1. Chapter One
After Mum's final cuddle, a more mannish hug by Dad, and two sisterly goodbye kisses, the boys held ready a handful of magical dust while standing before their home's fireplace. There, James tossed his Floo powder while declaring, "Hogwarts!"
Striding into the burst of emerald flame, James disappeared. This meant he missed how Albus immediately did the same.
An instant later, James slammed down prone onto the castle flagstones. He angrily grunted, "Move, Al!"
"Sorry!" apologized Albus, rolling off from lying onto James' back. A surreptitious touch during this had Albus feeling a certain map hidden inside his brother's robe.
2. Chapter Two
"The Marauder's Map," Mariposa thoughtfully repeated. She regarded Albus across their library table at the small group's favorite spot in the book filled room. "Are you sure that's how your brother is tracking us?"
Albus nodded. "Got to be. I remembered it going past Dad's study during Christmas break, where he showed us the map just before James' first year. It's not there anymore, so the prat must have it."
"Did you ask your father?" came from Oort.
"Oh, no," Albus smirked. "Didn't want to remind him, so I cheated like a real Evil Overlord would. I collared Uncle George."
3. Chapter Three
Vinnie rumbled in minor bafflement, "Why would Mr. Weasley know about your dad's map?"
Hesitating about revealing even more private family stories, Albus nonetheless answered Vinnie, "He and his twin Fred nicked it from Filch the castle caretaker so they could get away with their pranks. Dad was given it by them later on, and he's treasured the map ever since."
"Right, because it was made by your grandfather and his friends," Mariposa agreed. She went on ruefully, "That means we can't risk anything which might damage the map. That'll make it even tougher to get it back from James."
4. Chapter Four
Musing out loud, Oort summarized, "Can't ruin it, can't summon it, can't steal it… Hmmm. No, that won't work."
"What, Oort?" Albus asked at seeing the sudden disappointment on that girl's face, who'd evidently realized a problem to whatever idea which had just occurred to her.
Oort pointed at a startled Vinnie. "Alas, the map recognizes polyjuiced people. That lets out giving Vinnie this potion, one of McGonagall's hairs, and have him disguised as the headmistress ordering your brother to turn over the map to her."
Vinnie whimpered, "Why me in particular?"
"Because of the Rule of Funny, that's why."
5. Chapter Five
Noticing how uncomfortable Vinnie was, Albus hastily interjected, "Nice try, but like you said, the map can spot polyjuice disguises, along with animagus abilities. Why, did you figure out how to do both over Christmas, Oort?"
"No," Oort shook her head with mild regret to then propose, "What about your dad's invisibility cloak, the one Ron Weasley talked about in his book?"
Albus winced. "Please! He was really mad the Weasel revealed one of our family secrets to the whole world. It's still in the Potter vaults, I think, but even so the map wouldn't be fooled by this, either."
6. Chapter Six
Feeling quite thankful about his narrow escape from having to impersonate a very scary old lady, Vinnie was inspired to mention: "Say, Al, could you get some more Wheezes stuff from your Uncle George like last time? Only instead of Moosefoot, we ambush James with 'em and get hold of the map."
Oort regarded Vinnie with rare approval. "That might work-"
They all saw Albus' regretful expression then, along with, "Sorry, no, guys. This comes under our Mum's absolute decree against any kind of prank war between us. Once was enough back home last year, especially when Dad joined in."
7. Chapter Seven
Sensing there was an interesting family story behind their leader's recent declaration, Vinnie and Oort stared in mutual curiosity at this young man, who solidly gazed back at his minions.
Trying to get him to spill, Oort prodded, "Not even one single item from Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes? Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder would be perfect, Albus, and you know it. If you don't want to disobey Aunt Hermione, there's nothing keeping us ordering something from them."
"Directive B-eighteen," glumly recited Albus. "She thought of that, too."
A contemplative voice next came from Mariposa's location. "Never mind. I know another way."
8. Chapter Eight
The first weekend morning after winter break was entirely peaceful. Most castle residents were staying in their warm beds, wandering down later to breakfast. This included James Potter sleepily entering the Great Hall, until he ducked back past the doors, now wide awake.
At the 'Puff table, Albus and his gang were putting food and drink into a large picnic basket. When it was full, all of the firsties then left together by the room's other end.
Pulling out the Marauder's Map, James quickly checked the names there. Sure enough, four specific people were headed towards a certain girls' lavatory.
9. Chapter Nine
James came to a panting stop at the corner where his corridor meet the other Hogwarts hallway containing the secret access leading below to a former basilisk's lair. He made a last check of the map clutched in one hand during this boy's recent sprint. Just as before, James' targets had been walking on the opposite side of the castle, so he was confident they weren't laying some sort of trap for him.
Instead, Albus and the others were now in the lavatory and had also halted.
Getting ready, James grinned. Finally, he'd catch them red-handed inside that room!
10. Chapter Ten
Tiptoeing down the corridor, James kept his gaze intently fixed upon the map. One after the other, the names of his quarry vanished from that magical object, clearly indicating they'd gone through the unplottable passageway. Peeking around the doorframe, James saw nobody there in the lavatory, but the entry was still open!
Hurrying forward without a second thought, James was determined to get inside before Albus used Parselmouth to close the sink again.
He really should've remembered a previous conversation with his father years ago concerning the Marauder's Map when Harry Potter showed this prized family heirloom to his sons.
11. Chapter Eleven
"Dad, when Uncle George had it, how come he never spotted Wormtail as Scabbers, or Riddle as Professor Quirrell?"
Harry smiled at his oldest child. "Basically, the twins just never bothered to spy on Ron in our dorm, so Pettigrew wasn't ever detected until Remus had the map and saw him displayed. As for your other question, my horcrux didn't show up on the map, so it probably doesn't distinguish between possessed people."
Albus then suddenly piped up with a question.
A surprised Harry answered, "Not that I recall, which is odd. I should've seen him there with your namesake."
12. Chapter Twelve
Perched atop a ledge near the lavatory ceiling, a magical creature either unable to be revealed by the Marauder's Map or somehow affected by a fantasy writer's inability to clean up after her plot holes surveyed with interest at the human running below.
Red the phoenix jumped off the ledge and extended his wings to swoop soundlessly in pursuit. Gliding through the air at head level, the bird took James totally by surprise when Red caught up with this boy and loudly screeched right into James' ear.
Instead of his normally soothing chirp, the "RAAAAWWWWKKK!" from Red was nerve-shattering.
13. Chapter Thirteen
James skidded short, violently threw up his arms to protect his head from whatever had noisily waylaid him, and spun around, all inside a split second. James also did something else then, unaware.
Rather, the boy was gawking at the scarlet bird fluttering around the lavatory while uttering actual sniggers from a chattering beak. In a flash of wings, this bird next flew over a ducking James who turned to see…
Albus at the Chamber entrance, grinning and holding in one hand the map he'd picked up from where his brother had just dropped it.
