The Goblin’s Amulet
Chapter 30: Hagrid’s Hut
The Ministry had not yet deliberated on Phoenix’s speech and whether he would be sacked from Hogwarts but the loss of Hagrid seemed to have had its impact in Hogwarts and out. Even those in the Ministry who remembered him from their days were saddened and the school was on complete lockdown. Most of the students left early. Seth Lean stayed behind till the end, though there were rumors whispered among Slytherins that he talked personally and quietly to Professor Phoenix about his involvement in that battle. Aries V. Kimble promised she would return the next year but she left the school early, giving Mark a final hug before departing and promising to keep in touch with him over the summer when she hoped to see him, (Mark nodded half-heartedly and looked a bit relieved when she finally left.) Half the students in Gryffindor left early the first week and few days later, the only ones left were Albus’ family.
James, Albus, Lily, Hugo, Mark, Alex, Eric, Seth, and Alexis all sat by the giant memorial gravestone set for Hagrid. Each lay a wreath of flowers, engorged to fit the headstone. James was at the head, starting a sort of speech for each one to finish. “Wow, I’m so out of my element here. I always bugged Hagrid. Tried sneaking into the forest, even tried scaring off a Unicorn when he was so close to catching it in my first year, I’ll never forget that. Now, I’m mourning his- his passing. I can only wish this never happened. I don’t know what else to say…”
“Hagrid was a good friend,” Albus noted. “He stood in place of the walls between a teacher and a student. A barrier that was never crossed except with him. He was our best friend. For all of us. And I’ll never, ever forget him.”
Lily just sat quietly, not making a sound. Hugo immediately reached out and put a hand on her shoulder. She opened her mouth to speak for him but instead of words, she burst into more tears, loud sobs that echoed through the grounds as she hid her face in Albus’ robes. She could barely contain herself. Never had she felt this way before, felt like she just wanted to sink into the earth and join Hagrid. Albus had to keep his arms around her tightly before Hugo leaned in, “Want me to speak for you?” he offered.
She nodded in Albus’ chest, not saying a word. Unable to speak. Hugo sighed and started on behalf of both him and Lily, “Hagrid took great care of us when no one else could or would. When someone was down, when anyone was down, he would be there with a teacup, homemade rock cakes, and a bone-crushing hug to make us all feel better. No other teacher could do that. No other teacher would. No student would, because Hagrid was a friend, a teacher, a father, a brother, an uncle, a grandfather and a Headmaster all in one and no one can replace that.”
“Hagrid stopped me fighting one of my best friends,” Mark recalled. “I owe him so much now, because without him, I’d still be fighting my brother. He- managed to leave his mark on each and every person in the school. And though- though the school will get a new groundskeeper, the hut will always be named Hagrid’s Hut to me. Let that be engraved. He won’t be forgotten for generations to come. And I’m very sorry it’s him… and not” –
Alex and Eric collapsed on Mark, hugging him tightly as if to say don’t even finish that, Mark. And Mark stopped. Alex sighed and said, “Hagrid was the best Care of Magical Creatures teacher Hogwarts had ever had. He had the audacity to show us creatures not even seventh years would get to see. And in my opinion, whoever replaces him will need to have that same audacity. Will need to be just as friendly… just without the rock cakes.”
“I actually liked Hagrid’s Rock cakes,” Eric shrugged. “People were mean about them. So they were hard. Apparently, they never heard of Jaw breakers. There’s just a certain way of eating them. Hagrid’s snacks were the best. And no one, not even the House elves can top that.”
Eric seemed alone in his speech but nobody argued aloud. Seth was next. “I never knew the oaf. I’m sorry I never attended his classes. I might’ve liked them. But… it wasn’t a Wizard that did it,” he said quietly. It was the first time someone referred to that night directly in front of the gravestone. “It was Goblins. And Hagrid went down protecting everyone from that threat. Including me. Now I owe him… and I can’t ever pay that one back.”
“Everyone already said what I wanted to say,” Alexis said frankly, tears leaking down. “So, I’ll end it with this. Thank you, Hagrid.”
“Thank you, Hagrid,” everyone repeated solemnly before laying their wreaths and flowers over his giant headstone. As they got up, just as they thought that the personal funeral for him was over, Phoenix walked out of Hagrid’s old hut. He stopped, taken-aback at the small throng of students before nodding and saying, “Come on in. There’s something you might all like to see.”
Albus knew what it would be just as they walked in to the hut. A portrait of Hagrid, sleeping on his giant bed was hung on the wall. Phoenix ushered them out before any of them could wake him up. “Hagrid will forever be immortalized in Hogwarts memory. And as such, this hut is reserved for him and him only. This assures us that teachers and students, young and old, even those who have not yet entered this school, will know what a true groundskeeper is, how he acts, how he teaches his classes, and how he treats his students.”
