middle, who never did anything first and never did anything last. They weren't the first to go to Hogwarts and they wouldn't be the last to graduate. They stood by each other, through the good and through the bad.

Bradley and Cedric weren't seated. They were standing at the front of the room, near its door. The entire room was decorated like the den in the Burrow, with mismatched furniture and organized chaos everywhere. Albus liked it.

“Well, Dad lost,” Bradley finally said. “I already told you that...but yeah. It was close. He only lost by a couple hundred votes.

“How did he take it?” Heather asked.

“Graciously,” Bradley answered. “Thanked everyone for their support and shook Laurentis's hand, of course.”

Albus wasn't surprised. Uncle Percy had and always would be the epitome of a polite politician. But maybe that wasn't enough to get elected.

“Is it terrible that I'm happy he lost?” Cedric asked as he squeezed onto the couch between James and Albus. “Because I am, kind of.”

“Just a bit,” Heather said. “What is Uncle Percy going to do now? I doubt Laurentis will keep him on.”

“I hadn't even thought of that,” Bradley said.

Neither had Albus, but it made sense. Percy was still employed by the Ministry, but his job was one of those jobs selected by the minister.

“He's always worked for the Ministry,” Bradley continued. “I don't think he could do anything else.”

The room descended into silence. Nobody seemed to know what to say, Albus included. His feelings on his uncle becoming minister had been all over the place for the past seven months, but now that Percy had actually lost, all Albus felt was disappointment. It was strange. Just last week he had been kind of hoping Percy would lose, and now that he had, Albus felt the complete opposite.

It was already past curfew for Lily, Hugo, and Angie, but nobody was telling them to go back to the common room. Albus was vaguely curious about what was going on in the common room, but not curious enough to actually go back. Matt, John, Kaden, and Amanda would tell him later.

What Albus was really worried about, more than anything, was what Laurentis was going to do to both the Ministry and Hogwarts. Laurentis had made it clear that she was going to change the school, but Albus liked it the way it was. Then there were the changes to the Ministry, such as the dementors. How long would it take for Laurentis to bring them back? Surely she had to go through proper channels to do it.

James, Bradley, and Cedric were the first to return to the common room, claiming they had to make good on all the bets they'd taken. Albus had a feeling all three of them were now slightly in debt. Albus and Rose returned a few minutes later, leaving the rest of their cousins talking quietly in the Room of Requirement.

When they returned Matt, John, and Kaden were playing Exploding Snap. Amanda was writing a letter.

“Who are you writing to?” Rose asked.

“My uncle,” Amanda answered. “I've been keeping him updated on the election. He says he likes hearing it from me rather than waiting until the new minister arrives to meet him.”

“Your uncle meets the Minister of Magic?” John asked.

“Well, yes,” Amanda said. “The two worlds do have to coexist. Sometimes there are problems that affect both. Voldemort, for instance. And Hartwell personally told my uncle about the escaped Death Eaters.”

“That's so weird,” John said.

“I told you about it earlier in the year,” Amanda pointed out. “That's the only reason I got to go to Hogwarts. My parents changed their minds at the last minute and happened to mention it to my uncle, laughing about the fact that they'd actually said I could go. And then my uncle told them it was all true.”

“I wonder how often that happens,” Albus mused, “Muggleborns not being able to go to Hogwarts because their parents don't believe.”

Amanda shrugged. “I'm just lucky I wasn't one of them.”

“I think we all need a distraction,” Rose said and turned to Kaden, whose face was covered in ash. “Deal out the cards again. Let's play until we're too tired.”

Albus heartily agreed, and that was exactly what they did. Two hours later, all of their faces ashen, they were finally tired. But when Albus climbed into bed, his thoughts began racing and he found himself unable to sleep.
________________________________________

A/N: Sorry for the late update! My birthday is tomorrow so I had friends up for the weekend and completely forgot. Thanks for all the reviews!

________________________________________
The next day's edition of the Prophet was devoted entirely to election day and Laurentis's win. The winner did not surprise anyone in Hogwarts since Bradley and Cedric had spread that as soon as they returned. Albus still read the entire front page article at breakfast and he was glad he did, because the article still held surprises.

LAURENTIS WINS; BEGINS APPOINTING POSITIONS

In the closest race for Minister of Magic to
date, candidate Patricia Laurentis won the
position last night. Polls closed at eight,
with the official winner announced at a closed
party at the Minister's Mansion at eight-thirty.
Laurentis won by a mere 342 votes, which is the
closest race we have ever seen.

'I am of course very pleased with this turn of
events,' Laurentis said at the Minister's
Mansion after the announcement was made. 'I am
very excited to be sworn in as Minister of
Magic on May first. I feel I will be able to
give the public what they need, for they have
spoken and now it is my duty to give them what
I promised during my campaign. I of course
offer my condolences to Percy Weasley. He truly
was a pleasure to run against over the past
seven months.'

'I offer my congratulations to my opponent,' Percy
Weasley said to Daily Prophet reporters at the
Minister's Mansion. 'We both campaigned hard
and she won, fair and square. I am disappointed,
of course, but I still congratulate her.'

Over the next month Laurentis will decide who
she wishes to appoint to top Ministry positions,
before she is sworn in as Minister of Magic on
May first of this year. Laurentis is wasting no
time with this, as she was seen at the Ministry
earlier this morning. 'I already have people
picked out for most positions,' she said upon
questioning. 'I will be keeping a few of the
current officials, but I will be replacing quite
a few in order to better unite the Ministry.'

One person has already confirmed his intentions
to take Laurentis up on her offer of a position.
Ironically, he is set to take over Percy Weasley's
current position under Minister Hartwell. 'I am
very pleased to announce that Draco Malfoy is
going to take the position of Senior
Undersecretary for the Drafting and Editing
of Laws. Draco Malfoy has been a friend of mine
for many years as we have worked together in the
Azkaban Division for nearly a decade. I am very
excited to continue working with him.'

Laurentis plans to announce the names of her
officials as they confirm throughout the month.

“Malfoy's dad?” Albus exclaimed, in shock. “Since when is he chummy with Laurentis?”

“Malfoy never said a word,” Matt added, his eyes large.

“Of course he didn't,” Rose said. “We're not exactly his friends.”

“Wait, remember in Hogsmeade back in October?” Albus replied. “When he talked about how my family won't be running the wizarding world for long? Not that my family has ever ran the wizarding world... But he seemed to know something we didn't.”

“This must be it,” John said, staring at the paper. “That's a pretty top position, isn't it?”

“Second highest for drafting laws,” Rose said. “Given his relationship with Laurentis anything he drafts will most likely pass.”

“And who knows what his views are,” Albus said, craning his neck to see the Slytherin table. “Malfoy's over there. I can't quite see his face, though.”

“I'm sure he'll have something to say to you in Potions,” Amanda pointed out.

Albus had quite a few hours to wait to find out just what exactly Malfoy would have to say to them. History of Magic, his first class of the day, was as boring as ever. Professor Binns showed absolutely no recognition that the election had taken place the previous day. Professor Patil was the complete opposite, making no move to cover up her indignation at Laurentis's win, which led her to blow up the desk she was attempting to transfigure.

“Do you think Laurentis will actually have teachers sacked?” John asked as they walked to the Great Hall for lunch. “Because if she does, Patil won't stand a chance.”

Albus shook his head. “Only if they're really awful teachers. Umbridge sacked a few in my dad's fifth year and I think people will be outraged if Laurentis does the same thing. Honestly, I think Binns and Young are the only ones in danger.”

“Could you sack a ghost?” John asked. “I mean, where would he go?”

“He'd probably stick around and still try to teach,” Albus said. “I can't imagine it would go over well.”

“And Young can't get sacked,” John lamented. “That's where I do all my homework.”

Albus secretly agreed, but didn't say anything because Rose snorted in disgust.

Malfoy was waiting outside the potions dungeon when Albus and his friends arrived after lunch. Gone from his face was the unsettled and partially sad look, replaced by Malfoy's usual haughty smug. Clearly his dad getting a top Ministry position had changed something.

“Hey, Potter,” Malfoy greeted him. “Congratulations to your uncle on his loss. Can't thank him enough for that.”

“I'll be sure to tell him,” Albus replied. “He'll be thrilled that he made a Malfoy happy. Must be nice that your dad's got some actual power now.”

“And yours won't have any for long,” Malfoy said. “Just another month.”

“Nothing's set for sure about the Auror Department,” Albus countered.

Malfoy laughed. “I think I might know a bit more than you on that. Laurentis was over at my house for dinner last week.”

“And you were here,” Albus said. “You never mentioned that your dad's friends with Laurentis.”

“It never came up.”

“Well now that you're all happy again maybe you'll actually show up for this month's dueling tournament?”

That wiped the smirk off Malfoy's face. He turned stony and took a step closer to Albus. “Don't say a word about that. It's none of your business.”

“Touchy,” John commented.

“Stuff it, Brickston. This doesn't concern you. Your parents will have power in the Ministry the day Hagrid adopts a normal pet.”

“We'll see who's got the power the moment one of your family winds up at St. Mungo's,” John snapped.

Malfoy paled. “Just shut up. The point is, my dad's going to have a better position than yours.”

“Nobody cares what your dad does for a living,” Matt said.

“Nobody asked you. At least my dad doesn't bring his work home with him.” Malfoy laughed.

John whipped out his wand. “You always take it one too far, don't you, Malfoy?”

Malfoy took out his wand as well. “I could say the same about you, Brickston.”

“Wands away, boys.”

Albus turned and saw Professor Slughorn standing in the doorway. He breathed a sigh of relief. The last thing John needed was another detention.

“Get inside. Class is starting in one minute.”

Both John and Malfoy were lucky they didn't get detention, Albus thought. Neither of them had thrown any hexes, but a stricter teacher would've handed out detention just for having their wands drawn. Not Slughorn, though. Albus got the sense that Slughorn didn't like handing out detentions, probably because that meant having to supervise them.
***


The following few days passed without anymore position announcements from Laurentis. In fact, it was a relatively quiet few days, especially when compared with the past seven months. For the first time all year, there was little coverage of the election, that is until they had politics on Tuesday. At the end of the lesson, Embry reminded them of their research essays on their representatives, an assignment that had completely slipped Albus's mind. It was due in two days.

Apparently, it had slipped John and Matt's minds as well. Rose and Amanda had been diligently working on theirs all week, only needing to write their conclusions. Amanda had even asked her uncle for help, devoting part of her essay to the similarities and differences between the wizarding and Muggle governments.

“I guess we'll be spending the evening in the library,” Albus said as they headed to the Great Hall for dinner.”

“Dammit,” Matt muttered. “I'm going to have to write the entire thing tonight. The full moon's tomorrow.”

“Usually you're much better about remembering to do assignments before that,” Rose commented.

“I know, but with the election and everything, I forgot,” Matt said.

“But you'll be missing class on Thursday,” John pointed out. “So you can turn it in Tuesday and get four extra days.”

“I've never done that with long-term assignments,” Matt said. “I don't want to start now. Albus can turn it in, like usual.”

“Let's eat fast, then,” Albus said as they entered the Great Hall.

“Hey, Amanda, want to take a walk around the lake before we write our conclusions?” Rose asked. “The weather's so nice tonight we might as well take advantage.”

“Of course!” Amanda agreed. “Can't let that go to waste.”

“Oh, shut up,” Albus muttered.

Forty-five minutes later Albus, Matt, John, and Kaden had taken over one of the larger tables in the library. Kaden had joined them since he had a Transfiguration essay due the next day and divination predictions to do. Albus was considering hexing two first years at the table next to them who kept giggling, if Madam Pince didn't get to them first. He wished that one of his friends lived in his district; it would make this so much easier.

Albus did have a distinct advantage over both Matt and John, in that his representative was far more well-known than theirs. Oliver Prang, who had been serving the North London district, was on his fourth consecutive term, which amounted to over fifteen years. That was more than Albus's entire life. London in itself was a location that required far more attention than other areas of the country, which resulted in far more information being available on it. John was able to locate a fair amount of information on his representative, Nadine Abernathy, but Matt, since he lived in one of the most remote areas of England, had difficulty locating information on Marcus Whitby.

“Does this bloke even exist?” Matt asked as he looked through the very last archived copy of the Prophet that was published during Whitby's one term. “Oh, here we go. Lovely. Now I know he exists. Here's a sentence that mentions he won the election. And of course he won. He didn't have any opponents.” Matt groaned and banged his head repeatedly on the table. “This is hopeless.”

“You've still got all the minutes from Wizengamot meetings,” Albus said, pointing to the three large stacks of paper in the middle of the table. He really did feel bad for Matt, though. It was bad enough having to do a paper like this, but having to do it when the full moon was only two days away?

“I could probably just make stuff up,” Matt said as he took the top few pages. “I mean, honestly, could Embry possibly know anything about Marcus Whitby? It's the least densely populated district in all of England.”

