The Goblin’s Amulet
Chapter 7: The Gifted Seer
Albus woke up later than the others, who went to breakfast long before he did. By the next morning, the letter from Soto had long since been destroyed and Albus sat up, deep in disturbed thought. He had just been swept into problems he wanted so badly to ignore. But ever since the Diagon incident, he knew his troubles would not stop there. He and Mark had come close to dying that day and that was not their first time either. Neither could dodge the bullet forever so Albus needed to find a way to protect both Mark and Lily.
But Albus’ troubles did not stop there. There was also the fact that the object the Goblins were aggressively, possibly murderously searching for, apparently an amulet, was now in Albus’ possession. If Incommodo ever found out, he would surely move in on Hogwarts, however impossible that was. He shuddered at the thought of Phoenix being deposed from Hogwarts. Incommodo already got rid of Harry Potter, (Albus’ stomach squirmed at the thought) for Phoenix to disappear as well would grant Incommodo indefinite public strength and the ability to discover Albus’ new secret.
Should Albus shelve his pride and write to his father? No, Soto could easily discover that communication. Albus had to stay silent otherwise tell someone in strict confidence. But who could he trust? Scorpius, however close he was to Albus, would not be able to help, Alexis was clueless and would only get more worried than she already said she was, and Mark was just as frightened as Albus while Lily was just as threatened and the very person Albus was worried about most. Perhaps this was a problem Albus had to solve by himself, however much he hated it.
Albus walked back up to the Common room where he found a notice on the board. None crowded around it, most having already done so. It pointed students to a certain room on the second floor for a first dueling lesson on Saturday. His spirits lifted a little. A dueling lesson. Perhaps, if Albus could take a dueling lesson, even one-on-one with the Professor, he could train himself up enough to confront Soto. Never mind the fact that Harry never managed, Harry in Albus’ opinion was too busy playing politics to deal with Soto directly. Albus was perfectly placed. The question was, who else would take part in these classes, let alone classes on a Saturday?
Saturday came, and who exactly was taking part in the club became clear. Everyone in their year had signed up. Even Mark and the twins were there, students who hardly needed lessons because Albus had first-hand experience of how good they were. Albus leaned against the wall beside Scorpius, waiting for their tutor to finish with the third years who went before them. Riley was leaning too, albeit against the door itself.
Then, the door opened, sending Riley to the floor in shock. The class rippled into laughter as Riley, on his back looked up at Professor Vulneroman who stared down almost pitifully. He shook his head, and said growlingly, “Is this your idea of a first impression?”
“No,” Riley grumbled, and he got up and followed the Professor into the class. The class filed in and took their seats, some fighting to get seats at the front of the class, other fearing for their safety, and taking to the back.
“We have a rather large class,” Vulneroman noted. Albus thought he was stating the brutally obvious. He never saw a class of more than twenty-five. Now, there were over forty. It must’ve been the entire fourth year, regardless of gender, no doubt. Vulneroman kept his intimidating attitude throughout the lesson, as if trying to make a point. “This is dueling! As with all years, we’ll be learning theory first before taking advantage of any spells you may have knowledge of. Setting you all to duel each other won’t do much. Who can tell me why?”
“Most people here don’t know much,” Mark said quietly, and there was a smirk as he said it. A smirk Albus didn’t like. He was plainly saying through his tone alone that he, Mark, could duel immediately.
Mark jumped in surprise, and Alex widened his eyes. Vulneroman walked up to Mark, “Arrogance is the worst trademark in a duelist as is anger and resentment. You must be swift, keep your cool, and above all remain grounded, well aware that your life may well be on the line lest your overconfidence lowers your guard. So, we learn theory first. I have taken the liberty in collecting the books you’ll need for this class. I’ll pass them out, and begin reading chapter one. We’ll be looking at it next week. Begin!”
