The cacophony reverberating from the Pig’s Head Bar, the explosive release of spells, and the ensuing screams and frantic footsteps managed to draw nearly half of Hogsmeade Village to its vicinity.
Several nearby businesses, a few curious villagers, and even several Hogwarts students all approached to investigate.
“Mr. Percival, what’s going on?” Mr. Rosmerta, the proprietor of the Three Broomsticks, mingled in the gathering crowd, inquiring with evident curiosity.
“Damn thief Tom!” Mr. Percival growled with anger at the bar’s entrance. “He pilfered a hundred Galleons from me… blasted scoundrel took the money and fled right under my nose…”
The other business owners exchanged puzzled glances.
They had all been neighbors of Mr. Percival for decades, and while they may not have liked his cantankerous demeanor or his refusal to engage with others, they couldn’t deny that the old pig-headed bartender wasn’t malicious.
It was hard to imagine him framing someone without reason.
What’s more, the new bartender, Tom, had a rat-like demeanor.
He had been in Hogsmeade for over half a year, frequently behaving suspiciously. No one really liked him.
Several neighbors hastened to offer words of consolation to Mr. Percival, urging him not to be too distraught given the relatively minor loss.
Mr. Rosmerta advised Mr. Percival to contact the Ministry of Magic swiftly in an attempt to recover his funds.
“I don’t trust those Ministry ****!” Mr. Percival snapped irritably. “I still remember, twenty years ago, one of my goats was stolen. After reporting it to the Ministry, they insisted I had simply misplaced it…”
As he spoke, he hung a “Temporary Closed” sign on the door before forcefully shutting it.
The onlookers could only offer a helpless shrug.
The victims weren’t willing to involve the Ministry of Magic, and no one else wished to say anything on their behalf.
With a smile and a bit of chit-chat, they dispersed and went about their own business.
The witch who had just launched an attack on Tom Riddle had transformed back from her cat form and now appeared in her true human shape.
She wore an emerald green robe, and her square-framed glasses framed her stern gaze.
Her black hair was tied tightly in a bun, lending her an air of seriousness.
“Everything okay, Aberforth?” she inquired softly.
“Absolutely fine, Minerva,” Mr. “Percival” responded. “I’ve been around for over sixty years, after all. My reputation still holds… What about the boy?”
He sounded somewhat anxious.
“He’s in the ‘Tom’ room,” the witch replied. “It shouldn’t pose much of a problem… Aberforth, you need to be cautious. ‘Tom’ is quite powerful. I managed to land a hit, but it wasn’t substantial. And if it hadn’t been for the element of surprise, neither of us would stand a chance against him. If he returns and retaliates…”
“He’s a coward,” Mr. “Percival” sneered. “He thought I hadn’t seen through his charade. The truth is, I figured out his ulterior motive the very day he arrived in Hogsmeade.”
“That’s why I employed him. Believe me, he won’t dare to return here. He’s terrified of Grindelwald and’ll assume we’re aligned with Grindelwald. He lacks the guts to come back…”
“Still, be cautious,” the witch advised softly.
She walked over to the Pig’s Head Bar’s window and opened it halfway.
“I’ll be on my way, Aberforth. I have pressing matters to attend to,” she conveyed.
“Very well, take care!”
With that, the witch’s form gradually shrank, eventually transforming into a cat.
Swiftly, she exited the Pig’s Head Bar at a rapid pace.
Mr. “Percival” headed toward the basement.
Tom Riddle’s room was in disarray, filled with strange contraptions. In one grimy corner lay a comatose boy.
Mr. “Percival” bent down, lifted the boy, and carried him to the main area.
Surveying the aftermath of the earlier battle, Mr. “Percival” frowned.
With a gentle wave of his wand, the furniture floated back to its original position, reconstructing the room mid-air.
The oil lamp drifted to a small table against the wall and rekindled. All the damage, tears, and disarray were neatly undone.
Everything was reinstated to its prior state.
He then directed his wand at the unconscious boy, “Rennervate!”
The boy stirred, his brow furrowing as he woke.
Matthew regarded his surroundings in astonishment.
As far as he could recall, he had fallen into a coma within the secret passage connecting the Shrieking Shack and Hogwarts.
At that time, Tom Riddle had already apprehended him…
However, he found himself within a confined, dingy little pub with centuries-old history.
Filth coated everything, an odd odor permeating the air.
Dim candles cast flickering light across the rough wooden tables.
Virtually everything in sight was shabby; the floor to the ceiling, even the butterbeer bottles, were layered with thick ash.
It was undoubtedly the Pig’s Head Bar!
When he lifted his gaze, he encountered a grotesque, scarred visage… the countenance of the pub’s owner.
The old man’s face bore numerous scars as if he had been severely disfigured.
Recognition dawned on Matthew—Mr. Percival, the Pig’s Head proprietor.
“Mr. Percival…” Matthew struggled, raising himself from the ground.
“Why am I here?” he queried, bewildered.
“I’m just as puzzled… why you fainted at my bar’s doorstep for no reason!” The surly man retorted with a fierce glare. “If it weren’t for gossip, I wouldn’t have let you in.”
“I fainted at the Pig’s Head Bar’s entrance?” Matthew’s mind reeled, yet he couldn’t grasp the situation.
“Yes, and you’ve inconvenienced me greatly,” the old man scowled, “Now that you’re awake… hurry up and get out!”
Still grappling with confusion, Matthew was forcibly pulled to his feet by Mr. “Percival” and hustled outside.
But rather than departing through the front entrance, they exited via the bar’s rear.
Mr. “Percival” pushed Matthew out, closing the door with a resounding thud.
Left standing alone, Matthew remained baffled.
Doubt crept in as he pondered, perhaps it had all been a dream.
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