The Goblin’s Amulet
Chapter 8: Blissful Ignorance
Albus soon wished he never told Phoenix what had happened in Trelawney’s room. He drilled him on it for hours, Albus actually missed Charms class answering questions. Eventually, Phoenix wrote up a letter to Harry Potter right in front of Albus, detailing out loud what he wrote as he wrote it. After what must have been three hours, Phoenix placed it in a drawer.
“Can’t send it in the open of course,” Phoenix maintained. “Could be stopped or seen by anyone. I shall keep my silence on this matter, Potter but if I have need of you as the year passes, I will reserve the right to interrupt whatever you may be doing, be it class, sport or play.”
And Phoenix kept his word on that. Albus must have been called out of Quidditch practice twice and even lunch sometimes so Phoenix could show Albus the correspondence he had been keeping with Harry. Not that it made things any better. Harry must have promised ten times in his letters that action would be taken but as far as Albus knew, nothing was done.
If Albus was tense before the Prophecy, he was almost insane afterwards. Trelawney had made it all worst but somehow, she also made things clearer. Phoenix was on it, Harry knew about it, and through Harry his bright Aunt Hermione and his loyal Uncle Ron. Surely, the three could cook up a plan and stop this madness. Or so Albus thought.
September passed with no further event. Classes went on as usual, Dueling Class got slightly more interesting, and Phoenix remained silent. Not even Harry extended communication to Albus and for a wonder, even Soto kept blissfully silent. After the intense beginning to the year, things were finally starting to settle down and Albus had enough peace of mind to train himself up in Dueling Class. There, Vulneroman supervised any duels that took place, growling out advice and orders as it progressed.
As Albus predicted, Mark was a superb player in that class but there seemed to be someone with an edge over him and if anything, with the ability to control him and reign him in. For three years, Albus knew Mark to be fiercely with his own ideals and would attack anyone who disregarded them. Now, there was someone who could fight back. And this was someone Albus still had yet to meet officially meet. For it was the girl who showed up with Mark at the beginning of the year, the very girl Mark seemed to try to avoid. It seemed he had given up.
It was not until the beginning of October when Mark could no longer keep her away from his friends in Slytherin, particularly after a grueling Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson where Professor Macmillan taught them the Stunning Spell and how to avoid it. Mark and the mysterious blonde girl had never managed to land a hit on each other however hard they tried. After trying for five minutes, the entire class stopped with their respective partners and turned to watch their own evolving duel.
Albus, Scorpius, Laura and Mark walked out of class, asking Mark directly how he never managed to hit her when he could strike anyone else within seconds. Alex and Eric were right beside him, silent as Mark tried explaining himself, “If she would just keep still,” Mark muttered so quietly Albus could barely hear. He thought it was to avoid the girl’s attention for all the good that did.
“Maaaaaaa-aaaaaaark!!!” a high squeal went from behind and before he knew it, he was being embraced from behind, Eric clearly rolling his eyes and Alex hiding a smirk.
“Hello,” Mark said lowly.
“I told you I had experience in the States,” she said in what was clearly an American accent. “I wish you believed me. I won five trophies for dueling with foreign Wizards,” she said proudly. “Three tournaments, Mark Wallader.”
Albus stopped walking with Scorpius, Laura, and Mark, who turned to face the girl, looking very reserved for the first time. The boy who could wise off and confront any student, teacher, even Soto the villain, was even known to confront Harry Potter if needed be, fell short and silent when facing the blonde girl with curls at the back. And somehow, even behind the façade of smiles and jumpiness, he could tell she was no Laura. There was something incredibly resilient and outspoken about this girl.
“Mark, do you want to introduce us?” Scorpius asked slowly.
Mark just managed to throw Scorpius an annoyed look before the girl looked at Mark in slight shock, took his shoulder almost forcefully and said, “You did not tell them? Mark. Why didn’t you introduce me before?”
Was it just Albus or was she acting like an over excited housewife? Scorpius raised an eyebrow and Laura listened in with slight interest, as if she too did not yet know just who this girl was. Mark went so red, Albus could almost feel the heat. Mark had finally been put on the spot and through great effort looked Albus in the eye and said, “Guys, this is Aries. Aries V. Kimble. Aries, this is… Albus Potter, (he emphasized Potter to make Aries widen her eyes) Scorpius Malfoy, and you already know Laura and the twins.”
“Pleased to meet you,” she bowed respectfully. “And…” she turned to Mark again, clearly pushing for something more.
Indeed, Albus, Scorpius and Laura were eyeing him for something more too. Alex put a quick hand on his shoulder to ease him and said, “Just say it, Mark. You can’t keep it silent forever.”
And Mark heaved a great sigh before saying in a half quiet voice, as if he did not want to appear shy or embarrassed, but also did not want to appear to give consent to what came out of his mouth next. “Ok, ok. Aries… is my…”
Sister, Albus thought. Cousin. An old friend. The daughter of a great friend to the Wallader family. Albus expected any of these. Any one of them would have done as an explanation. He did not expect the truth.
“Aries is my… f-f-fiancé.”
