In 1971, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore admitted the 11-year-old Remus Lupin, a “Werewolf,” to study at Hogwarts.
He provided him with a transformation location known as the Shrieking Shack and even planted a Whomping Willow to protect the area.
The villagers believed the noise and screams were caused by a menacing ghost, a rumor Dumbledore encouraged to ensure people stayed away for their safety.
Of course, this tale originates from another world.
In this world’s Hogwarts, there isn’t a fearsome “Whomping Willow,” at least as far as Matthew has seen near the greenhouse.
Furthermore, the name “Remus Lupin” is unfamiliar to him.
Yet, the “Shrieking Shack” still exists, its notoriety persisting, even though Matthew isn’t sure why.
However, he is certain that the secret tunnel between the Shrieking Shack and Hogwarts must also exist.
Many hidden passages link Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, constructed in secret by wizards during the “Goblin Rebellion.”
These passages date back hundreds of years, some falling into disrepair and disuse.
All of this predates recent Headmasters.
Matthew’s sole concern is finding a way back to Hogwarts as swiftly as possible.
Within Hogsmeade Village lurks an immensely menacing presence.
Tom Gaunt… or Tom Riddle… or Voldemort… He exists in this world, though perhaps not as formidable as in the other world.
He remains a seventeen-year-old, yet a murderer with countless lives under his belt.
He is a dread-inducing Dark Wizard who, at a young age, could create Horcruxes…
Even more terrifying is the possibility that he’s waiting in Hogsmeade, his arrest inevitable due to the book.
Hence, Matthew purposefully brushed off Hermione and Neville, distancing them from him.
As long as they’re not with him, the likelihood of their encountering danger is minimal.
After all, Tom Gaunt’s target isn’t them.
However, if they accompany him, they’re at risk.
Matthew sprinted with all his might, reaching the hilltop and the house.
A weathered fence enclosed the Shrieking Shack, overrun with weeds, its appearance dilapidated.
Windows were sealed with wooden boards from the inside, and the structure appeared askew during the day.
These fences are old, and easily kicked down.
Matthew rushed through the overgrown weeds and headed for the shack.
The entrance to the Shrieking Shack was locked, but without hesitation, Matthew drew his wand:
The door creaked open.
Matthew hurried inside.
Stepping into the Shrieking Shack, he locked the door behind him.
With the doors and windows shut, the room plunged into darkness, visibility nonexistent.
“Fluorescence flashes lu!”
Matthew softly incanted, casting a feeble light into the room, yet it wasn’t enough.
Matthew called out again, and a brilliant light burst forth, illuminating the room for an extended period.
This light allowed Matthew to survey his surroundings.
The room was a messy, flat gray.
Dust lay everywhere, making it slightly suffocating.
The windows weren’t sealed but blocked from the inside by wooden planks.
Furniture was broken, and the wallpaper peeled off the walls…
Clearly, this house had been abandoned for an extended period.
Vaguely, Matthew heard a meow, though it could very well be his imagination.
However, Matthew couldn’t spare a thought for such matters.
He searched swiftly for the entrance to the “secret passage” on the floor.
The secret tunnel connecting Hogwarts to the Shrieking Shack.
Dust covered the floor, obstructing his view… Using magic to clean wasn’t feasible.
Matthew had yet to learn such intricate cleaning spells.
He could only brush away the dust with his hands, tapping the floor lightly, gauging by the sound if there was space beneath the wooden planks.
After several minutes of this process,
Matthew noticed the sound produced by a specific floorboard differed from the rest.
He quickly removed his robe and wiped away the dust around it…
As expected, the colour of this floorboard differed slightly from the others…
Matthew lowered himself, continuing to examine it. Soon, a loud noise rang out, and his efforts lifted the entire floorboard.
Everything was going smoothly!
Before him lay an “unfathomable” pit.
Indeed, this was a secret passage.
Its entrance was narrow but sufficient for a wizard to pass through.
Matthew heaved a sigh of relief.
With this secret passage, he could return to Hogwarts. Once there, everything would be safe…
Matthew vowed never to set foot in Hogsmeade again until Tom Gaunt was apprehended!
Just as Matthew prepared to enter the tunnel,
“Planning to run away?”
A chilling, derisive, high-pitched, cold voice resounded from behind.
At the sound of this eerie voice, Matthew’s heart sank.
He spun around, but there was nothing to see.
Then, a middle-aged man seated on a broken chair materialized before him as if through an illusion.
“It’s Disillusionment Charm!”
Matthew quickly deduced.
This man had likely been trailing him for a while, using a Charm to remain unseen.
And Matthew’s attempt to escape… to him, it must have been nothing more than a joke.
Matthew forced himself to remain calm, gazing at the peculiar figure…
…No… in fact, he wasn’t unfamiliar.
Just a few hours earlier, Matthew had seen him… outside the Hog’s Head Inn.
He’d been dressed as a waiter, pouring something there.
He looked worn, as though he’d faced myriad challenges.
His countenance was reminiscent of a vampire, hair receding, his pale, almost waxen face grotesquely twisted.
His bloodshot eyes seemed eternally filled with rage…
“So, there’s a secret passage in the Shrieking Shack too!” Tom Gaunt sneered, “Finally, I understand how you managed to elude me last time.”
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