Chapter 27 The Aftermath

The Goblin’s Amulet

Chapter 27: The Aftermath

Hogsmeade village was relatively untouched from the battle just on the outskirts. Through the Amulet, the Goblins had destroyed the Shrieking Shack and it burned down. It was through the efforts of the Law Enforcement that the flames were doused and some inside were managed out and back to the Hogwarts Hospital Wing in a comatose state. Only two walked out relatively unscathed. Harry Potter walked out first, legs shaking as he remembered what he witnessed. Next to walk out and greet the Law Enforcement was none other than Soto Lean.

“I believe this makes us even,” he said casually as if he alone had nothing traumatic happen in the last half hour.

Harry shuddered slightly as he remembered what had transpired as the Amulet was used. Soto had summoned a powerful shield around himself and Harry who positioned himself in front of Albus, Mark, Lily, Aries and Seth to take the force. Hagrid had pushed Harry down and just behind Hagrid, using him as a first barrier, Soto reinforced his shield. The initial blast had taken Hagrid first, the barrier Soto conjured was smashed down at the very end, but not before it did significant damage to the kids.

Their unconscious bodies were carried back to Hogwarts by Phoenix himself and Harry finally stood to face Lucius. “So, what made you decide to take our side?”

“Incommodo’s madness,” Lucius said cryptically. “Do not misunderstand me, Potter. Your actions will bring about the same end for you that was in store for your parents. You have been warned.”

“I’m used to that threat,” Harry waved aside. “I came close had it not been for the timely action of… certain people. Everyone in the shack was thrown into a comatose state.”

“Will they wake?” Lucius asked with an eyebrow raised.

Harry shrugged, clearly not showing his worry just yet. Lucius did not press the question. He sniffed in derision and turned to the Law Enforcement. “Scour the village. Root every Goblin out!”

“I couldn’t help but notice your absence,” Harry said bitterly. “Your presence in the shack may have tipped the battle. Nothing would have happened.”

“I fail to recall where the Purifiers were ever my problem to deal with,” Lucius retorted blithely. And he disappeared with the Law Enforcement spreading throughout the village.

The battle erupted almost immediately. Goblins poured out of alleys, some out of a small house, and jets of light were flying all over again, sending what was left of the outside villagers indoors. Some even raced towards Hogwarts. Harry whipped his wand out and Soto raised an eyebrow, “You cannot be serious.”

Harry fired a Disarming Charm at a horde of incoming Goblins. It seemed to have no effect and its horde ran closer. A loud crack sounded beside Harry and Lucius Malfoy appeared, wand raised high. He looked livid. “If that’s the only spell in your repertoire, Harry Potter, this war is over already! Avada Kedavra!”

He viciously stabbed his wand forward with such ferocity, Harry was forcibly reminded of Lord Voldemort. A jet of green light hit a Goblin and it fell, definitely dead. Soto raised his wand too, looking a bit easier now. Out of his wand leapt pythons, each going after a different Goblins. As the pythons did their work, Soto sent forth his own jet of green light, killing another Goblin.

The deaths seemed to make the remaining Goblins think twice about coming any closer. They were being closed in on. Then, it was over. The Goblins disappeared in puffs of smoke. All of them. The entire village was silent as night itself and the Law Enforcement took off for Hogsmeade station and the mountains beyond te Hogs Head. Only Lucius remained with Harry and Soto.

Harry wasted no time, “Arrest him!” he ordered Lucius, gesturing to Soto.

Lucius glanced at Soto who seemed very cool and lax. He held his hand out, “Yes, please, arrest me. That wouldn’t be the most ridiculous trial ever or anything.”

Lucius then turned to Harry with a final look of loathing and disappeared. Harry spat, “Coward!”

“I’m sure he heard you,” Soto muttered sarcastically. “The hostages are in the Hogs Head,” Soto told Harry and the two walked over, neither arguing even after their tense exchange. It seemed that whatever the Amulet did took the fight out of both of them. “You’ll find them quite safe but as their parents are Muggles, they will not be found in the village with them.”

“I wish you explain your game in more than riddles,” Harry muttered as they walked the streets of the deserted village. Everyone had undoubtedly slept through the night, even after the carnage wreaked in the Shrieking Shack. They would wake up the next day and find their feared dwelling, the haunted building Lupin had used so long ago to hide in and transform safely… gone.

