Updated: Jun 13
LEARNING TO FLY
Unlike his brother James, Albus had always considered himself a peaceful person. He found that when he calmed down and considered all the circumstances, his decisions were more wise. Albus always remained cool even when Kreacher, their seemingly undying house-elf, attempted to provoke a reaction in him. He was taught to see the good in people and to understand what motivated their actions; his father always said that he was wiser than most his age. Recently, however, his desire to see Nakari Malum collide with the Whomping Willow surpassed his desire for peace and tranquility, and his feelings towards Professor Severn were not far behind, perhaps Albus could feed both of them to Teddy during the next full moon.
"Why the hell does he hate us so much?" Albus asked sitting on his four poster bed, one evening before bed.
"Ignore him, mate." Jester Jones said tucking himself into bed.
"I mean I get why he hates Scorpius," Jeremy Chung said. "He thinks he is a traitor for being sorted into Gryffindor."
"Like I had a choice!" Scorpius exclaimed.
Albus hadn't ever told Scorpius that the Sorting Hat does take their thoughts into consideration, he knew that if he did, Scorpius would feel like he had betrayed his family.
"Malum is from a super wealthy family, grandson of a former Minister for Magic. Heir to the biggest fortune in all of Africa, he probably hates being overshadowed," Jeremy Chung said.
"What? He didn't know Hogwarts was ram-packed with Potters and Weasley's?" Jones asked.
"It'll die over," Scorpius added. "Maybe not for me, but he'll get tired of hating you."
Scorpius was rarely wrong about anything, however, his assertion that things would die over soon for Albus couldn't have been further from the truth. As the month of October progressed to its denouement, Nakari became more and more vicious, still Albus found it difficult to complain about the densaugeo charm that had been placed on him as he sat in the Hospital Wing. Scorpius lay on the bed next to Albus and although his teeth hadn't been engorged with a charm, he appeared far worse for wear. His pale skin looked gaunt and his eyes silently sunken. Albus caught Professor Longbottom sitting with Scorpius one evening, trying to convince him to offer the name of the student who had locked him in the room but Scorpius didn't utter a word.
"Is it the same person who enlarged your teeth?" Professor Longbottom asked Albus only to be met by silence.
They were both released from the hospital wing on the same evening and found Amelia waiting outside for them.
"James knows it's Malum," she said as they made their way to the Great Hall.
"I told you I didn't want to get my brother involved," Albus replied.
"He figured it out himself. Professor Longbottom has been cornering me to tell him, but I haven’t. Even if I think it’s stupid.”
“Hardly, if this is how things are two months into the school year, how do you think he’ll behave if we tell on him? There’s seven more years of Malum!” Scorpius replied.
Upon entering their dormitory, they found a tray of sandwiches and pumpkin juice on their beds. Professor McGonagall stood stoically by the window watching the outside world before tilting her head toward them.
“The years you spend at Hogwarts,” she began. “Are supposed to be some of the happiest of your life. Somewhere, where, more often than not, unexpected friendships blossom. As an example, I became very close with Pomona Sprout, an awkward girl who spoke her mind even when it was not in her favour. We couldn't have been more different, and to make things even more interesting, we weren't even in the same house. She was proud to be a Hufflepuff and I, unsure if I deserved to be in Gryffindor."
The professor shot a blink-and-you'll-miss-it glance at Scorpius who seemed puzzled, but before he could ask, she responded.
"It took over five minutes for the sorting hat to place me in Gryffindor, and everyone led me to believe that I was not a true Gryffindor because it had taken so long to decide. As a result of my concern that the sorting hat had made a mistake, I found myself struggling in lessons, and one day, Pomona sat next to me in Herbology and helped me through it. We have been friends ever since.”
"When did you know that you were a Gryffindor?" Scorpius asked her.
"When I stopped worrying so much about it," she replied simply. "The sorting hat makes no mistakes." Professor McGonagall stepped forward and pursed her lips. “Eat,” she demanded.
