"Fuck this! I hate gnomes!" exclaimed Marcus angrily as he clutched onto his bleeding hand. Penelope was too busy trying to bandage the wound to pay any attention to his words, but Oliver laughed merrily to them.

"What did you expect, fairies?" he queried amusedly.

Marcus turned a hateful glare on him but Oliver didn't seem to notice. Meanwhile, Percy was sitting on a boulder, contemplating their next move.

"Well, I suppose our dealings with the gnomes didn't turn out so well. At least we escaped alive!" Penelope said, smiling cheerfully.

Oliver sighed and crossed his arms. "I'm surprised gnomes were even that strong. They certainly weren't like that back at home," he wondered aloud.

"That's because this is Ireland. The gnomes here are stronger, faster, and a whole lot smarter since this is the exact place where they originated from. Be thankful we haven't encountered the goblins yet," remarked Percy as he stood up.

Oliver regarded the redhead for a moment before shrugging. "I suppose we ought to send Dumbledore a letter," he murmured. "I wonder if he'll be disappointed."

Marcus snickered. "Of course he'll be disappointed! We're trying to get as much creatures as we can to join us, right?" he pointed out. He then glanced at his hand, which Penelope had finished bandaging. "Thanks, Penny."

The girl nodded with a smile while Oliver continued with his thoughts. "I hope we have better luck with tracking down the giants. But from what I heard of last year's occurrence…," she quipped, looking at the others unsurely.

"I suppose we could call it a day. It is getting late and goodness knows how much more risk there is at night," suggested Oliver, stretching his back. He stood up and winced painfully at having to sit on the rocky ground for so long. "Why mountains?"

Penelope giggled and held her hand up for Oliver to pull her up. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy," she said.

"Yeah, but this is insane. Two days and I'm already missing England—and I don't even like home that much," grunted Marcus, gathering their belongings.

"The wind's picking up," remarked Percy suddenly.

Everyone looked at him in surprise before studying their surroundings. They were near the mountains and the grounds were uneven and rough. The sky was quickly darkening, but there hadn't been much sun in the first place, casting the area in a dark and gloomy shadow. The air was cold and still, but at that moment everyone could feel a growing wind developing in the east—one that filled their hearts with dread. Percy narrowed his eyes and stood atop the boulder he was perched on and looked farther into the distance, trying to pinpoint the source of the sudden wind before cringing.

"Trouble," he muttered under his breath as he looked at the others urgently. "Goblins heading our way."

But before any of them could react, a sudden darkness enveloped them and the wind came to an abrupt halt. They all stood in a closed circle, facing each other silently. The cold breeze that had been blowing all around them had come to a still, leaving them in an impenetrable state of uneasiness. Goosebumps pricked at their skin bitingly and neither looked above them, knowing all too well what was in the sky, watching their every move dangerously.

"Holy shit," muttered Marcus, an uncanny look of panic in his eyes.

"What have we here?" came a screeching tone from above. Everyone flinched silently.

A sudden gush of wind blew past them and where there was empty space before Oliver was now occupied by a goblin. The creature was at least six feet tall, straggly, and hissing violently in excitement as his eyes fell upon Oliver. He raised one bony arm and made a motion to grab the man's neck before a harsh voice was sounded above.

"Stop it. You've already had your fill."

The goblin froze and lowered his arm ruefully, glaring at Oliver hungrily. "But it's been so long since we've had any humans…," he muttered in a low tone, his hissing growing stronger with every passing word.

Oliver stepped back nervously, bumping into Percy. The redhead held onto his arm supportively. "Well, here are our goblins. Seems like we didn't have to look for them after all," he murmured. Oliver looked at him for a moment.

"Yeah, let's see if we can actually get out of here now," he muttered sourly.

The goblin that had first landed in front of Oliver gave out a low groan as he turned pleadingly towards his leader. "But—!" he began before being forcefully pushed into the ground by another goblin.

"Obey the command!" he reproached scornfully.

Oliver watched the scene before him with mixed curiosity and amusement. It was only when the entire clan of goblins landed around them did his interest fade quickly. Being surrounded by a crew of notoriously violent creatures was not Oliver's idea of adventure. Gathering his nerves, the former Quidditch captain stood tall and looked the leader in the eye. He still yet had a mission to accomplish and frightened or not, Oliver Wood was not a quitter.

"It is rare for humans to journey here. You must want something," stated the leader before Oliver spoke.

For a moment, the dark-haired man looked surprised before nodding quickly. "We come peacefully to ask for your aid," he stated firmly, a look of pure determination and fire in his eyes.

The goblin leader tilted his head to the side and took one step forward, the coils making up his attire rattling loudly and invoking fear from everyone else. Then just as sudden, he began laughing hoarsely. It was not a scathing laugh, though. It seemed to be filled with the type of amusement one acquired through a shock, and Oliver was encouraged by this turn of events.

"Humans want our aid? What sort of fool would ever call for this arrangement?"

"Albus Dumbledore."

This time it had been Percy who spoke, and when he did, all the goblins turned to him. The leader had ceased laughing and was now gazing at the redhead in a peculiar manner, a sharp gleam in his eyes. "Oh? Well, even if that is so, how can we so easily forget our traditional values? Those goblins who work alongside humans are weak and betray their ancestors' legacy," he said grimly before suddenly unleashing his long claws and raising it menacingly before Percy's neck in a flash. "I'm sure you can understand this, no?"

Penelope gasped and Marcus looked on, appalled. Oliver narrowed his eyes and clenched his fists while Percy continued gazing back at the goblin leader calmly. "Sometimes change is good," he retorted dryly.

