Chapter 29 A Father to Us All

The Goblin’s Amulet

Chapter 29: A Father to us All

The shock of losing Hagrid reverberated around the school. No one, no student from first year to seventh seemed to be able to process what exactly that meant for the school in general. Care of Magical Creatures classes were cancelled and a small memorial was built for him. It turned out that the school had paid their respects for him while Albus was recovering so he, Mark and Lily missed it. In any case, Harry had quickly told them all that he preferred they paid their respects alone, without the crowd of the school asking too many questions.

The school, it seemed had no idea of the trouble that had taken place in the Shrieking Shack. No one in the school knew how Hagrid died. As far as they were concerned, he died from Acromantula poison during a venture in the forest. The only students who did know the truth, (and were ordered strictly by Phoenix and even Harry Potter not to say a word of it) were Alexis, Hugo, Seth, Mark, Lily, Aries, Scorpius, and Professors Vulneroman, Redgrow and Ackerly.

Lorcan had pulled through and thanks to Otto, was still a mortal human. Aries returned to the school after Phoenix and Harry visited her parents personally to explain the situation. Aries of course ran to Mark’s bed and embraced him tightly. Mark put his arms round her too, probably thankful that she herself had also shown up eventually and dueled with Soto.

“Are you ok, Mark?” she asked with her head over his shoulder.

“Yeah,” he said as he broke off from him. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Good,” she said and slapped him hard across the face, making Scorpius and Laura laugh. Hugo and Lily shared grins and Mark rubbed his face.

“Ow! What was that for?” he demanded angrily. “I’m in recovery, I got a good mind to tell Madam Pomfrey.”

“You deserve it,” Madam Pomfrey said dismissively from her office. “I would like to do the same thing to students who purposely throw themselves in danger but I’d be sacked.”

“If you ever go get yourself killed again, I will…”

“Yes,” Mark said hopefully.

“Ground you for a month!”

Mark gaped at her, well aware of the laughter emanating from around the room. “When were you my mother?”

“Since your mother passed away I’m taking her role,” Aries said firmly. “Because obviously the Potters are not doing their job and since I am to marry you, I must take care of you first!”

Mark went furiously red and threw threatening looks at everyone who laughed at him. Before it could go any further, Harry himself visited Albus in the hospital wing the very next day, most obviously to ask him why he was there in the first place, almost arguing with him, setting the stage for another back-and-forth.

“He had Lily!” Albus said incredulously, not caring if Lily was there too. “I don’t care how dangerous it was.”

“Rose had it right,” Harry said quietly. “Al, whatever danger you sense, I beg you let the adults handle the situation. Phoenix and I had a firm grasp of it. There was no way he was going to win, even if you had not shown up. And gambling the map, Al?”

Albus was so furious inside, being lectured by someone who probably did much worst at a younger age than Albus, he felt little respect for the man in front of him. “I did what was necessary, dad! I am not losing my sister. Especially when Soto is involved.”

Harry opened his mouth to retort when a voice sounded from behind him, “I don’t blame him.” Albus let a small gasp out when Harry turned. Professor Dennis Creevey was standing behind them, leaning against the wall. Harry looked wary but Professor Creevey shrugged, “Siblings should stick together. I learned that the hard way.”

“Albus has a support system,” Harry said simply, not meeting Creevey’s eyes.

“I’m not saying Albus was right,” Creevey yawned. “But… at the spur of the moment, when you know every second that passes is a second wasted. Harry, you have no idea what I would sacrifice to relive the Battle of Hogwarts just to prevent what happened to my brother. And you have less idea of how it’s like even losing a brother, let alone a sibling. I think your son was tremendously brave.”

Harry did not look crushed at the fact that a teacher had just talked back to him. He seemed at ease, as if he expected this. He nodded, “Noted. You’re right.”

“Yeah,” Creevey sighed and walked out with a final backward glance at the two of them.

Harry nodded and said, “He’s right, I guess. You were tremendously, and stupidly brave. And mature enough, I think to hear this.” And told him everything, not leaving out a single detail of his talk with Soto after the battle. Albus listened with rapt attention before nodding at whether he knew where the Amulet may have ended up. “It’ll be in the Room of Requirement, then. But the curse…”

“Remember to take your Potion, Al,” Harry reminded.

“I will, but the Amulet being in the Wallader family, does that mean Mark is Merlin’s descendant?”

