Matthew swiftly skimmed through the books in front of him.
He searched for keywords such as large transactions or peculiar transaction records, specifically looking for the name “Lucius Malfoy”…
Soon, he noticed something amiss–
On August 26th of the previous year, the day before Matthew discovered that he was actually a wizard, Flourish and Blotts Bookstore made a discreet purchase of a substantial number of “Black Magic · Self-Defense Guide” books from Italy.
At first glance, this record seemed unremarkable. After all, “The Black Magic: Self-Defense Guide” was the designated textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
However, upon closer examination, it felt peculiar.
Why would Flourish and Blotts Bookstore buy many such textbooks so close to the end of summer vacation?
If it was due to low inventory, shouldn’t they have purchased the entire set of textbooks at once?
Furthermore, the English version of the “Black Magic · Self-Defense Guide” should not have been published by an Italian publishing house…
Matthew quickly refocused and continued searching for related records in the ledger.
Soon, he stumbled upon another piece of potentially valuable information:
Also, on August 26th of the previous year, Flourish and Blotts Bookstore received a sum of five thousand Galleons…
Five thousand galleons—a substantial amount!
For a bookstore with a modest reputation in the wizarding world like Flourish and Blotts Bookstore, their quarterly profit might not even reach that amount.
Such a significant sum of money, its source—
When Matthew saw the name associated with it, he quickly rubbed his eyes to ensure he was reading it correctly.
The source was a wizard named “Tom Gunter”… and the reason was listed as a “donation.”
Tom Gaunt—a familiar name.
Matthew couldn’t help but smile.
With renewed vigor, he continued searching for records related to this transaction in the ledger.
Early the following day, Matthew yawned and got out of bed.
Holding the two books, he left the basement, secretly recording all the valuable information he had discovered the previous night.
He returned to the counter and placed the ledger back in the cupboard.
At that moment, Mr. Shafiq, the manager of Flourish and Blotts Bookstore, approached.
Mr. Shafiq’s gaze lingered on Matthew, fixed and unyielding.
His stare sent shivers down Matthew’s spine, making him feel uneasy.
It almost felt like Mr. Shafiq had discovered his “borrowing” of the ledger.
Suppressing his confusion, Matthew greeted the manager proactively, “Good morning, Mr. Shafiq!”
The manager’s gaze remained distant.
“Good morning, Mr. Shafiq!” Matthew repeated, trying to capture his attention.
Mr. Shafiq, as if awakening from a dream, finally responded, “Oh…good morning, Wickfield…”
“You look tired,” Matthew casually remarked.
“No, not at all,” Shafiq shook his head initially, but after a moment of hesitation, he continued, “Wickfield, do you have plans for tonight?”
“Tonight?” Matthew couldn’t help but feel cautious.
Recalling the conversation, he overheard between Mr. Shafiq and Mr. Malfoy the previous morning, coupled with the suspicious records he found in the ledger—
Matthew had a vague inkling of what was to come.
“I should be free,” he replied calmly.
“In that case…” Mr. Shafiq glanced at Matthew once again, then feigned nonchalance as he asked, “Since you’re available, can you do me a small favor tonight?”
He quickly added, “Of course, you’ll be paid, and it won’t take much of your time.”
At that moment, Matthew had already deduced the situation.
“That’s absolutely fine,” he readily agreed. “But…what exactly needs to be done?”
“Well…” Mr. Shafiq began to explain slowly, “A friend of mine from abroad helped me acquire some books, rather valuable ones…”
“Of course, these books are all legal, but the Ministry of Magic’s regulations prevent us from importing them. So, we must secretly transport them back to Flourish and Blotts Bookstore…” Mr. Shafiq said while his eyes wander.
“So, you need me…” Matthew murmured.
“That’s correct.” Mr. Shafiq lowered his voice. “For such an endeavor, I need someone I can trust to accompany me… Wickfield, that’s why I chose you…”
“In that case, what’s the reward?” Matthew blinked and asked softly.
“Ten Galleons!” Mr. Shafiq pondered for a moment before reluctantly offering a figure.
“At least twenty Galleons…” Matthew began to negotiate.
“Twelve Galleons at most!”
“Eighteen Galleons, Mr. Shafiq, considering this is an illegal act…”
“Fifteen Galleons, that’s the absolute minimum. I’ll find someone else if you ask for more!”
The agreement was settled. Mr. Shafiq seemed relieved and departed with a sense of relief.
Meanwhile, the excitement on Matthew’s face faded as soon as Mr. Shafiq turned away.
He furrowed his brow, deep in thought. Something was off…
Fifteen Galleons might not be significant, but it wasn’t a small sum either.
Mr. Shafiq had been too “generous” for just one night of work and such high remuneration.
Moreover, considering his interactions with Mr. Shafiq during this period, Matthew was well aware that although the manager appeared wealthy, he was more akin to a “Felix Grandet” figure.
Abnormalities and deception were to be expected.
Furthermore, Mr. Shafiq mentioned the need to find someone trustworthy for an illegal act.
Yet, Matthew was only a “temporary worker” who had joined Flourish and Blotts Bookstore just a week ago.
“Could Mr. Shafiq already consider me a trustworthy individual?” Matthew himself found it hard to believe.
There was another point of contention based on the description in the ledger.
Mr. Shafiq had facilitated a transfer for a wizard named “Tom Gaunt,” involving a few books, for which he was paid a large sum of five thousand Galleons.
Moreover, yesterday, Matthew overheard Lucius Malfoy mentioning that this deal would earn Mr. Shafiq at least three thousand Galleons.
Making money in the wizarding world seemed all too easy…
After contemplating for a few minutes, Matthew devised a strategy to handle the situation.
Just then, an owl flew by, flapping its wings, and landed beside Matthew.
It delivered a copy of the Daily Prophet to Matthew.
Matthew took out a few Knuts from his pocket and handed them to the owl, all the while scanning the headlines of the Daily Prophet—
“Azkaban Experiences the First Prison Break in History, Numerous Criminals Escape!”
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