Wentworth glanced at both Professor Dumbledore and Professor Ilona, sensing an unspoken exchange between the two.
The notion that they shared something significant lingered at the back of his mind.
Professor Ilona chimed in, urging Wentworth, “Off you go now, Wentworth. It’s getting late, and you should rest early. You’re growing up, and sleep is vital for your development.”
Although curious about the potential conversation, Wentworth understood that if both Professor Dumbledore and Professor Ilona didn’t wish him to hear, he wouldn’t have a say in the matter.
Resigned to this fact, he suppressed his curiosity and proceeded to enter Hogwarts.
As Wentworth’s form vanished within the castle, Professor Dumbledore turned to Professor Ilona, opening a conversation with a probing question, “Professor Ilona, when you mentioned the value of your students’ lives, were you referring specifically to Wentworth or all students of Hogwarts?”
Professor Ilona’s brow furrowed, an expression of bewilderment overtaking her features. “Professor Dumbledore, I’m not quite following. What exactly do you mean?”
Professor Dumbledore held Professor Ilona’s gaze, a sense of gravity in his tone. “Professor Ilona, as a Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts, I implore you to treat every student with equal care.”
Professor Ilona’s reaction was one of incredulous amusement.
Her response was sharp and candid, “Professor Dumbledore, it seems you’re the one not treating everyone equally, aren’t you? What’s the story behind Wentworth’s distinctive spell? I don’t believe you have the authority to lecture me on this.”
Professor Dumbledore didn’t retaliate; instead, he focused his gaze on the direction Wentworth had retreated, his tone sincere as he said, “I merely wish for each student to experience their time at Hogwarts without undue distractions. They should engage in what students ought to do.”
Professor Ilona seemed unswayed by Professor Dumbledore’s explanation. “Professor Dumbledore, some individuals are destined to shine like fireworks in the dark sky. This brilliance can’t be suppressed, can it?”
Professor Dumbledore acquiesced, his response measured. “You’re absolutely right. However, I hope that the attention they garner is due to their abilities or character rather than other factors, such as their lineage.”
With Professor Dumbledore’s response, a rare moment of silence enveloped the conversation.
Eventually, Professor Ilona posed a query, “Professor Dumbledore, how long do you believe your approach can last?”
Professor Dumbledore met Professor Ilona’s gaze and replied confidently, “As long as no external factors interfere, I believe it can persist for some time. At the very least, until he surpasses his peers and establishes himself as a standout.”
Professor Ilona remained noncommittal but offered a nod before bidding farewell to Professor Dumbledore, her steps carrying her away.
As Professor Ilona’s silhouette receded, Professor Dumbledore’s contemplation was interrupted by her departure.
Meanwhile, Wentworth had returned to the Hufflepuff common room.
Stepping inside, Wentworth immediately noticed Cedric and Prefect Green stretched out on a bench, both seemingly asleep.
Touched by their evident concern, Wentworth realized that the two had been awaiting his return.
His entrance prompted Cedric to slowly awaken, his eyes initially clouded with sleepiness.
However, the sight of Wentworth stirred surprise within him. “Wentworth, you’re back! I’m relieved to see that you’re unharmed.”
Observing Cedric’s sleep-ridden appearance and the astonishment that followed, Wentworth couldn’t help but sigh inwardly.
Originally, he had merely wanted to experience Hogwarts’ allure and avoid unnecessary trouble.
He had hoped to forge a friendship with Cedric, even harboring thoughts of having a scholarly friend who could share homework.
Yet, at this moment, his concerns had grown deeper.
He realized that standing aside during the Triwizard Tournament would be difficult, especially if Cho Chang ended up in peril.
Could he truly watch her face danger without intervening?
Amidst his musings, Wentworth found humor in his own thoughts.
He marveled at his ability to worry about others when he himself faced numerous uncertainties.
Such reflections led Wentworth to crave strength more fervently.
The pressures he encountered thus far were comparatively insignificant; his current drive was born out of the desire for survival, for the sake of those dear to him.
At that moment, Prefect Green also roused from his slumber upon hearing Cedric’s voice.
Rubbing his eyes, he addressed Wentworth, his tone still heavy with drowsiness, “You’ve finally returned, Wentworth. Your well-being is reassuring, as if I were a father relieved to see his child unharmed. Nevertheless, Professor Dumbledore was with you, so I was confident that no harm would come your way. But, well, a father can’t help but worry, can he?”
As Wentworth observed Prefect Green’s sleep-laden face and his relieved reaction, he began to realize that Prefect Green would have graduated by the time of the Triwizard Tournament.
This realization dashed Wentworth’s plans of recruiting Prefect Green as a Hogwarts champion, replacing Cedric and participating in the Triwizard Tournament alongside Harry Potter.
In the end, life at Hogwarts was full of unpredictable twists, and Wentworth understood that the course of events was not always within his control.
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