Albus couldn't remember a time when he had been more afraid to do as he was told. However, when Professor McGonagall raised her eyebrows at them, they both hurried to their beds and began devouring the sandwiches.
“Part of being friends is making sure that no one suffers in silence. Be the voice they need," she paused for a few moments before continuing. "So, is there anyone you need me to have a word with or anything you need me to know? Or did you both coincidently end up at the Hospital Wing?”
They shook their heads slowly between mouthfuls of sandwiches and pumpkin juice before exchanging glances.
“As a teacher, I have learned that sometimes, being a friend is also, suffering in silence together,” Professor McGonagall finished with a wry smile. “If you change your mind, you know where to find me.”
Just before she left, Professor McGonagall waved her wand and filled the tray with more sandwiches, much to their delight. Soon after, both Albus and Scorpius sat silently, knowing that their presence alone would be enough for tonight, and that whatever they chose to do with Nakari could wait a few more days.
The final week leading up to Halloween hadn’t improved Albus’ mood. Even though he did well in Herbology and Transfiguration, he struggled in Charms. No matter how many times Professor Flitwick assured him that he was getting better, he could not help but feel inadequate, and no lesson made him feel worse than Defence Against the Dark Arts. Professor Severn always found a way to embarrass Albus no matter how hard he tried to keep a low profile.
“Where was the first Vampire sighting and how was he identified by the wizard who killed him?” Professor Severn asked the class.
As usual, Scorpius raised his hand almost instantly, much to the chagrin of Nakari who enjoyed displaying his intelligence. This was probably the reason why he disliked Scorpius, as after the first couple of months it became apparent that both of them were the smartest students in their class.
Professor Severn ignored Scorpius and Nakari and made his way to Albus, who had tried to avoid the professor's gaze without success.
Albus sighed and looked up at the cold eyes.
He was sure he had read the vampire chapter because he distinctly recalled a fourth-year girl staring aggressively at his cousin Louis while he tried to help him with his homework. He wanted to say Albania but that didn't sound quite right...perhaps it had been Hungary or Yugoslavia...was that even a country? His mind drew an instant blank after that.
“Errr…” he struggled to remember.
“Is Errr a place, Mr. Potter?” Professor Severn asked.
“No, I errr…”
“You, errr…just lost your house another ten points.”
“Why did you ask me?” Albus spat and before he knew what he was doing, he was standing up and his fists were clenched into tight balls.
“I beg your pardon, Mr. Potter?” Professor Severn stood still as stone, fixating him with a look so deadly, he wasn’t sure he’d make it back to the dormitory.
“You knew he didn’t know, why did you ask him?” Scorpius blurted. “My hand was up!”
Albus looked at his friend, slightly shocked by his outburst. When he turned to look at Amelia, he expected her to join in the rebellion, but she averted her gaze and studied her parchment instead. Albus felt a pang of anger.
“You’ve both earned yourselves detention. I’ll speak to Phobos and Deimos about appropriate punishment.”
Soon the bell rang and it would have been impossible for Albus and Scorpius to leave the Defence Against the Dark Arts class more quickly if they had wanted to.
“Thanks for standing up for us, Amelia!” Albus said, pushing past her and heading straight for the Great Hall without looking back.
For the rest of the evening and the rest of the week, Albus and Scorpius did not speak to Amelia. On several occasions, Amelia attempted to start a conversation with Albus, but he looked through her as if she were Nearly-Headless-Nick, and when Scorpius' resolve almost broke on the third day, he narrowed his eyes at him to make sure he would keep their silent vow of silence to Amelia.
“You are being a bit of a Goblin about it all, don’t you think?” James said one evening over dinner, biting into an asparagus as if it were a breadstick.
“I know so,” Dominique Weasley said.
“That’s boys for you, no matter the age,” Victoire Weasley added.
“Excuse me,” Ted Lupin interjected. “Firstly, we’re not all the same, I am very in tune with your feelings–”
“Which is why you thought tickets to the Holyhead Harpies was an appropriate Valentine’s Day gift,” she replied.
