The familiar sound of high-heeled footsteps was not difficult to identify.

After all, within Hogwarts, only one teacher often walked in such shoes—

Their Headmistress, Professor Vinda Rosier.

Matthew came to a swift stop.

The last thing he wanted was to encounter Professor Rosier on this night.

Given her stern demeanor, she would surely demand an explanation from him.

She might even consult Professor Slughorn, which would lead to the discovery of his sneaking out.

Hoping against it, he silently prayed that Professor Rosier would avoid coming his way.

The footsteps grew louder, closer…

But soon, Matthew noticed that she wasn’t alone.

“Several portraits can confirm that someone broke into the Headmaster’s office yesterday afternoon…” A middle-aged man’s voice suddenly reached his ears.

For a moment, Matthew was taken aback.

The voice belonged to none other than Neville’s father, Mr. Longbottom.

As he recalled, Mr. Longbottom held a significant position within the Ministry of Magic and currently led the Aurors stationed at Hogwarts.

It dawned on Matthew that he was inadvertently eavesdropping on some highly classified information.

He held his breath to avoid drawing their attention.

“What kind of person broke into the Headmaster’s office?” Professor Rosier inquired coldly, her tone tinged with annoyance.

“Based on the portrait’s account, it was an elderly woman with square glasses and curly black hair…” Mr. Longbottom responded. “Yet, we have yet to ascertain her identity… She was in the office for approximately five minutes…”

“Damn it!” Professor Rosier’s expletive revealed her frustration. “We were fooled due to our oversight… And what about the situation in the Forbidden Forest?”

“Nothing significant was found… The dementors scoured the Forbidden Forest thoroughly…” Frank Longbottom lamented, “The black dog left early. It’s likely an Animagus; however, no record of a wizard capable of transforming into a black dog has been located…”

“Enhance Hogwarts’ defenses!” Professor Rosier ordered, her voice firm.

“Of course, ma’am…” Mr. Longbottom seemed to concur.

Their voices grew fainter, their footsteps receding, until Matthew could no longer hear them.

Sighing in relief, he realized that they had not approached his location; they remained oblivious to his presence.

Moreover, from the descriptions offered by both Mr. Longbottom and Professor Rosier, it seemed that the dog that had appeared in the Forbidden Forest was merely a distraction.

It had likely been employed to attract the attention of dementors, Aurors, and Hogwarts staff.

The true objective of the Azkaban escapees (or the remnants of the Order of the Phoenix) still lay within the Headmaster’s office—

Inside the office belonging to Professor Grindelwald, there evidently existed something that greatly interested them…

Furthermore, Mr. Longbottom’s description of the old lady who infiltrated the office bore a striking resemblance to that of Minerva McGonagall—an Animagus and Transfiguration professor from another world.

In other words, in addition to James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew as mentioned by Professor Slughorn…

Minerva McGonagall was also secretly present at Hogwarts!

The shocking revelations overheard did little to interfere with Matthew’s night of rest.

Rather, they succeeded in redirecting his focus from the enigmatic nature of Professor Slughorn’s party.

By early morning, he had already inquired of his roommate, Draco, if anything unexpected had occurred during the dinner the previous night…

However, he received a denial in response.

As it turned out, the banquet proceeded without a hitch, devoid of surprises.

Draco, delightedly, recounted how he had secured an autographed photograph of Gwenog Jones, the commentating captain of the Holyhead Harpies.

She had praised his potential to become a professional Seeker (a compliment Matthew suspected was slightly exaggerated).

This revelation left Matthew stunned.

So, was everything he had speculated about just the product of his imagination?

Was Professor Slughorn’s intention as simple as facilitating interaction between current students and past graduates of Hogwarts?

Could it be that he was merely a well-intentioned, exuberant figure all along?

Matthew’s brows knitted slightly.

Despite his reluctance to believe it, it appeared as though this were the case.

The intuition that usually served him so well seemed to falter this time.

During breakfast, Shafiq approached him unexpectedly.

“Matthew, why didn’t I see you last night?” She inquired, her tone holding surprise. “I remember you were supposed to attend the banquet as well…”

“Yes, Miss Shafiq,” Matthew responded, his face tinged with embarrassment. “I did plan to attend, but I experienced some stomach discomfort during the dinner. I ended up making several trips to the bathroom and ultimately returned to the Slytherin common room.”

“That’s a shame. The opportunity was quite rare,” Shafiq lamented, then expressed concern, “Are you feeling better now?”

“A little rest made everything alright,” Matthew quickly reassured her.

“Make sure to be careful when eating next time…”

After exchanging a few words with Shafiq, Matthew left the Great Hall promptly.

Under the pretext of his Herbology class, he made his way to the greenhouse.

With the reduced responsibility of caring for the Flor Flowers, this Herbology class seemed significantly more straightforward than before.

A collective sigh of relief permeated the room.

When the Herbology class concluded, another piece of “good news” awaited them—

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Professor Snape had cancelled the next Transfiguration class.

For the Slytherin second-year students, this news was greeted with enthusiasm as it translated to an unexpected half-day off.

Matthew couldn’t help but feel surprised.

A sudden change of plans for Professor Snape?

Recalling the conversation he had overheard between Professor Rosier and Mr. Longbottom the night prior…

Could it be that the aforementioned “business” was somehow linked to these recent developments?

Matthew mulled over his thoughts.

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Published On: November 9, 2023

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