"Hi, James. 'Bye, James. (Close.)"
14. Chapter Fourteen
Watching a pair of footprints retreat down the Hogwarts corridor several floors above, Mariposa felt compelled to ask, "Are you sure he won't bring back McGonagall or another teacher to wait for us coming out?"
Looking up from the Marauder's Map, Albus smiled at Mariposa. "That'd make James admit he completely lost the war and has no other choice but tell everyone. No, he'll try to think up some other way to get his hands on this again."
Glancing over where Vinnie and Red were showing identical postures of chests puffed out with pride, Albus praised them, "Good work, guys."
15. Chapter Fifteen
Oort reminded everybody, "People, this sets up Rule 89. We can't relax our guard because we think whoever holds something as powerful as the Marauder's Map is unstoppable. After all, like the rule says, the other side had it and we took it from him."
Albus grudgingly admitted, "Fine, do you have any suggestions?"
"Oh, yes," smirked Oort.
Harry unwrapped the owl delivered package and stared with genuine shock at the contents. He next informed Hermione across the breakfast table eating her muesli with fruit, "Dear, it's my dad's map! Why would James-"
"Bet you a Knut someone thought of Rule 89."
16. Chapter Sixteen
Things quieted down for a while, which didn't reassure Albus. Growing up with someone made you know them well, and James wouldn't concede defeat so easily. Unfortunately, there were too many ways for his brother to strike back…
Walking along the deserted hallway to lunch, two hands abruptly grabbed the front of Albus' robe, lifting him up and slamming him against the wall. Dangling there, Albus looked directly into the furious face of Beowulf Moosefoot, and then stared over this older boy's shoulder.
Down the hall, James wiggled his upraised fingers in a derisive hello.
*Well played, James. Well played.*
17. Chapter Seventeen
Oort was having lunch with Mariposa and Vinnie at the 'Puff table. Years ago, an headmistress determined to end the Hogwarts house rivalry which had caused so much bullying and other problems decreed the students could eat anywhere they liked with their friends for breakfast and lunch. Only during dinner and formal occasions would the four houses revert to their former custom of table segregation.
This meant that all three minions together now saw their Evil Overlord dash into the Great Hall with Moosefoot in close pursuit, breathing down Albus' neck and showing grim resolve to slaughter the little shite.
18. Chapter Eighteen
Spotting his friends out of the corner of an eye, Albus hoped they wouldn't interfere. The plan he'd frantically come up with in the middle of being chased through Hogwarts by a maddened fifth year was best left to him and only him.
His goal in sight, Albus ran right at the staff table, and then he jumped up there. Sending plates, food, glassware and cutlery flying everywhere by his descending feet, Albus looked down into a row of startled mature visages, and declared at full volume, "I WANT TO CONFESS AND BE PUNISHED FOR EVERYTHING I DID TO MOOSEFOOT!"
19. Chapter Nineteen
"A nice variation of Rule 92," Mariposa said appreciatively. Oort nodded with equal admiration.
"Wha'?" came from Vinnie holding his ribs where a double elbow-strike from the girls on both sides of him had kept this massive boy from raising in wrath to go over to the Gryff table and then commencing a proper massacre there. Starting with his leader's brother and that Moosefoot pillock.
Patting Vinnie's knee, Mariposa explained, "Albus covered for our pranks, taking all the blame. This'll blow over sooner or later with the sheep forgetting it. In the meantime, we wait, watch, and plot our revenge."
20. Chapter Twenty
For the next couple of days afterwards, Albus had plenty of time to think during physically cleaning out the pens and stables for the Care of Magical Creatures classes. It was a much-needed distraction from how the smell of magical beasts' waste products was seriously overloading a young wizard's nasal passages.
One thing Albus pondered in between shovel loads was his recent notoriety. For the first time ever, he wasn't Harry Potter's son or even James' brother, but the guy who pranked Prefect Moosefoot, whom in the opinion of most of the non-Gryffs deserved every bit of it.
21. Chapter Twenty-One
Which was why Albus was now in front of the entrance to the Gryffindor common room, trying to persuade the Fat Lady to let him inside. That animated portrait was herself leaning back from the student evidently here straight from his detention, robe covered with streaks of vile filth and stinking to high heaven.
Speaking in a strangled tone while holding her nose, the guardian artwork granted a hasty permission: "Potter? Yes, just go in!"
The painting swung open and Albus entered while searching around for his target.
For some reason, the surprised Gryffindors in Albus' path scrambled apart instantly.
22. Chapter Twenty-Two
Registering the horrible stench now permeating the room, Beowulf stared in disbelief at an upright dungheap shambling closer. This walking oubliette then dropped to his knees before a shrinking prefect and spread out his arms, beseeching, "Moosefoot, please forgive me! I'm so sorry about everything that I won't leave until you tell me I've paid for my crimes!"
Eyes watering, Beowulf croaked, "Okay, done! Now, go away and stay away!"
Bowing his thanks, Albus left with a friendly wave to his brother looking stricken. Much harder stares were sent James' way by his fellow Gryffs hurriedly casting air freshener charms.
23. Chapter Twenty-Three
Vinnie watched Albus towel off his hair after a very long soak in the Hufflepuff boys' showers.
Eventually, Vinnie asked, "Hey, Al, did you really need to do that? Mariposa and Oort told me about Rule 92 which I thought you already pulled off when confessing to McGonagall in the Great Hall."
Holding his towel, Albus cheerfully replied, "Oh, I just wanted to make sure, Vinnie. Plus it does two other things. One, it undercuts James with his dorm mates and the older guys. Two, it builds up my reputation as nothing but an aspiring prankster instead of an Evil Overlord."
24. Chapter Twenty-Four
Next weekend, his detention finished, Albus and his gang were relaxing in the Chamber of Secrets on armchairs lugged down by Vinnie stealthily taking them from the 'Puff common room, without any help from the castle house elves save for these Hogwarts servants replacing the chairs and otherwise not interfering.
None of the elves would appear inside the Chamber even if directly ordered, either. Maybe the lair's unplottable magic made these Hogwarts servants unable to find and enter it.
Far more likely, they were scared off by Oort's sudden homicidal expression every time she encountered one of the supernatural mannikins.
25. Chapter Twenty-Five
Desultorily chatting among themselves after a morning's further exploration of the Chamber of Secrets without finding anything particularly noteworthy, the gang looked out at the room's flooded portion ahead disappearing into the darkness totally hiding the far wall. The still, black waters resembling frozen ink appeared to be the same as ever, lending a distinctive Evil Overlordish tone to their secret hideout.
Though, Albus, Vinnie, Oort, and Mariposa shared an unspoken agreement that if they ever saw the merest ripple (much less a shark's fin ominously cutting through the surface there) in the sinister liquid surrounding everyone, they were leaving.
