As Lockhart approached Gringotts, surrounded by others, he was promptly halted by Carrow, the guard stationed at the entrance. “State your business or perish!”

The crowd turned their attention towards Lockhart, who offered a stiff smile and attempted to introduce himself, “Hey, everyone! I believe you should be familiar with me. I’m…”

Before Lockhart could complete his sentence, several wands were swiftly pressed against his forehead within a matter of seconds.

Beads of sweat formed on Lockhart’s forehead as he looked at Carrow, who was advancing towards him.

Lockhart who was feeling a bit embarrassed, remarked nervously, “Actually, there’s no need for such a grand reception.”

Carrow, continuing her approach through the crowd, signaled to her subordinate wizards to lower their wands. “Let me handle him; I am sure the young lord wants to see a show with this clown as the main star.”

Lockhart, on the verge of relief, overheard Carrow’s taunt as she grinned slyly before she said, “Gilderoy Lockhart? Rumor has it that you’re quite skilled. How about a little test?”

With those words, Carrow drew her wand and gestured for Lockhart to do the same.

While Carrow spoke, Mrs. Weasley whispered to Lockhart from behind, offering a suggestion, “Professor Lockhart, this is a prime opportunity to showcase your prowess to the Alliance. If you emerge victorious, you could leverage and ask for a permission to let us enter Gringotts!”

Lockhart, upon hearing Mrs. Weasley’s advice, had a sudden realization. He composed himself, flashed his trademark smile, and replied confidently, “Up for a duel? No problem! If I lose, I’ll depart quietly!”

Lockhart then glanced up at Carrow, who stood opposite him.

Just as Lockhart was about to add a dramatic flourish, Mrs. Weasley chimed in with a quick reminder, “Professor Lockhart, you haven’t mentioned what happens if you win.”

Lockhart’s mouth twitched slightly. “Win? I would be the most luckiest man on earth if I am still alive by the time I am away from this place, woman!” He screamed inside his heart.

It seemed an improbable outcome given the circumstances.

However, prompted by Mrs. Weasley’s prompting, Lockhart contemplated his response.

Before he could embellish further, Carrow interjected with a sneer, “If you lose, do you honestly think you’ll be allowed to leave unscathed? We’re not averse to employing the Unforgivable Curses in our Alliance’s duels!”

Lockhart was taken aback, his mind racing. If not for the wands pointed in his direction, he might have blurted out, “How about we settle this with hands instead of wands?”

Glancing at Carrow and then at the watchful wizards from the Alliance, Lockhart felt a sudden gulp in his throat. “Good, because I am not afraid to do the same!” He replied with another taunt.

Just then, Auston stepped forward, scanning the crowd before fixing his gaze on Lockhart. He announced crisply, “Gilderoy Lockhart? The young lord wishes to see you! Follow me.”

Lockhart’s disbelief was palpable, and he stammered incredulously, “Young lord? Wait, just me?”

Impatiently nodding, Auston confirmed that Lockhart was the sole invitee. “Yes, only you.”

Growing impatient with Lockhart’s dawdling, Auston grabbed him by the neckline, preparing to lead him away. Urgently, he insisted, “Hurry up! The young lord doesn’t like to be kept waiting. His time is invaluable!”

As Auston started to usher Lockhart away, the terrified expression on Lockhart’s face caught Arthur’s attention. Rising to his feet, Arthur began to say: “I…”

It seemed that Arthur was about to speak, but Carrow intercepted him, stepping forward with a sneer aimed at Arthur, “We know who you are; there’s no need for introductions. Since our lord hasn’t called for you, stay put and wait!”

The group exchanged puzzled glances, realizing there was little they could do.

Meanwhile, as Auston led Lockhart to Wentworth, the latter, along with three other young individuals, greeted him.

Lockhart was taken aback, wondering if these four were the leaders of the Alliance.

Wentworth, standing up, introduced himself with a smile, “Gilderoy Lockhart? Hello, I’m Wentworth, Wentworth Grindelwald.”

In response, Lockhart offered his signature smile and flattery, “Oh, I never expected the leader of the Umrah Party to be so young, talented, and promising! Hahahaha!”

Wentworth acknowledged the compliment with a light smile but then inquired, “I heard that Mr. Lockhart has accepted Professor Dumbledore’s invitation to serve as a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts next semester?”

Upon hearing Wentworth’s question, Lockhart’s eyes shifted, and he promptly responded, “Yes, Headmaster Dumbledore admires me! After his persistent requests, I finally agreed to take up the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts!”

Without acknowledging Lockhart’s words, Wentworth proceeded to introduce him to the others, “Really? Fantastic! Let me introduce you to everyone! This is Senior Green, seventh-year at Hogwarts, serving as the student council president and Hufflepuff’s prefect!”

Lockhart was caught in surprise before he even could utter any words, Wentworth cut him off by continuing to introduce the other people in the room.

“And this is Cedric, currently in his fourth year at Hogwarts! And meet Cassandra, like me, in her third year at Hogwarts, though she belongs to Slytherin while I’m a Hufflepuff.”

Upon hearing Wentworth’s introductions, Lockhart felt a sudden dizziness. This year, he was supposed to be joining Hogwarts, the finest wizarding school in the world! When did Hogwarts turn into a training center for the Alliance?

In the midst of his bewilderment, Lockhart began to lament in his heart: “Headmaster Dumbledore, you’ve played me for a fool!”

Observing Lockhart’s flabbergasted expression, Cassandra furrowed her brow slightly.

Maintaining an indifferent demeanor, Wentworth asked, “Professor Lockhart, did you come here today to hinder us Alliance in our process to take down Gringotts?”

Upon hearing Wentworth’s question, Lockhart instinctively wanted to nod in agreement, but the sound of wands shifting around him brought his head to an abrupt halt.

Lockhart then flashed his signature smile again, but it carried a hint of flattery this time. With a smile, he stated, “No, no, how could I oppose you, Wentworth? As a Hogwarts professor, I believe there must be a valid reason for your actions! I’m here to see if there’s anything I can assist you with!”

Upon hearing Lockhart’s words, Wentworth offered a noncommittal smile. However, at that moment, a series of “Da! Da! Da!” echoed through the Gringotts hall.

In response to the sound, Wentworth and the others instinctively turned their attention toward the source, discovering an elderly goblin walking out with the assistance of another goblin, who held crutches for support.

The rhythmic sound was precisely the tap of the old goblin’s crutches on the ground, and the goblin supporting him was the same one that Wentworth had released earlier.

As the two goblins slowly approached Wentworth, the young goblin introduced, “Everyone, this is the Great Elder of our goblins in Gringotts, UK!”


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Published On: March 19, 2024

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