And in the heat of the moment, Mark whipped his wand out and pointed it to the top of Hagrid’s doorway, engraving words to seal the deal Hagrid’s Hut.
Those few days left at school had never been more miserable for Albus. Alexis Ackerly stayed behind with her father and two days after the memorial, as Albus walked outside a Charms classroom, (the same classroom he walked outside before Alexis cornered him and seriously looked about to kiss him), he felt himself being pulled in again. For the first time, he was face to face with Alexis for what he knew would be the last time that year. The two had never fought, not even had a row, but the year did split them apart and the two seemed very uncomfortable with the other.
“I read your letter,” Alexis said casually, standing so close to him he was getting goosebumps. “Scorpius gave it to me.” Albus nodded weakly, unsure of how to take this. He could hardly speak because a lump had grown in his throat. Alexis went on, “I- It made me feel so much better about things. I’m happy to know you still consider me a friend, even after all of this. And… I’m very sorry for what happened earlier.”
“It isn’t your fault,” Albus insisted. “It’s partly my own fault for even bothering with- him from the beginning.”
Alexis pulled him into a gentle hug and he could sense her tears, “Don’t blame yourself for Hagrid, Al, ok?” she said quietly, her face apart from his by only one inch. The two, so close in contact now, were sharing their own inner pain. “Promise me. It is not your fault. You did not ask him to go. He went to protect you. And he did. If he was not there… you… you- would’ve… died.” She took a deep breath and said, “I would’ve lost you. And I can’t bare that. Not now. Not yet.”
“You’re right,” Albus muttered, still mere inches from her. His own eyes were watery but he didn’t care. He never felt so much grief in his life, and he never had someone like Alexis to share it with. “You always are. I’m s-sorry for how this year turned out for us.”
“Things happen, Al,” Alexis said matter-of-factly. “We didn’t have a happy year. We both expected too much from the other. And I truly am sorry for what this year has done to you. I was your only friend in your second year and I ruined it for you this year. It nearly destroyed you for good. But next year will be better. Our problems are over. And after what happened, the world’s problems are at a standstill. No one will bother anyone anytime soon. We’ll stick together for real. Ok?”
“Promise,” Albus swore. “You have my”-
And she pulled him in. For the first time, she kissed him long and hard on his mouth, her eyes still watery, a part of her insides still sobbing and Albus felt it all. He was crying too, returning her kiss, arms around her tightly, not wanting to let her go but knowing this moment would not last forever. They could not last forever. Eventually, they broke apart, both sitting down opposite each other.
“So, how do we stand next year?” Albus asked her.
“We took things too quickly, so friends,” Alexis suggested. “We work from there. Are you ok with that?” Despite a squirm in his stomach, a cry that he was not ok, he nodded. And she got up to leave, Albus standing with her, both drying their eyes.
She smiled, “It’s nice to have a shoulder to cry on.”
“Stays between us,” Albus mumbled.
“Certainly. Well, see you, Al”-
“Wait!” Albus said suddenly, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Why didn’t you tell me? About your ancestry? Being Ravenclaw’s Heir.”
For a minute, Alexis was looking down in thought, standing across the hall from him. Then, she shrugged, “We were both under a lot of stress. I was afraid I might intimidate you somehow.”
It was such a simple answer and such a simple truth. Albus almost laughed, “You’re a genius! It explains everything.”
She went red and smiled, shook her head and said, “Thank you, Al. I’ll keep that in mind.”
Albus spent the rest of the year with Lily, even in the Gryffindor Common room Mark gave him the password to. Lily, though strong, had not yet recovered from the ordeal that night. She could not forget Hagrid falling over them, the white blast that nearly cost them their lives, nearly took everything she loved away from her, and definitely could not forget Albus trying everything in his power, however much it may have been in vain, to protect her.
Finally, the time came, and they went home by train. That was the only time Albus let Lily out of his sight again. Hugo took her off and they shared a separate compartment. Even Scorpius waved a quick goodbye to Albus before he left to be with Laura Creevey, who had also stayed behind with her father. James sat with Albus and Mark in a compartment, for the first time refusing to sit with his friends.
“So, how’re you two holding up?” he asked casually.
“Not well,” Mark mumbled. “I still get nightmares and Incommodo… his words to me before we left. They still sting.”
Albus looked at him. He had forgotten that Mark shared a word with Incommodo. “What did you talk about?”
“He denies he-he killed my parents,” Mark shrugged.
