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   Harry returned to tell everyone else about Balladanis later on in the afternoon.  Madam Pomfrey flat out refused to let any of them leave the Hospital Wing, so she agreed to lock the door and go to her study while Harry explained. Matt's dad was there as well.

    Harry told them everything he had told Albus, although he left out the parts about why it was not all that advisable to become a Presuler.  Everyone was completely shocked to learn that Balladanis had been hired to help capture Washburn and the Willinsons.

    Unfortunately, Harry also brought news of Lubar.  News that was not all that welcome.

    “As of right now, he's completely free and in the clear,”  Harry sighed, “The Australian Ministry refuses to extradite him, and they won't prosecute him in Australia either.  To them, it's like nothing's happened.”

    Albus noticed that Mr. Eckerton looked positively furious with this.  Harry looked quite angry as well, but it did not come close to how Mr. Eckerton looked.

    “We're not going to give up,”  Harry said,  “We'll keep negotiating with them.”

    Mr. Eckerton had also apparently been told about the Hallows.  When Harry had spoken with him the previous night, it had been about the Hallows.  Albus remembered back to his first year, when Matt had told them about his dad's young adult dream of locating the Hallows.  Harry must've trusted him now.

    Albus reached over to his bedside table, where Madam Pomfrey had placed the Invisibility Cloak the previous night.  He wordlessly handed it to Mr. Eckerton, who carefully took it with a look of awe on his face.

    “Merlin's beard,”  he muttered,  “It's the Cloak.”

    “That it is,”  Harry said quietly.

    “Unbelievable,”  Mr. Eckerton whispered as he fingered it.

    He spent a few minutes trying the Cloak on before handing it back to Albus. “I cannot believe I've finally solved the case of the Hallows,”  he said to Harry, “This is amazing.  I would love to share the tale with my brother.  Perhaps I could introduce you to him at the World Cup this summer.”

    Harry nodded.  “That would be fine.  Perhaps I will eventually tell him as well.”

                        ******

    Albus wanted nothing more than to be allowed out of the Hospital Wing in time to go to dinner that night.  He was sure Professor Kendrick would make some sort of announcement about the tournament and he did not want to miss it.

    After a full ten minutes of begging on his part (helped out by Matt, John, and Kaden), Madam Pomfrey told him he was in no fit state to leave the ward.  Albus thought this was ridiculous because he felt fine.  So what if his arm was still bandaged and in a sling?  That shouldn't stop him from eating dinner with the rest of the school.

    Instead, Albus was forced to eat a quiet meal in the Hospital Wing and wait anxiously for Rose and Amanda to tell him what Kendrick said.

    The girls showed up right after dinner ended.  Albus immediately asked them what Kendrick had said.

    “Tournament's canceled,”  Rose sighed as she sat down on the end of Albus's bed,  “The kids from New York are staying to finish out the year, but the tournament's canceled.  I expect it'll be in the Prophet tomorrow.”

    “Merlin!”  Albus shouted,  “Why'd they have to cancel it?  Couldn't they just disqualify Australia?”

    “No,”  Rose shook her head,  “To do that Hogwarts would have to play New York in another final.”

    “Why don't they do that?”  John asked.

    “Too close to exams,”  Rose shrugged,  “It'll mess up everyone's studying.”
   
    “That's stupid,”  Albus fumed.

    “If it makes you feel better, I'm pretty sure Hogwarts would've won if Australia hadn't have been here,”  Rose pointed out,  “And Kendrick gave one hundred house points to everyone who was on the Quidditch and dueling teams.”

    “Yeah, well, all the houses had people on the teams, so that doesn't really help,”  Albus muttered.

    “Well,”  Rose grinned,  “I know one thing that'll cheer you up.”

    “What?”  Albus asked, even though there was nothing that could cheer him up.

    “There were Quidditch scouts at that match,”  Rose told him,  “And even though the match was disastrous, they did find someone they wanted to draft.”

    “Who?”  Albus asked, slightly intrigued.

    “Georgia!”  Rose exclaimed,  “She's been drafted to play for Kenmare Kestrals as soon as she graduates!”

    “That's brilliant!”  Albus replied.  Rose had been right, that did cheer him up.  There was no one he thought who belonged on a professional Quidditch team more than Georgia.

    “Yup, she's their newest reserve Keeper,”  Rose said,  “She says Uncle Percy's not impressed.  He wanted her to work at the Ministry.  She doesn't care what he thinks, though.”

    “Uncle Percy's got plenty of other kids to work at the Ministry,”  Albus shrugged.  He could never see Georgia working in government.

    “Kenmare?”  John said incredulously.

    “Yeah, seriously?”  Matt grimaced.