26. Chapter Twenty-Six
When the group fell silent in their casual comradeship, Mariposa finally broke the silence by asking something she'd began wondering about for a while.
"Albus, are we ever going to get more new minions? I remember you mentioning months ago putting together some kind of Legion of Terror, just like the EO list says. But it's never come up again, so I'd like to know now."
"Um…" Albus had to concur, "Yeah, we forgot, didn't we? Okay, let's discuss it, building up our gang to take over Hogwarts."
"Do we really have to?" That surprising question came from Oort Lovegood.
27. Chapter Twenty-Seven
Albus didn't understand. "What? It shouldn't be too hard, finding enough firsties for our invincible multitude which shall dominate the land! Not to mention, based on how incompetent the usual villain's bunch are, the combined smarts of these other eleven year old kids will be a hundred times bigger."
"No," Oort shook her head, appearing a bit uncomfortable. "I'm just fine with the way things are right now. Why let someone else join who might spoil our fun? Besides, we're already the perfect size for our own overused plot device."
Mariposa braced herself. "And that'd be?"
"The Five-Man Band!"
28. Chapter Twenty-Eight
"Huh?" was offered in a confused chorus by Albus, Mariposa, and Vinnie. Even Red the phoenix perched on the back of his master's armchair cocked his feathered head in a distinctly puzzled manner.
Hopping out of her own chair, Oort stood before them all, fists on hips. She vigorously nodded, "Don't you see? Together, we're all a group of archetypical characters who complement each other."
Oort then pointed a finger right at Albus, who flinched a little despite himself. "Here's our Leader, the son of a hero, striving to outdo his father by becoming an infamous mastermind. Lead singer, naturally."
29. Chapter Twenty-Nine
"Hey! I can't carry a tune in a bucket-" started Albus' unheeded protest, overriden by Oort continuing with a thumb jerked at her chest.
"There's no other role for me but the Lancer, since I was gifted right after birth with the deadpan snarker endowment. Honestly, I don't know how I survived some of the sillier adventures Mother put us through without the ability to say the most scathing remarks under my breath. Lead guitar for me."
Turning to Mariposa who was sending Oort an unfathomable expression, the brunette girl received, "And here we have the Smart Guy on keyboard."
30. Chapter Thirty
Throwing up a palm to hold off any objection, Oort explained, "Gender means nothing. Man or woman, the Smart Guy is the most intelligent and clever member of the group. Fair enough?" Oort finished, eyeing Mariposa.
This addressed young witch in her chair shrugged in somewhat undecided accord, accepting this absurd title for now. Satisfied, Oort skipped over to where Vinnie warily watched her approach.
Oort announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Big Guy! The rock of the team, never quits, never loses!" She tapped Vinnie's left thumb almost as big as her whole hand. "These fingers were made for drumming!"
31. Chapter Thirty-One
Totally at a loss from Oort's latest behavior, Vinnie gaped at the ash-blonde looking quite pleased with her surreal pronouncements.
His lips moving with slow calculation, Vinnie eventually reminded his crazy friend, "Uh, Oort, that's one, two, three, four of us. Who's number five?"
Drawing herself up in genuine smugness, Oort stepped around Vinnie's chair to scratch the top of Red's skull. A blissful expression growing on the bird's countenance was accompanied by Oort declaring, "The Chick, of course! She's the peacekeeper and heart of the group, doing the vocals!"
Outed as a female, Red trilled an amused chirp.
32. Chapter Thirty-Two
"Oort?" asked Mariposa in a very calm voice which nonetheless made Albus and Vinnie instantly decide to shut up for now and not interrupt the girls.
Mariposa pointed out, "Seeing how we're already doing the EO trope, shouldn't you be describing us as a Five-Bad Band?"
An offended Oort replied at once, "We're not actually in it for the evulz! It's just five of us having fun pretending to take over Hogwarts and also messing with any nearby innocent bystanders along the way! That's allowed for comedy style Evil Overlords and their strictly limited number of astute minions!"
33. Chapter Thirty-Three
Leaning over, Vinnie whispered with excessive volume directly into Albus' ear, "She don't haveta call herself names, Al. I'm banking on Oort being pretty smart."
Wincing slightly at his abused eardrum currently throbbing in pain, Albus still reassured his slow on the uptake companion, "It means exactly that, Vinnie, instead of what you might've thought."
He next turned to where the girls were smiling together at their male friends. Yes, even Red was looking pleased, though Albus couldn't have told anyone how he knew this.
"All right, Oort, we'll forget about acquiring the extra underlings unless you change your mind."
34. Chapter Thirty-Four
By the exceedingly happy expression presently upon his minion's face, Albus had said exactly the right thing. Of course, two seconds later, this young wizard then let his mouth run away in an unthinking request. "Is there anything else you want to talk about, Oort?"
A gleam of pure mischief flashing into existence in Oort's eyes warned Albus far too late. "Well, yes, Dark Lord Potter, there is. Now that I've revealed who we really are, the next step should be obvious."
Albus looked helplessly at Mariposa waiting with weary resignation.
Oort now declared, "People, we need a theme song!"
35. Chapter Thirty-Five
The small group of children then started to vociferously argue about Oort's latest brainstorm. None of them recognized the hidden danger regarding the specific trope they represented as their own individual archetype characters.
After all, every band has some outsider with the power to destroy that selfsame group.
Usually referred to as Y-Know-Who (after a certain Asian woman), in the present circumstances we're talking about a bloke.
Completely unaware of an upcoming nonsensical clash with five wizarding youngsters, Ron Weasley took another swig of cheap firewhiskey and blearily tried to think of an idea for his next novel.
36. Chapter Thirty-Six
Years afterwards, he had both the maturity and vocabulary to appreciate the irony of copying the career path of the same man who'd once tried to obliviate Ron into drooling idiocy.
However, Gilderoy Lockhart had been rich and celebrated for years, which was appreciated by somebody who also wanted fame and fortune while working as little as possible for them.
It started when Ron got cut from the Chudley Cannons a week into his Quidditch tryout, found the nearest pub to get thoroughly sloshed, and narrated a few drunken stories to some stranger from one of the American magical newspapers.
37. Chapter Thirty-Seven
Much later, Ron was running out of money for his lengthy binge only to be eagerly informed by a prat he couldn't recollect that his stories of adventuring with Harry Potter and Hermione Granger had been a hit with their readers fascinated by the recent wizarding war in Great Britain. Did he know any more?
About to invite the berk to sod off, Ron was interrupted by a good-sized check held in front of his eyes. It was further insinuated that additional funds could be provided-
In a blur, Ron grabbed the check, ordered another pint, and started talking.
