"So dude, you're that weird guy from the other day, right? The one who kept saying that Iggy was dead?"
The boy in front of him raised one eyebrow, looking half-curious, half-amused. Harry nodded his head, trying to hide the apprehension he was feeling. If this boy was anything like Professor Kirkland...well then, the last thing he needed was for him to realize that they were on to him.
"Yeah," Harry responded. "I'm Harry Potter - and you are...?" He raised one eyebrow, expectedly.
"I'm Alfred Jones, dude," the boy responded, grinning widely. "All the way from the U S of A. Pretty awesome, right?"
"America, really?" Harry raised one eyebrow, pretending to be surprised. In reality, the fact that the boy was American oozed through from his accent and his general behaviour. Harry needed to keep him talking though.
"Yeah!" the boy - Alfred - nodded his head, looking enthusiastic. "It's that one awesome country in North America -"
"Uh, yeah," Harry laughed. "I uh...know where America is..."
"Well of course you do! It's way too heroic for you not to have heard of it -"
As the boy rambled on about the amazingness of America, Harry leaned back, thinking about the plan he, Hermione and Ron had brewed up. The idea was that they'd each follow one of the three, have a conversation with them, observe their movements, and try to find anything suspicious or odd about their behaviour or responses.
So far...well, everything about the male in front of him was odd. Alfred was just -
"Alfred?!" Harry blurted out. The American paused his ramble.
"Yes?" he asked, blinking expectedly.
"I..err..." Harry forced himself to think back to Christmas, and the stories that they'd been sharing with each other. He thought specifically back to Professor Kirkland's; hadn't his brother's name been Alfred?
"Um...you're Alfred," Harry muttered, staring at the boy.
"Yes," Alfred replied, slowly. "I am. Is that a problem?"
"Ah..." Harry chewed on his lip, contemplating whether or not to mention his sudden discovery. "You...you know Professor Kirkland, right?"
The boy narrowed his eyes ever-so-slightly. If Harry hadn't been on guard for any sudden movements, he wouldn't have even noticed it.
"Yes," he responded. "I mean, that's why Rus - er, Ivan and me are here. To see Iggy."
Harry's brow furrowed in confusion. "Iggy?"
"Yeah...ah, that's your Professor. You know...Professor Kirkland..." Alfred coughed, looking slightly amused. "Dude it's weird to call him that!"
"So you and...Iggy..." Harry's bit back a grin of amusement at that; it was just hard to think of the often-stern professor as Iggy. It would be like calling Professor McGonagall 'Minnie' or Professor Snape 'Sevvie.'
...Okay, that was a scary thought.
"Yes," Alfred prompted.
"...You guys have known each other for a long time?" Harry decided against simply blurting out all of his knowledge; he wanted to see what the other male would say.
"...Yeah we have." Alfred leaned back and smiled, easily. "We...we were - er, we're brothers."
Harry frowned slightly at that because, in all honestly, he'd been expecting Alfred to deny that particular relationship with Professor Kirkland.
"Yeah." Harry nodded his head. "He...he mentioned you once."
Alfred perked up slightly at that. "He did?" He sounded eager. "What did he say?"
Harry considered the question for a moment. "Well..." he said, at last. "He said you set someone's pants on fire."
Alfred stared at him, looking surprised.
"It was a Christmas story," Harry added, quickly.
"Oh yeah..." Alfred shook his head. "...Weird that he remembered that..."
"Well." Harry shrugged. "I guess it's not really something you forgot."
Frowning slightly, Alfred shook his head. "Oh you'd be surprised..."
"So..." Harry thought for a moment. What could he possibly say to get some answers about what he had seen in the penseive? It wasn't like he could just ask the bloke about how his brother had died and come back to life...
Harry jumped slightly. "I was...just curious, that's all. I mean, you kind of popped up out of nowhere so..."
"Oh yeah, that's understandable." Alfred nodded his head. "Actually, I just wanted to see Iggy - and stop Ivan from killing him, but that's another story - but yeah, we got here, and Dumb Whore said we could stay, so..."
"Dumb Whore?" Harry stared at Alfred, blankly.
"Yeah!" Alfred nodded his head. "You know, you're Headmaster? The dude is awesome by the way. Anyway yeah, he said we could stay so...I guess we're here for a bit."
Harry frowned slightly. "Does Dumbledore know you well?"
"Me?" Alfred shook his head. "Nah, the guys never met me before. He knows Iggy really well though. I've heard that they go way back."
"Do you know how?"
Harry worried that he had gone too far when Alfred sat up straighter, and narrowed his eyes.
"Why?" he asked.
"Oh, no reason," Harry responded, hurriedly. "I was just curious, that's all. They seem to know each other really well."
"Well, yeah..." Alfred relaxed slightly. "I told you, they go way back. But Harry - do you mind if I ask you something?"
Harry nodded his head.
Alfred stared at him for a moment. "What," he said, at last, "was all that stuff you were going on about the other day? About Iggy being dead?"
Harry stiffened and lowered his eyes, feeling his heart rate quicken.
"It was nothing," he replied, quickly. "I just saw something and I freaked out a bit...really, it's nothing to worry about."
Alfred frowned slightly but shrugged his shoulders.
"Okay dude, if you say so." A sudden smile stretched across the other male's face.
"Dude!" he exclaimed. "Want me to tell you some more about the good old U S of A? You know we have fifty states, right?"
Harry tried to hide his horror.
After hesitating for a moment, Hermione knocked on the door in front of her.
"Yes?" called the voice on the other side.
Hermione swallowed slightly; any other day (as much as she would deny it out loud) she would have been thrilled to be here. Today however...well, she couldn't get the image of Professor Kirkland's dead body out of her mind.
