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The school year was passing dizzily, almost too fast for Albus to keep up. September disappeared quickly, and soon October was there. Students started planning their Halloween costumes, and Albus wondered what he should be for Halloween. Last year he hadn’t dressed up since he didn’t know how Hogwarts halloweens were celebrated, but this year he was thinking about dressing up like some of the other students. Preferably himself, David, Art, and Rose could all be something similar.

“Could I be a dementor?” Albus wondered out loud one DADA class when they were supposed to be practicing their vampire skits. Professor Unglesbee had them all coming up with skits acting out Gilderoy Lockhart's greatest deeds. Albus had to put on a skit showing how Lockhart defeated a vampire, but he wasn't thinking about that right now. Halloween costume planning was much more interesting.

“Being a dementor isn't a bad idea,” David said. “If we do it realistic enough, we could scare some of the students away. That’d be great.”

“A lot of the professors have bad memories of dementors from the war. They won’t like it,” Rose said.

“Way to spoil the fun, Rose,” David said teasingly.

“Hmmm. Death Eaters?” Albus suggested.

“Don’t,” David said, groaning.

“Albus, I think that’s even worse,” Rose said.

“Could we be one of those long Chinese dragons?” Art suggested. Albus looked at Art blankly. What did he mean? “You must have seen them before. Like a dragon with a really long body, so like twenty people are under it? Except with us, it would only be four.”

“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” David said bluntly.

“Alright, so maybe we could be regular dragons?” Art suggested.

“We could be the four dragons in the Triwizard Tournament,” Albus suggested.

“Or the four wizards in the Triwizard Tournament. Krum, Diggory, Aunt Fleur, and Uncle Harry,” Rose suggested.

“Ugh, I don’t want someone dressed up as my dad,” Albus said. “Or worse, me. Let’s stick with the dragon idea.”

“I call the Hungarian Horntail,” David immediately said. “They are so epic.”

“What are the other dragons?” Art asked.

“Um, there’s the Welsh Green, the Swedish Short-Snout, the Hungarian Horntail, and the Chinese Fireball,” Rose listed, probably recalling Uncle Ron's stories.

“I already called the Horntail,” David butted in.

“I’ll have the Welsh Green,” Rose said.

“Which one do you want, Albus? I don’t care,” Art said.

“Um… I’ll have the Fireball,” Albus said. He didn’t know much about dragon types, but 'fireball' sounded much cooler than 'short-snout'. “Art, you okay with the short-snout?”

“Yup,” Art said happily.

“That’s settled then,” Rose said. “I cannot believe we didn’t do this last year.”

“We didn’t know people would be dressing up,” Art pointed out.

When the bell rang, Albus walked with Rose, as they were discussing ways to create their costumes and Rose was their expert in different charms. She knew how to do most spells in the second year textbook already. They walked into the Great Hall for lunch, where they found Headmaster Flitwick talking to some old lady. He didn't think much of it, until he heard the muuttering of some older students.

"Headmistress McGonagall!" Molly Weasley said joyfully as she put her books on the table.

"Who's she?" Art asked as he filled his plate.

"She used to be the Headmistress before Professor Flitwick took over. She left at the end of my second year," Molly informed Art.

"She was my dad's Transfiguration teacher, and also fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. She's a pretty awesome person," Albus told Art, remembering when his dad complimented McGonagall multiple times.

"It's a pity she retired," Molly said, sighing. "She famously retired at the end of Fred and Louis's first year, declaring that she could not deal with another copy of the Weasley twins for six more years. Then she added that another Potter was coming in a year, and she couldn't deal with any more trouble."

"I'm not that bad," James complained, as he has sat down next to Molly a few minutes earlier.

"Yes you are, you get detention every week. And besides, Albus is certainly a troublesome Potter. I don't blame her,” Molly added.

"Hey!" Albus said, feeling a little insulted. "I don't go causing trouble."

"Come on Albus, everyone knows you got into some sort of mess at the end of last year. And I must say, Flitwick hasn't looked nearly as healthy as he looked before you came. I expect you, James, Fred, and Louis have probably put a lot of stress on the poor man."

It was true to say that Flitwick was rather subdued since last year. Albus felt a little guilty, even though he knew it was Lord Zajecfer's fault and not his own. He couldn't imagine having to deal with being under the Imperius curse for an entire year, and then having to go back to your normal duties shortly afterwards. It was no wonder, really, that Flitwick wasn't nearly as jolly as he used to be.

