Chapter 3 - The Thief

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A pinging of a fork against a glass. Immediately, the Great Hall quieted as though a Silencing Charm had been placed upon them.

A wizened old man with a long white beard stood up — Dumbledore — and cleared his throat.

"Welcome, students, to another year at Hogwarts," he said warmly, spreading his arms. "I am Professor Dumbledore, your headmaster. Now, before we start an excellent feast, I have a few announcements and reminders.

"Firstly, I'd like to warn you all that the Forbidden Forest is out of bounds, hence, 'Forbidden.' I'm sure a few of our old students would need this reminder as well." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as he glanced towards the Gryffindor table, or more specifically, the Marauders. They looked back up at him with innocent eyes.

"Mr. Filch, our caretaker, has asked me to remind you that three new items have been added to the list of banned toys — Exploding Snap, Banging Boomerangs, and muggle bombs. The full list, which I believe has over 200 items, is posted on Mr. Filch's door.

"We now have a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Polen, who will be replacing Professor Tuttle." Polite clapping ensued as a young man with dark hair stood up and bowed slightly from the teachers' table. He didn't look older than twenty.

"Finally, I'd like to announce with great excitement that Hogwarts will now be host to the Crown of Hogwarts." Whispers broke out through the hall.

"This is a momentous occasion in history. For more information on the Crown of Hogwarts, you can look in Chapter 7 of Hogwarts, A History. I warn you all now — the Crown of Hogwarts is under the highest security. I would not advise you to attempt to take it as a practical joke. This is a great privilege for our school, for the Crown has not been seen for a thousand years. Should anyone attempt to befoul it, they will be expelled."

Dumbledore smiled, his eyes crinkling, at the look of awe on all of the students' faces as a procession of house-elves carried the Crown on a red pillow down the middle of the hall. Just before the teachers' table, a rectangular column appeared, about four feet tall. The house-elves carefully set the Crown, along with the pillow, onto the pedestal, and with a wave of Dumbledore's wand, the crown was encased in glass.

Students craned their necks to see the Crown of Hogwarts. The house-elves filed out and Dumbledore clapped his hands. "Let's eat!" he bellowed.

Far above, under a Disillusionment Charm, the thief smiled. It would almost be too easy, they thought as they crouched among the rafters. It was all for a good cause, though. They were only trying to protect the Crown, not profit from it.

At least, that's what the thief told themselves as they watched the Crown with wide eyes. They couldn't deny — they would gain international fame for this heist. Chuckling to themselves, they prepared for the crime of the century.

***

The Great Hall was dark. Moonlight shone through the window. The only sounds were the occasional mewl of a kitten and Filch's scratchy voice (he'd just purchased a new cat to help him out).

The thief crept towards the Crown, wand out and heart pounding.

The door creaked open and the thief froze.

Voices could be heard outside the door, and the thief cursed under their breath. They'd forgotten about the night guards.

With the mobility of a cat, the thief slashed through the air with their wand, jumped over the line of security, removed the glass, and stole the Crown. More voices, and the thief's hand shook. The glass covering fell to the ground with a crash.

Silence. Then, "Who's there?" came a bark-like voice.

The thief glanced fearfully from the shattered glass to the door, then placed a white business card on the pedestal before slipped away into the darkness, the Crown in hand.

The security guard stalked into the room. "Lumos." His wand ignited the spot where the Crown of Hogwarts should have been, but wasn't.

"Fuck," he muttered, and waved his wand to send a message to the headmaster.

The Crown of Hogwarts had been stolen.


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