“Professor, what’s the current situation in the castle?” Sean asked loudly, his voice filled with concern.

In response, everyone instinctively gripped their wands, ready for action.

“It’s a horde of Ashwinders! I’ve never seen so many of them in my life!” Professor Kettleburn, the Care of Magical Creatures teacher, seemed unusually composed but refused to move from his spot.

Even George and Fred noticed something was off with his behavior.

“Professor, can you please come and help us? A student has been injured, but Madam Pomfrey fainted for some reason,” Sean calmly continued.

As expected, Professor Kettleburn displayed impatience. “I have more important matters to attend to. All of you leave immediately. I will inform Professor Dumbledore and he will help the poor child.”

Sean narrowed his eyes, realizing that Kettleburn was hiding something and that the blue light beside him was likely related.

“Sister Charlotte, there’s something wrong with the professor…” Sean whispered, and Charlotte nodded in agreement.

She held her wand tightly and said softly, “Let’s go back first and assess the situation.”

Before she could finish speaking, Kettleburn grew even more anxious. He struck the ground with his wooden prosthesis and exclaimed, “Let’s go!”

The group exchanged glances and slowly retreated towards the exit of the ward.

“Kettleburn,” a cold, indistinct voice echoed as everyone reached the arched stone door.

Kettleburn’s beard trembled, and he struggled to respond, “I can’t, they are my students.”

“Just put them to sleep,” the voice said, its tone low and alluring.

“No, no…” Kettleburn shook his head in agony.

The voice let out a cold snort, seemingly losing patience.

“Go, Kettleburn!”

At that moment, Sean and the others watched as the previously pained and conflicted Kettleburn suddenly became expressionless and began walking towards them, brandishing his wand.

“Stupefy!” A red light shot directly at Sean.

“Protego!” Charlotte swiftly summoned a transparent shield, causing the red light to rebound and create a large hole in the stone wall.

“Wingardium Leviosa!” Sean hastily used a Levitation charm to move the unconscious Madam Pomfrey out of the way.

“Professor, snap out of it!” Charlotte dodged a spell and shouted anxiously.

Sean, carrying Madam Pomfrey and Percy, shouted loudly as he went outside, “It’s no use, he’s under the Imperius Curse.”

Although he hadn’t studied the Imperius Curse extensively, Sean could still recognize the expression on Kettleburn’s face.

Despite Kettleburn’s advanced age and broken limbs, his strength remained formidable. Cedric, Charlotte, and George barely defended themselves against Kettleburn’s attacks.

Spells flew around the ward, creating a chaotic scene. Sean focused on the surroundings, wary of any potential sneak attacks from the mysterious individual controlling Kettleburn.

Suddenly, something was thrown from the darkness, and George swiftly raised his wand.


The object exploded in mid-air, scattering transparent fragments everywhere.

It was a glass bottle. A red liquid sprayed out when it shattered, emitting a strange odor.

“Reducto…” Sean muttered, momentarily stunned.

The Ashwinders in the distance abruptly stopped in their tracks. Then, all the nearby Ashwinders charged toward the group. The situation took a turn for the worse.

Sean immediately pulled the unconscious Percy and Madam Pomfrey towards the rear.

A continuous stream of Ashwinders appeared from all directions, growing in number. The sheer quantity made Sean’s scalp tingle.

There was no time for eye contact or hesitation.

Without further delay, Sean waved his wand and incanted, “Protego Diabolica!”

Bright blue flames erupted from the tip of Sean’s wand, forming a protective barrier around the group. The flames roared, though not as grand as Grindelwald’s. They securely enclosed Sean and the others within.

Apart from the expressionless Kettleburn, everyone was captivated by the sight.

Charlotte’s eyes widened with surprise. She was baffled about the spell that was being cast. Even as a seventh-year student, she had never seen anything like it.

However, the Ashwinders were not concerned with it. They had continued to move and now relentlessly charged into the blue flames one after another.

Yet, Sean’s spell did not disappoint. Despite its thin layer, any snake that made contact with the flames instantly turned to ash.

“Grindelwald is truly formidable…” Sean couldn’t help but sigh as he watched the pile of ashes grow taller.

Regardless of the snakes’ fearlessness, they couldn’t break through the ring of fire.

“Come back,” the secret voice commanded.

The expressionless Kettleburn quickly retreated, returning to the other side of the ward and concealing himself.

Then, a series of murmured hisses followed, an unfamiliar language.

Sean’s eyes widened. Could it be…?

He witnessed the Ashwinders advancing relentlessly, suddenly halting in unison. They began slowly retreating, gathering in front of the ring of fire.

Sean’s expression grew grave.

Parseltongue? Could that voice belong to Tom Riddle, a.k.a. Voldemort?

Sean’s breathing became heavy.

Their wands still at the ready, Charlotte and the others approached cautiously. Observing the peculiar behavior of the fire ash snakes, she asked solemnly, “What’s happening?”

Sean’s face turned grim as he quickly responded, “Don’t worry about it. Come inside! The flames won’t harm you!”

In the scenario he envisioned, Voldemort had no option but to appear directly at Hogwarts.

Immediately after, a burst of magic flashed, and dozens of snakes in front of Sean’s ring of fire quickly bloated in size.

“Damn it!” Sean cursed in front of others for the first time, though no one paid it any mind anymore.

Sean’s spell proficiency was lacking, and the flames he conjured could only create a small circle.

With a few people standing inside, the space quickly became cramped.

Under Parseltongue instructions, the snakes swiftly encircled the entire fire, trapping them inside.

“Enjoy yourselves,” the voice taunted with a satisfied laugh before falling silent.

It seemed that the person, possibly Voldemort, did not personally intervene, which was a somewhat relieving development for Sean.

However, the bloated Ashwinders surrounded them, causing the whole room to be cramped.

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Published On: July 19, 2023

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