Chapter 15 The Hogwarts Search

The Goblin’s Amulet

Chapter 15: The Hogwarts Search

According to Hugo and the Daily Prophet articles, Hogsmeade was attacked by Goblins and a group of Dementors. None were killed but the Purifiers were forced out of the village and in to the Ministry to take part in a pivotal battle for control of the Law Enforcement level. The Ministry and the Auror Department led by Harry and Uncle Ron had defended against a major assault and their defenses set the Purifiers and the Arsenal back a great deal. Following this defeat, the Goblins had accepted the Minister’s offer for peace and were due to enter Hogwarts a week before Christmas. Classes were to be cancelled that week and the students may have gone home but the Goblins demanded all stay put and promised none would be harmed regardless of the outcome if they complied.

Having been set back, Soto took two children, a brother and a sister, hostage and fled. The Ministry did not know where he was and following a threat of blackmail, no one dared search for him under threat of the hostage meeting the same fate as the girl the previous summer. While the hostage situation proved no one was safe, it also prove d that Soto was cornered and as long as he had one hostage, he could not get any more. The Wizarding world was in a state of a shaky peace. Even the Arsenal of Education had been quiet and Incommodo had not been seen or heard from since Hogsmeade was vacated by the Purifiers.

How Albus wished he could leave the hospital wing and sign up to go home for Christmas. It meant turning Scorpius’ offer of a Malfoy Christmas down but he felt it was safer if he and his family remained together.

Albus himself was free to leave the hospital wing the next day, a rather quiet Alexis beside him. Albus was not sure where they stood in their relationship after the minor disagreement they had. They walked in silence, neither saying a word to the other until it came time to part. Though silent towards the other, it seemed this was the part both were dreading the most. The split. Albus was supposed to go downstairs towards the dungeons and Alexis up one more flight to Ravenclaw tower. They turned towards each other and stared.

The two stared for what must have been two whole minutes though it felt like five. Something stirring in both was begging to be said and fell on deaf ears. The two continued staring, a small smile playing both lips. A very small smile none could have noticed except the most intuitive. Finally, Alexis took a breath, considered him and asked, very frankly and curiously, “Do you know what you’re doing, Al?”

Albus was not sure how to answer except with a nod. “Yeah, I do.”

“Are you sure?” she pressed, eyes boring into his. Albus knew she could not read minds but she was damn good at reading faces.

“Yes, I’m positive,” Albus said quietly.

Alexis nodded, “Ok, do your thing and when this is all over… I’ll meet you on the other side. And… I’m sorry if I said anything that offended you.”

Albus nodded, unable to look her in the eye this time. “Don’t apologize, it’s my fault.”

Then, he to look up and wished he hadn’t. A single tear trickled down her cheek, for the first time in Albus’ memory, openly sobbing. And as they turned to separate, Albus stopped, unable to go further without giving her the last words he would say to her in a while. “Alexis,” he called. She turned slowly to him, eyes dried but still looking visibly miserable. “I don’t know what’s bothering you… but I want you to know something. No one, no one, not Soto, Malcolm, or even me- deserves to make you cry. You’re better than that.”

For a moment, it seemed Albus had struck gold. Her eyes were alight with an old happiness he missed in her, like she had seen Albus for the first time. Then, a smile on her face, she nodded and said, “See you around, Al.” And though her words sounded innocent enough, the tone behind them carried barbs. As if she was saying Let me know when you’ve developed a brain.

Madam Pomfrey kept it quiet but she was quietly grateful classes had been cancelled that week because both Albus and Alexis needed rest. Despite that, Albus had no intention of resting. Or rather, he could not afford to rest in good conscience. Not with the Goblins having finally arrived.

Beside them was a single witch in robes donning a white twister into a black sea. Albus recognized her as Orgella but could not believe that after everything she had helped Soto accomplish, she had the gull to enter Hogwarts with four Goblins. The Goblins that entered beside her seemed very dangerous. One had white hair coming from his nostrils and ears and a short tuft in the front of an otherwise bald head. The rest were completely bald but had the same pointy ears and warty faces, all screwed up in anger and suspicion.

The party of five entered Hogwarts that Monday to greet Galadral Phoenix who stood aside for them invitingly, clearly keeping his feelings on the event to himself. She nodded once to him too, giving him a familiar look. Albus could remember why too. She too had been present when Soto had first appeared in the Forbidden Forest. Now, she was inside the castle itself and Albus caught the spark in her eye as she met Phoenix’s eyes. Any moment, she could kill Phoenix and throw everything up in the air again. Albus had to be careful.

So it was that week Albus had given himself a new mission. If he could get through this, he would feel so much better. He obliged himself to keep the amulet hidden and to make sure Phoenix was not assassinated. It was time to put James’ map to good use. And if I can get through this, I’ll turn the map into James honestly and allow him to act as the eyes and ears of the castle once again.

