Xenophilius wore a perplexed expression, observing Abernathy without speaking.
Instead of prompting him, Abernathy took a sip of the tea in his hand, biding his time.
Eventually, Xenophilius seemed to snap out of his daze.
He picked up the photo from the table, peering at the young blond boy with a subtle smile.
“Who is this young man?” he inquired curiously, clutching the photo.
Abernathy placed his teacup down and responded with formality, “The person in the photo is the top student at Hogwarts and Dumbledore’s favorite pupil.”
“He’s the pride of Hufflepuff. He once led Hufflepuff to victory against Slytherin in a duel, even against many pure-blood wizards. Additionally, he secured more than a dozen consecutive Golden Snitches in the Quidditch World Cup final.”
Abernathy’s words carried weight, leaving Xenophilius astounded.
After Abernathy had finished, Xenophilius remained silent for a while, then asked with a puzzled expression, “I’m sorry, Mr. Abernathy, could you please clarify? I don’t quite grasp your meaning.”
Seeing Xenophilius bewildered look, Abernathy impatiently withdrew a newspaper from his pocket and handed it to him.
The newspaper he produced was the same one that contained Rita Skeeter’s story about Dumbledore.
Abernathy pointed to the Daily Prophet in Xenophilius hands and stated, “In any case, I want you to publish a story refuting the Daily Prophet’s claims. Tell your readers that Dumbledore stayed late with this freshman because the young wizard was exceptionally talented, and Dumbledore willingly became his personal guardian.”
Upon seeing this, Xenophilius appeared to have an epiphany. He said, “I see, you want to defend Dumbledore’s honor? No, wait, shouldn’t the Alliance and Dumbledore…”
Before Xenophilius could finish his sentence, Abernathy frowned deeply, interrupting him.
He declared with a hint of disgust, “The issue isn’t Dumbledore! It’s the remarkable young wizard named Wentworth!”
Hearing this, Xenophilius hesitated and picked up the photograph again.
A bold idea dawned upon him as he held it.
“Could it be that this young wizard is affiliated with Gellert Grindelwald…”
Before Xenophilius Lovegood could complete his thought, Abernathy cut him off with a wave of his hand, stating emphatically, “The young wizard’s identity is not your concern! Just follow my request and write the report as I specified.”
Interrupted repeatedly and subjected to Abernathy’s arrogant demeanor, Xenophilius patience waned.
He set the newspaper and photo he held onto the table and shook his head as he spoke, “I’m sorry, I can’t advocate for something I don’t understand, let alone publish such a report in my ‘The Quibbler.'”
Xenophilius made sure to emphasize the possessive “my” before “The Quibbler.”
However, Abernathy chuckled and retrieved a thick stack of gold Galleons from his pocket, placing them in front of Xenophilius.
Although Xenophilius Lovegood’s mouth seemed to water at the sight of the Gold Galleons before him, he ultimately shook his head resolutely.
Seeing this, Abernathy reached into his pocket once more.
As Xenophilius witnessed Abernathy’s actions, he hurriedly remarked, “You needn’t put forth any more effort. Regardless of how many Gold Galleons you offer, I won’t…”
Before Xenophilius Lovegood could finish his sentence, he saw that this time Abernathy didn’t produce the expected Gold Galleons from his pocket.
Instead, he retrieved a wand.
Xenophiliu gazed at Abernathy, perplexed. Abernathy then stated calmly, “Now, I’ll give you a choice: Gold Galleons or a wand?”
Xenophilius inquired nervously, “What do you mean?”
Abernathy, his tone cold, gazed at Xenophilius and said, enunciating each word, “Choose the Gold Galleons, and you will write the report as per my instructions. Choose the wand, it’s simpler. If you can defeat me in a duel, I won’t trouble you again.”
Pausing for a moment, Abernathy added playfully, “I’ll even allow you to use dark magic, including Unforgivable Curses, if you can.”
Silence descended upon the room for a few moments after Abernathy’s last words.
During this silence, Luna, who was nearby, suddenly spoke, “Excuse me, would you like to have lunch here together? Perhaps some raw scallion juice to start?”
Luna’s lunch invitation broke the tension.
Abernathy smiled warmly, shaking his head, and replied, “No, we won’t disturb you and your father’s lunch.”
With that, Abernathy returned his wand to his pocket and looked at Xenophilius, saying, “For Luna and her mother’s sake, I’ll give you a day to think it over. I trust you’ll make the right choice.”
Having said this, Abernathy stood up and left the room.
Despite his fear and dissatisfaction with Abernathy, Xenophilius, true to his role as a gracious host, also rose to escort Abernathy and Auston out.
After seeing them off, Xenophilius returned to the room, wearing a concerned expression.
He found his daughter, Luna, closely examining the photograph.
“Luna, what are you doing?” he inquired.
Luna tilted her head to look at her father and responded, “I’m checking if this Hogwarts freshman is as remarkable as Abernathy claims.”
Xenophilius Lovegood chuckled and asked, “What can you discern from a photo?”
Luna nodded, slowly setting the photograph down and saying, “So why don’t we ask those who know this freshman if he truly lives up to Abernathy’s praise? Such as the headmaster of Hogwarts!”
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