“Do you understand why the Goblins left the scene after they destroyed the Shack?” Soto asked. To Harry’s puzzlement, Soto continued, “The Amulet disappeared from their grasp. After it was used, it disappeared. The Amulet originally does not belong to them. Much like the Fabled Sword of Gryffindor, they forged it but it was enchanted by a powerful Enchanter to hide itself after use by unworthy hands. Merlin in fact. It was his amulet and only his descendant can wield it properly. And when he is revealed, it will be down to Potter, as a guard, the darkness guarding the light, to hand it back to him or her. It should not be too difficult because it is a descendant whom I am sure you know the identity of.”

“I will keep that information to myself,” Harry said breathlessly. “I still do not trust you. And it is only because neither of us are in any condition to fight that we are speaking right now.”

“I am well aware,” Soto laughed. “I advise you to stay on your guard from here on out. Things will likely get more intense. The war… has finally begun.”

Harry stopped and leaned against a building, not going any further. Soto stayed behind too, standing straight, not weakened as Harry was but his energy drained. He turned to Harry again, “If your son, Albus Potter lives through this ordeal, you need to tell him something important. And this will be my final communication with him for a while. Tell him… that he has a powerful, dangerous and deadly curse within him. It will claim his life before long and if it’s not dealt with soon, it will start shortening his lifespan.”

Harry looked up, clearly as worried as he could show in his state, “Curse?”

“You are aware of the Dark Lord’s Horcruxes?” Soto reminded Harry. “Before the second war began, the Reservation took hold of one of them. A cup if I remember correctly. They used the soul within it to form a basis for a new spell. A curse. Of course they put the cup back where it was but the damage was done. A Curse to throw the smallest fragment of his soul into someone. Or rather, the essence of his essence. The Dark Lord is inside Albus Potter.”

Harry sighed, “Voldemort is dead… I saw to that.”

“The Dark Lord is very dead,” Soto agreed. “With no chance at all of coming back. The soul is no longer considered his once extracted in the manner it was extracted from. As Dementors claim a soul and leave their victim alive, the soul taken had been claimed by another host. The host passed away soon after Potter entered that land last year. And the soul moved on to him. It is too small a fragment to mean anything in terms of the Dark Lord coming back, I promise you that. But it is still dangerous. It will begin acting as a poison to Albus Potter to shorten his lifespan if not attended to within the next two years, and if not dealt with in three years, Potter dies simple as that.”

“And… you know how to save him,” Harry guessed.

“I do,” Soto said simply. “But I’m not too sure telling you is within my interests.”

Harry whipped his wand out and at Soto’s neck. Soto eyed it warily, “Ok, quite within my interests now. I’ll tell you, but you have to promise me something in return.”

Harry said nothing. He eyed Soto and Soto eyed the wand. Harry’s silence was taken for consent and Soto sighed, “Lunch. This summer. A place of your choosing. I come alone and you can have an army behind you. And we’ll discuss whatever we need then. Agreed?”

“How do I save my son?”

“Do we have a deal?” Soto pressed. “Know that if you kill me, your son is as good as dead.”

Harry lowered his wand slowly, reluctantly, as if a part of him still wanted to blast his head off. “Deal.”

Soto was true to his word too. He sighed, “Keeping stress to a minimum might hold unwanted effects off indefinitely. A visit to St. Mungo’s over the summer or Healers coming to Hogwarts right now, the right Potion, whatever works best. He may be in danger but there are plenty of ways to deal with it. In time, I will deal with it myself.”

“What’s your angle?” Harry demanded.

“I wish to see a new world,” Soto said simply. “Free from one-sided teachings. It is time the school revisited the issue Salazar Slytherin brought forth from the beginning. Alas, Incommodo did not sit well with that aim. He robbed the Goblins of their Amulet and sent it to me thinking they would track me down. I sent it to your son straight away and allowed the Goblins to search me. I sent them to Hogwarts to search the castle, believing they would find it with your son. Knowing they cannot commit murder within the castle walls, they would have brought him over here. I would have proceeded to rescue him and hold him till you arrived where we would have had a talk similar to this.”

“You tried killing Phoenix,” Harry said blatantly. “I am not unwise to that game.”