“That was one time,” Ted replied defensively.
“Oh yes, the year before you bought me tickets to the west of ham fuzzyball game,” Victoire said tartly as she picked up her things and left with Dominique and Roxanne, who both sneered at Ted.
“Football! And it’s West Ham! Not West of –” Ted Lupin frowned. “How the hell did I get in trouble for something you did?” he frowned looking into his bowl of Eton Mess.
“Go apologise,” James said to Albus. “She’s a nice girl.”
“What do you know?” Albus replied angrily.
James smacked Albus across the back of the head and scowled at him, leaving him to ponder his feelings.
“Look at the bright side, we’re learning to fly first thing in the morning,” Scorpius said.
“With the Slytherins,” Albus added.
“Merlin's knotted-beard! I said, look at the bright side!”
They both returned to their desserts in silence.
Albus woke up the next day with far less excitement than should have been the case. As a result of his rift with Amelia, he was now at odds with his brother James and the Weasley girls as well.
"You think you know them," he said stabbing a fork into a sausage and glaring at Dominique, Roxanne and Victoire who'd chosen to sit away from him and next to Amelia at the breakfast table.
"You," Ted said sitting down next to him. "Need to fix it. Victoire won't talk to me."
"I think that's got more to do with you than, Albus," Scorpius offered.
"Did I ask you?" Ted spat at him.
"You didn't," Louis Weasley said. "But he is right."
"Say's the person who's afraid of a little attention from girls."
"That assumes that I want attention from girls. Enjoy flying lessons, Al." Louis replied leaving the Gryffindor table with Damilola.
"You've basically caused a civil war in the Potter-Weasley Clan," Scorpius said as they walked into the grounds for their flying lesson. "I'd be entertained if I didn't like you."
As the first year Gryffindors and Slytherins arrived, a stumpy wizard in robes the colour of freshly picked lemons waited in the grounds. An object resembling a wet ferret sat on his head, distracting from the otherwise brilliant green of his eyes.
“Gather round, gather round. Be quick about it! We have a couple of hours to go through the basics.”
Nakari Malum and a group of Slytherins made their way to the front, purposely blocking everyone else’s view.
“My name is Roland Hooch and I will be your flying instructor.”
He caught sight of Amelia toward the back of the lesson and felt a momentary pang of guilt, but quickly brushed it off. How could she not know why he was so angry at her? He shouldn't have to spell the reasons, as a friend, she should just know. What was it Professor McGonagall had said about friends suffering together?
“Well, what are you waiting for? Did you not hear me say we don’t have much time? Did someone perform a Muffliato Charm? Get to a broomstick!”
Everyone rushed to get a broomstick on one of the twenty-three waiting on the grounds, and much to his dismay, he found himself in the middle of two Slytherins. Nakari Malum to one side and Natalie Parkinson to the other. Albus looked down at his broom and noted how old it looked with some broken twigs and others standing at odd angles. Nakari’s looked relatively new compared to his. Having Ginny Weasley for a mother, Harry Potter for a father, and James Potter for a brother, he wasn't a total novice to broomsticks, of course, but he had never had to ride a broom under the watchful gaze of the person he hated most in the world.
“Right, is everyone by a broomstick? Mr. Malfoy, stand closer to it, it won’t bite, it isn’t a wild Bowtruckle!” Roland Hooch said impatiently as the Slytherins laughed.
Honestly, Scorpius did look awkward, but Albus didn't quite appreciate the look of embarrassment on his friend's face, and frowned, feeling a surge of determination.
“Before we begin I must make some customary disclaimers,” Roland Hooch continued. “Which I hope you follow…unless you want to risk the possibility of being thrown against the Whomping Willow. Right, whilst I understand the excitement of learning to fly, I must request that you do not wander off into the skies without permission. Only once I am confident that each and every student has control over their broom, will we proceed with the next part of the lesson. I do not care how good you think you are, a game of Quidditch in your back garden does not make you a proficient flyer. Now, everyone concentrate on your Sweepmaster Sevens…”
The entire class looked down at their broomsticks as if it were the recipe to the Draught of Living Death.