Aries seemed satisfied however shocked Albus and Scorpius visibly were. Albus’ mouth dropped open, not exactly sure whether to congratulate Mark or question him extensively. Mark openly flirted with Laura the year before. He all but admitted his liking for her. Laura it seemed had no idea either. And Albus had to feel bad for both their sakes. He knew Laura harbored a crush on Mark. To have it blown down out of the sky, particularly after the previous year when she had scored a date with him, or what she thought was a date, had to be heartbreaking for her. She was visibly upset, horrified, and shocked.
“What?” Scorpius whispered.
“Anyways,” Aries said happily, clearly having gotten what she wanted. “I have homework. See you at Quidditch practice!” She ran off, leaving Mark at the mercy of his best friends.
“Fiancé?” Albus repeated in shock.
“I am not sure whether to congratulate you… or laugh,” Scorpius said slowly. “How old are you again?”
It was Eric who spoke up in Mark’s defense, “For your information, we come from a very traditional family, even by Muggle standards.”
“Speak for yourself, Eric,” Mark said shortly. “And shut up. My parents engaged us when we were four,” Mark said simply, voice still low. “But… it’s not like I wanted it to happen. I was still hoping she would stay in America and not come back. I’m still… a little freaked out. She never leaves me alone. And she never shuts up about her achievements.”
“Call it off,” Scorpius shrugged. “God knows I come from a conservative family and… I’m still single.”
Alex smirked and put a hand on Mark’s shoulder again, “That is so cute. He thinks it’s that easy.”
“I’ll call it off on my own good time,” Mark shrugged. “Let her get sick and tired of me first. You know me, Al. I’m very good at making people hate my guts,” he added with a small smirk, forcing Albus to remember Mark’s attitude their first two years at Hogwarts.
“Riiiiigggghhhht,” Eric said with a small smile, like he did not fully believe him. “Anyways, gotta ditch you snakes. We got homework to do.”
Upon watching them leave, Albus turned to Laura to see her reaction but she was nowhere to be found. She too had disappeared. Scorpius shrugged and continued their walk to the Slytherin Common room in silence. It seemed the sudden revelation had surprised them both into speechlessness. Neither of them spoke until they reached the privacy of their dormitory where thankfully, they were alone.
“Ok,” Scorpius said slowly, still processing the information they had been given. “Well, Mark’s increasingly interesting romantic life aside, how about you spill it?”
“What do you mean?” Albus said quickly.
Scorpius rolled his eyes, “Al, you’ve been acting very strange this entire month!”
“I haven’t been acting strange,” Albus denied though he knew it was in vain.
Scorpius nodded sarcastically, “Uh, huh, yeah, you ran off upstairs and disappeared for hours, you’ve been missing lunch, disappeared after almost every dueling class, and I’m supposed to believe that you’re completely normal.”
“Ok, so Phoenix wants to drill some info out of me from the Diagon incident,” Albus lied simply. He knew at once that the lie was perfect. Scorpius widened his eyes in sudden understanding. Albus milked it, “He’s been demanding information from me and I’m simply telling him what I know.”
Scorpius was silent for a bit as he pondered the explanation. “What could he need though? Reckon he’s planning something?”
“Probably,” Albus shrugged, feeling proud of himself. He was not going to tell Scorpius about Trelawney, the Prophecy, or Soto anytime soon. He preferred it was kept in the dark. The more people were ignorant to Albus’ predicament, the better and that went double for those closest to him.
And that very night, Albus’ resolve to keep it to himself only got stronger. Deep into the night, midnight in fact when Riley, Walter and Scorpius were asleep, a black crow showed itself from beneath Riley’s bed. A wave of foreboding took over. Albus knew exactly who it came from. After nearly a month of silence, Soto had written back to him. Despite the fact Albus never responded to him, Soto had not forgotten.
Albus considered putting the letter off till morning and telling Phoenix about it. He had been emboldened after having told Phoenix about Trelawney but Trelawney was not threatening Albus. Soto was. And the letter may well have been cursed to blow itself up like the last one. Albus ripped the envelope open and read, hands shaking in tension.
Dear Mr. Potter,
I have given you almost a month to think about my previous offer which was to help me achieve my means in any way within your means in return for the safety of your family. My offer still stands but now is the time to make the decision I will not allow you to go back on. Will you help me achieve my ends or will you once again ignore my letter and risk a catastrophic loss?
In any case, I require you to pass a message on to a certain student in Hogwarts school. I believe he is in your house and goes by the name of Seth Lean. Sources tell me he has blonde hair, blue eyes, and is very withdrawn most of the time. Inform him that his father is currently being held by the Arsenal of Education. He will be able to take it from there.
You may be wondering what significance he may have to this greater plan. As things unfold, you too will come to understand, but you may have a greater role in it sooner should you choose to assist me. As such, you may consider this a token of goodwill, but I have pulled the necessary strings and you may see the results of my influence by the early morning paper. Rest assured what you read tomorrow can be credited to me no matter what the Prophet says and always remember these words, words Mister Incommodo spoke just last year… The Image of a Hero.
Remember to keep the Goblin’s Amulet hidden, safe, and tell nobody even of its existence. The consequences of revealing it will of course be a war. We will discuss its importance as our correspondence continues. I will you keep you up no longer but should you fail to reply within the week, I will assume the answer is no and act accordingly.
Head of the Purifiers
Head of the Arsenal of Education
Honorary Member of the Pure-blood Reservation