38. Chapter Thirty-Eight
Things greatly improved for Ron Weasley. His ramblings were edited into proper format by various ghost writers for the American newspaper and then for a book publisher seeing a potential best seller in Mr. Weasley's collected tales. This proved to be correct, with Ron's novel possessing its boastful title quickly snapped up by the reading public in truckload quantities.
Even the angry lawsuit from the married Potters only increased sales and burnished Ron's bad-boy image. The case was eventually decided for the defense via a novel legal argument that nobody had ever said all of his book was true.
39. Chapter Thirty-Nine
Several other tomes presumably authored by Ron Weasley were churned out over the years, detailing this man's life and times. Unbelievably, they also turned out to be definite financial successes even if these books didn't quite match the profits of his first literary attempt. All of them did manage to comprehensively attract critical jeers, though.
Ron didn't care. He happily spent every Knut coming his way and enjoyed to the maximum his new celebrity. This included learning just what 'groupies' were in all their ages, shapes, and craziness levels.
Except Ron was now dead broke, desperately needing another lucrative book.
40. Chapter Forty
Ron contemplated how unfair life was treating him. The advance from his publishers had already been spent and they were on his case about it, also complaining how low the sales had been for his last book. That wasn't his problem! It was all the fault of the ghost writers, who must be losing their knack. Well, pass along to them some more stories, and that'd do the trick.
However…Ron simply didn't have any additional anecdotes about his childhood escapades with Harry and Hermione. Bloody hell, it was nearly two decades ago now since their years together at Hogwarts!
41. Chapter Forty-One
His old school's name had just given to Ron an actual bright idea from out of nowhere. When he thought it over some more in between the mental haze created by recent copious amounts of alcohol, Ron began liking it better and better. On his last book tour through the states, one of his fans gushingly remarked, "It must've been wonderful learning magic at a thousand year castle!"
Oh, aye, wonderful, if you liked draughty corridors filled with Death Eater spawn itching to hex you for the greater glory of Lord Voldemort.
That aside, why not visit there again?
42. Chapter Forty-Two
The triumphant return of Ronald Weasley, holder of the Order of Merlin (Third Class, but no need to mention that), one of the Golden Trio, to where he'd acquired the wizarding skills and good judgment which helped bring down a Dark Lord. Witness to history and guest lecturer at Hogwarts Castle…
His publishers would surely love it! Maybe he could extract another sizable advance for the idea alone while getting them to pressure the Ministry and the Board of Governors regarding their permission. Worth a try, at least.
Ron celebrated with another firewhiskey, blissfully ignorant of certain events far away.
43. Chapter Forty-Three
"Five, four, three, two, one - Thunderbirds are go!"
"…Five passengers set sail that day, for a three hour tour, a three hour tour."
"Wherever there's adventure to be found, just a clue or a secret message, bring the Famous Five around…"
"Mmmm, a tough crowd tonight, folks. Fine, Mariposa, how about this for our theme song? One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver-"
"So no one told you life was gonna be this way…" *Clap-clap-clap-clap*
"Oort, do you really want me to hurt you?"
44. Chapter Forty-Four
Following the headmistress to the staff table of the castle's Great Hall, Ron suddenly found himself the center of attention by most of the students there looking up from their lunch. In return, he couldn't help marveling with disbelief how bloody young they all were! A quick inner calculation made him feel even more depressed due to even the seventh years wouldn't have been born until after the war had ended so long ago.
That also meant none of them would remember the less heroic particulars of his own schooling, such as the horrible Yule Ball robes.
45. Chapter Forty-Five
Sitting down a few chairs away from McGonagall, Ron couldn't help wondering just what she'd say. Their meeting just minutes before in her office had been quite acrimonious.
"Everyone, joining us will be Mr. Weasley, responsible for several chronicles of our times. The Board of Governors granted him guest privileges to gather material for his next endeavor covering the post-Voldemort generation. In between classes and schoolwork, you may consent to answer any questions he asks. Thank you, that's all."
*Contemptuous of my books, blaming the Board for everything, and tacit permission to snub me. Nursing any grudges lately, McGonagall?*
46. Chapter Forty-Six
Earlier, an incensed educator brought up his first ghost-written book and how some of Ron's exploits in it didn't approach anywhere near reality. She next went on for a rant about truth and fairness. Then McGonagall threatened to defy the Board and ban him from Hogwarts regardless.
"Go ahead," Ron shrugged. "I'll instead write, this time in a lot more detail, about Harry getting hurt by the Dursleys and Umbridge because of you. That'll be true, eh, Headmistress?"
Ron felt a vicious satisfaction at how McGonagall eventually gave in, glaring all the while at him over her office desk.
47. Chapter Forty-Seven
Already planning how to further get around McGonagall's implacable antagonism, Ron was soon distracted by his lunch magically appearing onto the staff table. He hungrily dug in, savoring one of the best things about living at Hogwarts. The only blight upon Ron's gratification was nothing to drink but pumpkin juice. Did he really once enjoy that stuff?
Oh, well, next time he'd bring along his flask now in the castle guest rooms and mix for himself a proper libation…
Across the room, an Evil Overlord and his minions intently studied Ron Weasley, whose table manners hadn't improved over the decades.
48. Chapter Forty-Eight
"Albus, we need to talk. Alone."
Everyone at the library table paused in their homework to stare at the bookshelf where James Potter was standing. This older version of their glorious leader glowered at his brother, before giving an impatient wave to get Albus moving.
Leaning back in his chair, Albus instead asked, "Talk about what?"
James' glare intensified. "You know. I'm not going to discuss family business in front of your little friends."
"Yeah, they're my friends. Which means I trust them to stay quiet about anything private."
Four spines (three human and one avian) stiffened proudly at that.
49. Chapter Forty-Nine
James then threw up his hands in exasperation at the familiar stubborn expression on Albus' face.
"Fine! I've already owled Dad telling him the bad news of the Weasel turning up here today. He hasn't written back yet, but I'm certain he'll order us both not to talk with him about anything. You might've missed it, but McGonagall basically said we didn't have to answer his questions if we didn't want to."
After that supercilious lecture, James looked expectantly at Albus, who responded with a nod, "Message received, James. You can toddle off now."
Various sniggers came from the others.
50. Chapter Fifty
After his brother angrily stomped away, youthful dignity ruffled as only a snarky sibling can accomplish, Albus became lost in thought for a few minutes. Eventually, he became aware of the rest of his gang regarding him in actual anticipation.
Flashing everyone a most wicked grin, this young villain intoned dramatically, "Mariposa, Oort, Vinnie, Red - we need to develop several diabolical schemes to destroy a so-called hero! The most important thing will be to set all of them in motion at once rather than wait for the first to fail and start over again with the next humiliating prank."
51. Chapter Fifty-One
Oort brought up the obvious: "Can we get more Wheezes stuff from your uncle to use on the Weasel?"
Albus looked uncomfortable. "I'm not sure. Dad told us Forge and Gred tested their pranks on him growing up, but Uncle George might object to someone else doing that now. Can't hurt to ask, though."