Under his Invisibility cloak, Albus had the amulet in his pocket. Albus then sealed his pockets shut with the Charm he learned in Professor Ackerly’s class weeks ago. With that, the amulet was hidden and if he was found, he had no pockets to turn out. And if the Goblins had sensors on them, (which he was sure they did) Albus had the trusty Obscuro Jinx which not only blocked it from any sensors but concealed it into temporary invisibility.

Albus waited in his dormitory, alone and hidden in a corner, checking the map. Orgella was with a couple of Goblins in the entrance hall and three Goblins were on their way to the Slytherin Common room. Phoenix on the other hand was safely in his office. Albus whipped his cloak off and hid his map in his bag. He quickly whipped his notebook out and put the façade of studying on. Just as he opened his Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook, the Goblins walked in. Immediately, Albus’ plan went all wrong. A Goblin grew very excited as he used his sensor eagerly to sense anything.

“Major magic is being detected,” one said scratchily. “Levels only Merlin is capable of. This…” he looked over at Albus who widened his eyes in fear. He was grabbed immediately and checked, hands up like he was being searched. They searched all over with their bare hands. Pockets, as expected were not found and though they could sense something, they could not find it. The Goblin searching him was not satisfied. He turned to his partners. “Strip search him. Leave no piece of clothing unturned!”

The search was worse than he anticipated. The Goblins stripped him down to his underwear and felt all over for pockets on his robes, jeans, and even underwear. They even searched all the bags, almost tore the Marauder’s Map (though Albus suspected it was Charmed to it would never tear.) When nothing was found and the room lay in a mess, they turned to him angrily, “Which jeans lack pockets? What magic is this?”

Albus had an idea to get out of this situation. “I- I kind of smuggled Butterbeer from Hogsmeade last month to give to some first years and… I was caught. So my pockets were taken away.”

The Goblins looked at each other, apparently satisfied with the fine piece of lie Albus told. The part of his mind that spoke in Alexis’ voice whispered, Great story, Al. Nicely done.

Once Albus was dressed again, the Goblins walked out to talk amongst each other. Albus quickly whipped his cloak on again and unsealed his pockets quickly before stuffing the amulet in his bag and taking his cloak off. He stuffed the map in his pockets as well and just managed to turn back when the Goblins marched up to him, “You will come with us. You are a person of suspicion and will join us in the entrance hall with our other suspects.”

Albus obliged. Armed with map but no cloak, he followed them to the entrance hall. There, the Goblins led him to the Great Hall and in to a side chamber there. They threw him down to the table where, apparently there sat Seth Lean, Fauna Redgrow, Fora Vulneroman and Alexis Ackerly as well as Mark Wallader. Albus was thrown inside to much to the surprise of them all. Orgella soon entered in with the Goblins and they turned to her, “Out with it, woman.”

“The Wallader boy is Pure-blood and has significant ancestry which we do not yet know of,” she said. Mark went red but did not say anything. Albus had a feeling before that Mark was hiding something big concerning his family but again… Orgella also looked like she knew but was keeping it quiet. “The boy there,” she gestured towards Seth Lean. “Can be accounted for. As for this girl,” she put her hands tenderly on Alexis’ shoulder which made Albus burn up inside. “She definitely has ancestry. She is…” Alexis held her breath, praying she would hold her tongue but… “She is Ravenclaw’s Heir.”

Albus opened his mouth wide in shock. Alexis definitely met his eyes this time but only for a second before a Goblin seized her and roughly threw her out of the chamber in anger. Mark was thrown out next and Albus’ mind was spinning so much, he was no longer paying attention to Orgella. Alexis… Ravenclaw’s Heir? Was that possible? He knew she was wicked smart, a genius in fact but Heir to Ravenclaw? No wonder she was upset in the Hospital Wing. Soto had harassed her father and herself the previous summer over what was obviously their ancestry.

Ravenclaw’s Heir…

Alexis Ackerly? Really?

Albus’ liking for Alexis increased tenfold but…

Ravenclaw’s Heir. Why didn’t she tell me?

A rough hand on his shoulder interrupted his thoughts and snapped him awake as Orgella dragged him to the door, “This boy has a curse inside him. It’ll act up every now and then and it is that curse which responded to your sensors.” Next, Albus himself was thrown out with no explanation of the curse which he was sure Orgella was telling a falsehood. Alexis and Mark were both still there but Albus could not speak. He got up and without a word, rushed off to the Slytherin dormitory, checking the map to make sure it was empty of Goblins.

He skidded to a halt in front of the wall and stuttered, “A-Ashwinder!”

The wall opened up and Albus rushed in, ignoring his breath as he clambered down the stairs to his dormitory and dove into his bag. He hid the amulet inside a smelly sock of his temporarily, now confident the Goblins were done with the castle. Then, he rested under the cloak, staring at the map. Phoenix was in the entrance hall now with the dots representing Mark and Seth. Seth apparently was let out too. Fora was also on her way up to Gryffindor tower and Alexis was taking passages to Ravenclaw tower. Lily was safe with Hugo in the Boy’s dormitory (Albus had to commend the lengths Hugo went to, to keep Lily safe) which Goblins had just left. Albus heaved a sigh of relief and got up. He hid the amulet. Now, to make sure Orgella did not try anything funny on Phoenix.