Harry did not answer straight. His eyes narrowed in discomfort before sighing and shrugging, “No. And I cannot tell you who Merlin’s descendant is. That is too much of a secret for both you and Mark. But it’s not him.”

Albus did not press the point and argue. Now, he had one last thing on his mind and Harry seemed to guess what it was. The subject had to come eventually. Harry did not seem to be in the mood to talk about Hagrid so he just put an arm on Albus’ shoulder and said, “Believe me, Al. I knew Hagrid. There is so other way he would have chosen to go.”

Albus wiped his eyes to keep tears from coming out again and Harry smiled sadly, looking about to do the same thing. He shook his head, “He got rid of the Reservation when they got too close to Hogwarts, we rescued every hostage Soto took that night, and the Goblins are quiet like nothing happened. All in all, we won a great deal. But all good things come at a price, Al, and last night, Hagrid was that price. Now you be honest with me. Would you have paid anyone else’s life besides Hagrid’s?”

Albus took a breath, considering it. Harry was right. When looking back at how hopeless the night seemed when it begun; Alexis was trapped, Seth was on Soto’s side, Lily was hostage, Mark was with Incommodo, Aries faced off with Soto directly, Goblins interfered… Albus felt too lucky to be alive and still have his family intact. So far, they had survived. “No,” he whispered. “I love everyone too much. But dad- Hagrid… he’s not all we lost… I lost my wand, the map, everything with me that day. It’s gone.”

Harry barely managed to smile, “Wands can be replaced. Better the map is destroyed than Soto getting his hands on it. Besides, I never liked that James had it. Chin up, Al. Don’t think about it too much. The ends are what count right now and we are in a very fine position indeed. And from what I understand, you managed to save young Ackerly’s life before I arrived.”

Albus nodded, Alexis finally entering his mind forcefully. The one aspect of his year that was still unresolved. “The Reservation is gone, aren’t they?”

Harry shook his head with wide eyes, “Never make the mistake of thinking an unseen enemy is gone. I have a horrible feeling they planned this defeat.”

Albus pushed them to the back of his mind. Somehow, Hogwarts got away unscathed. “Do you have a parchment and a Quill?”

“Whatever for?” Harry asked, conjuring them up.

“I need to write something quickly before I forget,” Albus said, taking them. Harry nodded and yawned, “Well, Al, I’ll see you at home. Remember to pay your respects to Hagrid before you leave for the summer. And we’ll have much to discuss then. And wherever it is, Al, keep that damn Amulet hidden. Ok?”

Albus gave a signal to show he heard and started writing away. It was time to resolve his last issue… and he finally knew how.

Dear Alexis,

I am not completely sure why I am speaking in writing and not in words. I guess I work better in writing right now since I’m not too confident in my words. I just wanted to deeply apologize for ignoring you, giving you the cold shoulder, acting like I had bigger problems without at least asking you for some trust. I know you won’t be able to forgive me easily and I get why. I wish I asked for your help sooner. We might have avoided any unwanted conclusions. Now, I’m feeling guilty enough, at least writing to you may clear my conscience a little bit.

Since I met you in second year, I was not sure exactly how I felt about you. To this day, I am still rather confused. But I know one thing for sure. I really, really like you and while the loss of Hagrid may hit hard, the one thing I cannot stand losing is your friendship. If we may continue being friends, I want it to be exactly as it always was.

I want to stand beside you. I want to help you. I want to feel comfortable around you. I want you to feel comfortable around me. I want you to help me. I want you to stand beside me. I want to have those snacks and lunches with you again, those Quidditch matches, our Charms practices. I want the classes I have with Ravenclaw to be the ones I look forward to, I want you to be the one friend who never wavered once.

We may have had our distance, but you were always my friend. Because while I have many, only one friend has stayed beside me regardless. Mark used to tell me that Scorpius would abandon me one of these days and even if one day, by some miracle that came to pass, I know I can still count on you. I do not want that to change. Ever. Not in Hogwarts or out. I always want to count you among my closest friends.

Love,

Albus Severus Potter

PS. I never really intended on telling you, but the only reason I managed to beat the Dementors last summer… was your memory. And I want that memory alone to be my trump. Don’t ever take that away from me.

“Scorps!” Albus called and Scorpius came from Lily’s bed where Hugo was too. “Can you give this to Alexis?”