Mariposa had to know, "Exactly how are you related? I thought the Weasleys and the Potters weren't part of the same family."
Surprisingly, Vinnie offered, "Go back far enough with us, everybody is. Naw, Mariposa, Al's uncle is the same as Uncle Draco is for me."
52. Chapter Fifty-Two
As soon as those words left him, Vinnie tensed slightly, aware he might've said the wrong thing. The gigantic boy relaxed in his chair at seeing Albus' and Oort's matter-of-fact acceptance. Being a Muggleborn, however, Mariposa appeared genuinely confused over this offhand explanation.
Noticing her puzzlement, Vinnie groped for a way to explain what he'd taken for granted his whole life in the pureblood community. "Uhhhh… It's like this, Mariposa. After the war, people stayed friends together. When their kids came along, we started calling our folks' friends uncles and aunts, like Oort does now with Al's Mum."
53. Chapter Fifty-Three
Oort cheerfully pointed out, "I'd do the same even if she wasn't already my godmother, Mariposa. Just like Albus would call Professor Longbottom anywhere else but here Uncle Nev. Right, Albus?"
"Right," Albus nodded. "Dad ordered James and me not to do that except at home, ours and his. The same rules apply if we meet them at work: Uncle Percy gets called Minister Weasley if it's official."
"Oh." Thinking it over, a hesitant Mariposa asked to be certain, "It's against the rules for me to do that, correct?"
There was an awkward pause in the conversation at this point.
54. Chapter Fifty-Four
Disliking how dolefully Mariposa's face then changed into, Vinnie impulsively declared, "Hey, don't worry, Mariposa! So what if you don't know the older folks well enough to call 'em that? Our kids, they'll be trying to get noticed by us, whining without end 'Uncle Vinnie!' 'Uncle Albus!' 'Aunt Oort!' 'Aunt Mariposa!'"
After each assertion, Vinnie pointed a enormous finger at this specific named individual. A now-speechless Mariposa blinked at how Red the phoenix launched herself off Vinnie's shoulder.
Landing onto the tabletop in front of Mariposa, Red next bowed to her, accompanied by Vinnie's sheepish, "And 'Aunt Red', too!"
55. Chapter Fifty-Five
Feeling a great deal happier than ever before, Mariposa smiled at Vinnie. She then reached out to pat Red upon the head, during which the phoenix hummed an appreciative musical note. Bringing back her hand, Mariposa had something occur to this girl.
"Guys, here's an idea. It might be too hard to prank the Weasel because like Albus said, he's already familiar with his brothers' practical jokes. But I got reminded a second ago that I know less than you do about the wizarding world. The question is, how much does this redhaired credit grabber know about the muggle world?"
56. Chapter Fifty-Six
They all turned to Albus, who scrunched up his face with indecision before admitting, "Dunno. Mum says he was completely pants at it whenever she saw him dealing with the mundanes and their inventions. It's the main reason they broke up and she went out with Dad. From what I've heard, the Weasel really outdid himself the first time she invited her friends to meet with Grandad and Granmum when Mum brought them back from Australia."
"What happened?" asked a fascinated Oort.
"Let's just say that their house managed to survive Voldemort and the Death Eaters, but not Ron Weasley."
57. Chapter Fifty-Seven
There was an awed silence around the library table until Oort reluctantly ended this overcome hush. "The problem's that the Weasel might've learned a thing or two about the mundanes since then, and we can't be sure of exactly what. A pity, really."
The truly malevolent expression now upon her face meant only Albus had the courage to ask Oort, "Why?"
"Oh, it would've been lovely to slip him an anonymous letter saying Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers were going to attack Hogwarts tomorrow and only Mr. Weasley could save everyone by warning us at dinner to evacuate the castle."
58. Chapter Fifty-Eight
This time, even Vinnie joined in the admiring chorus of "Niiiiice" from the other two directed at a very smug witch.
Mariposa went on to eagerly nod at Oort, "That's what I was just trying to say! If we can think of a way to use our knowledge of stuff Ron Weasley's never come across, there's a good chance he'll do something with it to show everybody here what a complete pillock he is!"
Albus had to let her down easy. "Mariposa, Oort already covered this. The Weasel might know-"
"He won't know Rule 74."
"You mean…Project Overlord?!" gasped Albus.
59. Chapter Fifty-Nine
Ron walked along the deserted castle corridor, taking occasional nips of firewhiskey from his Ever-Full Flask. He could get away with openly drinking because all the students and staff were busy in their classes at the moment. Passing by a window, Ron glanced out at the Black Lake beyond, idly wondering if the giant squid still lurked in those waters.
That thought about old times soon led Ron into an absent combing through his red hair with crooked fingers. This action symbolized how for the first time in generations, he was the only Weasley or Prewitt descendant at Hogwarts.
60. Chapter Sixty
He certainly didn't have any children, thanks to a permanent Contraceptive Charm acquired after a scarily close shave with one of his groupies. For their own reasons, neither did George nor Charlie. Bill and his Veela wife were already sending their offspring to Beauxbatons, with Percy's progeny still too young for school.
Downing another swig, Ron grumpily scowled at how Ginny seemed determined to outbreed Molly Weasley. Five squalling brats already, and family gossip had her pregnant again. Well, at least the rich wizard she'd met, beguiled, and married during an American tour by the Harpies could afford them all.
61. Chapter Sixty-One
Ron nastily snickered, this spiteful sound drifting through the empty corridor he was exploring. The question was, could anyone afford Mum as their mother-in-law? Once she'd discovered Ginny was expecting for the first time, Molly immediately transplanted herself and a resigned Arthur from the Burrow to stay overseas with their daughter. They'd been there ever since and Ginny's husband, the poor bugger, must think this was a never-ending nightmare for him.
Glad to be well out of it, Ron was sure right now Mum was haranguing Ginny about when her grandkids would attend nowhere else but Hogwarts.
62. Chapter Sixty-Two
That led Ron into considering whether any of the children presently at the castle were the result of his old friends, acquaintances, and enemies from back then reproducing together. He shuddered at some of the possible marriages which might've resulted among those same witches and wizards. Not that it really mattered, except for how it might affect his upcoming book.
How much could he depend on his reputation to coax some lucrative stories out of those little monsters? This needed careful planning-
Ron frowned at an open doorway just ahead. He had the oddest feeling the room beyond was familiar…
63. Chapter Sixty-Three
Finally recognizing the place, a too-hasty swallow from the flask went down the wrong way. After his coughing fit, Ron glanced around nervously for any signs of Moaning Myrtle. Not seeing or hearing that lachrymose ghost, Ron took several wary steps into the lavatory. Stopping in the middle of the room, a wizard then eyed a certain sink.
Another suspicious examination of his location assured him he was quite alone. Facing the sink again, Ron murmured an experimental "Open?"
