“How is it possible!” Mr. Rosmerta’s exclamation cut through the air.
But he quickly realized the inappropriateness of his outburst in the bar and lowered his voice, his tone incredulous: “This is unbelievable…”
Mr. Rosmerta continued, “…I’ve heard of wizards going down the wrong path, but people like James Potter going bad? I never even considered it… If you had told me back when they were in school that they’d end up in Azkaban, I’d have thought you had a bit too much to drink!”
“But it’s true!” Professor Slughorn’s voice was a murmur.
“Rosmerta, do you remember the time before Headmaster Grindelwald arrived at Hogwarts…”
“Goodness gracious!” Mr. Rosmerta’s eyes widened, his tone almost frightened. He quickly hushed his voice again, saying, “Professor Slughorn, you can’t bring up those times… You must have had too much to drink! Back then, this place was even called the Broomstick…”
Matthew silently thanked Hermione for providing him with these handy gadgets, particularly the “button bug listening device.”
The conversation between Professor Slughorn and Rosmerta became increasingly subdued.
Matthew even suspected that Shafiq, sitting beside them, might be unable to hear their conversation.
However, he caught their words thanks to the “button tapping device” attached to the back of Professor Slughorn’s chair.
“No… I’m not drunk,” Professor Slughorn refuted, “Before Grindelwald arrived at Hogwarts, many within the school opposed him… Dumbledore, the Gryffindor head and Transfiguration teacher, led those against him.”
“Later… Later, Dumbledore’s plan failed, and he was imprisoned, but his resistance persisted at Hogwarts… especially in Gryffindor.”
“Are you implying…” Mr. Rosmerta’s voice trembled, “That James Potter and the others… are in Azkaban because…”
“…Yes, James Potter and the others conspired to overthrow Grindelwald’s rule. They planned to rescue Dumbledore from Nurmengarde, where he was held captive…” Professor Slughorn’s tone shifted, revealing a sudden smile, “A bunch of young innocents. They inevitably failed.”
“…Someone betrayed them, but a spy within Hogwarts at that time warned them before their arrest… They managed to escape, and Potter was familiar with Hogwarts’ secret passages. The school later declared them rule-breakers and expelled them.”
Amid the clinking of glasses, Matthew suspected that Professor Slughorn’s face must be flushed.
Professor Slughorn’s voice continued, “Yet they were mere young adults, barely out of Hogwarts, and untrained against experienced Aurors. They did show remarkable resourcefulness, though. They evaded Ministry pursuit for years… But eventually, they were captured…”
“Only one person remains at large!” Professor Slughorn’s voice swelled with pride, “Lily Evans! You remember her, I’m sure.”
“Of course,” Mr. Rosmerta’s voice agreed, “I remember Potter and Snape were always at odds over her…”
“…Yes, she was beautiful, intelligent, and sensible…” Professor Slughorn added, his tone tinged with regret, “Unfortunately, she fell astray…”
“…I had high hopes for her initially, and my judgment was still flawed!”
“So… what connection do Potter and the others have with Azkaban’s fugitives?” Mr. Rosmerta’s voice resumed, but it took on a different tone, “Could it be that… those fugitives… Could it be…”
“Yes…” Professor Slughorn’s voice took on a mysterious quality, “This is not common knowledge. Only a select few within the Ministry know their identities. Since their conspiracy involved the overthrow of Grindelwald at Hogwarts, it was a closely guarded secret… Gadevin Robaz, an Auror stationed on Azkaban Island, has a close relationship with me. He discreetly shared this with me…”
“Of course! Absolutely!” Mr. Rosmerta’s voice affirmed, nodding repeatedly.
Mr. Rosmerta seemed to be ruminating aloud, “So, does this mean that the Ministry sent numerous Aurors and dementors to guard Hogwarts because… Potter, Blake, and Pedro… They intended to…”
“There’s no doubt about it!” Professor Slughorn’s voice asserted. “Having escaped Azkaban, they intend to continue their ominous plan from fifteen years ago… Simultaneously, this confirms their discovery at Hogwarts ten years ago.”
“Merlin’s beard… Merlin’s beard… Merlin’s beard…”
Mr. Rosmerta’s voice carried a tremor as he muttered, “These revelations are chilling! Professor Slughorn, I implore you to never mention this again!”
“I’ve only shared what I know.” Professor Slughorn’s voice held a note of detachment.
As Mr. Rosmerta seemed to walk away, it became evident that as the proprietor of a small bar, he was wary of delving deeper into these matters.
On the other hand, Matthew was still processing the weight of Professor Slughorn’s words.
The information was undeniably substantial.
Yet, Professor Slughorn’s voice rang through the tiny earpiece, “Little Elaine, I apologize for sidelining you. I spoke with Rosmerta…”
“…By the way, you mentioned earlier that you wrote to your mother to inquire about the last individuals your father interacted with…”
“Yes.” Shafiq’s voice, as brilliantly composed as before, reached Matthew’s ears, “My father frequently met with two individuals before his imprisonment in Azkaban. One was Mr. Malfoy… and the other, my father never revealed his name…”
“I see…” Professor Slughorn responded gently, “So… where did this unnamed person go, the one your father never mentioned by name? Where did you send the letter?”
Matthew’s ears perked up, sensing another key piece of information…
“I know this,” Shafiq’s crisp reply came, “He’s in Hogsmeade!”
Suddenly, Matthew’s expression changed dramatically.
The small earpiece in his hand slipped from his grip and fell soundlessly to the ground.
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