“Embry probably knows everything about everyone,” John said. “There. I've got my intro. Look at it this way. Your bloke's only been in office for a year. So you've got far less stuff to look through. It won't take as long.”

“But if there isn't anything, then that doesn't help,” Matt muttered. “Have you even read anything?”

“A bit.” John shrugged. “Nadine Abernathy's on her second term, so there's not as much as Albus has got. But I read enough to write the intro. Now I'll read a bit more.”

“You have a weird way of doing research.”

Albus glanced up and saw that Rose and Amanda had returned, bags in hand. They sat down and pulled out their own essays, which looked very long.

Matt tossed the papers he'd been looking at onto his rejection pile, which was so disorderly that Madam Pince would probably have a heart attack if she saw it. He then let out a loud sigh and put his head in his hands.

“Could you please take pity on him?” Albus asked Rose.

Rose looked up from her essay. “I told you. You're all doing this yourselves.”

“His representative has only been in office for a year,” Albus explained. “And the only thing he's found is one sentence in a Prophet from a year ago saying he won the election, which was against nobody. And the full moon is tomorrow.”

“Please, Rose?” Matt asked, picking his head up to look at her. His face was flushed and he looked very frustrated.

“Your parents should've moved somewhere less remote,” Kaden commented.

“They wanted to be in the middle of nowhere,” Matt said flatly. “They didn't want neighbors.”

Rose sighed. “Fine. But only because you look so pathetic. And mine was pretty hard, too, because my district is also remote. Just let me finish my conclusion.”

“Lucky,” John muttered. “I don't suppose you'd help-”

“Absolutely not, John Brickston,” Rose said and lowered her voice. “As soon as you turn into a wolf once a month I'll help you with your procrastination.”

Albus turned back to his own essay and over the next four hours managed to get it half done. He didn't think it was very good, but it was progress. John was about halfway done as well, so the two of them decided to call it a night. John settled in to help Kaden with his fake divination predictions. Matt was still working on his, with much coaching from Rose.

“Did you find anything?” Albus asked.

“A bit,” Rose said. “It's not much. This bloke seriously hasn't done anything. He's hardly mentioned in any of these minutes.”

Matt yawned. “How long does this have to be again?”

“A foot,” Rose answered. “You've got another four inches to go.”

“It's nearly ten,” Albus mentioned. “The library is going to close and we've already missed curfew.”

The library was now only filled with fifth through seventh years. It was certainly quieter.

“We should probably finish in the common room, then,” Rose said.

“I don't think I can,” Matt said. “Too tired. I'll finish it tomorrow since I'll probably skip afternoon classes anyway.”

The group packed up their things and walked quickly back to the common room. By some stroke of luck they managed to avoid the prefects and didn't get any detention from being out after curfew.

“No mandatory curfew tomorrow,” Kaden commented as they entered the common room.

“With Greyback caught they don't need to do it anymore,” Albus pointed out.

“Thank God,” Matt replied. “He won't be lurking around tomorrow.”

“I just hope your dad was able to help those parents with the two kids,” Rose said.

“He'll probably go do the wards himself,” Matt said. “At least for this month. And I'm sure they've got Wolfsbane this month.”

Albus nodded. It was going to be a better full moon for everyone involved.
***


Albus, Matt, and John managed to get their essays done in time and turned in on Thursday. The full moon was relatively normal, as full moons go, without any reports of werewolf attacks. Matt wound up in the hospital wing for two full days, having resorted to chewing on himself since the wolf no longer had the distraction of Greyback outside. But Albus had a feeling Matt preferred it that way. Greyback's presence was just too creepy and too unknown.

A few days after the full moon James returned to the common room fuming. Albus raised his eyebrows at his brother as he straightened a pile of career pamphlets that had once again appeared on the common room tables.

James stomped over to Albus's table, pulled up a chair, and squeezed himself between Albus and Matt. “Career advice,” he muttered.

“Did you just have it?” Albus asked.

“Yeah, with Longbottom,” James said. “Neville always seemed so nice when we were little and even in class he's easily the best professor here. But for career advice? He's terrible!”

“Well, what did you talk about?”

“Careers.”

Rose snorted. “Obviously.”

“He wants me to pick something now. I don't know what I want to do with my life. I'm only sixteen for God's sake!”

“I think you have to pick something so you can pick your N.E.W.T. classes next year,” Rose explained. “Otherwise the teachers don't know what to put you in.”

“I know that,” James snapped. “But I don't want to do anything that's going to require loads of N.E.W.T.s. I want to play Quidditch.”

Rose laughed. “He didn't like that?”

“No,” James muttered. “So I told him about Georgia. And then he said that it's not very common to be drafted by a professional team and that even Georgia had a back-up plan. That's news to me. As far as I know she's wanted to play Quidditch her whole life.”

“She was going to design brooms,” Rose said. “Still might, after she's done with Quidditch. Why don't you do that?”

“Neville suggested it. But it requires Arithmancy most of the time and I haven't even done O.W.L. Arithmancy. I just want to take the bare minimum of N.E.W.T.s and get done with it.”

“And of course Neville didn't like that,” Rose said. “Honestly, James, just pick something.”

“But I can't!” James said as he picked up a stack of pamphlets. “Look at these. Goblin Liaison, Gringott's Counterfeit Coin Checker, Security Troll Trainer. They're all dead boring.”

“There's loads of jobs in the Ministry and St. Mungo's,” Rose said.

James snorted. “No one would want me as their Healer.”

Albus had to agree with that. James had about the same ability to concentrate as a troll. “Hey, you could train security trolls.”

“I said that's boring. And I don't want to work for the Ministry. Not now that Laurentis has won. Just you lot wait. You'll have to go through this next year.”

“I already know what I want to do,” Rose said. “I'm going to be a Healer, specializing in psychiatry.”

“Of course you do,” James muttered.

“If it makes you feel better, mate, I've no idea what I want to do,” John said.

“Me either,” Kaden agreed.

“You're a third year,” James said flatly. “It doesn't matter that you don't know what you want to do. What about you, Al?”

Albus shrugged. He hadn't thought much about careers since the previous year when Balladanis told him he could be a Presuler. The idea was very tempting, but he didn't want to tell anyone else about it.

“I suppose it doesn't matter. The N.E.W.T.s I take are going to depend on which O.W.L.s I actually pass.”

“If you'd quit complaining and start studying you'd pass more of them,” Rose pointed out.

“I suppose you're right,” James said as he stood up. “Guess I'll go to the library.”

“James, wait!” Rose shouted as James neared the portrait hole. “Forgetting anything?”

James glanced down. “Oh, right. Books.”

James ran up to his dormitory and returned with his bag a minute later. Grinning at Albus and the others, he left the common room.

“I swear, I'm not sure how we're related,” Rose muttered.

“You're telling me,” Albus replied. “You're still set on the Healer thing?”

“More than ever,” Rose said. “It is weird, knowing exactly what I want to do this early.”

“You're like my sister,” Matt pointed out. “You two really are alike. It's kind of weird.”

“I like your sister,” Rose said. “So I'll take that as a compliment. What about you? Do you know what you want to do?”

Matt laughed and picked up the Gringott's pamphlet. “Considering that werewolves aren't going to be changed from Beasts to Beings anytime soon, I don't think I'm going to have many choices to pick from.”

“You never know,” Rose said. “Who knows what will happen between now and when we graduate. Things could change.”

“Still, it's doubtful,” Matt said, turning to Amanda. “Amanda? You were awfully quiet when James was here.”

“It's hard not to be. He's rather loud himself. I'm not sure. I think I want to do something in the Ministry, though. I want to make a difference.”

“Excellent,” Matt said. “You can change everyone's minds about changing the werewolf classification.”

Amanda smiled. “You never know. It's crossed my mind a few times.”

“I just want to brew potions for a living,” Kaden announced as he leafed through the pamphlets.

“You're insane,” John said. “You seem so normal, otherwise. But seriously, nobody enjoys potions.”

“You can do that,” Matt said. “You can become a Brewer. My sister's doing that along with her Healing degree.”

Kaden's eyes grew large. “Wait, really? That's a real career?”

Matt nodded. “Not everyone can brew potions, so they need people to brew them for them. You can work at St. Mungo's and brew healing potions or you could work for a company and brew potions to sell.”

“Sort of like a chemist, I suppose,” Amanda replied.

“Exactly,” Rose said.

“Brilliant.” Kaden grinned. “James will hate me now. Third year and I know what I'm doing.”

Albus laughed. “You could change your mind.”

Kaden shrugged. “I suppose so.”

Albus didn't really want to think about what they would do after Hogwarts. It was three years away. He'd rather enjoy the present, but Rose had always been the person to look to the future. She fantasized about their Hogwarts days when they were only six and now, she was fantasizing about what they'd do after. Albus had never been the type to do that. There would be plenty of time for the future in the future.
________________________________________

A/N: Thanks for all the reviews! For those of you who read Beyond the Shadow, it made it through to the voting round of the Dobbys! Head over to the forums to vote for it. It was nominated in the Best OC category.

________________________________________
April went by quickly, as it usually did. The weather turned from chilly and windy to warm and rainy, resulting in more than one muddy Quidditch practice. Albus didn't mind the mud as much as he minded the length of the practices. Both Fred and Heather seemed determined to win the Quidditch Cup now that it was their seventh year. They hadn't won it yet, in all their years at Hogwarts. Albus wanted to win, too, but not enough that he enjoyed practicing for five hours straight.

When he wasn't on the pitch, most of Albus's time was spent at dueling practice. The final match of the year was on the last Saturday in April and Albus's team was still in the running for a win of the entire tournament. They hadn't won a single match, but they were routinely in second place by only a few points. The teams that had gotten first place never did that well in other tournaments, resulting in their overall point total being quite low.

When the last Saturday in April arrived, far sooner than Albus would've liked, he found himself incredibly nervous. He wasn't nervous at all about his duels, but he was nervous for the team. This was it. It was his last tournament in the Junior Dueling Tournament. His last chance to prove himself as captain and earn a spot on Gryffindor's dueling team next year.

All four captains of the house dueling teams were present at this tournament because they would be hand selecting players for their teams next year. Unlike Quidditch, there were no try-outs for the dueling tournament.

“Last tournament being on Malfoy's team,” Amanda commented as Malfoy dueled a girl from Ravenclaw.

“Thank God,” Albus muttered. He couldn't wait until he no longer had Malfoy on his team. “At least he's acting normally today.”

“At least he showed up,” Amanda pointed out.

“Point to Malfoy!” Neville shouted. “Albus Potter and Matt Eckerton.”

Albus groaned inwardly. He always felt awful when he had to duel Matt because their skill levels were so drastically different. At the same time he didn't want to go easy on his friend because the Gryffindor team captain was watching.

Albus and Matt bowed to each other and raised their wands. Albus thought a silent apology as he shot a Stunner at his best friend. Matt dodged it and sent one back. Albus threw up a shield and then sent three consecutive Stunners. The third one made contact and Matt collapsed onto the floor, frozen.

“Point to Potter!” Neville declared. He waved his wand at Matt and the spell lifted.

“Sorry, mate,” Albus said as he helped Matt up.

“Don't be,” Matt replied. “You're definitely getting on the team next year.”

Albus won his second duel as well. His team continued to win most of their duels, with some of his teammates winning their first duels ever. Amanda had begun a tally of all the points on a spare bit of parchment and their team was winning, with only a few duels left to go.

Kaden wound up dueling one of the Ravenclaws from Albus's team during the last duel of the day. Kaden lost spectacularly, which Albus was both happy and upset about.

A few minutes later Neville stepped into the center of one of the dueling rings. “I am pleased to announce that we have a winner of both today's tournament and the year's tournament overall. Congratulations to Team Seven for winning both today and the tournament overall! Captain Albus Potter, please come forward to accept the trophy.”

Albus was momentarily stunned, until Amanda nudged him. The entire Great Hall was applauding as he stepped over to the dueling rings. They'd done it! After a year, they'd finally done it!

Albus shook Neville's hand while a Hufflepuff took their picture. The trophy was a bit smaller than the Quidditch Cup, but certainly not small by any means. After a few more pictures were taken, including one shot of the entire team, Albus joined Amanda and the two of them walked back to the common room.

“When will you find out if you got on Gryffindor's dueling team?” she asked as they walked.

“Not until the summer,” Albus said. “They send out letters.”

“You're pretty much guaranteed a spot, after that win,” Amanda said. “Malfoy, too, probably. And then you'll get to duel each other.”

“I'm looking forward to that,” Albus said. “Just a bit.”

“Me, too,” Amanda agreed.

Albus's friends were waiting in the common room when he and Amanda arrived. They offered congratulations and Butterbeer, which Albus drank quickly before heading outside for Quidditch practice.