Scorpius shrugged and Albus still kept it, “Promise me you won’t peek at it. Personal.”

Scorpius nodded loyally, “Eyes are shut. You have my word.”

Albus trusted him. Scorpius would probably guess what this was about anyway so he had no reason to peek. Just as he left, Aries V. Kimble walked in with Mark. Albus vaguely remembered Aries’ undeniable skill against Soto but she said nothing of it. For the first time, she fixed her grey eyes on Albus and said, “Thanks, Albus Potter, for taking care of my Mark.”

Albus looked over at Mark who had his arms folded, eyes rolling like he really did not want to be there. “Erm… no problem.”

“Mark,” she called commandingly. “He is so our best man.”

Mark went red and gritted his teeth, “That is Alex and Eric, Aries.”

“Well, they’ve been replaced,” Aries shrugged. “Besides, you can’t have two best men so they cancel each other out. Plus, I like Al.”

Albus was sort of at a loss concerning what to say. He felt so out of place when around those two. Strange, no matter who Mark was with, whether it was the twins or Aries, Albus always felt misplaced. He watched them go, his heart almost welling up when he saw their hands clasped and entwined. Albus was discharged from the hospital wing the next day with Lily and Mark but they were not allowed in their Common rooms just yet. Phoenix demanded a word with them in his office and from what Professor Macmillan said, he was serious.

As they opened the door, Macmillan left them and Phoenix was facing them across his office, sitting behind his desk. Only two portraits were awake, seemingly. Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. The Headmaster did not smile as he set his books in a stack and looked up.

“You three are honestly the most foolish students I’ve ever met in my life,” he had growled. “What possessed you three to throw yourselves and others in danger such as this?”

The three, Albus Mark and Lily, the three who were concerned with each other from the beginning of the year looked down. It had just occurred to them. If they had all stayed quiet, nothing may have happened. Phoenix stared hard at each of them individually before resting his eyes on Lily. “Miss Potter, I am unhappy with you. You know this. I believe you are mature enough to understand that if you had kept your quill to yourself and refrained from initiating any sort of contact with anyone outside the school, nothing would have happened. In short, everything that transpired two nights ago can be blamed on you alone.”

A burst of anger rose up inside Albus as Lily went red, tears coming out. Albus knew better than to yell at Phoenix with the portraits of Dumbledore and Snape listening closely but that did not stop Albus being angry with him. Phoenix looked at him next and said in a higher tone, “And you, Mr. Potter. I am astounded that even after confiding in me your fears and suspicions, even after promising me that you would report any outcome straight to me, you took matters into your own hands. Instead of students fighting Goblins, it may have been more experienced teachers and Law Enforcement. That was the single biggest mistake you have ever made and I must warn you, if you ever make a mistake that dire again, you will be expelled. I am taking a hundred points from Slytherin. Am I clear?”

Now, it was Mark’s turn to get angry. Albus went red and looked down. He could argue with Phoenix there. He was right. And Mark was next with Phoenix’s voice on a new level. “And you, Mr. Wallader. I have nothing against you except that you, as an exceptionally bright student with a flawless record still manages to allow your closest friends to get away with their misdeeds. I would have expected that a student with unparalleled skills such as yourself, a student with your critical thinking will have known where such idiocies from your fellow classmates might end up. I am at a loss as to how you would quietly let your foster brother walk into danger and fail to alert the teachers. I am furiously disappointed in all of you.

“I must impress upon all of you that this sort of action does not always yield good results and you all got tremendously lucky in getting away alive. Because you three nonetheless acted out of the sort of compassion I rarely see in Hogwarts students…” Phoenix reached down and brought up three trophies making Albus, Mark and Lily gap in amazement.

“You three survived because you three stuck together at all times,” Phoenix reminded them. “And as you grow older, you will need that special skill. Mr. Potter has shown tremendous bravery in willing to sacrifice whatever he could to make sure those around him were kept safe. Using whatever means to achieve what you wanted… it was probably the most selfless mark of a Slytherin I’ve ever seen…” he threw a quick glance at Snape’s portrait before continuing. “Mr. Wallader has shown thus far uncanny skill in thinking critically and cleverly and without these skills, things would not have concluded as they did, and young Miss Potter… I am surprised that a girl of your year managed to defend herself as well as she did against Goblins. It was your lonely, however stupid action of opening contact with Soto, that stopped him from dealing too directly with Wallader and Potter. I must ask that you never pull something like this again. Know that these trophies, as Awards for Special Services to the School stand for your bravery, not your foolishness.”