Grunting with disgust, Ron turned and left. During no part of this did he think about looking up.
64. Chapter Sixty-Four
Several days later, Vinnie and Red demonstrated their newest trick while Albus and the others watched them. The phoenix perched upon Vinnie's outstretched palm stared fixedly into his human companion's gaze, magically imparting all the recent spying done by Red.
Their mental exchange soon completed, Vinnie reported, "Yeah, the Weasel went there again without spotting Red or anyone else. We've got a perfect alibi, us being in classes and the rest of Hogwarts already gossiping about him visiting that bathroom so often. Even better, the whole castle thinks he's trying to contact Moaning Myrtle for any scandals she might know."
65. Chapter Sixty-Five
"Imagine that," Albus smirked. He studied his minions for a moment before asking, "Anybody likely to remember we started that rumor to distract them from what else is in there?"
Mariposa, Oort, and Vinnie all firmly shook their heads.
"Good. Oort, is the stuff from Zonko's ready?"
This time, Oort nodded. She went on, "I put the prank in the Chamber last night after Mum discreetly owled it to me from Zonko's. Apparently they didn't bat an eye at what she wanted and was willing to pay for a rush order. Don't worry, Mum's probably already forgotten all about it."
66. Chapter Sixty-Six
Mariposa irascibly muttered, "I'd like to forget how much the bloody prank cost! My old robe Oort's Mum also sold with the unicorn blood on it might've covered the bill nicely with a lot left over, but couldn't we apply your Uncle George's joke shop discount for this?"
Albus pulled a wry face. "Like I told you before, too risky. Better to use his competitors rather than have him turn us down. See, no matter how funny, I think there's some things even Uncle George won't do to his brother out of family feeling, and this goes well beyond that."
67. Chapter Sixty-Seven
"Getting cold feet, Albus?" Mariposa wondered.
This addressed young wizard drew himself up a trifle indignantly. "No! We're going to take care of Ron Weasley for once and all! I just wanted to check everything one more time, now that we're ready to start. Which reminds me, did you finish the letter?"
Rolling her eyes, Mariposa warned Albus, "Yes, and you owe me big time. I had to read every single stupid book of his to invent just the right melodramatic note that'd push all the jerk's glory hunter buttons and lure him down to the Chamber without telling anyone."
68. Chapter Sixty-Eight
"I also read those books, Mariposa," snickered Oort. "What'd you do, tell the Weasel there's a lifetime Quidditch contract with the Chudley Cannons waiting for his signature in the Chamber? Better keep in mind that if you did, he might actually chew his way through yards of solid rock to get into there."
"See for yourself," Mariposa announced, producing a sheet of paper from her robe pocket and handing it to Oort.
Mariposa then cautioned Oort and the others now crowding around the blonde girl, "Careful, it's another Zonko's special. Touch it the wrong way, and the timer will begin."
69. Chapter Sixty-Nine
As expected, Vinnie was the last to finish reading the note over Oort's shoulder. He, along with Albus and Oort, then regarded a smug Mariposa with genuine admiration over how well she'd crafted her mysterious message to entice a possibly wary wizard into one of Hogwarts' legendary secrets.
"All right, people, it's decision time. Do we go or not? If anyone says no, that's fine. We'll just ignore the Weasel until he leaves, and concentrate on school. I'm still voting for pranking him. Mariposa?"
"Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war! I mean, yes."
70. Chapter Seventy
Only you, the bravest wizard of all those who fought against Voldemort, can save us from terrible danger. The Chamber of Secrets is open again!
Headmistress McGonagall won't believe me about this despite that I have personally witnessed the repeated transformations which create the passageway leading below. These occur regularly at night from 2 in the morning, and it closes an hour later. I don't dare to investigate further, but your arrival at Hogwarts has finally given me hope.
Please, I beg of you, protect the helpless students of the castle from the monsters who'd hurt them!
71. Chapter Seventy-One
That was as far as Ron got before the note burst into flames and vanished. He'd just returned from dinner in the Great Hall to his bedroom and immediately found there the clandestinely delivered sheet of paper. Now, it was gone.
Numerous pulls from his flask later, Ron groggily contemplated just exactly what he was supposed to do about that damn note. Ordinarily, he'd have dumped the whole thing onto McGonagall or the Ministry, except why would they believe him? No, better take a look for himself, carefully.
Feeling his eyelids grow heavy, Ron decided a quick nap couldn't hurt…
72. Chapter Seventy-Two
A very muzzy wizard woke up, nursing his serious hangover. Lurching out of bed, Ron fumbled for his flask, swallowing an essential hair of the dog. It mostly worked, bringing back what he'd earlier learned about that bloody Chamber-
Oh, Merlin. When the hell did it open? There'd been a 2 in the note, or so he thought, and it was now…12:46!
A frantic dash towards and a more cautious peek inside the lavatory amazed Ron. The Chamber really was open!
Tell McGonagall? Bugger it, no sodding time!
Downing enough booze in one go to stupefy a troll, Ron staggered forward.
73. Chapter Seventy-Three
*One step, two step, three step, many step.*
Eventually reaching the bottom of the stairs, Ron holding his dimly lit wand giggled a few times about the word 'bottom.' He rewarded himself with another drink.
*Hullo, weren't there a lot of rocks here before? All the fault of that asswit Gildooey, shame on him. Not anymore, though.*
Such a clear path like now deserved another drink.
*Tum, tum- WHAT WAS THAT?!*
Instantly dropping to the stone floor at hearing voices from ahead, a terrified Ron ignored how both his wand and the flask went randomly flying away into the shadows.
74. Chapter Seventy-Four
Eventually realizing his panic was unwarranted, Ron started to get up. Instead, he froze while gaping at something lying close to the lower left wall. It'd been lost for many years, but he recognized at once his old wand.
This incredible discovery made Ron disregard a boy's voice until hearing, "…relax, Mariposa, there's plenty of time until the Weasel drops in. Vinnie, send Red upstairs to warn us when he comes. I'll wait at the top and sic the prank on him right when he arrives at the lavatory. He'll run screaming throughout Hogwarts before being rescued by the Headmistress!"
75. Chapter Seventy-Five
"YOU LITTLE BASTARDS!"
That enraged bellow coming from the other end of the Chamber made all four Hogwarts students promptly spin around in unison to stare in absolute horror at where a very angry wizard was stumbling into their direction.
Ron furiously shook his regained wand at those young gobshites, ignoring how the front part of this wooden stick was nearly falling off. He'd make them pay, setting him up for a damn prank!
All of his wizarding power inwardly built up, and then Ron poured it through his wand towards the kids and a bloody bird-
Everything went white.
76. Chapter Seventy-Six
Next morning, five truly glum Hogwarts residents waited in a spare classroom. Two other people then entered, taking their seats across the table from where four children were in their own chairs and one phoenix was perched onto the tabletop. All of these adolescents cringed at how sternly they were being examined by Albus' Mum and Dad.