The class set to work immediately, reading quietly. The chapter wasn’t too long and the words easy to understand. After half an hour of reading, they set to work on summarizing, some helping each other out. However intimidating, Vulneroman did not appear to have a problem with talking in class. It was very freedom oriented and once again, as was the case with Charms, Alexis and Albus partnered up to read together, Albus’ emotions and worries finally settling down. It was incredible that her very presence could work wonders for Albus’ state of mind.
One hour into the class, Vulneroman wrote up the words duel and battle as notes on the board and turned to them. “We have half an hour so let’s look at this lesson. The nature of dueling is”-
“So, wait, duel is respectful”-
“Detention, Wallader,” Vulneroman said before continuing on to Mark’s utter shock. “As I said before I was interrupted by Mr. Wallader, the nature of dueling is a respectful confrontation. You begin first with your wands and hands in position, like so.” He pointed his wand at no particular point. “You bow,” he bowed, “And a third party begins the countdown leading to my next point. Two volunteers please?”
Scorpius kept his hand down but Riley raised his to everyone’s surprise. Few others were willing to get in next to this intimidating teacher, so the only ones who raised their hands were Riley and Mark.
“Blackberry, Wallader, up please,” Vulneroman called, ignoring both. “Now, here we have three parties. Who can point them out? Potter?”
Albus was flustered as Vulneroman fired a sudden question and nearly stumbled when he noticed Alexis feigning notes. He stole a quick glance and praying Vulneroman did not notice, said, “Erm… Mark, Riley, and… I guess the audience is the third.”
“Five points to Slytherin,” he said curtly as Alexis flipped the paper over and surreptitiously started writing notes. “We are the third party. Witnesses to judge the duel. The countdown from three begins, the duel starts, and they battle until…”
“One side is unconscious or unable to fight, never killed,” Rose answered again, making Alex look down in disappointment.
“Five points to Gryffindor,” Vulneroman growled to Rose’s satisfaction. “Now, before we watch this duel unfold, I must warn you all. This class will be dangerous. While I can assure you that your lives are not at stake within these walls, this will not be as soft as Charms (Alexis gaped in affront) or as stable as Transfiguration. It will not be as controlled as Defense Against the Dark Arts nor as safe as Divination. It will be”-
Albus looked up in sudden interest. Vulneroman just dropped a key word. He lost Vulneroman’s train of talk at Divination. Trelawney. Trelawney started this. And if anyone could help Albus see the truth of the matter, she could. Hopefully. It was time, he believed to put Trelawney to the true test. Was she a seer or not?
So after the lesson, after the duel which Albus paid next to no attention to, he whizzed off. Scorpius was already used to being ditched so he did not bother calling Albus back but Alexis was at his heels. “Al, where are you going? Are you going to answer or shall I follow you?”
“I’m going to see Trelawney,” Albus said simply, aware that he may have been sounding very stupid.
Indeed, that was reflected in her next words, “Al, that is the single most irrational thing you can do right now.”
Albus stopped and turned to Alexis, so convinced of his resolve that even Alexis could not turn him, “Well, being rational didn’t work. Maybe irrationality is the answer then. In fact,” a sudden yet crazy epiphany came to him and he could not believe he was going to utter them, “Maybe this time, being irrational is the most rational thing I can do.”
“Al, that made no sense!” she called back to him helplessly. “Are you mad?”
They just got to the North Tower and he stopped. As usual, Alexis made him think. Maybe he was mad. Maybe, just maybe the pressure built up and finally got to him. Maybe he was acting out of pure idiocy and would realize too late the consequences of such idiocy. Did Soto not tell him to keep this quiet? Though in all honesty, Albus was not telling her anything. She would know by herself. She claimed she already did.
So, was Alexis going to stay there? Yes, most probably. Fine, he would have to go for it and make excuses later. Giving one last nod to Alexis, he climbed the ladder and disappeared through the trap door. He thought he felt his bag open but did not check. He kept pushing on. He looked around the dim, hot room for Trelawney’s office before he spotted a curtain a ways off at the very back. And he heard muttering.
“Two of Spades, Three of hearts, when will they learn?” she muttered.