Cloak still on and map in hand, Albus rushed back to the entrance hall. Phoenix was waiting outside the Great Hall for the Goblins to finish. It was not long now and in five minutes, they came out, each looking furious. “Did you find the object you are after?”

“Hold your tongue, old man!” a Goblin talked back angrily.

“We’ll be leaving now,” another said. “But we’ve been ordered to stand guard at Hogsmeade station. We can and will stop anyone we deem suspicious and no object will leave the castle. We will search it when everyone goes home for the holidays. Nothing leaves the castle.”

“I’m afraid I cannot promise”-

“Whatever leaves the castle stays with us,” they warned mercilessly. “So alert your students to that. Perhaps they’ll be forced to keep whatever they’re hiding in here. And if they do, we will find it come our second visit. Good day.”

They left the castle with that final word. This, finally left Orgella and Phoenix together, Orgella’s wand on Phoenix’s back threateningly. With her hand, Orgella snapped all doors shut and turned back to Phoenix. “I am sorry, Professor, but this is for the greater good.”

Phoenix fixed her with a fiery glare, “And what greater good will that be?” he asked threateningly. Albus had never heard him with that tone before. It was murderous. If Orgella tried anything, Albus knew Phoenix would not hesitate to kill.

“The good of deleting unnecessary components within Hogwarts that obstruct further progress,” she said simply, a small smile playing her lips. “With you out of the picture, and Incommodo out of the running, the vampire will take the reins. And… the backlash on her would be enough to shake the school. The Ministry would be forced to intervene and a massive change of staff would come about. Soto will finally enter Hogwarts.”

“And you are under the impression that I am about to allow this?” he asked calmly, suggesting that perhaps, maybe Phoenix had a trump card. She raised an eyebrow as Phoenix, with his hand said, “Accio Wand.”

“Ah,” she said as Phoenix’s wand flew to his hand from his sleeves. “Hand magic.”

“Hold fire or risk a second defeat,” he whispered murderously again.

“You have no choice, Ava”-

Albus wasted no time. He whipped his cloak off and fired, “Stupefy!”

Orgella did not stop saying her curse just as Albus fired, but she did adjust its aim to Albus instead. The jet of red light met the jet of green and exploded in a shower of sparks. She backed against the entrance hall doors as Phoenix advanced on her with his wand out. Orgella banged the front doors open with her wand. “Very well, so I’ve failed. There are other ways to achieve our goal.”

She ducked a spell from Phoenix and fled off. Albus made to chase after her, confident Phoenix would give chase too but he reached out and grabbed Albus by the scruff of his neck. “We do not want a scene, Potter. Fight her here and she will have gotten what she wanted, with or without my death.”

“But, sir, she”-

“Is a Purifier and therefore a dangerous enemy,” Phoenix finished. “The Ministry gets wind of this and not only will I be out of a job, Hogwarts will be under direct Ministry control. Nobody wants that, Potter. Arms down and back to your dormitory!”

“Wait,” Albus said slowly, remembering something suddenly. Soto had asked him, six weeks ago to tell Phoenix that Soto wanted in. Albus was not afraid of Soto till Orgella tried killing Phoenix. Now, Albus was not so sure what was more frightening. “I was supposed to tell you something from Soto.”

Phoenix widened his eyes, as if he finally understood something as he turned slowly to Albus. “Me?”

“He wants you and Redgrow to know that- the final piece wants in,” Albus said after a deep breath. “It’s up to you.”

Phoenix looked shocked, “When were you told to pass this?”

“Six weeks ago,” Albus admitted. “That’s probably why Soto sent an assassin.”

“Noted,” Phoenix said more to himself. “Duly noted.”

Albus had no choice but to return to the Slytherin dormitory, mind buzzing. So much happened in one day, he needed time to think. He needed to talk to someone. He needed to go home and tell his father everything No lies or setbacks this time. If he did not, he knew someone close to him would die. On his way, he checked the map and was surprised to see who was inside the dormitory. Was he reading it wrong? A single dot sat inside labeled Mark Wallader.

Albus rushed back up and into the Common room. How did Mark get the password? He rushed down and opened the snake hole to Mark’s face, staring him eye to eye only inches from him. “How did you”-

“Veritaserum on Malcolm,” Mark smirked.

“It takes a month to”-

“It’s been five weeks since the match between us, Al,” he said with an evil smirk on his mouth. “And I think you’ve forgotten how tricky I can be. But, back to the subject. Al…” and Mark grew very serious and took from his pocket none other than the Goblin’s amulet, up for Albus, who was shocked out of his mind for the second time that day. “What’s this?”

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