Except this couple weren't here today as his parents. No, Minister Hermione Potter, Head of the International Magical Office of Law, and Minister Harry Potter, Head of the Department for Magical Law Enforcement, were on official business.
They were in so much trouble.
77. Chapter Seventy-Seven
An unsmiling Hermione then used her wand to expertly cast several privacy wards around the classroom. Once she'd finished, this wand was carefully returned to her robe and Hermione folded her arms across her chest.
As if it'd been a signal, Harry announced, "So far, what people know is that last night the phoenix familiar of Vincent Goyle, a Hufflepuff student, awoke him while indicating there was something wrong elsewhere in Hogwarts. He, along with another Hufflepuff, left their dorm and Vincent's familiar guided them to an unconscious Ronald Weasley, the famous author and hero of the second wizarding war."
78. Chapter Seventy-Eight
Harry continued reciting with increasing exasperation, "Mr. Weasley was discovered in the room long alleged to be the location to the Chamber of Secrets, which in his first novel he claimed to have destroyed one of Voldemort's horcruxes. No sign of any entrance was found by the staff summoned to this room, who took Mr. Weasley to the castle hospital. There, it was determined Mr. Weasley required advanced medical assistance so he was soon transferred to St. Mungo's, where he's presently undergoing treatment."
A baleful glare was suddenly sent by Harry at his son. "All right, Albus, what really happened?"
79. Chapter Seventy-Nine
Sweating, Albus frantically glanced around at his friends. Their morose expressions and clamped-shut mouths confirmed to an Evil Overlord that he wasn't going to get any help from these cowardly minions. All Albus could do was to explain yesterday's disaster. Afterwards, maybe he might hope for a shred of mercy from an Eviler Overlord and Mrs. Overlord.
With a final betrayed scowl sent to the other four, Albus faced his parents and confessed everything that he knew.
"…and then he sent a big flash of white light through the whole place, but it didn't affect anyone. Well, except him."
80. Chapter Eighty
Hand over his eyes, Harry sighed, "So then, you took Ron to the lavatory, closed the entrance, and-" Bringing his hand down, Albus' dad frowned at them all. "Hold on, how'd you get back in your dorms without being caught? Not to mention how you left them after curfew to visit the Chamber in the first place."
Albus already knew this was going to come up sometime. He nodded at Vinnie's familiar, telling this phoenix, "Show them, Red."
In a scarlet flicker of flame, Red vanished from the tabletop to reappear at the other end where she'd just teleported herself.
81. Chapter Eighty-One
Scathingly informing Harry, "Oh, now they've corrupted a phoenix," Hermione's face turned into an even deeper frown by a stray thought. "I was petrified during the whole thing, but in your story afterwards, the old wand from his brother Charlie was taken and lost by Lockhart. Didn't Ron get a new one due to that?"
"St. Mungo's said the remaining stub was Charlie's wand," acknowledged Harry, looking baffled. "When I bartered the basilisk, the deal included the goblins clearing away Lockhart's rockfall. They never mentioned finding any wand and obviously none of us since then noticed it down there, either."
82. Chapter Eighty-Two
"Er, how is Mr. Weasley?" Mariposa timidly ventured.
Trading an uneasy glance with Hermione which made the childrens' hearts sink, Harry ultimately answered, "Physically, he's fine." Avoiding any mention of Ron's blood alcohol level deserving a lifetime broom ban, Harry paused as if wondering how to continue.
Oort whispered in her horror, "Oh, no. Just like Lockhart, another self-obliviation!"
"Even stranger," Hermione corrected the girl. "This time, Ron doesn't remember anything at all from last night to when he got walloped playing the chess game in our first year. He woke up asking if we found the Philospher's Stone."
83. Chapter Eighty-Three
"Amnesia?!" blurted Oort and Mariposa in mutual incredulity.
Hermione and Harry nodded with equal solemnity. She told them, "It's looking like it may be permanent. Nothing St. Mungo's has tried, including using a pensieve, can bring back Ron's memories. Even being told what's happened after that hasn't worked, much less a potentially shocking experience when both of us met him face to face earlier."
His lips quivering, Harry barely stifled an unexpected snigger. A wifely glare shut him up, but Harry would forever treasure Ron in his hospital bed saying with sheer disbelief, "Blimey, Hermione, you got old and wrinkled!"
84. Chapter Eighty-Four
Being the Boy-Who-Lived had been bad enough; he didn't particularly want to be the Man-Banished-To-Their-Couch. Harry became serious again, helped along by the very irritating consequences of what had occurred in Hogwarts the night before due to those young culprits across the table.
He told them, "Here's how it looks to the public: Ron got into the Chamber, found his old wand, and when he used it, a backfiring spell wiped out his memories. Well, this happens to be the exact truth, and hopefully it's going to stay that way without additionally involving you."
85. Chapter Eighty-Five
Hermione joined in, "Neither of us feel revealing the full details of last night's idiocy would be beneficial to anyone. After this meeting, Harry's going to visit the Chamber and he'll then inform McGonagall and the Ministry that he's satisfied it's no longer dangerous despite what just happened. To be on the safe side, though, the lavatory will be magically sealed off, blocking any further access. With any luck, that'll be the end of it."
In a rather sardonic tone, Harry noted, "Congratulations. In the finest Marauder tradition, you covered up all your tracks and somehow got away with everything."
86. Chapter Eighty-Six
Albus wasn't reassured the least bit by his parents' surprisingly composed attitude. From out of the corner of his eye, he saw how Oort and Mariposa were also wondering when the other shoe was going to drop, right onto their heads with maximum pain inflicted. Vinnie looked blank like always, but even this Goyle heir had to be inwardly a little nervous about it all.
Gingerly deciding to bring up a potential tense subject, Albus risked, "Uh, Dad, Mum, there might be a problem. James wasn't around last night, but he knows we've been in the Chamber. If he talks-"
87. Chapter Eighty-Seven
Harry waved aside this objection. "I'm going to see your brother later today, too, either before or after the Chamber. James will get a direct order from me not to mention a single word about it. This includes asking you anything, Albus. If he wants to know more, I might tell him, but that'll be between us. Understand?"
"Yes, sir," obediently answered Albus.
"Good," nodded Harry, who then aimed a gimlet glance towards all of the small group at the table's opposite side. "However…"
In five youthful minds, a resigned *Uh-oh* promptly manifested itself.
"No more Evil Overlord mischief."
88. Chapter Eighty-Eight
"I mean it, Albus," Harry cut off his son's beginning whine with an imperious waggle of his finger. "The main reason why I urged you in the first place to secretly plot to take over Hogwarts was for you to have fun and make new chums at school. I rather think you've accomplished both of those goals, hmm?"
