Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.

    Despite the fact that he did not have Defense Against the Dark Arts the next morning, Albus was down in the Great Hall bright and early because he wanted to read Rose's Daily Prophet.  Having Kendrick announce Balladanis's sacking was one thing, reading it in the Prophet was entirely different.

    Rose was already there when Albus, Matt, and John sat down at the Gryffindor table.  Amanda and Linda were on either side of her and all three girls were reading the article.  Albus drummed his fingers impatiently on the table while he waited for them to be finished.  Finally, Rose handed him the paper without saying a word and Albus read it, with Matt and John looking over his shoulder.


In an event that causes much of the wizarding world to remember
back to Voldemort's reign, Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark
Arts teacher, Tethys Balladanis, has been removed from his
position by the Ministry of Magic's Department of Magical

During Voldemort's reign, Defense teachers rarely lasted more
than a year at the school, a mystery that abruptly ended when
Voldemort was defeated on May 2, 1998.  Up until two years
ago, Hogwarts had had only one Defense teacher since that
fateful May day.

Professor Torro taught at Hogwarts for years until he was
mysteriously murdered nearly three years ago.  He was
replaced by Head Auror, Harry Potter, who is rumored to
have only taken the position after nobody else agreed to
fill it.

Harry Potter left the position this past autumn and it was filled
by Balladanis. 

Balladanis taught until two days ago, when he was removed
from his position.  Approximately a week and a half ago, a
complaint was lodged by Head of the Department for the
Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, Walter Eckerton,
whose fourteen-year-old son currently attends Hogwarts.

The complaint included harsh teaching methods, the use of an
anamatek as a teaching tool, singling students out for lack of
skill, and embarrassing students in front of their peers. 

An investigation by Ministry officials ensued and included
the interviewing of select students and staff.  The department
concluded their investigation late Sunday evening and informed
both Balladanis and Headmaster Fabius Kendrick of their decision. 
Balladanis left the castle willingly and will not be appealing the
decision.  When asked for a statement on the issue, both Kendrick
and Balladanis declined.

Upon hearing the news, Walter Eckerton said, 'I am very happy
with the decision and that the investigation was concluded in
a timely fashion.  I am not happy that it came to this, but I
feel that nothing should be put ahead of children's safety.'

Hogwarts students will not attend Defense classes until a replacement
is found.  As of right now, one has not been found.

    “I knew they'd stick your dad in there somehow,”  John announced once they'd finished reading.

    “There wasn't anything in there that we didn't already know,”  Albus muttered,  “I was hoping Balladanis would've said something or we'd find out what happened when he left the castle.”

    “Maybe he really did go quietly,”  Matt shrugged,  “Maybe he wanted to get back to his anamatek.”

    “I wonder where he lives,”  Amanda mused,  “Think he lives in England?”

    “Doubt it,”  Rose answered,  “Even if he did before I doubt he does now.”


    Life soon returned to normal for the Hogwarts students, as it often does after something exciting happens.  Everyone talked about Balladanis the day the article was published, but soon there was nothing left to say and the students focused on the upcoming Quidditch match, which was mere days away.

    Albus had an easy time forgetting about Balladanis due to Quidditch practice.  He was out on the pitch every evening and was soon hearing Wood's commands in his head as he fell asleep, which was something that certainly couldn't be deemed normal.  Albus was almost glad that the year was drawing to an end because once the tournament was over, he wouldn't have to deal with Wood anymore.  Thinking about that made Albus realize that Gryffindor would have a new captain the next year since Georgia was graduating.  Albus was sure it would be either Fred or Heather, but he wasn't sure which.

    Albus trudged into the Great Hall on Thursday morning sorely wishing that John hadn't woken him up.  They didn't have a class first thing, so why'd he bother doing that?  Albus was already running on little sleep.

    “I'm going to wake you up at five in the morning this Saturday,”  Albus muttered to John as he poured himself some pumpkin juice.

    “No you won't, you'll still be asleep,”  John grinned,  “I need you to help me finish that Herbology essay that's due today.”

    “That's the reason for you waking me up?”  Albus groaned,  “Why can't Rose help you?”

    “She's a bit sore with me right now,”  John muttered.

    “What did you do?”  Albus asked.

    “I may or may not have accidentally set fire to her Potions notes last night,”  John said.