“Orgella was acting on Incommodo’s orders,” Soto waved aside. “I believe I stated before I prefer Phoenix remain in his post. Incommodo on the other hand has much to gain by seeing you, Blackberry and Phoenix removed.” Soto’s honesty was astounding. He was admitting to everything he did. “No one need have died. Unfortunately, it was not that easy. Potter is a difficult boy to deal with, even as a teenager. He hid it well. I did not foresee that. And it forced me to take Miss Potter hostage instead. Had she not instigated the communications with me beforehand, I may not have succeeded. Well… we all know the rest. It is a long shot that everyone in the shack survived that blast. But I know one thing, the Amulet… it will have appeared in the last place it was before unwanted hands touched it. So, where did your boy hide it?”

“Relax,” Harry sighed heavily. “Even if I told you, you will not manage to get your hands on it.”

Before Soto could respond, a black letter appeared in his hands in a burst of flames. He read it for a minute and then burned it. “The Reservation… is no longer a threat. They were rooted from their lands. It is quite infested with Acromantula now and my Purifiers did their job well. The survivors are in hiding… among us somewhere. I would not worry,” he added catching the look on Harry’s face. “They drew their power from the intense magic in the air. The Reservation, the forest, and Hogwarts, all three of which are sanctuaries of some kind. With them disconnected from all three, I doubt they can reclaim a fraction of what they once had any time soon.”

Harry forced himself up again, willing himself to continue on to the Hogs Head. Soto went on, “However, the battle was not without casualties. Three students were caught in the crossfire. I am not sure of their fates so you can add them to the list of students comatose right now.”

Just then, a letter appeared in Harry’s hands in a burst of flames. It was a yellow parchment and Harry read it, his eyes widening. Lowering the letter, his face appeared broken. He did not show his true emotions just yet. Not in front of Soto but Soto could guess as much. Someone very close to Harry had died. Soto did not attempt to read it. He could see it in Harry’s mind. He too knew what happened.

“I have to make sure the kids are accounted for and then I must return to Hogwarts to arrange a funeral,” Harry said, breathing a little stronger now and he took his wand out and pointed it at Soto. Soto raised his eyes, “I am holding you responsible for what happened this night,” Harry said frankly. “This time, I am the one declaring war on you.”

Soto did not respond. He just gave Harry an angry look, a look as if saying so you’ve made up your mind.’ Then, he shook his head and said, “My offer still stands,” and Apparated. He was gone in a crack, leaving Harry alone for once that night. He would get to the Hogs Head, send a letter to Ginny, Ron and Hermione and once any of them showed up, Harry would go on his way to Hogwarts alone.

In the Ministry…

Back in the dimly lit room, Incommodo sat writing furiously. Orgella stood behind him, watching casually. When she was with Soto, she wore the usual black and white robes but with Incommodo, she dressed in blood red, not at all to her usual taste. Still, she stood there, arms folded as she watched Incommodo planning his next move.

“Circulate this,” Incommodo said wispily. “Hide its trail and see to it no one knows it originates from the Department of Education. It’s time, I think to see just how much loyalty this Minister for Magic really enjoys.”

“Yes, Master,” she bowed and left the room folding the letter.

Incommodo watched her go, fingering his wand. He knew she had betrayed him. He knew Soto had expected Incommodo’s arrival and the attempted murder of Soto was not supposed to have failed. Harry Potter was not supposed to have saved him. Things had gotten too complicated for words and Incommodo had started so strong almost a full year ago. Now, there was plenty of hell to pay and more to come.

This was why Harry walked into the Hogs Head to find Professor Macmillan, Professor Creevey and Professor Sorrow of the Ancient Runes Department waiting for him there and no kids to speak of. Ernie Macmillan took a deep breath but Harry cut him off, leaning against the wall. “Where’re the kids?”

“Professor Longbottom took them off to their home,” Dennis Creevey said lowly. “Don’t worry, we received confirmation that they are safe. What happened to the Shack? I saw it”-

“Forget about the shack, what happened to the”-

“Come with us,” Sorrow interrupted. “There is a lot to tell you about in a short span of time.”

“The first thing you have to know is the kids in the hospital wing,” Ernie sighed. “Your daughter Lily…”