Chapter 1 Hard Decision

The Goblin’s Amulet

Chapter 1: Godric’s Hollow

The sun could never make it through the thick dark curtains. They shaded the entire room from the sun so the two men could walk across the room without being detected at all. The room itself was furnished despite the rest of the dwelling being in pieces. One man had black hair with blonde embedded within it. He appeared to be the leader. The two men and a woman made up the entirety of the community in the room. Their sence of community was shown in the attire they wore. Black robes with a twister of white engulfing it.

“We have quite the problem facing us now, Soto,” the woman said from under her hood. “We’ve been bested twice already.”

“The loss of our recent plan means nothing,” Soto said casually. “Our strength comes from our ability to turn their win against them.”

“That, and we happen to be messing with Hogwarts itself,” the other hooded man said in a gruff voice.

“Yes, Rufeus, and we still hold all our cards intact,” Soto sat down at a crumbling table lightly.

“Except one,” the woman reminded. “Harry Potter is no longer Head of Aurors and all eyes are on Otto and Incommodo.”

“Stella, it’s only a matter of time before Potter gets his old job back,” Soto waved aside. “Our loss is meaningless. That said, I believe we shall press ahead with our plan. The young Potter we met a couple of months ago and his orphaned little friend still have memories of us, and that works to our advantage. Ready this dwelling. Most believe it is haunted and it is only a matter of time before we come face to face with them once again. This time, no one will interfere.”

“The Goblins still play a role, Soto,” the woman reminded him.

“The Goblins are meaningless,” Soto insisted stubbornly. “Incommodo’s meddling and interfering will only work against him. And that is when we will strike with full force.”

Stella and Rufeus paced the room quietly, in thought with Soto pertaining their next move. Then, Stella stood in place and looked up, “The next thing we should discuss is the issue of who. Which of our two friends should we deal with first?”

“Our choices are the Potters, the Malfoys or the Wallader boy we met earlier,” Soto told them. “All are viable but the Malfoys hold considerable influence.”

“I propose dealing with Wallader first,” Stella proposed. “He’s only one whereas the other two are entire families.”

“The Potters are more important to deal with though,” Rufeus argued.

“The Potters have been weakened enough,” Soto pointed out. “To weaken them more would be tantamount to our suicide.”

“And after our last two losses, it’s best we play it safe,” Stella said.

“But Potter will hand us leverage,” Rufeus disagreed. “If we held him hostage, we could demand any number of things to get our way, including laws, Heads of Department.”

“The same could be said of Malfoy, though,” Soto said thoughtfully. “In fact, Malfoy more so.”

“And Wallader is the last in his family,” Stella pointed out. “In reality, all options will get us what we want.”

“I believe we can work to hold leverage on all three of them,” Soto said ideally. “Indeed, why limit ourselves to just one?”

“Playing it safe?” Stella suggested. “After our last two losses…”

“Then we focus on Wallader as you suggested, but if he drags two friends in… so much the better for us.”

And as the three plotted, the boy Albus Potter snapped awake. The August sun loomed and shone through the windows of Albus’ side of the room early in the morning. It was always the sun that woke Albus up. Before he started Hogwarts, it never really was like this. When his foster brother Mark moved in, the boy liked the sun to wake him up, and demanded the curtains off. Finally his dad, Harry, demanded the curtains off so Mark could feel at home.

Albus punished Mark the only way he could; by hanging more green and silver posters of snakes and serpents around the room. Even a few inches of Mark’s side was taken up, and that wasn’t what Mark wanted, considering he preferred lions over snakes. Albus was a Slytherin and Mark was a Gryffindor, houses in the Wizard school they went to.

But then, the room was a mark of their three-year long rivalry. Since Mark moved in, the room was split into two, and they were very territorial. The doorway was split down the middle. Albus got the window and a bed and Mark got a bed and a bookcase, out of which was cast a lot of Albus’ books. The few he actually bothered to read. On Albus’ side were hung green and silver posters. The wall was filled with snakes of all kinds. Then, above Albus’ bed was the skinny box his friend Scorpius gave him their first year. A skinny box on the front of which were two snakes entwined and forming the initials A.S.P. for Albus Severus Potter.

Mark’s usually flat blonde hair was messy during sleep. The boy was lying on his back, mouth half open, when Harry’s voice called from downstairs. Albus staggered out of bed and walked across the line to Mark’s side of the room. He touched Mark lightly, “Oi, Wallader. Breakfast.”

Mark groaned, and got up. His hair was very messy, and he looked over at Albus in a bothered way. “I told you to stay off my side.”

“Frankly, I’d love to leave you in eternal sleep, but dad would kill me,” Albus shrugged.

Mark groaned again, and climbed off the bed. His side was full of red and gold. Lions with red or golden manes were ruling the walls. On Mark’s bedside was a framed picture of his best friends and cousins, red-heads Alex and Eric.

Mark was a small boy in stature and sometimes attitude, though fourteen in age. Mark was what some might call underdeveloped. Voice was no longer as girly as it was at eleven, but it wasn’t broken either. At least Albus now had his Adam’s apple. Albus knew Mark to be very intelligent like Alex. Eric was the usual aggressive one, and it was through his tough influence that Mark refused so vehemently to make friends with many Slytherins. He already fought Eric for that same reason before.