Later that night, between his happiness about the win and exhaustion from Quidditch practice, Albus slept better than he had in months.
***


In April's last remaining days the Daily Prophet published at least one article a day on Laurentis and her upcoming swearing-in ceremony, as well as her picks for top officials. Albus hadn't recognized any names of the officials, or the names of their jobs. Mostly they were jobs such as the one his Uncle Percy held under Minister Hartwell. Laurenits, as it seemed, was waiting until she became Minister to reveal the big positions, such as Albus's dad's position.

The Gryffindor table was unusually quiet the morning of May first. Albus, along with all his cousins, weren't saying a word. Albus was thinking of his uncle Percy and how this should've been his day, not Laurentis's, and he was sure his cousins were thinking the same.

“I wish one of us could go to her ceremony,” Amanda said as she read the Prophet. “It's not going to be the same reading about it tomorrow.”

“I heard they're listening to it on the wireless in politics today,” John said. “Wish we had it today. That would be much better than having actual class.”

“I just want to know if my dad's out of a job,” Albus said.

“Will he be completely sacked?” Kaden asked.

“No. He just wouldn't be Head Auror anymore,” Albus answered. “It'd still be awful, though.”

“Same here,” Matt agreed. “Amy said that Dad's really nervous about it.”

“What time is it happening?” Rose asked.

“Ten-thirty,” Amanda said after consulting the paper.

“Right after History of Magic,” Rose mused. “So you lot will have Care of Magical Creatures and I'll have Arithmancy. Is anyone else thinking that we should break out Uncle George's best-selling product this morning?”

Albus thought he heard her wrong. Was his cousin actually suggesting they skip class?

“Wait, Rose,” John said. “Are you saying we should skive off class?”

Rose grinned. “I think this is going to be a bit more educational. I say we skive and meet in the Marauder's Den to listen on the wireless.”

“I'm in,” Albus said immediately. John, Matt, Amanda, and Kaden agreed.

“We've got to plan it carefully, though,” Rose said. “We can't all get ill at the same time or it'll look suspicious.”

“I've got a free period starting at ten-fifteen,” Kaden said. “So I'm all set.”

Rose nodded. “That leaves five of us. Matt, do you have an issue with skipping all of History of Magic?”

Matt laughed. “Of course not.”

“Good. I think you ought to just skive off without using a Skiving Snackbox. No one will suspect anything.”

“Aw, why can't I do that?” John asked.

“Because if someone finds out and asks it'll be easier for Matt go just say he felt ill, rather than you. I'll use a nosebleed nougat in Arithmancy since I'm the only one of us in that class. Al, John, Amanda, two of you can use something in History of Magic and then the other one can use something right at the beginning of Care of Magical Creatures. We meet in the Marauder's Den by ten-thirty.”

With the plan decided upon, they set off for their morning classes. John begged to be the one who used a puking pastille first in History of Magic and Albus and Amanda let him. He seemed strangely excited about it. Albus was just going to use the fever fudge.

Professor Binns began droning on about the Giant Wars, a topic he seemed to enjoy for some reason. He taught it each and every year without fail. Albus doodled aimlessly on his notes while taking surreptitious glances at John every so often.

“Um, Professor?” John announced ten minutes into the class.

Binns turned around, looking confused. It was rare that anyone ever interrupted him. “Yes, Mr. Broggs?”

“I don't feel well-” John was cut off by his own vomiting. His table was now covered with a pile of puke.

“Yes, yes, off to the infirmary,” Binns said as he returned his attention to the blackboard.

John hastily shoved the other end of the sweet into his mouth and vanished the vomit before grabbing his bag (which he never unpacked), and left the room.

Amanda was next. She, like Albus, went the safe route and had decided upon the fever fudge. Professor Binns hardly seemed to notice that she felt ill, despite her announcing it to the class. He just waved her out and continued his lecture. Albus could've probably used his own fever fudge right then and there, but he didn't think it was worth the small risk.

Albus decided to eat the fever fudge on his way to Care of Magical Creatures so he could leave immediately after arriving. The Marauder's Den was quite a walk from Hagrid's hut and he didn't want to miss any of the ceremony.

He felt the effects of the fudge before even reaching Hagrid's Hut. He hadn't had a fever in years and had forgotten just how awful they were.

“Hagrid?” Albus asked as soon as he arrived.

“Albus!” Hagrid exclaimed. “How are yeh?”

“Not good,” Albus answered. “I feel ill.”

Hagrid's face fell. “Yeh don' look so well. Better go see Madam Pomfrey.”

Albus nodded and turned around, walking quickly up the path. Once he was out of sight of Hagrid, he shoved the other half of the fever fudge into his mouth and felt immediately better. He'd done it!

By the time he arrived at the Marauder's Den it was nearly ten-thirty. The rest of his friends were already there, huddled around a very old looking wireless.

“Albus!” Rose exclaimed. “Nearly thought you wouldn't make it!”

“I practically ran here,” Albus said as he tossed his bag onto the floor and took a seat next to his cousin.

“Shhh!” Amanda said. “It's starting!”

“Good morning, listeners. We are broadcasting live from Courtroom Ten in the Ministry of Magic, where just minutes from now Patricia Laurentis will be sworn in as Minister of Magic for the United Kingdom. It is standing room only in the courtroom, with additional spectators in the corridor.”

Suddenly there was thunderous applause, drowning out the commentator's voice. It died down a few minutes later.

“Patricia Laurentis has entered the courtroom. She is making her way down the aisle, greeting people on her way.

“Minister Hartwell, along with members of the Wizengamot are seated on the dais. Three senior members of the Wizengamot will swear Laurentis in.”

More applause. Then a new voice. Albus recognized it as Minister Hartwell.

“Welcome to the Ministry of Magic. It has been my pleasure to serve you over the past ten years. I'd like to take a moment to thank my party, Merlinus, for their support over the past decade, as well as all of my top officials and the rest of the Ministry employees. I'll keep this short and just say that I am going to miss serving you, but I have to admit that both my wife and I are looking forward to taking a nice, long holiday.”

Laughter, followed by applause.

“Thank you, Minister Hartwell,” someone else said. Albus assumed it was one of the Wizengamot members. “Ms. Laurentis, if you would please step forward.” There was a pause. “Please repeat after me. I do hereby affirm to serve the United Kingdom-”

“I do hereby affirm to serve the United Kingdom-”

“-to the best of my ability-”

“-to the best of my ability-”

“-and keep to the ideals of the Paracelsus party-”

“-and keep to the ideals of the Paracelsus party-”

“I swear to listen to the people and do what is best for them-”

“I swear to listen to the people and do what is best for them-”

“-regardless of whether it is best for myself or the Ministry.”

“-regardless of whether it is best for myself or the Ministry.”

“I hereby declare Patricia Laurentis as the third Minister of Magic post-War as of the first of May, 2020, at eleven o'clock in the morning. Ms. Laurentis, congratulations. Please welcome your new Minister of Magic, Patricia Laurentis!”

There was a smattering of polite applause, much quieter than the previous applause for Hartwell. Albus supposed it was a serious occasion and no one wanted to seem too ecstatic.

“That was quick,” Albus said.

“She's going to make a speech now,” Rose said. “Shhh.”

“Thank you,” Laurentis said as the applause died down. “It is an honor to be standing before you as your Minister of Magic. I would like to begin by thanking the Paracelsus party for nominating me as candidate and supporting me throughout my successful campaign-”

“Does she really need to say it was a successful campaign?” John asked. “I mean, it's obvious that it was successful.”

“Shut up!” Rose said.

“-without your support I would never have made it this far. I hope I am able to live up to the high expectations set by you and Minister Hartwell. I am sure you are all anxious to hear who I am appointing to Head of Department positions in the Ministry, so I won't waste any time getting to that.”

Albus's heart sped up. He glanced up and met Matt's gaze. Matt looked just as nervous as Albus felt.

“First, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. I am pleased to announce that Tethys Balladanis will be taking over for former Head, Reena Barnes.”

“What?!” Albus exclaimed. “Did I hear her right?”

“Balladanis?” Rose shouted at the same time. “But he didn't even like the Ministry, did he?”

“He said it was too restrictive,” Albus said. “I guess he likes Laurentis.”

Matt groaned. “That means he's going to be around all the time. Not here, but this country.”

“I definitely didn't see that one coming,” John said.

“Laurentis, Balladanis, Malfoy's dad...” Amanda mused.

“Shh!” Albus said. “I heard her say Auror Department.”

“-Robert Johnson will be replacing Harry Potter as Head of the Auror Department-”

There was an audible gasp from the audience. Albus sat stunned, processing the information. Part of him had been expecting this, but now that it had actually happened, it was still a shock. It was very similar to the election results.

“I understand that this is a controversial choice, but I feel that the Ministry needs to be a united front. I assure you that Robert Johnson is an excellent Auror and will make a wonderful Head of Department.”

Albus tuned the wireless out once Laurentis went on to the Department of Magical Transportation. He could hear his heart pounding in his head and the rest of the world seemed so far away. It was almost surreal.

“Albus?” Rose asked. “Are you all right?”

“I don't know,” Albus said. “She's insane, right?”

“Honestly, Albus, I'm not surprised,” Rose said quietly. “And your dad still has a job.”

“But it's the statement she made by doing it,” Amanda pointed out. “She's implying that he's bad at his job.”

“Exactly,” Albus said, glad that Amanda was able to put into words what he felt. “First Uncle Percy lost and now this.”

“-Walter Eckerton will remain Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures-”

“Thank God!” Matt exclaimed.

“Good,” Albus said. “At least there's someone sane still in a Head position.”

Albus only paid vague attention to the rest of the announcements. He didn't recognize anyone, except for Malfoy's dad when Laurentis reiterated that appointment. One thing was clear by the end, and that was no one in Albus's family was in any of the Head positions.

Rose switched the wireless off at the end of Laurentis's speech. The wizard doing the broadcast was interviewing a few people, but they weren't anyone of great importance.

“Do you want to go to lunch?” Rose asked after a few minutes.

“Yeah, I suppose so,” Albus said as he stood up.

It was clear that word had spread when Albus and his friends reached the Great Hall. Whichever class had had politics during the speech must've shared the news with the entire castle, because everyone stared at Albus as he walked in. He didn't make eye contact with anyone and made a beeline for the Gryffindor table, where he sat down next to James.

“So you heard,” James said quietly.

“I skived off class to listen live,” Albus explained. “She wants a united ministry. What a load of dragon dung.”

“This is bad,” James said. “This is really bad.”

“She's replaced more officials than any minister, ever,” Rose commented. “She only kept three.”

“I still have no idea why she kept my dad,” Matt replied. “I mean, I'm glad she did, but it doesn't make any sense.”

“Nothing she's doing makes a bit of sense,” Albus muttered. “But I guess people must like her. She got elected.”

“But now that she's elected she can appoint who she wants,” Amanda said. “I don't think anyone actually thought she'd replace your dad. I've only been in the wizarding world for four years and even I know that everyone loves your dad.”

That's what Albus had always thought, too. He hated the fact that he was always in the spotlight because of it, but it was a constant. It was normal for him. Now, he didn't know what to think.

“Look,” Amanda said as she pointed to the staff table. “I don't think the teachers expected it, either.”

Albus glanced up. Every single professor was deep in conversation, some even ignoring their food. Neville in particular looked stunned and upset. None of them looked happy.

Albus's own plate was still empty and he had no desire to fill it. For as long as he could remember his dad had been Head of the Auror Department, a job that he loved. Being the man who defeated Voldemort had given him an aura of being the ultimate Auror, something that had stayed with him for over twenty years. Now, so many years later, it seemed to Albus that it was wearing off.

It was May first, 2020, almost exactly 23 years after his dad had defeated Voldemort. Albus thought it was slightly ironic that this had happened almost to the day, 23 years later.

Albus looked around at his fellow Gryffindors. He knew that more than a few of them had voted for Laurentis, and therefore most likely supported her decision to replace his dad as Head of the Auror Department. Not everyone was talking in whispers, with worried expressions. A few groups were laughing, like they didn't have a care in the world. Either they just didn't care about Laurentis's decision, or they supported it. The thought was very unsettling. Laurentis herself was unsettling to Albus, and the more he thought about it, the more he didn't like that she was now the Minister of Magic. He didn't like it at all.
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A/N: Thanks for all the lovely reviews!

________________________________________
The following week brought a slew of articles stating and re-stating everything Laurentis said in that first speech. A list of the new Ministry officials was printed multiple times. Albus found the editorials more interesting than the actual articles, mostly because there were quite a few proclaiming how stupid it was of Laurentis to sack Harry Potter. However, it wasn't until nearly a week after Laurentis officiall became Minister that an article completely captured Albus's attention was published.

