Albus woke up sweating on the forest floor. He had just had the most pleasant dream – something to do with his dad teaching at Hogwarts, something to do with Professor Snape… and oh, yes… kissing Polly’s sweet face, her ringlets caressing his skin…
“Albi, you awake?” said a voice.
Albus blinked and looked around. Something smelled like it was burning, Professor Wigglesworth, James and Scorpius were looking at him as if eyeing a cadaver.
“What happened? Where am I?” Albus moaned.
Scorpius hugged Albus quickly – Albus noticed the trails of dried tears on his face.
“You’re in the Forbidden Forest… we all are–“
“Neo-Death Eaters attacked the school…” interjected Wigglesworth.
“Neo-Death Eaters… like Muggle Neo-Nazis, but Death Eaters,” explained James, sitting down.
“The castle got destroyed… we had to Side-Along Apparate out…”
“Where’s Polly, Scorpius?” asked Albus weakly.
Scorpius looked uncomfortable.
“Where is she, Scorpius?”
Still no answer.
“WHERE THE BLOODY HELL IS MY GIRLFRIEND, SCORPIUS HYPERION MALFOY?”
Scorpius sat a little stiffer, and spoke.
“She’s gone, Albus…”
“She’s dead… Neo-Death Eaters killed her.”
“NO! HELL NO!” Albus roared. “WHO ELSE DID THEY KILL?”
James began to speak.
“Professor D’Oracle… Deputy Headmaster Strellestin… they’re gone. Headmaster Byrndrom, Professor Snape and Professor Longbottom escaped to the Ministry. Our dad, Uncle Ron, and Minister Kingsley are taking care of them–“
“No… no… no…” Albus moved into a fetal position and began to rock back and forth.
“– but don’t worry, we’re going to go to a new school,” finished James.
“Will you come with us, Professor?” Albus looked at Wigglesworth, eyes shining with tears.
“Of course, Albus. I am your liason, after all…” Wigglesworth assured him.
“Where are the other students? Why did this happen? WHY?”
“They’re in Hogsmeade, all rooming in the inns. I’ve reserved a room for the four of us at the Centaur’s Den…your things have been Apparated there by the Ministry… grab my hands, all of you,” urged Wigglesworth, “or I’ll post some embarrassing things about you boys on FaceTome…”
Suddenly Albus felt the world spinning out of control; seconds later, he found himself lying on a bed in a cozy room in what must have been the Centaur’s Den inn. Albus looked around his new lodgings, eyes immediately drawn to a fireplace crackling with green Floo fire –
“For easy travel between here and the Ministry,” explained Wigglesworth.
“I’ve never been there before,” said Albus quietly.
“Dad took me there once… it’s really cool,” said James.
Wigglesworth sat on the edge of the bed, in between Albus and Scorpius. He hugged all of them close.
“Trust me, I know things look bad. Truthfully, nothing has been half as devastating as today in the Wizarding World since the Battle of Hogwarts 19 years ago. But there is nothing to fear, my boys. As a great wizard once said, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light."
"So... what do we do now, Professor?" asked Scorpius nervously.
"Go get some Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks. I'll meet you down there in a bit. Go, take your mind off of the tragedy – it always helps."
As the boys left, Wigglesworth stayed at the edge of the bed. He stared into the fire intently, as if spirits from beyond the fire beckoned.