Three years back, Albus and Mark had gotten off at a bad start, but they started getting along little by little as Mark moved in. Soon, after Albus agreed to spend a week in a Gryffindor dormitory the year before, their relationship got a little better. It was through this that they took an excursion with their respective friends, all together, into the Forbidden Forest, only to discover an ancient Wizarding race. However, all their friends had lost their memories of that race except for Mark and Albus.

“Where’s my report card, I need to show dad,” Albus asked tiredly.

“I put it with mine, second drawer down.”

“Why? I need it to show dad so he can get the new broom for me,” Albus told him, violating the line again to look for it.

“Comparison,” Mark shrugged. “Besides, we both know my grades will outshine yours.”

Once Albus found the report card he wanted, he and Mark walked downstairs and outside to the riverbank to sit and eat like they usually did with the rest of the family. Lily was already up. She was about to begin her second year at Hogwarts. Albus’ brother James, who arrived just at that moment, was to begin his fifth.

James was grinning, “I was just made Prefect,” he announced, hoplding his letter and badge up.

Albus was not surprised. James had turned in Albus’ friend Riley Blackberry for being a vampire before and while neither Albus nor the headmaster was fooled, his Head of House was pleased enough. This of course was bad news for any Slytherin like Albus because James was one of the many who believed that by principle, Gryffinndor and Slytherin were enemies. “And I think Tulip is the female.”

“How do you know?” Mark demanded.

James hurriedly shook his head, “Erm… a Gryffindor’s gotta know this stuff.”

Mark rolled his eyes, and took a first bite of his porridge, muttering something about vampires and idiots. The history was too shaky for Albus to want to bring up any confrontation again so he let Mark get away with it. Harry, Ginny, and James ate in peace, Lily speaking for a while about Hogwarts, and how much she was looking forward to her second year.

As she finished, Harry looked up at Albus, “By the way, Al, you’ve been invited to Christmas at the Malfoy Manor this December.”

Albus perked up in excitement, his eyes wide in anticipation. “Really?” Christmas at the Manor was something Albus only daydreamed of.

He was pondering the prospect of visiting the Manor within four months when Ginny bit her bottom lip. Albus could tell she was not too enthusiastic about the idea and his stomach sank. James and Mark notably stayed well out of it and Ginny looked up, “Al, I ask you to consider your family now. Christmas here is tradition and the Malfoys… it’ll be more of a friends visit than a holiday.”

“Are you saying I can go?” Albus asked hopefully.

Ginny only sighed, and after a minute’s thinking and glancing at Harry uncertainly, she said, “I won’t force you. But Albus, you’re a Potter. Unlike them, you have a large family to see. He came here and spent it with us, and you spent three weeks of the last summer. Would you really like to put aside all your uncles and aunts and cousins for a quiet Christmas with the Malfoys?”

“So, you’re playing on my emotions,” Albus got straight.

“Well,” Harry yawned. “It’s worth a try, isn’t it?”

Albus looked down sadly. Great. He just had his hopes up, and his mum played the game of guilt. Did he want to go? Now he thought of it, a Malfoy Christmas would be quiet, and quite dull compared to a Potter Christmas. But on the other hand, Scorpius spent Christmas with the Potters, why wouldn’t Albus do the same thing. Was it not common courtesy?

Deciding he didn’t want to think four months ahead when he hardly knew how things would be then, he shook his head, “Well, I’ll think about it. I’ll let you know, can I?”

“Ok, just think long and hard,” Ginny shrugged, and she returned to her porridge, and not a further word was said on the subject.

Albus had another subject to open. He wanted a new broomstick and Harry had previously agreed to pay half if Albus had good grades. Harry studied long and hard, showing Ginny the subjects he took and deliberating with her whether or not Albus stuck to his end of the bargain.

Defense Against the Dark Arts: 90%
Charms: 90%
Transfiguration: 70%
Potions: 70%
Herbology: 80%
History of Magic: 50%
Astronomy: 60%
Divination: 60%
Ancient Runes: 60%
Care of Magical Creatures: 90%
Muggle Studies: 80%

James was looking at his grades too, grinning slyly. Albus was bracing himself was teasing when James gave him five and said, “Oi, Mark, looks like Al beat you in Muggle Studies!”

“What?” Mark demanded. “Let me see. That’s so unfair! I studied hard! I swear, I”-

“I’m not too crazy about the History of Magic grade,” Ginny mused.

“I want to know how he cheated on Charms,” James said casually.

“I had Alexis’ help,” Albus admitted.

“Muggle Studies and Magical Creatures above average,” Harry noted. “Dunno who cares about Divination so you just have to work on Ancient Runes and Potions. Deal?”

“Deal,” Albus said hopefully, resolving to get better grades this year.

“Alright, Al,” Harry shrugged, giving the card back to him. “We’ll help with the broom.”

“But improve on your core subjects,” Ginny warned. “No slacking and I want to see better grades next summer or else we take the broom away.”

“Yes!” Albus whooped. James gave him a pat on the back and Mark shrugged as if he could not care less. At least until he handed his grades to Harry. Mark had gotten better grades than Albus all around. While they were equal in Defense Against the Dark Arts and Charms, and whle Albus fared better in Muggle Studies, Mark was much better in the other subjects. So, Harry had no choice but to give him the broom he himself wanted, thus making Quidditch more difficult for Albus that year.

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