Albus cleared his throat loudly, causing a startled silence on the other side. He walked through the curtain, giving Trelawney a start. “Oh, my dear boy. How is Malfoy doing? Quite well?”
Albus was flustered, “Erm… yeah, as far as I know.”
“Mmmm, the fates informed me otherwise,” Trelawney said mistily.
“That’s… kind of what I wanted from you,” Albus said, feeling stupider and stupider by the second. He could not shake Harry’s disappointed glare or Hermione’s look of incredulity from his mind. What they would say if they knew what Albus was doing?
“I have been informed of this impending session from the beyond,” she said mistily, once again forcing Albus to seriously consider backing out. “Grab a chair, Mr. Potter, and let us gaze into the misty depths of the beyond, the cryptic warnings of the cards, or the personal fears of the lines upon your face or hand. What is it troubling you, dear boy?”
“Well,” Albus cleared his throat again. How should he put this? “It’s like this. You warned me about my sister and… I am taking those warnings… seriously.”
Trelawney looked positively delighted. Did Albus just make himself her favorite student? She swished a cloth off a crystal ball and rubbed it elegantly and creepily with her hands. “Yes, my dear. Now, before we go further, you must vow by the fates that you disregard the material and journey into the strange, cryptic world of uncertainty, riddles and”-
“Yes, yes, I promise,” Albus said impatiently.
“You sister remains as is,” she said cryptically, staring into the ball intently. “Do have a look. I see a dark rival. A dark man coming this way, robed in grey. And he will be your sister’s bane. This is indeed troubling. An impending catastrophe, the likes of which may shake this very school!”
“But what?” Albus pressed. “I want to avoid this catastrophe. I want my sister to live.”
“Do you dear?” she asked him, almost testily. “Take a card. Quick!”
Albus was taken-aback but he had to go through with this. He tentatively placed a hand on the deck and drew. “Four of clubs.”
“Violent attackers,” she said immediately, as if she had rehearsed beforehand what to say. “Another, dear boy,” she said, shuffling them hastily.
“Three of diamonds.”
“Oh, hope, or possibly a rich enemy,” she said simply. “Once more.”
“Ace of spades.”
“Death,” she said morbidly. “Death of…” she dramatically pulled her own card and showed the Ace of hearts. “A close relative. A sister, perhaps a brother, lover, friend. To specify…” she drew yet another card and smacked it on a table. “Knave of Hearts.”
Albus was almost beside himself. He long ago started to regret coming up here. The idea that Trelawney would be of any help was maddeningly unlikely. “Professor, I happen to want my sister to live. I have reason, reason in this world to believe that she may die. Can I do anything?”
Trelawney then did what was without a doubt the strangest thing ever. But Albus knew enough about Harry’s past to know just what was happening. She smacked her palm on the table, her eyes going wide an white, like she went blind and started saying in an almost demonic, possessed voice,
“Light shall fall on a sea of darkness! Darkness flows into the purest of hearts! Darkness shall prove the flower’s bane! Darkness guards the sea of light. The snake binds the eagle’s talon, the eagle atop the roaring lion, the lion’s roar’s resounding cry, the badger no longer within the earth! A weapon as true as the bravest coward, a dwelling fit for a King crumbling down! Light shall fall… on a sea… of darkness…”
Albus had already fallen off his seat. Trelawney seemed to be back to normal and as cool as usual, like she did not just make Albus freak out even more. “What is it dear boy? Are you quite well? You look like you’ve seen a vision. A premonition perhaps.”
“Y-y-you… h-helped me a g-g-great deal… th-thank you,” Albus stuttered, stumbling out of the curtain and clambering down the ladder as fast as he could. If he was not mistaken, and he promised Phoenix he woul alert him if he was not, Professor Trelawney just made a prediction. An actual prophecy. And Albus did not care. He needed to tell someone what was happening. Someone wise and powerful. And when Alexis widened her eyes, as if the look on Albus’ face said enough, Albus knew she would guess the truth eventually too.