[Hogwarts 4th floor, late March 2022]
The library hadn't had the book he wanted in. Apparently some snot faced third year (not quite the exact words the librarian had used) had taken it out two days previously. Irritated with himself for not going to get it the previous weekend out of nothing more than laziness, Albus dragged his hand along the rough stone wall. It wasn't even anything important, just one about Quidditch tactics that his Dad had said was quite good and Albus thought might make an interesting read. The annoying thing was that he had come all the way from a Potions lesson in the dungeons to the library, and now he was going to have to go all the way back down to the dungeons to his common room.
Outside the storm was raging, and it irritated him. Not only was reading about Quidditch a no-go, it seemed that playing it was contraindicated as well. He was probably going to have to go and learn about Ancient Runes or do his Potions homework or something instead. An impressive sheet of lightning lit up the sky, and Albus took a second to watch it out the window, counting the seconds until the roll of thunder followed it. Three seconds. He couldn't remember the significance of that, did it mean the storm was three miles away? Three kilometres or whatever measurement it was that muggles used these days? He thought about this for a moment, when all of a sudden there was something of a bang from the classroom behind him, as though someone had knocked a chair over.
Frowning, Albus glanced up and down the corridor. Lessons were over, and even then these classrooms weren't used for anything any more. Mostly they seemed to serve as a location where people got it on, or occasionally rowdy study groups from the library were relocated here. He'd seen that a couple of times - they were always Ravenclaw's, the only house that got enthusiastic enough about school work that the librarian got annoyed. Curious to know who it was having sex (which seemed overwhelmingly the more likely option) Albus moved to open the door.
Which was why he let out a short scream of surprise when the person behind the door was Professor McGonagall.
It took a second or two for him to realise that she wasn't with anyone else, and that the thing that had fallen over wasn't a side effect of her affair with... whoever it might have been in the imaginary world. Instead, she looked at Albus with a certain degree of disdain. Once he had recovered from the shock, she spoke.
"Ah, Mr Potter," the words rolled ominously off her tongue. "I've been looking for you." Albus blinked a few times in surprise. His heart, barely back to normal, immediately started thudding again. There weren't many reasons the headmistress would be looking for him, and none of the ones he could think of were good.
"Looking for me, Professor?" he replied in his most innocent voice. Of course he hadn't done anything wrong. Only maybe not told her about the little girl plaguing his dreams who was also making the school fall apart.
There was a pause for a moment. Professor McGonagall looked upset, and she took off her hat.
"Unfortunately, the Ministry has seen fit to expel you from Hogwarts."
There was another pause, while Albus let out a short laugh. It had to be a joke. The Ministry didn't just expel people for no reason. He caught her expression, still sombre, still upset. The smile faded rapidly from his face.
"They cited 'Reasons against Magic'. I believe it is relation to the little secret you've been keeping from all of us. People that might have been hurt because of you?"
"My... secret?" He tried to keep up the innocent tone of voice, but was unable to keep the waver from it. Don't cry. Don't ever let them see you cry. "P-Professor I don't have any secrets, I promise! Ask me anything!"
McGonagall ignored his plea. She put her hat back on.
"Why didn't you tell us you had been hearing voices?" She said, almost kindly. Looking at him with sympathy, but it seemed off somehow. It made his skin crawl. Albus backed away slowly, his mind reeling. There was no way this was happening. No way. She couldn't just do that, could she? Here, in a corridor, near the library, where anyone could walk past at any moment. Surely she'd have called him to her office or something?
"Let's go to my office. We need to discuss your conduct properly." Albus shook his head. He had a feeling that if they went to her office it would all be over for good. He would have to explain to his Dad why he had been chucked out. Sit at home while Mum brought him cups of tea. You didn't really need NEWTs, perhaps he could go and play Quidditch full time? If he wasn't at school he could practice more. And Uncle George had never finished school and look at him now! These thoughts weren't enough, though, to abate the thudding in his chest, so fast it seemed that his heart might explode. It was like the situation with Professor Malloy all over again. A case of being safe where he was, and that he could happily stay where he was forever.
What would happen, he wondered, if he kept defying the headteacher? He had already been expelled so it wasn't like she could hold that one over him. He could feel his eyes pricking and blinked furiously to try and stop it.
"I'm sorry, Professor, I really am. I tried to tell Professor Malloy and he said it was just dreams and that there was nothing significant." If he had to go down he might as well take his head of house with him. "I- I don't know why you're doing this to me," he added mournfully, hanging his head as he slid slowly down the wall.
Now sitting on the floor, Albus buried his head in his arms. If he stayed like this, pretending the whole world didn't exist, then he would be okay. Maybe it was all just a dream?