DEMENTORS TO RETURN TO AZKABAN;
HOGWARTS TO SEE CHANGES

Newly elected Minister of Magic
Patricia Laurentis officially signed
the law that will bring Azkaban back
under the control of the dementors
late last night. Laurentis hopes
to have the dementors back by late
next week. 'This has been a goal
of mine for years and I am very
happy that it is finally happening.
The wizarding world will be far
safer now that our criminals will
be guarded once more by dementors.'

Bringing the dementors back to Azkaban
is the first of many changes the new
minister will be enacting over the
next few weeks. Laurentis's next
plan is to enact changes at Hogwarts.
'Over the next few weeks I will be
sending representatives from the
Department of Magical Education to
observe each professor. Each
professor will be required to submit
their curricula to the representatives
as well.' Professors planning on
retiring at the end of this year
will be exempt from this requirement,
as no changes will take place before
the end of term.

“Well, she's done it,” Albus said as he set the article down. “A week from now Azkaban will have dementors.”

“Mad,” Amanda muttered. “She's mad!”

“And she's sending people to observe the teachers,” Albus said.

Amanda grabbed the article from Albus and scanned it quickly. “Are any of them retiring?”

“I didn't think so,” Albus said. “But a few of them are quite old.”

As if on cue, Professor Kendrick stood up. “May I have your attention? Thank you. Most of you, I am sure, have read the Prophet. Over the next few weeks every professor will be observed during one of his or her classes. I ask you all to ignore the representative and go about class as if they weren't there. That is how the Ministry will best get an understanding of how things work at Hogwarts. Now, Professor Slughorn has an announcement to make.”

Professor Slughorn stood, although he was so short that it hardly made a difference. He looked a bit nervous and Albus got the feeling that he rarely ever addressed the entire student body at once.

“Yes, thank you, Professor Kendrick,” Slughorn said. “I just wanted to tell you all at once that I am going to retire at the end of term. I've enjoyed my time at Hogwarts, but it's high time I retire for good.”

“Ten Galleons says he decided to retire after finding out he had to submit his curricula to the Ministry,” Rose whispered after Slughorn sat back down.

“I'm sure you're right,” Albus agreed. “Dad said he didn't even want to come back when our parents were in school.”

“What about Young?” Kaden asked. “He doesn’t even have a curriculum.”

Albus burst out laughing. “I hadn't even thought of that. Bet he gets sacked.”

“So that'll be two new professors next year,” John said.

Rose groaned. “And in our O.W.L. year, too.”

“Don't say that word!” James, who was sitting about five seats down from Rose, shouted.

Rose raised her eyebrows. “What word?”

“O.W.L,” James said with a shudder. “They're only a month away.”

“Guess you should've started studying earlier,” Rose said.

“Shut up,” James muttered.

James wasn't the only one to have forgotten about O.W.L.s amidst all the election news. There seemed to be more frantic studying than usual, and not just from the fifth and seventh years. The entire castle had neglected to study for their end-of-term exams. Later that night Albus, John, Rose, Amanda, and Kaden joined the throngs of people vying for tables in the library in order to cram in as much studying as possible. Matt couldn't join them, as it was the full moon.

However, Albus had a hard time concentrating. His every thought was focused on the dementors in Azkaban or his dad's job or the Ministry representatives at Hogwarts. Rose, Amanda, and even Kaden were focusing on their studying. John was playing with his quill. Suddenly, he stood up.

“Kaden?” he asked. “Think now would be a good time?”

Kaden grinned, setting down his book. “Yeah, I think so.”

“We'll see you lot later,” John said as Kaden got up. “Don't ask.”

“That was weird,” Rose said once the two boys left.

“It's probably their prank,” Albus pointed out.

Rose groaned. “They're right. I don't want to know.”

Albus had assumed that this would be a prank that would make itself known right away, as most of John and Kaden's pranks worked that way. But by the next morning things seemed perfectly fine at Hogwarts. The Slytherins' hair was still normal colors and everything seemed calm and quiet. John and Kaden kept grinning at each other, so Albus was sure they'd done something.

It took another full day for things to pick up. Albus first noticed it at breakfast, when some of the Slytherins seemed a bit unsettled. They were squirming in their seats and didn't seem able to sit still. But it was only a few of them.

Albus raised his eyebrows questioningly at John and Kaden.

“Should we tell him?” John asked.

“Oh, I suppose now we could,” Kaden said as he leaned over to Albus. “Itching powder in their laundry. The house-elves are very helpful with pranks.”

Albus started laughing. “Seriously?”

Kaden nodded. “Completely untraceable and the effects won't all come at once. It all depends on when they send their laundry out.”

“That's genius,” Albus said. John and Kaden's pranks were most definitely improving over the years.

“What's genius?”

Albus looked up from his breakfast to see Matt nudging a first year over so that he could sit down in next to John.

“Madam Pomfrey let you out?” Albus asked.

Matt nodded. “Yeah, I think she wanted me to stay longer, but I told her I needed to study. Why are these two geniuses?”

“We did our prank on the Slytherins,” John explained and then lowered his voice. “Itching powder in their laundry. The house-elves helped.”

“Okay, that is pretty awesome,” Matt said. “You won't get caught, either.”

“Nope, it's not likely,” John said. “So, what should we do today?”

“Study.”

Albus looked up once more and saw that this time Rose and Amanda had appeared, both heavily ladened down with books and stacks of parchment. They wore identical looks of determination.

“You're all studying. All day,” Rose continued. “Exams are in a month and none of us are prepared. The election happened, it sucked, but it's over. Nothing can be done. Albus, you've been moping about your dad's job for a week. John, Kaden, I'm determined that you do well this year. Matt, the full moon is over. All four of you are studying from now until exams.”

“Aw, Rose, c'mon-”

“No,” Rose said. “Studying. All of you. Amanda and I are going to get a table in the library and we expect all of you there in fifteen minutes.”

Rose and Amanda left in a flourish of parchment and books, leaving Albus and the other boys to stare at each other open-mouthed. Albus knew his cousin was very academic and placed a high value on her own education, but never before had she staged an intervention for his studying.

“She's lost her mind,” John said. “If she's like this now, what will happen next year for O.W.L.s?”

“Don't say that word!” James shouted from down the table.

“I suppose we haven't got a choice, do we?” Matt asked as he shoved his eggs into his mouth. “Damn, I only just got back.”

That was true, Albus thought. He and his friends quickly finished their breakfast and hurried up to the library, realizing once they arrived that they didn't have any of their books. They ran up to their dormitories to retrieve them and made it to the library five minutes later than Rose insisted they be there.

Rose and Amanda had shoved two tables together and had spread all their books out over them. Madam Pince was sitting behind the circulation desk, looking at them curiously, as if she could not remember a time someone had frequented the library that early. The rest of the tables were deserted.

“What's with the extra chair?” Albus asked as he dumped his books onto the table. “There's only six of us.”

“Oh, that's for Elsie,” Rose said as she set parchment down at each seat.

“As in Elsie Willinson?” Albus replied.

“Yes, that's the only Elsie we know,” Rose said. “She needs help studying and I'm her tutor.”

“But she's Felix Willinson's sister,” John pointed out.

“And she needs help, John,” Rose said with a sigh. “I've been tutoring her all year and I'm not going to stop now.”

Matt nudged John. “It's not a bad thing. Maybe she'll tell us what her brother and Malfoy have been up to all year.”

Albus hadn't thought of that. Of course, Rose hadn't had any luck getting Elsie to talk all year, so chances were slim that he and the other boys would have success.

“Honestly, you lot are far too focused on Malfoy,” Rose said. “You've hardly studied all year. Just sit down and start reviewing Transfiguration. I've made study guides for every subject. You should have them at your spots.”

Albus picked a seat and sat down. Rose was organized to the point of insanity. There were in fact study guides for every subject, organized chronologically, from September until May. Albus was suddenly very grateful for his cousin, despite her obvious insanity. This was going to make studying so much easier.

“Wow, thanks Rose,” Albus said. The rest of the group muttered their agreement.

Rose smiled. “See? It was a good idea. Now, we'll study until lunch and then have a break.”

Lunch was about two hours away. That wasn't too bad. Albus opened his Transfiguration book and settled in with that and the study guide. It took him about a half hour to work through distractions, but soon his mind was only focused on Transfiguration.

Around him, the library quickly filled up. Fifth and seventh years seemed the most frantic about finding tables and searching the stacks, but students from every year and every house were present. Madam Pince spent the morning weaving throughout the tables and looking over everyone's shoulders to make sure they were working on school work. With exams so near, the library was now closed to everyone who wasn't going to revise.

Elsie Willinson showed up a little after eleven. Albus watched as she tentatively made her way over to the table, clearly unsure of studying with so many people. Albus was struck again by how similar she looked to Felix. It always sort of amused Albus when siblings looked so alike, since he didn't really resemble either of his siblings. But Felix and Elsie Willinson were incredibly similar in looks.

Once Rose noticed Elsie, she immediately stood up and beckoned the first year over. Elsie seemed less nervous now that Rose knew she was there, but she still avoided eye contact as she sat down and pulled her books out of her bag. Rose whispered something in her ear and she began reading her charms book.

Albus sighed and returned to his own work. Getting Elsie Willinson to talk was going to be much more difficult than he thought.
***


Rose's revision sessions continued throughout the month of May. Albus didn't like to admit it out loud, but they were incredibly helpful and he wasn't sure he would pass his exams if it weren't for Rose. As the month progressed, the sessions grew both in length and the number of participants. By the end of the first week their study group had grown to include James, Ben, Cedric, and their friend Nathan, who all now feared failing their O.W.L.s.

Albus and James missed a few sessions for Quidditch practice, but as the Quidditch final drew closer, both of them agreed that Quidditch was just as important as studying. Bradley and Heather were becoming more and more anxious about the final, since it would determine whether Gryffindor won the Quidditch Cup. They were currently only a few points behind Ravenclaw and if they pulled off a win in the final, they would most likely win the cup as well.

The match took place a week before O.W.L.s were scheduled to begin and Albus awoke more nervous than he had been for a Quidditch match in ages. The match itself was going to be bittersweet since it would be the last time he played with Heather and Fred as the other Chasers on Gryffindor's team. Next year he'd have two new Chasers and that was going to be incredibly strange.

Albus headed down to breakfast before his friends and encountered a few particularly itchy Slytherins on his way. Giggling to himself and enjoying the fact that John and Kaden's prank was still going on, weeks later, he entered the Great Hall. On his way to the Gryffindor table, he was distracted by the sight of Malfoy, speaking with Felix Willinson, while carrying an overnight bag.

Deciding that breakfast could wait, Albus crept over to the Slytherin table and attempted to crouch down behind a few seventh years. Unfortunately the Great Hall was too loud for proper eavesdropping, and Albus made a vow to always have an Extendable Ear on his person from now on.

Malfoy stepped away from Felix Willinson and turned, allowing Albus to look at his face. He looked terrible. His eyes were red and it looked like he hadn't slept in days. Very strange, Albus thought, as he rose to follow Malfoy out of the room.

Once in the Entrance Hall, Malfoy immediately ran up the staircase, going far too fast for Albus to follow. Albus stood next to the door to the Great Hall thinking about what Malfoy's actions meant.

He was clearly upset about something, but what was it? The overnight bag implied that he was going to be leaving the castle, but why? Albus thought back to the dueling tournament that Malfoy missed. The two incidents must be connected, and it was quite possible that the letter Albus and Amanda saw Malfoy reading months ago was connected as well.

Albus didn't mention Malfoy to his friends when they came down to breakfast a few minutes later. As much as Albus wanted to discuss it with them, he knew that he needed to put it out of his mind for the duration of the match. If there was ever a match for Albus not to be distracted, this was it.

The nerves on the team were palpable as they stood waiting to walk onto the pitch. Fred didn't even give a speech, since everyone knew how important the match was, both to Fred and Heather.

Ravenclaw had a good Quidditch team. They were easily the best team in the school, although most Gryffindors would disagree. But the Gryffindor team was determined in this match, causing them to play fiercer than ever before.

Albus flew faster than he ever had before. He, Fred, and Heather had always worked very well together, but during this match it almost seemed like they were one entity, sharing one brain. Albus's entire mind was focused on Quidditch and Quidditch only. Gone were the thoughts of his dad's job, Laurentis, and Malfoy.

The match only lasted an hour. Albus hadn't even realized that James caught the Snitch until the whistle was blown. Gryffindor won 420-260, their best win yet that year.

“We did it!” Fred shouted as he landed. “We've won the Cup!”

Albus couldn't even hear the commentary over the thunderous applause of the spectators. Professor Longbottom was holding the Quidditch Cup high over his head and was making his way through the crowd to Fred. Fred took the Cup and held it out to Heather. Each held one side and raised it up. The Gryffindors were storming the pitch and Albus was sept up in the crowd, making it difficult to reach his team. Once he did, somebody snapped their picture.