    “They're nearly as bad as the Cannons,”  John groaned.

    “She's just happy to be on a team,”  Rose shrugged,  “She's always supported Puddlemere, but she thinks if she's on any team, she'll be able to work her way up to a better one.”

    “Merlin, I hope so,”  John shrugged.

    “Is she the only one who got drafted?”  Albus asked.

    “Only one I know for sure of,”  Rose said,  “I heard a rumor that Anna Reilly got taken on by the Balycastle Bats, but I don't know for sure.”

    Albus nodded, feeling slightly better about the tournament.  It wasn't pointless now that he knew his cousin had been taken on by a professional Quidditch team because of it.  However, that didn't take all the disappointment away.

                        ******

    Madam Pomfrey reluctantly let the boys leave the next day after breakfast. She didn't really have a choice since exams began that day.  Albus felt perfectly fine and was quite happy to leave the place. 

    Rose handed him a copy of the Prophet as soon as he and the other boys reached the common room.  Albus took it, happy that he had a few minutes before his first exam to read the article that was inevitably there.

AUSTRALIAN SCHOOL CHEATS- TOURNAMENT CANCELED

After a startling discovery made by two Hogwarts
students, the Quidditch and Dueling tournament
involving Hogwarts, the Adirondack Academy of
Magic, and the Australian School of Sorcery
has been canceled.

The tournament's final Quidditch match was
interrupted this past Saturday by two Hogwarts
sixth years, Fred Weasley and Heather Weasley,
both 17, who claimed that the Australian team
had been cheating throughout the entire
tournament.

A few months ago, allegations were brought upon
the Australian team after their Seeker, Linda
Morales, 14, flew at an exceptionally fast speed.
An investigation found nothing.  The tournament
continued.

Fred and Heather Weasley accused Linda Morales
of being a vampire.  Vampires are outlawed
from playing on professional Quidditch teams due
to the unfair advantage they have.

The match was immediately stopped while all three
headmasters questioned the Weasleys and Morales.

Headmaster Addiar Killigan of the Australian
School of Sorcery admitted to allowing Morales
to be the Seeker of his team in order to win the
tournament.  The Australian team was immediately
disqualified from the tournament.

Killigan, Morales, and the rest of the Australians
participating in the tournament left Hogwarts late
on Saturday, declining to speak with any of our
reporters.

Tournament officials as well as the other two
headmasters have decided to cancel the tournament,
and not declaring a winner.

'It is regrettable that the tournament turned out
this way,' Fabius Kendrick told reporters, 'Perhaps
we can try it again in a few years.'


    “Killigan is an idiot,”  Albus said.

    “Look at the next article,”  Rose replied.

QUINTON WILLINSON BACK IN AZKABAN, JOINED BY WASHBURN

While the final Quidditch match was ending in disaster
at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry
Potter's middle child, Albus, 13, was dealing with his
own battle.

Albus Potter, as well as cousin Kaden Dursley, 12, and
friends Matthew Eckerton and John Brickston, both 14,
were kidnapped by Quinton and Jarrett Willinson, and
Jameson Washburn.  The three convicts were helped by
Ralph Lubar, Head of the Department of the Regulation
and Control of Magical Creatures in Australia.

The four Hogwarts students were taken to Australia
where Harry Potter and Walter Eckerton found them.
It is unclear what the convicts were after, as well as
why Lubar was involved.

Quinton Willinson and Jameson Washburn were caught and
sent to Azkaban.  Lubar and Jarrett Willinson escaped.
Aurors are currently looking for Willinson and the
Ministry is negotiating with the Australian Ministry
about what to do with Lubar.

All four boys have recovered from the ordeal and are
currently taking their end of the year examinations
at Hogwarts.  Harry Potter has declined comment.


    “Well, that's not a very informative article,”  Albus said as he tossed the paper onto a nearby table.

    “I don't think they can report much,”  Rose said,  “The Australian Ministry may be asking them to keep quiet about Lubar in return for giving him some sort of punishment.

    “It won't matter,”  Matt said,  “They're not going to do anything to him.”

    Albus was forced to push Lubar into the back of his mind as exams began. They were all significantly harder than the previous year's had been, but he was sure he at least passed all of them. 

    There were short articles in the Prophet about Lubar everyday, but they all said the same thing.  Australia refused to extradite him.  Matt was not at all surprised by this, but it infuriated Albus to no end. 

    The week after exams was a strange one for Albus.  There was nothing left for them to do.  No studying, no homework, no Quidditch.  Rose and Amanda went back to spending all their time with the boys, like it had been before Linda had arrived.