    “And I should have to suffer because of that?”  Albus replied,  “How did you manage that anyway?”

    “It wasn't an accident,”  Matt put in,  “John and Kaden were tinkering with those super strength dung bombs last night in the Marauder's Den.  They stupidly decided to do this at the table right where Rose's notes were.  The dung bombs exploded and Rose's notes caught fire.”

    “See, an accident!”  John exclaimed.

    “No, stupidity,”  Matt said,  “You should've done it somewhere else.  Oh, Albus, I wouldn't suggest going in the Marauder's Den anytime soon.  It smells.”

    “I wouldn't have time to anyway,”  Albus muttered,  “Quidditch practice again tonight.”

    “Oi, Albus!”  James shouted.

    “What?”  Albus said.

    “Is Dad patrolling here this week?”  James asked.

    “I don't know, why?”  Albus replied.

    “He's here,”  James pointed to the staff table.

    Albus looked up and saw that his dad was talking with Neville.  Except he wasn't wearing his Auror robes, he was just wearing normal robes.  Albus glanced back at James who shrugged.

    “May I have your attention?”  Kendrick announced,  “Thank you.  I just wish to inform you all that Harry Potter has kindly agreed to take over Defense classes for the remainder of term.  Because of this, Defense classes will resume today.”

    “Good thing I woke you up,”  John grinned.

    “Guess you won't be able to finish that essay,”  Albus shot back.

    “Merlin,”  John muttered.

    Albus wasn't that surprised, nor did he care that much.  He'd already had his dad teach for two years and it hadn't been bad at all.  Plus, his dad was a far better teacher than Balladanis.

    Albus walked with Matt and John to Defense.  Rose was still not speaking to John and she walked with Amanda and Linda a little ways ahead.  Albus seriously hoped that this wouldn't turn into what happened earlier in the year.

    The entire class erupted in applause as soon as Harry entered the room and Albus noticed that this caused him to blush.  Even Malfoy was clapping, albeit half-heartedly, but he was clapping nonetheless. 

    “Thanks,”  Harry muttered,  “Well, I did not think I'd be back here.  I do have to continue with the curriculum, so I must ask that you complete the werewolf essay for next Thursday.  However, it only has to be one foot of parchment.”

    There was a collective groan from the entire class.  “Great,”  John muttered,  “I was hoping to get out of it.”

    “It won't be that hard,”  Matt rolled his eyes.

    “But it'll be time consuming,”  John replied.

    “I know, I know,”  Harry smirked,  “But there is a month and a half of term left and I can't just let you have this time to mess around.”

    The class was the most enjoyable Defense class the third years had had in quite a while.  Harry lectured for the entirety of the class, but it wasn't boring. Albus did not mind in the slightest that his dad was going to be finishing out the term.


    By the time Saturday arrived, virtually no one in the castle was talking about Professor Balladanis.  Quidditch was on the forefront of everybody's minds and the tensions ran higher than they had all year.  The outcome of this match would determine who played Australia in the final.

    Albus himself was not particularly worried.  Hogwarts had already beaten New York once and they could easily do it again.  The entire team was in good health and none of the alternates were needed.  Albus was perfectly content to sit in the stands with his friends and just watch the match, rather than have to play in it.

    It was a warm spring day with a slight wind and cloud cover, perfect playing conditions.  Wood had spoke of the weather during the previous night's practice, telling the team that a large storm had been predicted for that day.  Luckily it had not appeared yet.
    The match commenced with a lot of shouting and cheering from the crowd. Hogwarts scored five goals within the first fifteen minutes of the match and New York scored two.  The teams remained neck in neck for the remainder of the match, until James pulled out of a dive clutching the golden Snitch in his left hand.

    The crowd erupted into cheers and James was soon hoisted onto the shoulders of some of the older students.

    “I have an announcement to make!”  Professor Kendrick shouted over the crowd, “Due to Hogwarts's win, they will be competing against Australia in the final Quidditch match, scheduled to take place on the first of June!”

    The usual after Quidditch party ensued in the common room and everyone rehashed their favorite parts of the match.  No one talked about the final match, although Albus was sure it was in the backs of everyone's minds.  Australia seemed impossible to beat.

    Once the excitement from another Quidditch win abated, the Hogwarts students seemed to realize that exams were quite near.  The library soon became a popular place to be and fifth and seventh years in particular could be seen there all hours of the day.