Albus was the happiest he'd felt in weeks, ever since his team won the Dueling Tournament. It was his third year on the Quidditch team and they finally won the Cup. But he was even more happy for Fred and Heather than he was for himself since they'd both been on the team since their second year and had never won the Cup.

Heather had tears streaming down her face and Fred was grinning wider than Albus had ever seen him. While neither of them were pursuing a career in Quidditch, Quidditch had been their lives for the past six years. Winning the Cup in their seventh year seemed more poignant than it would have winning it any other year. Albus hoped that Gryffindor's team was still as good as it was now when he got to seventh year. Winning again in his last year would be the best feeling in the world.
***


“Malfoy really did leave the castle,” Amanda announced at breakfast the next day.

“How did you find that out?” Albus asked.

“Weirdly enough, Moaning Myrtle.”

“How would she know?”

“I've no idea,” Amanda said as she grabbed a few slices of toast. “I didn't ask.”

“Well, I just found out why he left,” Rose said as she set down the Prophet. “His grandfather passed away.”

“As in Lucius Malfoy?” Albus said, taking the paper. “The ex-Death Eater?”

“One in the same,” Rose said. “His obituary is in there.”

“Why were you reading the obituaries?” Matt asked.

“I wasn't trying to. I was flipping through and happened to see it. It says he's been ill for a while,” Rose explained.

“That explains why he's been acting so odd all year,” Amanda said.

“And that howler he got months ago,” Kaden added.

Albus glanced at the obituary but didn't read it. As much as he disliked Malfoy, he couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Albus couldn't imagine what it would be like to lose his grandfather, and despite Lucius Malfoy's obvious faults, he was still Scorpius's grandfather.

“I feel sort of bad for yelling at him about skipping that dueling tournament,” Albus muttered.

“You didn't know,” John said. “And it's not like he explained.”

“Isn't anyone else a bit preoccupied with the fact that Moaning Myrtle knew about him leaving the castle?” Matt asked. “She never leaves her loo. We saw Malfoy going into her loo a few weeks ago. Doesn't that seem a bit too coincidental?”

“You think he's gotten chummy with Moaning Myrtle?” Albus asked.

Matt shrugged. “It looks like he has. Why else would she know about it?”

“But why would he go into a girl's loo?” John asked, wrinkling his nose. “That's just bloody insane.”

“Sounds like we need to pay a visit to Myrtle,” Albus said.

Rose groaned. “Really, Al? He just lost his grandfather for God's sake.”

“We're not going to bother Malfoy,” Albus said. “We're just going to talk to Myrtle.”

“Count me out,” Rose said, shaking her head.

“But you're a girl,” Albus pointed out. “You could get in there so much easier. Amanda?”

“Sorry, Albus, but I've really got to study,” Amanda said.

“We'll go at night, then,” Albus decided. “John, Kaden, Matt? Which of you is going with me?”

“Not me,” Matt said immediately.

“I'll go,” John said.

“You're both mad,” Rose said quietly. “Mad.”

Albus may have been mad, but he couldn't let this mystery go. His gut was telling him that Malfoy was up to something, despite his grandfather's passing, and Albus was determined to find out what it was.
________________________________________

A/N: Sorry that the update is a day late! I was really busy yesterday and didn't have a chance to update. Thanks for all the lovely reviews! I am very behind on answering them, but I'll finish eventually!

________________________________________
The plan to talk to Myrtle in the dead of night may have been a plan that belonged solely to Albus and John, but Rose still had somewhat of a say over when it happened. Exams were now only a week away and Rose was only giving them one night off, for rest and clearing stress from the mind. Neither Albus or John dared cross Rose and skip out on revision, which took place in the library until curfew and then in the common room until they all went to bed.

Their one night off occurred the night before their first exam. O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s had been going on for a full week, but none of the fifth or seventh years were taking any nights off, including James. Despite Rose's insistence that he take a night off, James insisted upon studying. It was quite a switch.

Albus and John spent the evening playing chess with Kaden. Matt had turned in early, still tired from the full moon, which had taken place two days earlier. Rose and Amanda had disappeared into their dormitory, clearly set upon having some time away from the boys.

The common room emptied as the night progressed, and eventually John and Albus were the only ones left. It hadn't taken long since most people went to bed early because of exams. It was probably fairly stupid of Albus and John to stay up so late, but neither of them cared.

They waited an additional fifteen minutes in case somebody decided to return to the common room, but no one did. Albus glanced at John and then pulled the Invisibility Cloak and the Marauder's Map out of his bag. He carefully unfolded the map and set it out on the table. The coast was clear.

Albus and John stumbled out of the portrait hole and once they righted themselves, Albus threw the Cloak over them, under the Fat Lady's stern gaze.

“Don't expect me to let you in when you return,” she said. “I'm quite exhausted.”

The Fat Lady was always threatening this but she never seemed to make good on any of her threats. Ignoring her, Albus and John set off along the corridor. John led the way while Albus kept his eyes glued to the Map, but the corridors remained empty. It seemed everyone, both students and professors, were getting a good night's rest before exams. Everyone that is, except for Albus and John.

Moaning Myrtle was the only occupant of the second floor girl's lavatory. John quietly pushed the door open and Albus followed him in. Once inside, Albus pulled the Cloak off and held it under is right arm.

“Myrtle?” John shouted as he stepped into the room.

A splashing sound came from the last stall and then Myrtle's ghostly form floated through the closed stall door. “Boys? Why don't you go use your own-” Myrtle cut herself off with a giggle. She floated toward Albus and John and rested on the sinks. “Oh, it's you. Albus Potter. And his friend John. Where's Matt? I rather fancy him....”

“He, er, wasn't feeling well,” Albus said, hoping that Matt's absence wouldn't put Myrtle off from talking to them.

On the contrary, Myrtle's face lit up. “Oh my! I've been feeling rather awful today myself. It's a side effect of dying, you know.”

Albus didn't think dying had any side effects other than dying and had always assumed being a ghost wouldn't be painful, but Myrtle was very odd.

“But why are you here?” Myrtle asked. “You never visit me unless you're in detention. It's rather disappointing. No one ever thinks to visit poor Myrtle. Oh, Myrtle's dead, they think, so she doesn't need any visitors. Myrtle doesn't need any friends! All because she's dead!”

“No, Myrtle, that isn't it at all,” Albus said quickly. “It's just, you live in a girl's loo. We can only visit you now, in the middle of the night.”

Myrtle let out a loud sigh. “I suppose. You aren't the only boys who talk to me, you know. Some of them even dare come during the day. I suppose they're a bit braver than you are, which is odd since they aren't Gryffindors.”

Albus glanced at John. Maybe this was going to be easier than he thought. Myrtle probably didn't have any loyalties to Scorpius Malfoy.

“Which boys?” Albus asked carefully, taking a step closer to Myrtle.

“I only know one of their names,” Myrtle said with a giggle. “I know his name because his father used to come and talk to me when he was in school. But his son isn't quite as talkative and he didn't seem to care at all about me or my death. He only wanted to know about the Chamber of Secrets-”

“The Chamber of Secrets?” Albus exclaimed. “Scorpius Malfoy wanted to know about the Chamber of Secrets?”

Myrtle brightened. “Oh, you know him, too! Yes, he did. He wanted to know exactly where the entrance was. He'd already done quite a bit of research on it in the library. Rather odd, I thought, for a Slytherin, spending so much time in the library, but not in a bad way. But yes, he came in and asked me about the Chamber and I told him about my death and he didn't quite understand the connection at first. So I showed him the entrance and told him that he had to speak like a snake to get in but he couldn't figure it out.”

“He tried to speak Parseltongue?” Albus asked.

Myrtle nodded. “Sounded awful. Your dad was much better at it. Even that freckled boy managed to figure it out during the Battle of Hogwarts, but Scorpius Malfoy was truly awful at it. That's when I met the other boy. Scorpius left and came back a few days later with this other boy. He showed him the entrance and then they started talking about this girl named Elsie and the other boy thought that she would be able to open the Chamber.”

“And when was this?” Albus asked. The other boy must have been Felix Willinson.

“Two weeks ago, maybe?” Myrtle said. “Do you know why he wanted to get into the Chamber of Secrets? He refused to tell me.”

“No,” Albus said, shaking his head. “We want to know, too.”

“Well,” Myrtle began as she floated up to the ceiling. “Please tell me when you find out. And next time, make sure that Matt comes to visit, too.”

“Er, sure,” Albus muttered. “Is there anything else you know about Malfoy?”

“No,” Myrtle said. “You're going to leave now, aren't you?”

“Yeah,” Albus said. “Exams tomorrow.”

Albus threw the Cloak back over himself and John and they left. On the way back Albus explained the Chamber of Secrets to John, who only knew the place by name. By the time they returned to the common room John was just as shocked as Albus was about why Malfoy seemed to want to get into the Chamber of Secrets.

“Do you think Elsie Willinson can speak Parseltongue?” John asked as they climbed through the portrait hole (the Fat Lady had not refused them entry).

“I don't know,” Albus said. “It's very rare. I think we're going to have to ask Rose.”

“Bet she'll love that, in the middle of exams,” John said with a laugh.
***


“Of course I have no idea if Elsie Willinson is a Parselmouth!” Rose exclaimed the next day during their lunch break in between exams. Albus had just finished explaining what Myrtle had told them last night, as well as explaining the Chamber of Secrets for Matt, Amanda, and Kaden's sake.

“Are you sure she hasn't mentioned anything?” Albus pressed.

“Positive! And honestly, Albus, you need to get this out of your mind. It's exam week. It's not the time to be focusing on Malfoy. Whatever he does, it really doesn't affect you.”

Albus knew that, but it didn't do a thing for his curiosity. The fact remained that Malfoy was acting oddly, and if Felix Willinson was involved, it couldn't be anything good.

“They're up to something, Rose,” Albus said. “I'm telling you.”

Rose groaned. “Albus, I don't care.”

“Oi, Albus!” James shouted as he jogged over to Albus's seat. “Did you see the Prophet this morning?”

“No,” Albus replied. He, Matt, and John had both slept too late to have breakfast before their first exam.

James slapped a copy down on the table in front of Albus. “That bloke, Robert Johnson? The one who took Dad's place? He's revamped the entire department, claiming that they're going to have a 99% capture rate.”

“99%?” Albus repeated as he looked at the paper. “That's crazy.”

JOHNSON REVAMPS AUROR DEPARTMENT

Newly appointed Head Auror, Robert
Johnson, has spent the past month
revamping and reorganizing the Auror
Department. Johnson has rewritten
rules and regulations for the department
as well as reorganized how Aurors
work together. All Aurors have
attended workshops over the past month
to familiarize themselves with the
new rules and policies.

'The hope is that we will be able to
capture criminals faster and easier,'
Johnson said. 'The department has
been disorganized for years and this
has resulted in many criminals going
free for far longer than they should.
Between the new Auror Department policies
and the reinstatement of the dementors
in Azkaban, we should be able to capture
more criminals and keep them where they
belong- behind bars.'

While Johnson did not go into specifics
of the policies and rules, stating that
these are sealed documents, he assured
the wizarding public that they have
helped to streamline the department.
'With these new policies I don't see why
we shouldn't have a 99% capture rate
within a year.'

“What does that even mean, 99% capture rate?” Albus asked after setting the paper down.

“No idea,” James said. “But I thought you'd want to see it. I've got to go. Transfiguration practical this afternoon and I need to practice.”

“I wish they'd say what the changes actually were,” Albus said as his brother left.

“They can't,” Rose said. “The paper is right about that.”

“It's not like the department was awful when Dad was in charge,” Albus continued. “He captured Greyback, didn't he?”

“I think Laurentis is crediting Matt's dad with that,” Rose commented. “As much as it was both of them.”

“That's not fair,” Matt said.

“No, it's not,” Rose said as she glanced at her watch. “We'd better get going. History of Magic exam.”

Albus found it incredibly difficult to focus on his History of Magic exam, and while he was fairly sure he passed it, he knew he hadn't done well. There was just too much to focus on. Between Malfoy and the Auror Department, the last things Albus wanted to think about were goblin rebellions and giant wars.

Later that night Rose held another study session in the library. Albus managed to sit next to Elsie Willinson, who ignored him completely. Albus spent more time staring at the Marauder's Map and figuring out the best way to bring up the topic of speaking Parseltongue with Elsie than any actual studying, but Rose didn't seem to notice.

The following two days were nearly identical to the first day of exams, with the exception of the subjects they were tested on. Exam in the morning, lunch, exam in the afternoon, studying, dinner, then more studying. The monotony was starting to get on Albus's nerves, but they were only halfway through exam week.

Elsie Willinson didn't show up to the study session Wednesday evening. Albus was disappointed since he was finally going to bring up the topic of speaking Parseltongue with her, no matter how effective it would be. Instead, he looked over his Potions notes while glancing at the Marauder's Map every so often.