The four of them, Phoenix leading the way, made their way to the Great Hall. The Hall was draped in black instead of the usual house cup winners. The hourglasses had even reset to signal there was no winner this year. Phoenix was expected to give a speech. Rumors were going around that a Daily Prophet Journalist was going to be present, the Minister, and all twelve governors of the school, one of whom, Malcolm never failed to brag, was Karl Mold.

As Albus and his friends took their seats, the Hall looked so full. Twelve men in official-looking red uniforms were standing along the far wall, overlooking all four house tables. Beside the door was the Minister for Magic, Owen Cauldwell, and three delegations from the Ministry, including, Albus was surprised to see, Lucius Malfoy. Albus’ dad Harry, and his uncle Ron were sitting at the staff table, in conversation with Phoenix. He was beside a small man who had what looked like a radio. Albus knew it as a Wizarding receiver. The speech was going to be heard by all Wizards.”

Some students were sitting at the wrong table. Lily and Mark sat at the Slytherin table with Albus, Lily sitting between him and Scorpius. Alexis sat on the other end, perhaps as a response to his letter. She gave him a quick smile. Phoenix stood up, and the hall fell silent. All eyes were on him. “To everyone!” he called. He was no different from before. “Teachers, students, school governors, Ministry delegations, parents, Auror Office, the Daily Prophet, I speak to literally all the Wizarding world of Britain now. Mere nights ago, something happened that hasn’t happened in this school for a long, long time. A teacher was killed.”

A hushed whisper was going through the hall tensely, whispering amongst each other what Phoenix had said. Killed? Killed did he say? I thought he was poisoned. I thought he just had health complications. He was about ninety, you know.

“The Ministry will not want me revealing this, but I figure if I am to leave Hogwarts, I leave telling the truth!” he said loudly. “The story as told by the Prophet is that Mors Incommodo tracked Soto down and the two battled it out as Hagrid unknowingly went to Hogsmeade for a drink, before a horde of Goblins showed up and killed Hagrid in the crossfire. This is a lie. The Ministry is actively feeding you false information in a blatant attempt to interfere at Hogwarts once again. Our Groundskeeper and Care of Magical Creatures Professor was killed, and he was killed by who has become the greatest enemy our world has not known for many years. I stand before you now to reveal exact names of the participants of that battle, a battle that destroyed the Shrieking Shack in Hogsmeade. Our Hagid was there to confront those people,” Albus noticed Phoenix was purposely keeping the participation of students to himself.

“Now, I am not here to point fingers or lay blame but something needs to be known. This night is not for me to tell the Ministry exactly what happened that night or to explain why the Shack was host to these affairs and not some other place. This night is for Hagrid! A man who has been with the school since he started, never having left the school. A man who has been here for an exact record count of seventy-seven years. Tonight, we say goodbye to a man, a great friend to generations and generations of Hogwarts students. We salute a man who has understood students more than anyone else, who has stuck by Hogwarts in all its strengths and weaknesses, a man who alone could brave the forest and come out to tell of the horrors which lay in an effort to keep students out. And while we intend to hire a new teacher, a new groundskeeper, nothing will replace Hagrid. And I feel we must be reminded of something…

“We are all united!” Phoenix spoke from the heart now. He even looked close to tears himself as he forced his words through. “We, as a castle, as Wizards, are brethren. When we lose a student, we don’t lose a friend, we lose a brother. We lost someone who has acted as a father to us all. A true Headmaster in its truest form it ever there was one. The same message stands as it stood two years ago, last year, and now. As houses, as nations, as regions, we are all united under a single name that is Wizardkind. Wizards, even by blood, are distantly related. It was through generations and centuries of marriage among Wizards that united all of us under a single family tree. So, you must all remember that before anyone thinks someone’s death may not matter much, one death of a Wizard shakes this entire castle! And I call for a moment of silence, to drink in honor of the man we will all miss very much. To Hagrid!”

To end the toast, Phoenix said, more solemnly now, “In honor of the school’s loss, preparing exams has never been more impossible. So, we cancel all exams. The average will be taken as the final. All students are allowed to go home now or as scheduled. With the loss as great as this, Hogwarts must enter into a period of mourning. Thank you.”

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