“I am of the opinion that the broomstick is like a wand," Roland Hooch continued. "It will do your bidding so long as you direct your will, not at it, but through it. Just like a wand, this is a tool, a good flyer is a good flyer, regardless of the broom, just like a good wizard is a good wizard regardless of the wand. Right,” Roland Hooch said standing beside his Sweepmaster Seven and stretching out his hand with his palm facing the broom. He looked up at the class. “Clear your mind, make sure there is only one image; the broom…and say; UP!” His broom flew to his hand, which he grabbed with a firm grip. “Right, boys and girls, it's your turn!”
Automatically, the entire group of Gryffindor and Slytherin first years started yelling “Up!” Albus was horrified to see Nakari Malum mount his broom and launch himself off the ground with the grace of a bird flying into its natural habitat while disregarding their instructor who had asked them not to attempt flying until everyone possessed control over their brooms.
“Mr. Malum!” Roland Hooch looked up so quickly that his toupee fell to the ground, however, he was so distressed by this lack of respect for his authority that he did not notice. “Come back!”
Angry and envious, Albus screamed louder and louder at his broom than he had ever done in the past.
The broom raced to his outstretched hand and without a moment's hesitation Albus kicked himself off the ground. The breeze caressed his earlobes as blood pumped in his ears, and before he knew it he was flying, air rushing through his hair as his robes flailed behind him. His instructor screamed at the top of his lungs, but he ignored him and flew toward Nakari instead. For some reason, Albus felt his equal in the air, unlike the corridors of Hogwarts.
He should have known Nakari wouldn’t stand Albus' challenge. A wicked smile spread across his face as he propelled his broom forward at Albus, reaching a speed no one could have anticipated for an old school broom. Screams erupted from the Gryffindors on the ground as Nakari pulled at his wand and aimed a jinx at Albus, but dropping his right shoulder he dodged the jinx and Nakari who it appeared had aimed to crash straight into him. It had now become apparent that Nakari had lost control of the broom and was speeding down to the ground. For a fraction of a second, Albus laughed and then realised or was perhaps alerted by the screams from all the students that things were about to end horribly for Nakari.
He inclined his body downwards and raced to Nakari whose panic was preventing him from regaining control of his broom. Albus cursed and now that he was side by side with him, grabbed onto Nakari’s Sweepmaster Seven.
“Get on!” Albus shouted.
Nakari hesitated but just as he was about to jump onto Albus’ broom they both froze in mid-air, inches away from the ground. They looked up to see Roland Hooch cradling himself back and forth as if he was having some sort of attack.
“What is the meaning of this?” came Professor McGonagall’s voice.
However, someone else stood in front of her, with her wand out, it was Amelia Rose. Realising that all eyes were on her and the powerful magic she had just performed, she lowered her wand and Albus and Nakari fell to the ground with a soft crunch.
“My office. Now.” Professor McGonagall stormed back into the castle.
Albus sat looking after Amelia as she disappeared through the crowds. Nakari was instantly surrounded by Slytherins, helping him up. Moments later, Scorpius, Jester and Jeremy approached him with smiles on their faces.
“That was bloody brilliant!” Jeremy Chung exclaimed.
“Insane,” Jester Jones added.
“I thought my prayers had been answered for a few moments, mate.” Scorpius said. “But then you had to go and be a Potter and save the day. You just can’t help yourselves.”
Albus laughed. He wasn’t sure why, but he laughed and soon he found himself unable to stop laughing. He lay down and looked up at the sky as the sun shone down on him. He couldn’t remember when he had felt such freedom or such happiness as when he had been flying. Albus closed his eyes, ignoring his friends around him, that as soon as he returned to the castle he’d have to face Professor McGonagall’s wrath but for now he just wanted to stay where he was and smile just a little bit longer.