“Albus, what exactly are you looking for?” Rose asked.

Albus didn't really want to say because he knew Rose would just roll her eyes, but he also knew she wouldn't let go of the subject until he explained. “Malfoy. He's going to go back to the girl's loo, and when he does, I want to follow him.”

“That would be stupid,” Rose said. “Look at the past three years. You've gotten yourself involved with something stupid at the end of every year. Following Malfoy would just be asking for trouble.”

Rose had a point, Albus knew, but he didn't care. “It's just Malfoy. He's not going to kidnap me.”

“Famous last words,” Rose muttered. “He's probably just in his common room.”

Albus checked the Map. Malfoy's dot was definitely not in the common room. Albus's heart sped up as he checked the rest of the Map. It took him a while, but then he spotted Malfoy's dot, making its way down the second floor corridor. He was accompanied by none other than Felix and Elsie Willinson.

“He's going,” Albus said. “And he's got Felix and Elsie with him. I'm following him and you can't stop me.”

Rose groaned. “Albus, don't-”

Albus ignored her and turned to the rest of his friends. “Are any of you coming with me?”

“I am.” Albus was shocked to see that the voice belonged to Amanda. Usually Amanda agreed with Rose.

“Amanda, really?” Rose asked.

Amanda shrugged. “I want a break from studying and I'm just as curious as Albus is.”

“Count me out,” Matt muttered, turning red. “I'm not going anywhere near Myrtle.”

“She asked about you last time,” John said with a grin.

Matt turned even redder. “I'd rather not know that.”

“We're in,” John said, speaking for himself and Kaden.

“You've got an hour,” Rose said. “If you're not back by then I'm sending Professor Longbottom after you.”

“We'll be back,” Albus said as he stood up. As if to further convince Rose of this, he left his books sitting on the table. John, Kaden, and Amanda did the same.

Albus didn't bother with the Invisibility Cloak since it wasn't past curfew. They'd just have to lurk near the loo until the coast was clear and sneak in when no one was looking. All they needed was the Map for that.

The corridors were unusually empty and Albus attributed it to the fact that most of his fellow students were doing some last minute revision before the next day's exams. It certainly made it easier to sneak into a girl's loo.

Albus watched the Map as they went and Malfoy and both Willinsons' dots entered Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. They remained there for only a few minutes, and then disappeared off the Map.

“They must've gotten into the Chamber of Secrets,” Albus explained. “I bet the Marauders didn't know about it so they couldn't have put it on the Map.”

It took another five minutes for Albus, John, Kaden, and Amanda to get to the loo. Once there Albus burst the door open and ran inside. He stopped short in front of the sinks.

One of the sinks was gone, having sunk into the floor. In its place was a large, pitch black hole. Myrtle was floating above it, her eyes bright.

“They did it,” Myrtle said excitedly. “Are you going to follow them?”

“I guess this answers the question of whether Elsie Willinson can speak snake,” John said.

“Is Matt ill again?” Myrtle asked.

“Er, yeah,” Albus said.

“He's ill an awful lot of the time,” Myrtle said. “Tell him to come see me when he's better.”

“Sure,” Albus said as he crept closer to the hole. “I'm going down there. You three are welcome to join me.” Albus was determined. He'd come this far and he wasn't going to stop now. He needed to figure out what was going on.

“Is it a far drop?” Amanda asked hesitantly.

“I think it's more of a slide,” Albus said. “That's what my dad said, anyway.”

“There isn't a basilisk in there, is there?” John asked.

“No,” Albus said. “It's dead.”

“Then I'm in,” John said.

“Me, too,” Amanda agreed.

“I'd go down there even if there was a basilisk in there,” Kaden said. “I'll go first, if you want.”

“Be my guest,” Albus said, gesturing to the hole.

“If you die, you can live here,” Myrtle said, giggling. “I told Scorpius that and he told me that was another reason why he can't die down there. I don't think he likes me.”

Albus ignored Myrtle and stepped aside so Kaden could jump into the hole. Kaden did so without a second glance.

“Are you okay?” Albus asked once he heard a thud.

“Yeah, I'm fine!” Kaden shouted back.

Neither John or Amanda seemed inclined to go next, so Albus stepped to the very edge of the hole and looked down. He couldn't see a thing. Deciding that it was better to just do it and not think too hard, he took a deep breath and jumped.

His dad had been right about it being more of a slide than a drop down. The hole was more of a sloping pipe and it wasn't a bad slide at all. Soon, Albus landed at the bottom and saw Kaden, who had lit his wand.

Albus lit his own wand and took a look around. The place was very wet and it smelled awful. The walls were dripping with murky water and the floor was covered in rock, mud, and what looked like old snake skin.

“I think we're near the lake,” Albus said, nodding to the dripping water.

There was a whooshing noise behind Albus and something crashed into him, knocking him over. Albus let out a scream and turned to see it was only John, who hadn't landed gracefully.

“Sorry,” John muttered as he lit his own wand. There was now enough wand light to see clearly. The place was creepy. That was the only word for it.

Amanda landed without knocking anyone over and lit her wand. Albus and Kaden waited for John and Amanda to take a look around.

“What do we do now?” Kaden asked.

“Does anyone hear anything?” Albus asked. It seemed dead silent to Albus.

John shook his head. “Matt should've come. We need his werewolf hearing.”

Albus nodded in agreement. “I guess we just follow the pipe. It looks like it only goes one way.”

The others agreed. Albus led the way, his wand pointed in front of him, and they set off. No one spoke. No one made any noise whatsoever. Albus had his ears poised to hear even the quietest noise, hoping to hear some clue as to where Malfoy and the others had gone.

Ihey walked for what felt like miles before they heard even the faintest of noise. Albus noticed numerous snake skins and the bones from decades-old animals. Then, just when Albus had a feeling they were reaching the end of the passage, he heard a voice, clearly, as if it was right next to him.

“Albus Potter. Well, well, isn't this a pleasant surprise.”

Albus recognized the voice. It was Jarrett Willinson.
________________________________________

Cliffhanger! I know. I'm evil. Thank you for all the wonderful reviews! I will respond to them, but I've been quite busy lately.

And now I'll take a few moments to brag. On the 16th I went to NYC for J.K. Rowling's event for The Casual Vacancy. I got to meet her and get a signed copy of the book! It was absolutely amazing. I blogged about it on the forums, so please check it out!

________________________________________
Albus froze. He hadn't heard that voice in over a year and part of him thought he wouldn't ever hear it again. He always assumed Jarrett Willinson had stayed in Australia, where absolutely no one was looking for him.

Slowly, Albus turned toward the voice. He pointed his lit wand in its direction and saw that there was a very small opening to his left. It appeared to be another pipe, but one much smaller than the one he and his friends had just been in. Albus crept toward it, trying not to make any noise.

He turned to John, Kaden, and Amanda. “What do you think?”

“I think we should get out of here,” Kaden said immediately, stepping back. “I thought we were just going after Malfoy.”

“I bet Malfoy's down there with him,” John said.

“But why?” Amanda asked as she walked over to the pipe. She stuck her head in, making her voice echoey. “Why would he come back here?”

“Can you see anything?” Albus asked.

“Not much,” Amanda said, climbing fully into the pipe.

“We should just go back,” Kaden said, his voice wavering. All his bravery from being the first to enter the Chamber was gone.

“I don't know,” Albus said. “We've come this far...”

“Albus, I think Rose might've been right,” Kaden said. “Let's just go-”

Kaden was interrupted by Amanda's shrieking. There was a loud splash, a clunk, and then more shrieking. Albus turned quickly back to the pipe. Amanda was gone, a small pile of rubble in her place.

“Amanda!” Albus screamed, stepping over to the pipe.

“Albus!” she shouted back. “Help!”

“What's happening?” John asked.

“Told you we should've gone back!” Kaden shouted.

“Well, we can't go back now,” Albus said, climbing into the pipe. “C'mon!”

Albus had to crouch as he walked in order to fit through the pipe. John and Kaden followed him, occasionally tripping over rocks as they went. Albus splashed ahead of them, his wand lighting the few feet in front of him. They followed Amanda's shrieks until they grew muffled and disappeared all together.

Finally, the pipe emerged into a small chamber, not unlike a small version of the chamber they'd just been in. It was wetter than the rest of the Chamber of Secrets and the far wall contained a metal grate that appeared to let out into the lake. But the water wasn't going through it.

Albus's attention, however, wasn't focused on the magically contained lake water. Instead, his eyes drew to the collection of people scattered throughout the chamber. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Amanda, in the clutches of Jarrett Willinson, who had his wand pointed at her head. Albus was just happy they found her. Jarrett was flanked by his son, Quinton, who was looking a bit worse for wear. Azkaban didn't seem to have agreed with him and he now looked far older than his early twenties.

Scorpius, Felix, and Elsie were there as well, looking very uncomfortable. Elsie was shaking and had a death grip on her brother's hand. Scorpius stood next to them and he seemed very upset. The only one who seemed at all okay with the situation was Felix, whose grimace seemed to be coming from his sister's grip on his hand, not on the situation.

Albus didn't recognize the other three adults at first. Then he remembered their pictures from the Prophet. The shorter woman was Dolores Umbridge, her grey hair greatly resembling a beehive around her head. Her skin was deeply wrinkled and she didn't much resemble the person in the photograph, but her eyes and bizarre grin were the same. The other woman was about a foot taller and just as ugly. Her hair was stringy and mostly brown, with streaks of grey. Her nose was long, crooked, and boasted a large wart, giving her the look of a classic Muggle's version of a witch. All that was missing was the green skin. The man resembled her, although he was shorter and more dumpy. Both were sneering. Albus assumed they were the Carrows.

“What are you doing here, Potter?” Scorpius asked, clearly trying to sound more confident than he was.

“Shut up, Malfoy,” Jarrett snapped. “I'll ask the questions. And I can only assumed they followed you three. Whether it was intentional on your part, I have no idea.”

“Can't we just go?” Scorpius demanded. “We did what you wanted-”

“No, no you didn't,” Jarrett interrupted. “You did what your father wanted and then you did part of what we wanted. And therein lies the problem.”

Albus was thoroughly confused. His eyes went from Jarrett to Malfoy and back again, attempting to figure out what was going on. What exactly had Malfoy's father asked him to do?

“I never said I'd do what you wanted us to do,” Malfoy muttered, averting his gaze.

“And yet you did.” Jarrett sneered.

“But I didn't want to!” Malfoy looked scared now. He pulled his wand out of his robes and held it up shakily.

“Oh, are you going to duel me?” Jarrett asked, shifting Amanda in his arms so that he could point his wand at Malfoy.

“M-maybe.”

Jarrett sighed. “This is pathetic. I don't like taking advantage of fragile children, and yet here I am-”

“I'm not fragile!” Malfoy shouted.

“You just lost your grandfather,” Jarrett said. “You're fragile. So is your father, and he's easy to deceive.”

“He is not!”

At that point Elsie started crying. It started out as small sniffles but within ten seconds blew up into loud sobs. Everyone in the room turned to stare at her. Albus felt bad. It was obvious she hadn't wanted to be here.

“Oh, shut her up!” Jarrett said.

“Elsie, you have to be quiet,” Felix muttered.

“I just want to leave, Felix!” Elsie sobbed. “I didn't want to do this. You know I didn't want to do this!”

“You didn't have a choice, Elsie. He's our uncle and he needed our help.”

“Could someone please just explain what's going on?” Kaden asked loudly. “Or even better, let go of Amanda so we can get out of here and let you lot get back to whatever it is you're doing?”

Jarrett laughed. “Oh, she's not going anywhere. You three are free to leave. I really don't care what the hell you do.”

Albus exchanged glances with John and Kaden, who both shrugged. None of them were going to leave, of course, but Albus was utterly confused. For the past four years Jarrett and Quinton Willinson had tried to kidnap him and now, all of a sudden, they wanted Amanda? They'd never wanted her before.

“Oh, you haven't put it together yet, have you Potter? I thought you were smarter than that.”

“Put what together?” Albus asked, still confused.

Jarrett squeezed Amanda tighter. “She's the Prime Minister's niece, who happens to be a witch. She's currently the best bargaining chip I could possibly have. I only wish I'd known about her earlier, but thanks to your uncle the entire wizarding world knows she's the Prime Minister's niece. I must thank that reporter.

“Potter, do you realize how bad Laurentis would look if anything happened to the Muggle Prime Minister's niece a little over a month after she took office? And just days after her appointed Head Auror revolutionized the department? Oh, it would look awful, Potter. So we, all of us, are going to sit tight until the Aurors get here and then I'll make my demands and the Aurors will give in because if they don't, I'll kill the Prime Minister's niece.”

Albus's mouth fell open. He stared at Jarrett, whose grin resembled that of a person who just won the lottery. Amanda looked terrified, her eyes darting everywhere and a few stray tears running down her cheeks.

