Having spoken, Mrs. Weasley pulled Lockhart along, exiting the Flourish and Blotts Bookstore and proceeding towards Gringotts. Lockhart, being led by Mrs. Weasley, appeared visibly sluggish.

Simultaneously, over a dozen fairies had convened in a concealed chamber beneath Gringotts. They were seated around a modest stone table, engrossed in what seemed to be a serious discussion.

At that very moment, the goblin who had been reinstated by Wentworth entered, supported by two other goblins. Upon entering, the goblin cried out loudly, “Elders, we are under attack! Please save us from the Alliance!”

One of the goblins seated in front of the stone table approached, assisted the distressed goblin to his feet, and inquired, “Did the Alliance allow you to return?”

Wiping away tears, the goblin responded, “Elder, the Alliance demands that we surrender their prisoners within ten minutes. If not, they will execute one of our clansmen every five minutes until there are no more Gringotts left in London!”

Upon hearing the goblin’s distressing message, the room erupted into chaos. Some individuals shouted vehemently, others expressed concern, and a few remained in a somber silence.

An enraged goblin sitting at the stone table spoke out, “They’re employing deceitful human tactics! I suggest we open our secret vault and confront them!”

However, his proposal was met with opposition from another goblin elder, who retorted, “Open the vault? You’re being shortsighted! Refusing to open the vault means facing a conflict solely with the Alliance. The Human Ministry of Magic won’t stand idly by while the Alliance pillages Gringotts. Remember, this place holds the wealth of the entire London wizarding world!”

“But if we do open the secret vault, we’ll be in a war against the entire human race! Given our current preparations, we’re bound to lose!” The Elder continued furiously.

At that moment, another goblin rose from his seat and proclaimed, “I’ve been saying it for a while now – those Alliance people are notoriously unhinged even among humans. We should have just wiped that person’s memory and let him go! And now, look where we are? Assigning blame left and right! I must ask, who is being punished by whom now?!”

Chaos erupted in the room; accusations and defenses flew, and it seemed like a brawl was imminent.

Suddenly, the goblin seated at the head of the stone table, who had been silent until then, slammed the table with a resounding thud. Instantly, the room fell silent, and all the goblins bowed and saluted, exclaiming in unison, “Great Elder!”

The goblin known as the Great Elder slowly rose from his seat, leaning on a cane, and walked towards the door. As he moved, he commanded, “Bring out that human wizard; I intend to meet with the human leader this time!”

Having conveyed these instructions, the goblin elder paused for a moment before emphasizing, “Furthermore, fortify the secret vault and conceal it completely. Under no circumstances should the secret vault be opened now! If it proves impossible, then you… flee! Escape to Hogsmeade Village and seek the protection of Dumbledore! Report the events in London to Gringotts worldwide!”

The goblin elder slowly exited the room with these final words, leaving the remaining goblins exchanging uncertain glances.

Outside Gringotts, a crowd surrounded Lockhart, hurrying him towards the bank. By the time Lockhart realized it, they were already at the entrance!

As Lockhart gritted his teeth, contemplating a strategic retreat, he turned around only to discover that, seemingly out of nowhere, wizards from the Alliance had gathered behind his group. Holding wands, they observed his party in silence.

“What’s going on, Professor Lockhart?” Mrs. Weasley asked curiously.

Observing this, Mrs. Weasley followed Lockhart’s line of sight and turned back, only then noticing the mysterious wizard tailing their group.

Astonished, Mrs. Weasley exclaimed, “Oh, dear! Professor Lockhart, you truly are remarkable. No wonder Headmaster Dumbledore appointed you as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts! We were completely unaware of the witch wizard following us. How did you manage to detect it?”

Lockhart mustered a smile that bordered on a grimace. Gritting his teeth, he waved his hand dismissively and replied, “These are trivial matters. I am Gilderoy Lockhart, recipient of Merlin’s Third Class Medal and an honorary member of the Anti-Dark Magic Alliance!”

Observing Mrs. Weasley’s astounded expression and then glancing at the Alliance party members gradually converging around them, Lockhart couldn’t help but feel a twinge of bitterness.

Meanwhile, in the Gringotts hall, Wentworth indulged in the drinks and delicacies provided by Rosier. Just then, Auston approached and reported, “My lord, there’s a gathering of wizards outside gradually making their way toward Gringotts.”

Upon hearing Auston’s report, Wentworth furrowed his brow, checked the time, and remarked, “The Aurors have arrived this soon? The British Ministry of Magic is remarkably efficient on this matter!”

To Wentworth’s surprise, Auston slowly shook his head and clarified, “My lord, they aren’t Aurors from the British Ministry of Magic. I spotted the Weasley family, the Malfoys, and Harry Potter in the crowd. Additionally, based on the information, this year’s new Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark Arts professor is Gilderoy Lockhart, and I saw him too.”

Hearing Auston’s update, Wentworth’s frown deepened, expressing some confusion. He pondered, “What kind of gathering is this? How did they all come together?”

Auston, appearing equally puzzled, shrugged helplessly, indicating his lack of knowledge. “I lack any further information, my lord… I am terribly sorry.”

“It’s not your fault, Auston. Tell the others to proceed with caution. We only need a bit more time before they hand Abernathy back to us.” Wentworth replied with a smile.

At this moment, Cassandra, situated next to Wentworth, suddenly interjected, “Others may be of little concern, but Gilderoy Lockhart still possesses some strength. Wentworth, let’s be cautious!”

Cassandra’s words prompted Wentworth to give her a quizzical look and inquire curiously, “Why? Do you still hold him in high esteem?”

Cassandra, responding matter-of-factly, nodded and declared, “Certainly! I am simply admiring a strong figure. Is there an issue with that? I even have his entire collection of signed books!”

Upon hearing Cassandra’s comments, Wentworth snorted in disdain and then addressed Auston with a sneer, “Go fetch my Defense Against the Dark Arts professor for the next semester! I’m going to host a reception for my prospective professor!”

Upon receiving Wentworth’s instructions, Auston nodded and departed.

On the opposite side, Green leaned in towards Cedric’s ear and murmured softly, “Someone’s in for a rough time.” Cedric nodded in agreement.

Cassandra, catching on to the situation, lifted the corners of her mouth slightly and asked with a smile, “What’s the matter, Wentworth? Feeling jealous? Don’t worry, Wentworth, I believe that once you accumulate life experiences as rich as Lockhart’s, you’ll surpass him!”

Wentworth sneered but chose to remain silent.

Observing this, Cedric who was standing beside Green also leaned in and whispered to him, “I suspect Cassandra wishes ill upon Lockhart!”

“Let’s just stay out of this one, Cedric,” Green swallowed nervously and nodded in agreement.


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Published On: March 19, 2024

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