After parting ways with Professor Slughorn, Matthew headed to the greenhouse for his class.
In the following Herbology lesson, Professor Sprout shared exciting news with the class—
After more than a month of diligent effort, the pollination of Flor flowers was nearly complete.
Though it would take several months for them to fully mature, this development meant they no longer needed to attend to them daily.
Gone were the days of dealing with poisonous pollen and venom-laden stingers during every Herbology class.
Wearing the cumbersome four-layer masks on their faces had been quite a hassle, and an accidental sting often meant an arduous night at the school hospital.
The class couldn’t help but cheer at the news.
Following Professor Sprout, they exited the third greenhouse and returned to the first one, filled with ordinary plants.
They shed their masks and Dragon leather gloves, gazing at the assortment of mushrooms within the greenhouse, feeling an unexplainable connection.
Matthew, while picking mushrooms, ruminated on Professor Slughorn’s recent behavior.
It struck him that Professor Slughorn had raised numerous suspicions.
As Lestrange had warned, the Slytherin head might indeed be a “dangerous person.”
“Wickfield!” Professor Sprout’s gentle voice cut through Matthew’s thoughts.
Approaching with a concerned expression, she inspected the mushroom in Matthew’s hand. “I should’ve covered this last semester… Be mindful to remove the whole base when picking mushrooms. Otherwise, it could lead to breakage, making them susceptible to bacterial infection and shortening their shelf life… My word, have you all forgotten?”
“Apologies, Professor,” Matthew swiftly apologized, then bowed his head and refocused on mushroom collection.
The weekend was fast approaching.
During the final Potions class on Friday afternoon, students from Gryffindor and Slytherin convened in the underground classroom.
As per usual, about twenty cauldrons lined the wooden tables, accompanied by brass scales and containers of ingredients.
Prior to the start of the lesson, Professor Slughorn once again sought out Matthew, discussing the upcoming Sunday night dinner.
This lesson centered around brewing a potion called the “Swelling Solutions.”
This concoction could make the parts of a wizard’s body it came into contact with inflate like balloons, expanding several times over.
Frankly, Matthew couldn’t conceive of any practical use for such a potion.
As Professor Slughorn paced back and forth through the mist, he intermittently offered his insights on the students’ work.
Matthew ground dried nettles and puffer fish eyes, while guiding his partner, Neville, in the preparation of bat spleen.
The brewing process for the “Swelling Solutions” proved a tad cumbersome, though its formula was deceptively simple.
Ten minutes later, Matthew noticed that the “Swelling Solutions” in his cauldron seemed a bit watery, resembling clear broth more than a potion.
Perhaps he’d made an error, which was uncommon for Matthew.
Meanwhile, preoccupied with his thoughts, he mulled over a scheme—
Should he seize an opportunity to pour the “Swelling Solutions” onto himself, and then, using an excuse to be hospitalized at the school infirmary, retrieve it from the Slug Club dinner on Sunday from Professor Slughorn’s pigeon?
However, this approach seemed too contrived and conspicuous.
Furthermore, it would be challenging to achieve the desired effect.
After all, Madam Pomfrey’s medical skills were common knowledge.
If someone dabbed on a bit of “Swelling Solutions,” a minor issue like that might not even necessitate an overnight stay at the school hospital.
Most importantly, “Swelling Solutions” caused considerable pain upon contact with injured skin, according to “Advanced Potion-Making”…
“Neville, Matthew…” Just then, Professor Slughorn approached them.
Inspecting the “clear broth” in the cauldron, Professor Slughorn expressed surprise. “It seems you didn’t handle the bat spleen properly…”
Neville was taken aback, quickly removing the cauldron from the fire and profusely apologizing to Professor Slughorn. “I’m terribly sorry… I must’ve forgotten…”
“Even the brightest minds can falter at times,” Professor Slughorn responded with a smile, not blaming or reproaching them.
“Mr. Wickfield, don’t fret too much…” he said to Matthew.
“I understand, Professor,” Matthew quickly affirmed.
The semester was growing tense.
As they exchanged their cauldron for a new one with Professor Slughorn, their Potions lesson came to a close.
Upon leaving the Potions classroom with Neville, they were startled to see many students of all years rushing upstairs.
Had something occurred?
Recognizing a familiar face, Matthew hurriedly inquired, “Miss Clearwater, could you tell us what’s happening?”
“It’s from the Headmistress’s office,” Penello Krivart replied. “Word has it that something went awry there. Someone attempted to break in, and it seems there was some damage.”
“Let’s go see,” Matthew suggested urgently.
However, upon reaching the castle’s eighth floor, he was met with a throng of people.
Students of various years gathered, engaging in animated discussions.
Matthew struggled to carve a path for himself.
Having finally extricated himself from the crowd, he understood why rumors of an “incident” had circulated—
Although nothing appeared to be amiss within the Headmistress’s office, a sorry sight greeted them outside—the hideous “winged creature” appeared to have suffered extensive damage, as if it had been viciously attacked.
“Professor Rosier is here,” someone announced, prompting everyone to fall into line, leaving a pathway.
Principal Rosier didn’t seem surprised, nor did she appear perturbed by the breach.
To a certain extent, it seemed she had anticipated this turn of events…
A frown creased Matthew’s forehead.
“Could the Azkaban escapees be responsible for this?”
“Why haven’t the Aurors intervened…”
“The escapees infiltrated Hogwarts, of all places…”
Whispers of speculation filled the air.
Matthew didn’t linger.
Soon, he turned on his heel and headed back to the Slytherin common room.
Read up to 40 Chapters ahead on my Patreon page!