The goblin leader gave out a short and high laugh, one that stung Percy's ears. "We will not give you any help on this human affair. Voldemort is one of your own—defeat him on your own," he replied harshly before turning away swiftly and calling his men back to him.

For a moment, Percy stood still before he finally looked up at the retreating goblins. "Voldemort will come after you as well! It's not a human affair anymore. All creatures are involved now," he called out.

The goblin leader, who had been marching back with his men, suddenly came to a halt as he raised his arm. He then turned around halfway and eyed Percy with a glowing crimson eye. "Why should we help you if you are the ones who created this problem? If Voldemort attacks us, we will be ready. It is you who desperately needs our aid. Give me a real reason and maybe I will reconsider," he said in a surprisingly solemn manner before he and his men took to flight and vanished in the dusky horizon.

For several moments there was only a cold pause where everyone stood stock still, staring at the spot where the goblins had formerly gathered. Then Marcus began cracking his fingers and everyone snapped out of their reveries in shock. Penelope shook her head and wrung her hands nervously.

"That really was unexpected," she murmured.

"Fucking stubborn bunch of animals," muttered Marcus under his breath. His anxiety had all but dissipated and directed itself on a path to anger. "I mean did you hear what they said? Yeah, we need their help, but it's not one way. They're going to need us sooner or later, too!"

Oliver sighed and rubbed the back of his neck tiredly. "We were caught off guard with this one. I think we blew it, though. They'll probably never help us," he said resignedly.

"Unless we give them a reason."

Everyone turned to look at Percy. The redhead still bore a thoughtful expression on his face, as if the entire debate that had occurred not long ago didn't even faze him. Oliver narrowed his eyes and realized with some amusement that the look Percy had on was the same one he usually wore when trying to solve a difficult problem back at their Hogwarts days. It was one of pure determination and concentration that still managed to derive some respect from Oliver.

"You know you were being awfully bold with those goblins, Percy. You could have been killed by the leader if you don't recall!" exclaimed Penelope suddenly.

The redhead blinked and looked at her as if for the first time realizing she was standing before him. "Oh? Yes, I remember. But I knew he wasn't going to do it. The look in his eyes wasn't murderous," he remarked calmly.

"Percy Weasley! If you make any more stupid moves like that in the future, I will personally guarantee your demise by my hands!"

Oliver and Marcus cringed at the ferocity in Penelope's tone, but Percy merely stared back at her beadily before lowering his head, shoulders shaking uncontrollably. Penelope's disposition immediately changed into one of concern as she placed a hand on his shoulder worriedly. "Perce? Are you all right?" she pleaded.

They all watched as Percy shook his head and raised his head, laughter painting his face. "Penelope, thank you. I haven't felt like someone cared about me in a long while," he commented, still chuckling, though a tone of sadness was evident. He then cleared his throat and picked up his backpack. "Let's go back now, shall we? I'm starved."

And without even waiting for anyone to remark, he Disapparated. Penelope looked ready to stay something before she stopped, a doubtful look in her eyes. Marcus suddenly patted her back roughly, knocking her out of her thoughts.

"We know. You're worried about him aren't you?" he prompted knowingly.

Penelope scrunched up her face in agitation. "Well, aren't you?" she snapped back, looking more so at Oliver than Marcus.

The dark-haired man stared back at her sternly. "We don't have time for this, Penny. Let's go," he said coldly, before vanishing from the scene with a sharp crack.

Penelope looked onwards sorrowfully. "If we are to work as a team, we can't have this kind of dispute going on. They'll need to talk to each other eventually," she said. Looking at Marcus, her voice grew bleak. "I fear something is going to happen—something that will make Oliver face reality."

Marcus arched an eyebrow and promptly snapped his fingers before Penelope's gaze. "Hey, don't be so pessimistic. It's annoying," he muttered gruffly.

"You understand what I'm getting at, Marc. I'm just worried…about everyone."

The tall man crossed his arms squarely over his chest, staring at Penelope musingly. He then sighed and shook his head. "No point in doing that now, Penny. Save your concern for when we really need it," he remarked.

The two shared a silent look before dissolving into chuckles. The moment of tension was over and the stifling mood was lifted from their shoulders. Penelope smiled in relief at Marcus. "Thank you. I needed that. All this stress and action has really driven me to the point of self-destruction," she said gratefully.

Marcus shrugged nonchalantly, but then shot Penelope a serious look. "Your worries are in the right place, though. This isn't going to be a shitless mission," he replied gravely.

The expression on Penelope's face sobered. "Yes, I know," she murmured earnestly.

"Let's go then—before that retard Wood comes back to give us a lecture."

Penelope managed a small laugh as they Disapparated unanimously. When they appeared back at Gwen's house, both Oliver and Percy where waiting there impatiently. They both appeared in the midst of changing their clothes from the ruffled states of their clothes, and each bore a disgruntled expression, as if somewhere along the way of changing they had realized two of their companions had failed to come back. Penelope bit down on her lip to keep from giggling at the comical sight whereas Marcus openly patronized the two young wizards.

"Talk about a late reaction. What would have happened if Penny and I got caught up in some trouble? Would it take you this long to realize we were missing?" he remarked scathingly.

Both Oliver and Percy exclaimed at the same time, "And what were you and Penny even doing out there for so long?"

The two then paused and looked at each other with mild surprise.

Penelope looked on with promise. Perhaps this won't be so bad of a trip after all.

"Dinner!" called Gwen from the kitchen.



Hm, a bit on the short side, but at least I managed to get to the introduction of the goblins. This certainly won't be the last we'll see of them. (Hint, hint.) And hopefully, now that I got my juices flowing, I'll be able to update this story more often. That break really did me some good. :D I promise there'll be more action next time round. For now, review, please! XD