    As the middle of May arrived, Gabriella demanded a quiet common room in the evenings, much like her sister had two years prior.  Albus and his friends spent more time in the Marauder's Den after that, usually without Rose, Amanda, and Linda.  The three girls seemed to like the quietness of the common room.

    Rose did forgive John for messing up her notes, but she became more tense and snappish as exams drew nearer.  It wasn't something that surprised Albus or anyone else because it had become a sort of end of term tradition with Rose.

    Defense lessons took a drastic turn for the better.  Albus and all of his friends got perfect marks on their werewolf essays, to the surprise of no one. After that, the classes bared no resemblance to Balladanis's.

    “Aw, Merlin!”  John shouted at breakfast one Friday in the middle of May. He had been reading the Prophet.

    “What is it?”  Albus asked, thinking Balladanis had been reinstated as Defense teacher or something.

    “England didn't make it into the World Cup final,”  John sighed,  “They were so close.”

    “Who did make it?”  Albus grabbed the paper from John, suddenly remembering the tickets he'd gotten for Christmas.  He hadn't picked who he was going to invite to go with him.  Actually, he hadn't even told his friends about the tickets.

    “Portugal and Russia,”  John groaned,  “Russia!  They've got a rubbish Quidditch team!”

    “Obviously not,”  Rose smirked,  “Albus, did you pick who you're going to take when you go to the Cup?”

    “Wait, what?”  John gaped at Albus,  “You got tickets?”

    “Er, yeah, for Christmas,”  Albus said.

    “And you didn't tell me!”  John exclaimed.

    “Well, I only got one extra and I didn't know how to pick.  I had it narrowed down to you and Matt.  Mind you, if you hate Russia, I'll just pick Matt,”  Albus smirked.

    “No, no, I didn't say I hate Russia,”  John said quickly,  “They've just got a bad team.”

    “How am I supposed to pick then?”  Albus asked.

    “You don't have to,”  Matt said as he sat down next to Albus.

    “Nice to see you awake,”  John grinned.  Albus and John had attempted to wake Matt up before they went down to the Great Hall and had no luck.  The full moon was the next day, so Albus hadn't even been sure if Matt was going to go to class.

    “Why, is the Cup a bad time of the month?”  Albus whispered.

    “No,”  Matt shook his head,  “It's just that my dad got tickets, so you can just give your extra one to John.”

    “Oh,”  Albus grinned,  “That makes things easy.”

    “Where is the Cup?”  Amanda asked.

    “Canada,”  Rose replied.

    “How are we getting there, Albus?”  John asked,  “Are we going to take a Muggle airplane?”  John looked excited at that prospect.

    “No idea,”  Albus shrugged,  “Dad might get a Portkey.”

    “That's boring,”  John said.

    “Wish I could go,”  Kaden sighed.

    “Why, don't you not like Quidditch?”  John asked.

    “It's ok,”  Kaden shrugged,  “I just want to try out a Portkey.”

    “You're weird, Kaden,”  John laughed.

    “So are you.  Airplanes are boring,”  Kaden argued.

    “I'm with Kaden on this one,”  Matt said,  “I'd take a Portkey any day.”


    Between studying for exams and Quidditch practice, Albus had no time for anything else.  He managed to squeeze in time to visit Matt in the hospital wing on Sunday, but only briefly before he went to Wood's day long Quidditch practice.

    The following weekend was the final match of the Junior's Dueling Club, something Albus had been forced to neglect due to Quidditch practice.  After begging Wood and a bit of help from Teddy, Albus was able to attend the final. Albus's team won, much to the delight of both Albus and Malfoy.

    Albus had not spoken to Malfoy since the incident with Professor Balladanis. Nor had Malfoy said a word to Albus, or any of his friends.  Malfoy remained mysteriously quiet around the full moon, not saying anything about it to either Albus or Matt.  It was strange, but not something any of the boys were going to complain about it.

    Three days before the Quidditch final, the Great Hall was filled with whispering voices that reminded Albus of the day Balladanis had been sacked. Copies of the Prophet were being passed back and forth and quite a few students looked extremely scared.

    “What's happened?”  Albus asked Rose as he sat down.

    “Willinson has broken out of Azkaban,”  Rose whispered, her face completely white.