“Of course you can leave, Potter,” Jarrett said. “Go get your dad. Go get the other Aurors. It'll only bring them here sooner. And don't even try to hex me because if you do, this lot-” Jarrett gestured to the Carrows, Umbridge, and Quinton, “-will hex you. Your dad isn't a Ministry official anymore, Potter. It won't be as big of a crime if they hex you now.”

Albus glanced at Umbridge and the Carrows. Umbridge didn't look like someone capable of hexing anyone, given that she more closely resembled an unstable mental patient than a dangerous witch. But the Carrows, they looked capable of murder. As for Quinton, he wasn't much of a threat. Still, Albus, John, and Kaden were more outnumbered than they ever had been before.

“But why can't we leave?” Malfoy asked, his voice wavering. “Or at least me?”

“Because I might need you to do something else,” Jarrett snapped, “and I want you here because if I let you leave I doubt you'll come back. I know you didn't bring us the girl. She came with Potter, following you.”

“Why does it matter?” Malfoy asked. “The point is she's here now.”

“I don't think you would've ever brought her to me, Malfoy.”

“You're right, I wouldn't! And do you want to know why? I never wanted to help you. That's not why I agreed to this. I think you're all idiots, to be honest.”

Albus stared at Malfoy, completely shocked. Malfoy hated Albus, Amanda, and all their friends, so why wouldn't he have brought Amanda to Jarrett?

“Then why are you here, Malfoy?”

“To help my dad!” Malfoy said, his wand still pointed at Jarrett. “I didn't know you idiots were going to have a plot of your own.”

Jarrett laughed. “Now you're the idiot. You think we'd have agreed to his plot if there hadn't been something in it for us? Meaning my son, here. Not these other three. I'm not sure why they agreed to it. I'm not even sure Umbridge knows where she is, actually. She hasn't said much of anything since the escape.”

“Do you really think you're going to get anything out of this?” Malfoy demanded.

“Yes, I do,” Jarrett snapped.

Malfoy narrowed his eyes and then whipped around. In a matter of seconds, he sent five consecutive hexes at the Carrows and Umbridge. Umbridge collapsed immediately, not moving. The Carrows both went for their wands, but were too slow. Malfoy sent two more Stunners and the Carrows fell over, one on top of the other.

Malfoy turned back to Jarrett, breathing heavily. “Looks like the odds are a little different now.”

“Malfoy, what are you doing?” Albus asked, still trying to wrap his brain around the fact that Scorpius Malfoy had just helped him.

“Shut up, Potter,” Malfoy muttered. “I'm not doing this for you.”

“Scorpius, what is your problem?” Felix asked, breaking free of his sister's grip. “I thought we were in on this together.”

“I thought we were, too, until your uncle decided to do things his way,” Malfoy said. “It's like I told you at the beginning; I only did this for my father.”

Albus still didn't know exactly what “this” was, but all that really mattered now was that they were no longer outnumbered.

“The Aurors are coming,” Malfoy said to Albus. “If we can just hold them off-”

“How do you know the Aurors are coming?” Albus asked.

“That doesn't matter now,” Malfoy said as he sent a Stunner at Jarrett.

Albus turned to John and Kaden. “Focus on Quinton and Felix. No offense, but you aren't the best duelers and I don't want you to hit Amanda.”

John and Kaden nodded. Albus glanced at Malfoy, attempted to shake off the weird feeling he had from being on Malfoy's side, and started sending hex after hex at Jarrett. Jarrett, clearly unable to duel while holding Amanda, threw up a shield and didn't hex back. Albus and Malfoy silently agreed to keep going, in an attempt to weaken the shield.

Albus heard a loud crash and turned to his right. Dust was settling near where the Carrows and Umbridge lay. Once it settled, Albus saw that a large boulder had fallen from the ceiling and had landed on top of the female Carrow.

“I think she's dead,” Kaden said.

Albus swallowed hard. Death had never crossed his mind when he'd come down here. Trying to push it from his thoughts, he returned to hexing Jarrett's shield.

Kaden shouted something Albus couldn't make out and Albus turned just in time to see him land against the wall. Albus ran over and knelt next to him. “Kaden! Kaden!”

Kaden stirred and looked at Albus. “Albus?”

“Kaden, thank God,” Albus whispered.

“I've got an awful headache,” Kaden muttered.

“Don't fall asleep,” Albus said. “Stay awake. You've probably got a concussion.”

Albus heard splashing and looked up. Five wizards stumbled through the pipe, their wands out.

“Wands up!” one of them shouted. Albus didn't recognize the voice. “Nobody move!”

“Are they all here?” another asked.

“I believe so,” the first one said as he walked around the room. “Looks like the tip was correct.”

“Not so fast!” Jarrett shouted. “I've got a few demands.”

“You're in no position to make demands,” the first Auror said.

“Albus?”

Albus turned back to the pipe and let out a sigh of relief. His dad had been the fifth Auror to arrive. “Dad. Kaden needs to go the hospital wing. Now.”

Harry knelt down next to Kaden and assessed him. “We'll have this lot rounded up soon. Then I'll take him.”

“Let go of the girl, Willinson,” the first Auror said. He took a few steps forward and Albus was able to see the side of his face. It was Robert Johnson, the new Head Auror.

“She's the Prime Minister's niece,” Jarrett said. “You'd better be careful, or I'll kill her.”

“You're outnumbered, Willinson,” Johnson said. “I wouldn't try anything if I were you.”

“It'll be a huge scandal if she dies down here.”

“Oh for God's sake,” Johnson muttered. “Expelliarmus!” Jarrett's wand flew in a perfect arc out of his hand and Johnson caught it. “Petrificus Totalus!”

Jarrett attempted to dodge the spell, but still keep hold of Amanda. He failed and collapsed to the floor. Amanda ran forward and Harry caught hold of her, directing her to sit next to Albus and Kaden.

The Aurors conjured ropes and tied up Jarrett, Quinton, the Carrows, and Umbridge. None of them said a word and none of them questioned any of the suspects. If Albus hadn't known any better, he would've thought the Aurors knew exactly what they were going to find down here. It was all very confusing.

Johnson and the three unfamiliar Aurors grabbed hold of the criminals and took them out of the chamber. Harry was left with Albus and the rest of the students.

“Dad, what's going on?” Albus asked.

“I have my suspicions, but unfortunately I don't have any proof,” Harry said. “Let's get you up to the hospital wing.”

Harry carried Kaden, who had since passed out, and led the odd group out of the chamber and back to the pipe that led to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. Once there, he pointed his wand at the pipe and it turned into stairs. A few minutes later, they were back in the loo. Albus blinked a few times at the bright lights and then his eyes rested upon Myrtle, who was floating near the far stall.

“You're back!” she shouted. “Is he dead?” Myrtle gestured to Kaden.

“No,” Albus said. “Just unconscious.”

“Oh.” Myrtle seemed rather disappointed.

“Let's go,” Harry said. “Hospital wing.”
***


Albus had no real reason to stay in the hospital wing. After muttering about how Albus and his friends were always getting into trouble, Madam Pomfrey proclaimed him in perfect health. John, Amanda, Scorpius, Felix, and Elsie were also fine. Kaden, on the other hand, had a concussion and was not allowed to sleep. Albus, John, and Amanda remained in the hospital wing with him. Rose and Matt joined them as well, despite the fact that it was well past curfew.

Harry left after delivering them to Madam Pomfrey, but promised to return in a few hours. That had been three hours ago and Albus was still waiting for him to come back, and for an explanation. They'd explained the entire ordeal to Matt and Rose, who both agreed that Malfoy's behavior was very strange.

The doors to the hospital wing finally opened and Harry walked in, looking incredibly exhausted. Madam Pomfrey, upon seeing him, hurried off to her study.

“Kaden,” Harry said. “How are you feeling?”

“Like someone ran my head over with a truck,” Kaden said.

Harry chuckled. “You'll feel better soon.”

“What was that about, Dad?” Albus asked. “Why was it almost like the Aurors expected all the prisoners to be there?”

Harry sighed. “No one knows for sure. The official record is that they received an anonymous tip, but none of the prisoners are explaining why they were in the Chamber of Secrets or how they got in.”

“When we were down there, Malfoy kept saying he was doing something for his dad, but he never said what it was,” Albus said.

“That helps confirm my theory,” Harry said. “I suspect that Scorpius Malfoy, along with Felix Willinson, were instructed by Draco Malfoy to find a suitable location to house the prisoners for safe-keeping until Aurors could be brought in to capture them. This, of course, had to be done after the Auror Department was reorganized by Robert Johnson, in order to make both him and Laurentis look good. If Laurentis looks good, Draco Malfoy looks good.”

“But that means that Laurentis and Draco Malfoy knew where the prisoners were,” Albus said.

“Yes, yes it does,” Harry said quietly.

“Uncle Harry,” Rose began. “You don't think that Laurentis organized that break-out, do you?”

“It's crossed my mind,” Harry said. “But it's irrelevant, because I have no proof. Nor do I have proof of my theory about Draco Malfoy and his son. Alecto Carrow is dead, Dolores Umbridge is clinically insane, and Amycus Carrow isn't talking. Jarrett and Quinton Willinson aren't talking, either, and I somehow doubt Scorpius Malfoy will rat out his father. So, for now at least, this will remain a theory.”

“But Dad, it's illegal,” Albus said.

“It is,” Harry replied. “Don't worry about it, Albus. The prisoners are back in Azkaban, which is all that matters right now.”

“But Dad-”

“Albus. Worrying will do nothing. In my experience, people who are corrupt like this are never able to keep it a secret long. Whatever happens will happen.”

“What about Scorpius?” Amanda asked. “Why did he switch sides like that?”

“Scorpius Malfoy has had a rough year. His grandfather has been quite ill for a long time, which has put stress on both of his parents and thus, on him. I am sure he was pressured into this by his father and then when it came time for him to get further into it, by helping Jarrett Willinson get hold of Amanda, he realized he didn't want to be involved, not would his father have wanted him to be involved.”

“Is he going to get in trouble?” Albus asked.

“No,” Harry said. “As far as the record is concerned, Scorpius, Felix, and Elsie stumbled upon the prisoners just as you lot did.”

“That doesn't seem fair,” Albus muttered.

“No, it doesn't,” Harry said. “But on the other hand, I think Scorpius Malfoy deserves a break this year. I think he's grown up a lot over the past few months. You might find that he's not quite the bully he used to be.”

“I'll believe that when I see it,” Matt muttered. “I guess that's why he wanted to get into the Shrieking Shack, though. Probably wanted it for the prisoners.”

“I suspect that, too,” Harry said. “I must say I'm glad he chose the Chamber of Secrets.”

“Me, too,” Matt agreed.

“I have to return to the Ministry,” Harry said as he stood up. “This will be in the paper tomorrow, although I have no idea what type of story they're going to spin or how involved you will be. Whatever they publish, don't take it too hard. Please do not mention my theory to anyone. The last thing we need is an article in the Prophet claiming that Harry Potter is a conspiracy theorist.”

Albus laughed and said good night to his dad. Madam Pomfrey let them sleep in the hospital wing that night, considering how late it was. Kaden, of course, had to remain awake. Albus was surprised by how easy sleep came, considering what he'd been through that night, but it was nearly two in the morning. He realized with a sinking feeling that he still had exams the next day. Herbology and Ancient Runes. He hoped they wouldn't go too horribly.
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A/N: Thanks for all the lovely reviews! I will be getting to them as soon as I can. The next chapter will the last in this novel. I'm not sure when the fifth novel will be up since I have yet to come up with a concrete plot for it. I'm going to take a break to write other stories that I've had in my head for a while.

It's the end of October, which means it's nearly NaNoWriMo season! I'll be continuing to update Between Here and Somewhere throughout November, as well as posting the last chapter of this next Friday. But you won't see much else from me until December, as I'll be busy writing an original fic.

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Albus, John, and Matt overslept the next morning. Albus awoke ten minutes before their Herbology exam and had to wake up John and Matt, which is never a small feat. It took a full five minutes to get them up, but soon they were running through the corridors knowing full well that they would be late. Unfortunately for Albus, none of his mind was on Herbology. He couldn't stop thinking about what happened last night.

The boys ran into greenhouse three five minutes late and as soon as they shut the door the entire class looked up from their exams and stared at them. Albus got the distinct feeling that they all knew about last night, whether from rumors or from the Prophet. Professor Longbottom got up from his stool and walked over to them.

“Boys,” he said quietly.

“I'm sorry we're late, sir,” Albus said. “We overslept-”

“Albus, it's okay. I know what happened last night. Just go take your seats. Your exams are already laid out.”

“Thanks,” Albus replied.

Albus was very grateful that Herbology had been the exam he was late for. Longbottom was the most understanding professor in the entire school. Albus settled down and managed to take the exam without falling asleep. While there were a few questions that he wasn't sure about, he was quite confident that he at least passed.