"It's me," she said, opening the door.
"Ah." Professor Kirkland sat forward in his chair. "Ms. Granger. What can I do for you?"
Hermione stared at him, frozen in her spot.
"Ms. Granger?" he prompted.
"Ah..." Hermione took a deep breath. "I...I want to talk to you about...about..."
"Ms. Granger," Professor Kirkland cut her off. "Please tell me this isn't about the other day?"
"Other day?" Hermione's eyes widened and her heart rate quickened. "I don't...I don't quite know what you're talking about -"
"I..." She swallowed, heavily. "No - I mean, this isn't -"
"Because Ms. Granger -" Professor Kirkland sat forward, staring at her with raised eyebrows. "I thought Albus had discussed this with you but...well, I don't know what you saw but I think you've gotten the wrong idea."
Hermione nodded her head, weakly.
"Now." Sitting back, he narrowed his eyes at her, looking annoyed. "I don't know what you think but listening to crazy accusations is not fun. Especially not with that bloody yank and that barbarian standing in the room."
"I..." Hermione fumbled for words. "I think...well, I know what I saw -"
"No you don't."
There was a brief pause.
"You really don't know what you saw," the Professor responded. "You think you do but you have no idea."
Hermione said nothing.
"So now, tell your friends to stop looking into things they have no idea about - you do the same thing - and leave this alone. Please - I already have to deal with those idiots, I don't need another three added to the mess."
Swallowing heavily, Hermione took a step back and exited the room.
"Did he just call us idiots?" she muttered, as she closed the door behind her and walked down the corridor.
Ron didn't know how it had happened but somehow he'd ended up being stuck with the worst of the lot.
"Hey there," he said, trying to hide his fear. "I'm...I'm Ron Weasley."
"Da," said the Russian male in front of him. "You are the one from the other day. I remember you."
"Um..." Oh god, why had he agreed to this? "Yeah, that was me...and my mates, Harry and Hermione."
"Da, I know." The man nodded his head. "What do you want?"
Ron stared at the smile on the other man's face, wondering how the bloody hell it could have held so much malice in it.
"Um..." Why was he here again? Oh yeah; he was trying to find answers...
"So er...why are you here? At Hogwarts I mean?"
He was met with silence. With fear in his eyes, he stared at the male in front of him. He stared back, a pleasant smile stretched across his face.
Malice; why was there so much malice on that face? Ron's eyes drifted away, focusing on the item held in the man's hands. Wait, was that a pipe?!
"...I'm going to live," Ron said, hurriedly standing up. He winced and shook his head. "I mean leave - I'm going to leave. Because you know, even if I didn't leave, I'd still live -"
"I came here to murder the man you know as Arthur Kirkland."
Ron froze; his eyes widened and he stared at the man in disbelief.
The man smiled at his obvious discomfort.
"I'm going to leave," he told the man, backing away. "You - go back to doing what you were doing, okay mate?"
"Do you like my pipe?" the man asked, lifting it slightly.
Ron bolted out of the room.
"It's his brother."
"What?" Hermione stared at Harry, confusion stretched across her face. Beside her, Ron shared a similar expression. It was a change from the dejected looks the two had been sporting when Harry had entered the room.
"The one I was talking to," Harry said, "he's Professor Kirland's brother. Alfred."
Hermione's eyes widened and she sat forward. A look of excitement spread across your face.
"Really?" She sounded excited. "Oh Harry, that's brilliant!"
"What?" Harry sounded disbelieving. "No it isn't. If he's related to the Professor, that means we have two of...whatever they are to deal with."
"Three," Ron muttered. "There is no way that creepy Russian bloke isn't a creature of the undead."
"Oh Ron, we don't know what they are," Hermione sighed. "I wouldn't go calling them 'creatures of the undead.' But Harry -" She turned her attention back to him. "This is good, see? Now we have another lead to go off. We had close to nothing before."
"Yeah I guess..." Harry frowned slightly.
"Did he say anything else?" Hermione pressed. "Anything that could help us figure out what they are?"
"No," Harry responded. "I asked why they came here but nothing really stood out from what he said."
"Oh." Hermione looked slightly disappointed. "Well, that's too bad."
"Did you two find anything useful?"
"Other than the fact that I'm likely to die before the end of the year?" Ron snorted. "Nope. Nothing."
"The Professor wasn't very...friendly," Hermione coughed. "I don't think he's too happy about what happened the other day."
"So no then," Harry sighed. "Well...I guess it's good that I spoke to Alfred then. He's much easier to pull information from than Professor Kirkland, that's for sure. In fact, I think he talks a little too much." He shuddered slightly.
"Well then." Hermione sat forward, looking eager. "Perhaps we should be paying more attention to him. If he's the Professor's brother, then he must be like him, right?"
"Well," Ron said, "I'd rather talk to that bloke than the other one."
"Oh I don't know," Harry sighed. "It really isn't that pleasant."
"Mate." Ron stared at him for a moment. "I just got my life threatened. I don't think talking to Alfred could be any worse than that Russian bloke."
Harry snorted. "Then why don't you listen to hours of extensive detail on all fifty states - and some of their capitals - of America?"
"I'm pretty sure he was implying that he'd kill me with his pipe."
"Well then." Hermione stood up. "This actually turned out quite well. We have a bit of a lead now - a bit later, we'll have a chat with Alfred and see if we can manage to pull anymore information from him. How does that sound?"
"Sure thing," Harry responded. "As long as you are willing to do it."
Know it took a bit of time for me to post out this chapter, so sorry for the wait.
Hope you enjoy this :)