    “What?!”  Albus shouted as he grabbed the nearest copy of the Prophet.  Matt and John crowded around him as he read it.


Officials have reported that three prisoners
broke out of Azkaban late last night.  It is
still unknown how it happened.  Azkaban guards
have refused to speak with reporters, and the
Ministry does not wish to divulge information
at this time.

The names of the escaped prisoners have been
released and anyone with information reguarding
any of them are asked to contact the Ministry.

    The Prophet then gave detailed information about all three of the escaped prisoners.  Albus only recognized Willinson.  The other two had been imprisoned for more petty crimes.

    “How did he get out?”  Albus wondered,  “He's an idiot!”
    “I think everyone's confused about that,”  Rose said.

    Any hope Albus had of getting homework done that week was gone.  He was lucky he was able to concentrate on Quidditch practice.  Willinson was out of Azkaban. He was galavanting about England, doing whatever he pleased.  That in itself was not necessarily that bad, due to Willinson's stupidity.  If he somehow met up with his father and Washburn, then it could be quite bad.

    What worried Albus the most was the fact that he would be after the Hallows, all of which still resided somewhere in or around Hogwarts.  Willinson was bound to come back, especially now that he was out of prison.


    Before Albus knew it, the night before the Quidditch final arrived and Wood called the team into the changing room after ending practice. 

    “It has been incredibly rewarding to manage this team,”  Wood said as he began to pace in front of them,  “There were difficulties in the beginning,”  he paused and looked at the two Slytherins on the team,  “But I am proud to say that you came together as a team wonderfully.

    “It still amazes me that a group of students from all four houses can come together and play together on the same team.  I am not sure this could have been done when I was in Hogwarts.

    “You have all come a long way over the year.  You've all made vast improvements in your skill.  Quite a few of you are seventh years and I am very happy to tell you that there will be scouts from a couple Quidditch teams watching tomorrow's match.  I have high hopes for the lot of you, when it comes to Quidditch.

    “I cannot say whether we will win tomorrow.  Australia is good, there is no denying that.  However, I have faith in all of you.  Tomorrow, go out there and give it your best.  Now, I think you should all turn in early and eat a proper breakfast tomorrow before the match.  Teddy, Tyler, anything to add?”  Wood turned to the boys.

    Teddy and Tyler both shook their heads and Wood turned back to the team. “I'll see you all down here tomorrow.  Good night.”

    Wood, Teddy, and Tyler stayed behind to discuss tactics while the team left. Albus and James were the last two to leave.  Georgia had left with the other seventh years, excitedly discussing the prospect of scouts.

    “You think Georgia's going to sign with one of the professional teams?”  Albus asked James as they walked back to the castle.

    “I'd be surprised if she didn't,”  James said,  “I just hope it doesn't hurt her chances when we lose.”

    “We might not lose,”  Albus pointed out.

    “We're going to lose,”  James muttered,  “Linda's too good of a Seeker.”

    Albus said nothing.  He wished he could just tell James that Linda was a vampire.  It would be so much easier.

    They kept walking, each lost in their own thoughts.  Albus stopped abruptly when he heard a loud crack in the forest.

    “What was that?”  he asked anxiously.

    “Probably just a branch breaking,”  James answered.

    “It was too loud,”  Albus said as he looked into the forest,  “It sounded like someone Apparating in there.”

    “I don't think you can Apparate in the forest,”  James pointed out,  “And it didn't sound that loud.  You're just tired from all the Quidditch practice.”

    “I guess,”  Albus said as he and James kept walking,  “But what if it was someone Apparating?  What if it was Willinson?”

    “You worry too much, Al,”  James groaned,  “This place is filled with Aurors and Dad's here full time now.  You'd have to be mad to Apparate here if you're wanted by the Ministry.”

    “But Willinson is stupid enough to do that,”  Albus replied.

    “That's just it,”  James laughed,  “If he's stupid enough to do that, he's going to get caught and sent back to Azkaban.”

    Albus nodded but he wasn't reassured.  Willinson may be stupid, but he did manage to kidnap Kaden the previous spring, and he had been on the run for a year prior to that.  He may be a rubbish dueler, but he was certainly good at not getting caught for the most part.

A/N:  Thanks to my beta, Dancer_of_Starlight as well as all of the wonderfully awesome people who have read and reviewed this!

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