    Things were different, though.  Both Rose and Amanda were a lot quieter than they used to be.  Albus was sure they missed Linda, and he had no idea whether she had said goodbye to them, or even if she'd had the chance. 

    Matt was lost in his own thoughts most of the time, rendering him quieter than ever.  He often went entire evenings without saying two words to anyone, something that usually only happened around full moons.  However, the next full moon wasn't until after they left Hogwarts.

    Albus was sure this was because of what had happened in Australia.  He never talked about it, but Albus knew that getting kidnapped by Lubar again had scared the daylights out of him. 

    John and Kaden remained as boisterous as ever and did not seem to be fazed by what had happened in Australia.  They spent their week pulling pranks and playing endless games of Exploding Snap that Albus occasionally joined in on.

    Albus himself was quieter.  His mind was racing with thoughts of Lubar and Balladanis.  None of the articles ever mentioned Balladanis, but he knew that was because Balladanis's job had to remain a secret.  He wished more than anything that Lubar would get thrown in prison, whether it was Azkaban or Australia's prison.

                        ******

    The train ride back to London was subdued, the only noise being John and Kaden's Exploding Snap cards.  Albus and Matt both gazed out the window, mesmerized by the passing landscape.

    “Linda sent me a letter last night,”  Rose said, breaking the silence.

    Albus lifted his head up and looked at her.  “What about?”

    “She told us she was sorry, and wanted me to tell you that she was sorry about the tournament,”  Rose told him,  “She's on the run with her mum now. They're thinking of moving to a different country.”

    “To go to school?”  Albus asked.

    “No,”  Rose shook her head,  “She's been through school a couple times already.  She wasn't even a student at the Australian school.  Killigan pretty much forced her into playing Seeker for them.  He's a really nasty bloke.  They have to get out now, though, because everyone knows.”

    “Where will they go?”  Albus asked, surprised that he was actually feeling sorry for Linda.

    “No idea,”  Rose shrugged,  “She said she'd owl me when they find out.”

    “This whole year has been so messed up,”  John sighed,  “I hope next year's better.”

    “Me, too,”  Matt agreed.

    “We've got the World Cup to look forward to, though,”  Albus smiled.

    “Oh, yeah!”  John grinned,  “Owl me as soon as you find out when we're leaving for it.”

    “Definitely,”  Albus said,  “Your sister's going, too.  Lily told me she'd invited her.  Hugo's not really happy about that.”

    “Neither am I,”  John muttered,  “I don't want Ashtyn going.”

    “Well, I'd prefer Lily not go, but it's the Cup!  Nothing can really ruin it,”  Albus said.

    “Good point,”  John agreed.

    “Let me know when the Cup is,”  Kaden said.

    “Why?  So you can convince your parents to take you?”  John smirked.

    “No,”  Kaden laughed,  “So I can know when to invite you lot to my house.  My dad said he'd take us camping.”
   
    “Excellent!”  John grinned,  “Camping like Muggles?”

    “Yep,”  Kaden replied,  “Living in tents, no electricity, no magic either since we're all underage.”

    “There is no way my parents will let me go,”  Matt said quietly.

    “Why not?”  Kaden asked.

    “I went camping when I was five,”  Matt answered,  “That was the time I got bitten.”

    “Oh,”  Kaden looked a little taken aback,  “Sorry.”

    “It's ok,”  Matt shrugged,  “Just don't go during a full moon.  I don't want any of you having to join me in the Shrieking Shack next year.”

    “I'll go,”  Albus said.  He'd never been camping before, let alone camping like a Muggle.  He did feel bad that Matt wouldn't get to go, but he kind of thought Matt wouldn't want to go anyway.

    The remainder of the trip was spent arguing about Quidditch and Albus felt like things were sort of returning to normal.  It was almost nice to hear John and Matt arguing about the Cannons again and Kaden arguing about football.

    The train arrived in London and Albus found his parents waiting for him on the platform.  After saying goodbye to his friends, Albus left the station with his family feeling that just maybe life would be normal from then on.  Well, maybe the summer would be at least be normal.  Albus couldn't get his hopes up too high.


A/N:  Hard to believe it's finished!  Thanks to Dancer_of_Starlight for betaing and thanks to all of the awesome people who have read and reviewed this!  You guys are so lovely and amazing!

I am working on the fourth story but it'll be a while before the first chapter is up.  I'm thinking I'll update every other week at first, alternating weeks with Beyond the Shadow.  In the mean time, if you want something new to read, I suggest checking out Remember the Cannons, which is a collab I worked on last year and is now currently being updated.  It's all about the Chudley Cannons and their downfall.  It's under the username The Golden Snitches and is also in my favorite stories so you can find it that way.

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