Professor Ilona’s protest continued as she stood her ground, unwilling to let Professor Dumbledore and Wentworth pass.

After a brief silence, Professor Ilona spoke once more.

“Professor Dumbledore, as Wentworth’s Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, I must reiterate that this situation goes beyond Wentworth’s capabilities and would be futile for him to participate.”

“If you’re insistent on taking him, then I request to accompany you. I will closely protect Wentworth and ensure his safety.”

Professor Dumbledore’s gaze narrowed slightly, his response gentle yet firm.

“Professor Ilona, ​​I respectfully disagree. Some battles, even if observed from the sidelines, can be invaluable learning experiences for a young wizard. Unless the wizard intends to take on a desk job at the Ministry of Magic.”

“In addition, Professor Ilona, ​​as the Headmaster of Hogwarts, I have a responsibility to safeguard every student. I can assure you that I’ll prioritize Wentworth’s safety. Is an unbreakable oath necessary?”

Professor Ilona’s emotions seemed to waver upon hearing Professor Dumbledore’s words.

Nevertheless, Professor Sprout intervened, aiming to mediate the situation.

“Alright, Professor Dumbledore, we wholeheartedly trust you. Professor Ilona’s concern is solely for Wentworth’s wellbeing.”

“Besides, Wentworth is quite a likable young man. As for requiring unbreakable oaths, is it really necessary?”

Professor Sprout aimed to soothe the tension, knowing that demanding such oaths could be seen as an act of distrust in the magical world.

She was confident in Professor Dumbledore’s commitment to the students’ safety.

Professor Ilona sighed, shaking her head as well, and said.

“Professor Dumbledore, there’s no need for an unbreakable oath. There are enough magical means to ensure your actions remain in check in the magical world. A wizard might even be willing to swear an oath with you or bear witness to it.”

Professor Dumbledore acknowledged Professor Ilona’s words with an expressionless nod before speaking slowly.

“Yes, you’re correct. However, I believe my word carries more weight with him.”

Professor Ilona’s face reddened slightly at Professor Dumbledore’s response.

She stepped aside, moving away without looking back.

“I’m off to play cards with the students. I hope for your safe return.”

Watching Professor Ilona’s swift departure, Professor Snape frowned but ultimately turned his attention back to Professor Dumbledore.

Professor Dumbledore gave a subtle shake of his head before focusing on Wentworth.

“Well, Wentworth, are you prepared?”

Wentworth recognized that Professor Ilona, ​​a Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts, couldn’t dissuade Professor Dumbledore from his intention.

Wentworth retrieved his wand and held it firmly, then positioned his left cane against his chest, touching the pendant beneath his clothes.

Taking a deep breath, he nodded towards Brittany and signaled his readiness.

As Wentworth completed his preparations, Professor Dumbledore’s smile widened.

He reached out to Wentworth, seemingly about to touch the jack-o’-lantern.

“Wait a moment!”

Wentworth’s sudden shout surprised everyone.

Professor Dumbledore turned his attention to Wentworth with concern.

“What’s the matter, Wentworth?”

After contemplating for a moment, Wentworth shifted his gaze to Professor Snape beside him.

“Professor Snape, the students have vanished, their fate uncertain. Do you possess any means to aid their survival? Something that could increase their chances?”

Professor Snape’s response was tinged with annoyance, almost amused.

“You, looking so timid like that, make me wonder if you truly belong in Hufflepuff.”

Though Professor Snape’s words carried a mocking tone, he produced a small potion vial from his robe and tossed it to Wentworth.

Wentworth caught the vial without hesitation. Its contents exuded a mesmerizing allure.

“This… an Edurus Potion?!”

Wentworth examined the vial in disbelief.

“Make sure you don’t do anything foolish. I can’t fathom anyone daring to harm someone who’s taken the Edurus Potion in front of Professor Dumbledore.”

Professor Snape finished speaking and turned to leave the room without waiting for a response.

“Thank you, Professor Snape!”

Wentworth’s voice echoed after Professor Snape, who paused briefly before continuing, seemingly unaffected.

“Now, are we ready to go?”

Professor Dumbledore’s impatience was evident, and he couldn’t help but urge the group.

Wentworth clutched his wand in his right hand and the Edurus Potion in his left, nodding with determination.

Subsequently, Professor Dumbledore firmly grasped Wentworth’s shoulder and once again reached out to seize the jack-o-lantern!

However, as Professor Dumbledore’s palm made contact with the jack-o-lantern resting on Wentworth’s bed, Wentworth experienced an abrupt, irresistible force yanking him forward from behind his belly button.

In an instant, his feet were lifted off the ground, and he was sent hurtling through the air.

After an indeterminate span of time, Wentworth’s feet at last made contact with solid ground.

Concurrently, voices emanated from his surroundings.

Before the disorientation from his flight could fully subside, a boisterous voice resonated.

“Finally, the kid’s here! I’ve waited long enough! Oh? There’s an old man… head… head… head…”

This was followed by an impatient voice:

“I heard you the first time! Why shout so much? Do you think I’m deaf?”

Swiftly, the initial voice clarified.

“No, it’s an old man! there’s an old man here!”

“What’s the fuss about an old man? Inquire about his origins; if that fails, eliminate him!”

“But that old man is Professor Dumbledore! Albus Dumbledore!”

Suddenly, silence engulfed the scene.

Only then did Wentworth gradually shake off the lingering effects of his dizziness.

Clutching his wand, he surveyed his surroundings.

The clearing they occupied lay within a dense forest.

He and Professor Dumbledore found themselves amidst a group of seven or eight wizards.

Directly before him, a burly, bald man regarded him with a mixture of fear and astonishment.

Professor Dumbledore stood beside him while a shorter figure draped in a cloak, features obscured, stood beside the bald man.

As Wentworth scrutinized the group, they, in turn, observed him.

The exchange remained wordless, a palpable silence punctuated only by the occasional cawing of crows in the depths of the forest.

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Published On: October 12, 2023

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