“Albus, Rose, what happened to David? I only just noticed that he wasn't here. I thought he followed us out at the end of Defense, but I guess not.” Art said.

“Maybe he had to go to the bathroom or something?” Albus said.

“But he usually tells us,” Art said. “It’s like he disappeared into thin air after the end of Defense.”

“Wow, David’s capable of apparition,” Rose said jokingly.

“Should we look for him?" Albus said worriedly. He knew David could handle himself, but like Art said, David usually let them know if he was going somewhere.

"Oh no- Albus, Rose we have to go back to Defense now!" Art said, and in a panic he ran out of the Great Hall.

"Art- wait! WAIT!" Albus shouted as he too ran out of the hall, barely avoiding running into the other students, and he distantly heard Rose shouting apologies to the students as they ran past.

Art was an incredibly fast runner, and Albus barely caught up to him.

"What… is… it…" Albus said in between breaths.

Art was barely panting. "At the end of Defense when you and Rose were talking about charms and whatnot, I noticed that David had gotten into a small argument with Scorpius Malfoy. I didn't really think anything of it at the time, but what if it spiralled further after we left?"

Albus didn't answer, and instead just kept running with Art to the Defense corridor. He couldn't recall David getting into an argument with anyone before. He just wasn't the type. David's cheeriness was infectious, and he turned every insult into a joke. What could bother David so much that he couldn't just laugh it off?

Albus remembered Rose suggesting to Albus and Art during the summer that David was hiding something. Could it be related to this? And why wouldn't David tell them? Albus couldn't help but feel a small ripple of anger. He told everything to him last year when they were involved in the whole Lord Zajecfer mess. Why wouldn't David trust him back?

Albus halted once he reached the Defense corridor and saw flashes of light. As Art had suspected, David was in control of one of the waving wands. David’s eyes didn’t even see Albus, since he was so locked in concentration. Scorpius Malfoy was on the receiving end.

He saw Art and Rose standing by David, yelling at him to stop. But Albus didn't try to break up the duel. He stood there, letting the waves of fury splash over every calm thought in his mind. Fact: David was hiding something from Albus. Fact: David didn't trust him. Fact: David wasn't a good friend.

“Boys! Stop dueling!” someone shouted. It was Professor Unglesbee. Despite the fact that he was a generally laid-back man, David and Scorpius stopped immediately. Unglesbee was a teacher, after all. “Who is this, Scorpius Malfoy and David Haid? I’m afraid I’ll have to give you two boys detention.” Unglesbee glanced at Albus, and then said, “I’ll let you off with a stern warning Mr. Haid, but I expect to see Mr. Malfoy in my office this evening."

“What?” Malfoy blurted out. “He gets detention, but I don’t? How is that in any way fair? We were both dueling! Is it because he’s the best friend of Albus Potter?” Malfoy glared at Albus, who glared right back.

“Professor, if you’re going to let David off, let Scorpius off as well,” Rose begged. "They are both equally guilty of dueling, so it would be really unfair if Scorpius had detention, and David did not."

Professor Unglesbee stared intently at Rose's stony face, with the combination of Uncle Ron's stubborn nature and Aunt Hermione's fierce determination. “Alright, but I’m going to talk to you boys in my office for a few moments." Unglesbee, David, and Malfoy disappeared into the office.

“What do you think is happening?” Art whispered.

“They’re getting a scolding, I’ll bet, but Unlgesbee probably didn’t want me and Albus to hear- you know, since he's awed by our famous parents and all of that,” Rose replied. The three of them stood outside for several more minutes, waiting for David and Malfoy to come out.

Albus thought hard about what David and Malfoy were dueling about. He’d put the incident with Malfoy from the first week in the school in the back of his mind, but now it was at the forefront. He hadn't explained why he had fought with Malfoy then, and why would he now? Did he think Albus was a stupid idiot who couldn't be trusted with valuable information? How wrong he was. Albus wouldn't let David get away with lies this time.

At last David and Malfoy emerged from Unglebee’s office. Malfoy marched away without a glance at any of them, and David walked towards them gloomily.

“How’d it go?” Art asked, whispering slightly.

“Alright, I suppose. He yelled at us for a little bit, but that was about it. C’mon, let’s go to lunch.”

Albus's raged spiked. “David! You can’t just not tell us anything!”

“Unlgesbee only yelled at us! That’s all that happened!” David said, his voice raised.

“The duel, I mean the duel! Why were you and Malfoy dueling?” Albus tried to calm down his anger. Unsuccessfully.