Albus was puzzled but he never heard Mark admit out loud that Incommodo was indeed the prime suspect, even though Albus suspected as much. Not Incommodo. “Who did dad say it”-
“He said it was Incommodo,” Mark said bitterly. “But Incommodo denies it. He says it was… the Goblins.”
“Liar,” James and Albus said in unison.
“It actually makes sense though,” Mark shrugged. “The Amulet, it has my family crest on it.” The amulet. Albus left it in the Room of Requirement. He kept it hidden, protected, even revisited it to make sure it was still there. It was safe. “The Goblin’s forged it for one family but it was passed to mine. The Goblins killed them to take it back… and wield its power. They never got the Amulet though. I dunno. Both… Incommodo might’ve done it just to start trouble but the Goblins had a reason. So… I dunno.”
James and Albus was silent regarding this. Harry had told Albus the year before, after Mark visited his parents’ graves that Mark was his responsibility. Albus was supposed to look after him. Seeing Mark talk so weakly about his parents… it was the only subject that humbled the boy and made him seriously wonder who might have done it. Who exactly made his life hell?
“I don’t wanna talk about it,” Mark yawned. “Al?”
“I’m more worried about Lily than myself,” Albus said lowly.
But James just grinned widely and waved that aside, “She’ll be fine. Just… you… let her around you and your circle of friends more often and get her involved, and she’ll be happy as a clam. Might annoy Hugo but if it’s for Lily…”
“But that’s the thing,” Mark demanded. “Why annoy Hugo? What do you know?”
“I am the eyes and ears of this place. I hear things no one else does. I see things everyone else is blind too. And I know what’s bothering Hugo…”
James grinned a wide one again as he let out a small chuckle and said, grin wide and mischievous as if proud to be letting out a secret he knew Lily kept dear. “Our Lily Luna Potter of Gryffindor house… has a crush on Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy of Slytherin house. Enough said.”
Albus’ heart almost beat out of his chest. What? “A crush?”
“Since last year, really,” James shrugged. “I won’t tell you how I know. I don’t reveal my sources, not that you were capable of using them. Needless to say one of them was destroyed,” he said with a nod at Albus. So, he knew the map was destroyed in the Shack. James had never confronted him about it. He was quiet. Like it did not bother him in the slightest. Even without the map, James still knew the passages by heart, still managed to get the most secret of information out of the quietest girls in Gryffindor. James’ grin was large, wide, and triumphant, like he was pleased with himself.
Somehow, Albus knew then that James would not take the loss of the map too easily either. He could live without it… and it was exactly because of that, that he alone was capable of redrawing the whole thing if he needed to. What were the chances he spent more time with Uncle George that summer? Before Albus could brood more on it, the compartment door opened and Hugo and Lily stood in the doorway. Lily was red-faced but seemed fine. Hugo kept his eyes on his feet, “Lils wants to stay here so…”
“Come on in,” Albus offered.
Lily came in just as Albus offered, Hugo did not look so sure. He kept his eyes on his feet before sitting down beside Lily, a hand on her shoulder. He looked bursting to tell Albus something. Wanted to tell him since he had woken up. Albus initially thought Hugo may have meant to apologize for their argument but Albus never held it against him. Where Lily was concerned, both had been on an emotional high. But when he looked at Hugo again, there was an excitement in his eyes only one subject could bring, not even tragedy could mask. Sitting down across from Albus, he finally blurt out, “The Appleby Arrows won the league!”
“Dad sent me a clipping of the sports section in the Daily Prophet,” Hugo said with glee. “They caught the snitch just when the Harpies were about to catch up! We won.”
“Brilliant!” Albus said happily, and descended into conversation with Hugo animatedly. That was what Albus loved about his cousins, especially those on Ron’s side of the family. They always knew how to keep a sour mood sweet. And Albus knew he would need this in the months to come. Since the nightmare that had been the last month, the hostages, Hagrid’s departure, Soto’s villainy and even the temptation of the Dark Arts that came with it, Albus found himself with a greater sense of urgency and even accomplishment. Something told him that had he not offered Soto the items and delayed giving them so much, up until Harry showed up, Soto would have won. Now, Albus got his family back, everyone was safe and Soto had neither the map nor the Amulet. The loss of said map as well as Albus’ wand was a small price to pay.
With the hostage situation over, the reservation beaten, the Purifiers set back and Incommodo out of the picture, Albus felt the war was all but over. The year, however terrible and miserable it had been, finally ended. With its end came a new year and a new dawn for Albus. A dawn of a year where Albus was more urgent, speculative, thoughtful, considerate, protective and more victorious. A year Albus hoped and truly believed, despite the stress of OWL’s, would be much better than his fourth.