The older man smiled due to Albus then glancing around with sheepish pride at how his minions were in turn regarding him with steadfast comradeship. The boy looked again at his parents, saying, "Well, yeah, I guess so, Mum, Dad."
89. Chapter Eighty-Nine
"I think so too," firmly interjected Hermione, also examining with intense approval her son. "The rest of you - Oort, Mariposa, Vincent, and, er, Red - thank you very much for being such good friends to him. I wasn't exactly pleased at first about Harry coming up with such a silly way for Albus to develop actual camaraderie among his classmates, but it seems to have worked well, far beyond any of my expectations. Yes, Harry, you were right."
The children there all sighed with relief, until this was interrupted by her saying, "He's also right about no more Evil Overlord nonsense."
90. Chapter Ninety
Hermione Potter was a war heroine, the smartest witch attending Hogwarts in generations, and possessed nearly two decades of practice as a mother. This last part was decidedly evident in her awe-inspiring glower of surpassing fierceness directed at a flinching quintet. Even Red the phoenix, who had no actual experience with any kind of maternal presence, seriously considered hiding her head under one wing.
"You lot are incredibly lucky that nobody was harmed worse than they were last night. There's plenty of blame for everyone, Ron especially, even though it might've turned out for the best in his case."
91. Chapter Ninety-One
Albus and the rest had to blink over this. Did his Mum and Dad know something they didn't?
The children's curiosity was aroused further by how these spouses then eyed each other with intermingled perplexity and concern.
Harry and Hermione remembered what they'd been told by a St. Mungo's specialist healer about Ron's descent into full-blown alcoholism. At this point, their acquaintance should've desperately begged for a drink after waking up, but all he'd wanted with breakfast had been…pumpkin juice.
To the hospital staff's astonishment, an amnesiac Ron Weasley seemed to have also forgotten he was a drunkard.
92. Chapter Ninety-Two
St. Mungo's was covertly dosing Mr. Weasley with potions to repair the damage cheap firewhiskey had done to this wizard. To avoid an addiction reoccurrence, every visitor for an unaware Ron was presently sworn to secrecy in the hopes of a permanent cure. That knowledge was part of the reason why Harry and Hermione wanted to hush up any possible scandal of an aspiring Evil Overlord's pranks.
Harry ordered, "Everyone, I want your word of honor. Stay quiet, and go back to studying, all right?"
Four adolescents reluctantly consented to this. Even Red chirruped a halfhearted melodic Tweet! of agreement.
93. Chapter Ninety-Three
When her husband seemed about to announce the meeting was over, Hermione meaningfully cleared her throat. "Harry, aren't you forgetting something? Albus here neglected to mention exactly how they planned to prank Ron. I'm sure he'll be glad to tell us now."
Peering at his son, Harry didn't think 'glad' was what Albus felt at the moment. More like, incredibly shifty and also a touch resentful at almost dodging the bullet until his mother had brought up the subject.
Becoming intrigued at these same sulky expressions also being shown by the other children, Harry lifted an inquiring eyebrow.
94. Chapter Ninety-Four
His jaw jutting, Albus fervently declared to his startled parents, "Listen, it was all my idea, okay? I came up with it remembering how Dad told Uncle George just why he named me when they didn't know I was listening!"
Simultaneously amused by their son loyally taking all the blame as well as completely unsure at where this conversation was leading, Harry and Hermione listened along with the others while Albus revealed a Potter family secret.
"You were sleeping from your epidural at Royal London, Mum, so Uncle Nev's best champagne they shared resulted in Dad christening me Albus Severus!"
95. Chapter Ninety-Five
Harry Potter shamefacedly admitted, "Albus was three weeks premature, catching us totally by surprise, so we needed the nearest mundane hospital instead of St. Mungo's. I was so relieved everything went well that I killed most of Neville's bottle and had the bright idea- He's doing it again!"
Beadily eyeing his deadpan son, Harry commanded, "No more evasions, Albus! Talk, now!"
Albus took out a coin-sized disk from a robe pocket, plus his wand. He resignedly explained, "It's spelled so that nobody but those around at the start can see or hear it. Here goes: Chase the redhead everywhere!"
96. Chapter Ninety-Six
Albus tapped the disk placed onto the table twice with his wand. An instant later, Harry and Hermione recoiled backwards in their chairs, reacting to the sudden appearance of the large magical Acromantula before themselves, a spider the size of the entire tabletop.
Two things were noted at once by the older Potters. First, that illusion was thankfully intangible, as seen by the hairy leg flexing through an unruffled phoenix.
Second, and more alarming, the head of the spider was identically that of Severus Snape, down to the famous sneer. Spider-Snape's mouth then opened and roared, "DETENTION, WEASLEY! DETENTION!"
97. Chapter Ninety-Seven
Several months later, the Hogwarts Express chugged southwards, completing its traditional task of bringing home this train's passengers from another school year at Scotland. In one compartment, the occupants were relaxing like everyone else there, with multiple promises to visit each other during the summer break contingent upon their parents' approval. Since they'd all done well on the first year finals and otherwise behaved like good little wizards and witches, Albus, Mariposa, Oort and Vinnie happily looked forward to staying over at their friends' houses.
During an idle moment, Mariposa asked, "Albus, have you heard anything more about Mr. Weasley?"
98. Chapter Ninety-Eight
"Not very much," a bemused Albus replied. "You saw the same Daily Prophet follow-up story weeks ago we did, how he's never gotten his memories back and moved into his old boyhood home, the Burrow. His parents Molly and Arthur Weasley returned from America to stay with him again. There's one odd thing, though, that Dad learned later from Uncle George."
The other four in the compartment watched Albus expectantly until he continued.
"For some reason, their sister's rich American husband sent the Weasel a really big check to live on. Nobody's saying why. Anyway, what about it, Mariposa?"
99. Chapter Ninety-Nine
Rather than answering, Mariposa instead queried Albus once more, "Did your parents make up with Ron, becoming friends again like they were at school?"
Albus shook his head. "I think they tried but it didn't work. The big problem is, he's basically eleven years old now and Dad and Mum aren't, even if they're all grown up. It also didn't help that the Weasel finally read his pack of lies and believed every word. No, it looks like the Golden Trio is done with forever."
"Ahhhh," breathed Oort, her eyes sparkling mischievously and trading a very evil smile with Mariposa.
100. Chapter One Hundred
"What?" chorused Albus and Vinnie.
From a gleeful Oort, "If the Weasel's current mental state matches our own age, then he has to re-learn everything that Hogwarts taught him before. So, at the next Welcoming Feast, there'll probably be a new student a lot older than everyone else."
The children thought about this for a while.
Albus eventually ventured, "I've got the whole summer to talk Mum and Dad into letting us be an Evil Overlord and his minions again. Plus, we'll have a despised archenemy they can't stand either…"
Second year at school was going to be wicked.