“He insulted me, so we dueled! That was all there was to it!” David shouted.

“You’ve never dueled anyone here before! You are the most level-headed person I know. He must have done something pretty bad to get you riled up!”

“Oh, like you know everything about me,” David said scathingly.

“Well, if not me, then who does? Your other secret best friend besides Art and I?” David remained silent. Both of them were extremely tense. Albus glared at David. He had finally snapped. Both of them had snapped.

“The two of you are being complete idiots,” Rose said. “What’s wrong with the two of you?”

“Guys, just calm down. I’m sure David will tell you when he’s ready, Albus,” Art said, his voice wavering.

“Like he’s told you,” Albus snapped. He felt slightly bad for yelling at Art, who was only trying to help, but Art was in the way.

“He has, actually. He told me a few weeks ago,” Art said, his voice coming out so quietly it was barely audible. But Albus heard his words quite clearly. Al looked at David, who had a guilty look on his face.

“You trusted him, but not me?” Albus said, his voiced dropped to a whisper. A disbelieving whisper.

“It’s not exactly like that Al,” David said, sounding sincerely sorry. “Look, Art is a muggle-born, and he just got introduced to the wizarding world a year ago, so he didn’t…” David said, trailing off when Albus glared at him. Al could only imagine what his face must look like, but it felt pretty scary.

He was at a loss for words. What do you say when you find out one of your best friends doesn’t trust you? What do you say? Albus felt crushed, like his entire friendship with David was a lie. He was betrayed.

Albus drew his wand. "Albus, don't," Rose whimpered.

"Why?" Albus said, forcing his voice to mimic calmness.

David raised his own wand in a panic. Albus watched David's face flash through numerous emotions, until it finally landed on hatred. "I thought I could trust you!"

"You never trusted me, that's the point! Petrificus Totalus!" Albus shouted. David dodged the spell.

"Locomotor Mortis!" David yelled back. Albus heard Art and Rose shouting at them, but Albus was so furious that he barely heard them.


"Petrificus Totalus!"

"Stupefy!" Albus shouted. He had never tried a stunner before. But the spell whizzed past David's head, so Albus didn't know whether it would have worked or not.

"Locomotor Mortis!"

"Petrificus Totalus!"

"Locomotor Mortis!" David shouted. Albus attempted to cast several successive body-binds, which were dodged, and then David attempted to send a line of leg-locker curses. The two of them fired off curses at a more rapid pace, dodging and trying to catch the other off-guard.

"STOP IT!" Art shouted, and Albus was about to ignore him, when he felt rumbling under his feet. A few seconds later, Albus felt himself being blasted backwards, and he fell roughly into a pile of rubble. The stone floor had been turned into a crater. It seemed that David had also been blasted backwards.

Albus heard the echo of the explosion bouncing off every wall, through every floor. The entirety of Hogwarts had heard that. Teachers would surely be here any minute.
Standing in the center of it all was Art. For a moment all three of them- Albus, David, and Rose- stared at Art, who seemed to be looking in shock at the crater he made. Art bolted.

"ART!" David shouted, who then began running as well.

Rose and Albus, the only two remaining, looked at each other. Rose had an astonished expression on her face, and Al was sure his face contained a similar expression. Had Art performed accidental magic? Albus recalled Art's story from their first night back about blowing up his dad's tractor.

Uh oh. He heard the distant stomping of feet in the corridors. He couldn't be found here. Then he would have to explain what had happened, and he just… couldn't. Albus swiftly pulled the invisibility cloak, which was stored in his robes, over himself. He scurried over the cracked stone and ran down several flights of stairs.

Unsure where to go, Albus walked through the massive front doors outside. He saw Hagrid’s hut, but Albus didn’t want to go there right now. He wanted to be alone. He wandered around, without any sort of idea where he was going. His feet led him to a large gate that read, Battle of Hogwarts Cemetery, and he realized that’s where he was walking all along without knowing it. Albus sat inside the enclosed area, the eerie silence broken only by a few birds.

His anger had quite evaporated. That had been traded in for worry. How much trouble was he in? Dueling was, of course, forbidden. And how much trouble was Art in? Where was he, anyway?

And David… Albus, didn't regret dueling him, no matter what, he could not. He wouldn't accept any more of David's lies. But not only had he severed things with David, but Art and Rose were surely mad at Albus too. After all, Albus was the one who started the duel.

He was friendless. Utterly, completely friendless. He didn't have any friends besides David, Art, and Rose.

With this realization, Albus let the tears fall.

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