By the time the exam period ended Albus was starving, as were John and Matt. They, along with Rose and Amanda, headed immediately to the Great Hall for lunch. As they walked in, Albus again got the distinct feeling that everyone was staring at them.

“You should've been at breakfast,” Amanda said. “Everyone was talking about it and they kept coming over and asking me questions. There were a bunch of people crowded around Malfoy, too.”

“Do either of you have the Prophet?” Albus asked as they sat down.

“Yeah, here,” Rose said, handing it to him.

Albus unfolded the paper and set it down on his plate. John and Matt sat on either side of him and read over his shoulder.

CONVICTS CAUGHT AT HOGWARTS

Newly appointed Head Auror, Robert
Johnson, received an anonymous tip
late last night that led him and four
other Aurors to Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry. The tip
told Aurors that escaped convicts
Amycus Carrow, Alecto Carrow,
Quinton Willinson, and Dolores
Umbridge could be found in the Chamber
of Secrets deep under Hogwarts School.

The Chamber of Secrets, long since
regarded as a rumored hidden chamber
beneath the school was proven to
exist in mid-1993. The Chamber has
remained empty since then.

All four escaped convicts, along with
Jarrett Willinson, wanted for a year
by the Auror Department, were found in
the Chamber of Secrets by Robert Johnson
and four other Aurors. Amycus Carrow,
Quinton Willinson, and Dolores Umbridge
have been returned to Azkaban prison.
Jarrett Willinson is currently being held
in Azkaban prison without bail. Alecto
Carrow was pronounced dead by Healers
late last night, after the ceiling in
the Chamber collapsed, crushing her
instantly.

Six Hogwarts students were found in the
Chamber as well. Johnson has released
very little information on this aspect
of the night, but has said that Jarrett
Willinson captured one student with the
intentions of killing her if demands were
not met. The names of the students have
not been released.

It is unknown how the convicts got into
the school. Weaknesses in the protective
wards are currently being addressed. 'We
wish to assure the public that Hogwarts
School remains as safe as ever. The problems
will be addressed quickly. There is no
need to panic.'

“Unknown how the convicts got into the school?” Albus said incredulously. “They've covered the whole thing up!”

“What did you expect, Albus?” Rose asked, shaking her head. “Uncle Harry said it would happen.”

“I bet that new Head Auror is in on it,” Albus muttered. “He'll probably say he investigated but all he'll do is make up stories to cover up what Laurentis did.”

“You're probably right,” Rose said.

“Who's right?” Kaden asked as he sat down.

“Albus,” Rose said.

“Have you seen this rubbish?” Albus asked, holding up the paper.

“Yeah,” Kaden replied. “But honestly, I don't care right now. I just want a sandwich. The divination exam was brutal. I had to tell Trelawney's future in tea leaves.”

John laughed. “What did you say?”

“Told her she was going to meet an untimely death at the hands of a stray Quaffle,” Kaden said.

Rose groaned. “Oh, Kaden, you didn't.”

“She actually liked it,” Kaden said. “Her huge eyes lit up and everything.”

“She likes death, Trelawney,” John said. “Or at least the concept of it.”

“Weird,” Albus muttered.

Albus's remaining exams took place with little fanfare. Despite his mind not being on the material, he thought he did fairly well, and when the marks were released he discovered that he had passed everything. His Transfiguration mark was a bit low, but still passing.

The Hogwarts students, with their short memory spans, soon forgot about the debacle in the Chamber of Secrets and moved on to other topics of discussion such as the summer holiday and the current Quidditch season. Albus certainly didn't mind this because it meant he was no longer the center of attention. Despite the fact that the Prophet never released the names of the students in the Chamber, everyone knew it was Albus, John, Kaden, and Amanda, along with the three Slytherins.

“Look, Laurentis has released a statement about capturing the prisoners,” Rose said at breakfast on their day in the castle.

Albus groaned. “This can't be good. Let's hear it.”

“'I wish to applaud the Auror Department for their work in recapturing the remaining escaped criminals. The timely recapture after the reorganization of the Department only reinforces how important a decision it was to reorganize. With the new regulations and policies in the Auror Department, organized by Robert Johnson, the Aurors were able to capture the felons immediately after receiving the tip. We can most assuredly look forward to more successes from the Auror Department.'”

“What a load of crap,” Albus said. “Of course they were able to recapture them quickly after receiving that tip. They organized for the convicts to be in the Chamber in the first place.”

“It's like your dad said, though,” Matt began. “Everything will get revealed eventually. That's not an easy secret to keep, what they did.”

“Hey, it looks like Embry's going to make a speech,” Kaden said, gesturing toward the staff table.

Professor Embry stood up and raised his hands for silence. This did nothing, of course. “Quiet!” Embry shouted. “I have something I'd like to say.

“Thank you,” he said, after everyone stopped talking. “I just want to say what a pleasure it has been to teach you all this year. I never expected to teach and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you enjoyed taking my class as much as I enjoyed teaching it, and I hope you all have a greater appreciation and understanding of our government. Today is my last day at Hogwarts, as the politics course will not continue next year, and I am once again needed at the Ministry. Please don't hesitate to owl me if you wish to receive a tour of the Ministry for academic purposes. I daresay that a few of you might have careers in politics yourselves.”

Embry sat back down and the entire room burst into applause. Albus wasn't sure if the applause was for Embry or for the fact that politics would no longer be a class. Albus hadn't minded the class, but one fewer class was to be appreciated.

“I learned something about politics this year, all right,” John muttered as the applause settled down. “And that's that I never want to be a politician.”

“Me, too,” Albus agreed.

“Cheers to that!” James shouted from a few seats down.

“Oh, I don't know.” Amanda shrugged. “I think it might be interesting.”

Albus wasn't at all surprised to hear Amanda say that. If any of his friends were to become politicians, it would be Amanda.
***


Later that day Albus found himself at yet another Hogwarts graduation ceremony. He and Rose had attended every single graduation ceremony since starting Hogwarts, and one the year before, too. It had gotten to the point where he didn't pay much attention to the speeches because they all sounded very similar to the ones he'd heard before. During this ceremony, the only part Albus paid attention to was the part where Fred and Heather accepted their diplomas, which took all of two minutes.

“Well, we survived,” Albus said to Georgia after the ceremony ended and everyone was milling around.

Georgia grinned. “That we did. It's kind of surreal, to be honest. Dad didn't win, so things are no different than they were this time last year, really.”

Albus nodded. “How is Uncle Percy doing?”

Georgia shrugged. “I'm not sure. He doesn't talk about it much. Actually, the weird thing is that whenever I go over there for dinner he spends a lot of time asking about Quidditch. I think it's mostly to keep me from asking about his lack of employment, but I'm not going to complain. Maybe he'll even learn to like it. The Quidditch, I mean, not the lack of employment.”

“He still hasn't found a job?” Albus asked.

“No. He could go back to the Ministry but he'd have to do something where he's not an actual politician, since Laurentis wouldn't take him. I don't think he wants to do that. He's been helping Uncle George with the shop, but I don't think Uncle George really likes that. Says Dad's too obsessive. But he's too nice to tell Dad he can't help.”

“Albus!” Rose shouted. “We've got to go. The carriages are leaving.”

Albus nodded to Rose and then turned back to Georgia. “I'd better go. Let me know when your next match is. I want to go.”

Georgia grinned. “Sure thing. See you soon, Al.”

“Bye, Georgia,” Albus said as he turned to follow Rose back to the castle, where they would catch the thestral-drawn carriages back to Hogsmeade.
***


“I say we go to John's house this year,” Matt said as the Hogwarts Express hurtled back to London.

“Are you mad?” John asked, unwrapping a Chocolate Frog. “I mean, really, are you? You want to come to my house, where I have three crazy little sisters running about?”

Matt shrugged. “They can't be that bad.”

“Says he who is the youngest in his family,” John said, looking at Albus for support.

“He's right,” Albus agreed. “And I've only got one little sister. Wait a minute, Matt's the only one of us who doesn't have younger siblings, isn't he?”

The others nodded. “All right,” John said. “Let's give Matt a real sense of what having lots of siblings is like. I'll owl you and let you know when.”

“Exploding Snap?” Kaden asked, holding up a deck of cards.

“Sure,” Matt said. Everyone else nodded.

Kaden began to deal the cards, but before he finished, the compartment door slid open. Albus, expecting one of his cousins, turned to the door. It slid open the rest of the way and Malfoy stood on the threshold, looking a bit unsure of himself. He was alone. Albus wondered where Felix was.

“What do you want?” John asked.

“Er, can I just talk to you lot?” he asked quietly, stepping inside and sliding the door behind him.

“Where's Willinson?” Albus asked, standing up.

“He's no longer speaking to me,” Malfoy explained. “After I hexed his uncle and as he put it, 'joined the other side.'”

“What about Elsie?” Rose asked, clearly concerned about the girl.

Malfoy shrugged. “She's always with Felix. She never said much around me.”

“Is she really a parselmouth?” John asked. “I assume she's the one who got you into the Chamber?”

“Yeah, she did, but she's not a parselmouth. She's just really good with languages so she was able to fake it,” Malfoy explained.

There were a few moments of awkward silence. Malfoy shifted his weight and leaned against the door.

“So,” Albus said. “Why are you here, exactly?”

Malfoy sighed. “This year sucked and I got caught up in a lot of things that I didn't want to do, which is exactly what happened to my dad when he was at Hogwarts.”

Albus was utterly confused as to why Malfoy was telling them all of this. He exchanged looks with Matt and then focused on Malfoy once more.

“But it's just not worth it anymore,” Malfoy continued. “Hating you lot. I know it was you who somehow got itching powder into all the Slytherins' laundry-”

“That wasn't us,” Kaden said quickly, a little too quickly.

“And we know you put the goat in the common room,” John added.

Malfoy nodded. “As I was saying, it just doesn't matter. Any of it.” He turned to Matt. “And I don't care that you're a werewolf. Really. Sure, it's weird and I have no idea why Kendrick even lets you be here-”

“I won't hesitate to hex you, you know,” John said, reaching into his robes for his wand.

Malfoy held up his hands. “No, don't. I guess what I'm saying is that I think we should call a truce.”

“A truce?” Albus asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Yeah, a truce,” Malfoy said. “You all know my grandfather died this year. It makes all this fighting we do seem really stupid.”

“You're not saying we should be friends, are you?” John asked incredulously.

Malfoy screwed up his face. “God no. I'm saying you lot stop only pranking the Slytherins, don't tell anyone that I dueled on your side in the Chamber, and I won't tell anyone Eckerton is a werewolf. I'll really promise that, without any threats of expulsion.”

Albus was skeptical. Could the death of Lucius Malfoy really prompt this change in Scorpius?

“C'mon, truce?” Scorpius asked, sticking his hand out to Albus.

“Oh, just do it, Albus,” Rose said. “We've got O.W.L.s next year. You don't need this stupid feud distracting you. Or any of us.”

“Fine, truce,” Albus said, shaking Scorpius's hand.

Malfoy nodded. “I guess I'll go, then. See you around, Potter.”

Malfoy turned and left the compartment. Albus didn't move for a full minute. “That was the strangest thing I've ever seen,” he finally said, resuming his seat.

“I don't think any of us will ever full understand what happened there,” Rose said. “But I think it's a good thing.”

“Weird, though,” Matt said. “You think he means it?”

The weirder thing was, was that Albus did actually believe him. There had been something in Malfoy's eyes that Albus hadn't seen before. It was like Malfoy seemed older somehow. He was no longer a kid, whose biggest worry was arguing with Albus over stupid things. Somehow, Malfoy had grown up.

Albus supposed they'd all grown up that year. They were going to be fifth years now, and Kaden would be a fourth year, and that meant they were the older students in the school. They were growing up. All of them. Even Malfoy.

“Makes me wonder what next year will be like,” Amanda mused. “Everything about this year has been strange.”

“We've got Laurentis reforming Hogwarts,” Rose reminded them. “I think it'll be plenty strange.”

Albus had nearly forgotten about that. He didn't want Hogwarts to change. Despite all that was going on in the outside world, Hogwarts had always remained the same. But now it wasn't. Hogwarts was going to change.

Albus leaned back in his seat and stared out the window, watching the countryside fly by. He didn't know what changes Hogwarts would see in the following year, but he didn't want to think about it just yet. There was still a whole summer before that would happen, and Albus intended to enjoy it.
________________________________________

A/N: Thank you so much for all the support and reviews for this story! You guys are amazing. I will be taking a break before continuing with this series as I have other stories floating around in my head, but I'll eventually come back to Albus. I've no idea how long it'll be, though.

In the meantime, please check out my Marauders Era story, Between Here and Somewhere! And keep checking back for my review responses, because I will get to them.

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