The disruptions caused by the destroyed statue in front of the principal’s office and the mysterious creature that appeared in the Forbidden Forest had gradually faded from the students’ heated discussions over the past week.
As time passed, Hogwarts Castle appeared to slowly return to a state of normalcy, at least on the surface.
Days slipped by unnoticed…
Professor Slughorn behaved as if nothing were amiss, not once questioning Matthew about his early departure on that fateful night.
It was as if he hadn’t even noticed Matthew’s absence.
And Professor “Snape” resumed his role in the school effortlessly.
Matthew often sought him out for inquiries, and he was always willing to assist with questions related to Transfiguration theory.
Halloween was approaching rapidly.
The atmosphere at Hogwarts Castle was charged with excitement.
The day before Halloween was special because it marked another visit to Hogsmeade!
As students strolled through the corridors, animated discussions about Hogsmeade filled the air, with mentions of Honeydukes Candy Shop, Zonko’s Joke Shop, and even the infamous Shrieking Shack…
On the morning before Halloween, Matthew rose from slumber along with his fellow students.
However, he didn’t share their enthusiasm when he entered the Great Hall for breakfast.
He appeared remarkably ordinary, lacking the excitement that filled the other students.
Matthew had made up his mind not to go to Hogsmeade.
The events that had transpired during his previous visit to the village, just a month prior, had left him with a deep psychological scar.
He couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that Tom Gunter would never return.
Matthew wasn’t willing to take such a risk again.
In case of another calamity, he couldn’t rely on the bartender at the Hog’s Head to save him a second time.
It was better to stay at Hogwarts, where there were Aurors, Dementors, and numerous professors.
That, at least, felt safe.
After breakfast, the number of students remaining in the castle was significantly reduced.
Apart from the first-year students, who weren’t eligible to visit Hogsmeade yet, a few senior students seemed uninterested because they had already explored the village extensively.
Matthew walked alone towards the library, convinced it would be relatively quiet there on this particular day.
“Meow!” As he passed the entrance to the History of Magic classroom, Matthew suddenly heard an odd cat’s cry.
Turning his attention, he spotted a large, bushy-tailed cat.
It was Crookshanks, Hermione’s pet.
The cat was bounding and leaping into the History of Magic classroom as if chasing something.
Matthew couldn’t help but admit that this peculiar-looking feline had been acting strangely this semester, especially since returning from India with Hermione.
He recalled that it had been far more well-behaved last semester and not nearly as “restless” as it appeared now.
Did this unusual behaviour signify something?
Matthew pondered this as he made his way to the library.
However, inside the library, he encountered someone familiar—
“Good morning!” Lestrange was seated in a corner of the library, raising her head to greet Matthew with a smile.
“Hello!” Matthew reciprocated the smile.
It wasn’t until night had fallen that Matthew finally left the library.
He entered the Great Hall and headed towards the auditorium.
The auditorium was adorned with numerous pumpkins illuminated by candles.
Bats fluttered through the air, and colourful banners hung overhead.
The Halloween spirit permeated the atmosphere.
The food was sumptuous, and even those students returning from Hogsmeade, their bellies stuffed with Honeydukes candies, couldn’t resist loading up their plates.
Matthew glanced at the staff table—
Headmaster Grindelwald was seated there.
The Headmaster had always been quite busy and only returned to the school during holidays.
Everyone, including Matthew, had grown accustomed to this.
This was the first time Matthew had seen him this semester since the start-of-term banquet.
Matthew’s gaze drifted across the faculty table and eventually landed on Professor Snape.
Professor Snape appeared perfectly ordinary, engaging in pleasant conversation with fellow professors.
However, Matthew couldn’t help but notice that Professor Snape’s gaze frequently shifted towards Professor Grindelwald, an uncommon occurrence.
As the Halloween banquet concluded, the hall remained illuminated with a myriad of lights.
Only Grindelwald and Professor Rosier remained in the enormous hall.
“Vinda, tell me, what transpired during this time?” Professor Grindelwald appeared somewhat fatigued, a reflection of his long journey.
“Just as you predicted, Lord Grindelwald,” Professor Rosier responded calmly. “Clearly, those rats are targeting Hogwarts, and they have effortlessly infiltrated our ranks… The specifics of their methods remain elusive to us… They attempted to breach the headmaster’s office, albeit unsuccessfully…”
“What they seek isn’t in the Headmaster’s Office, is it?” Grindelwald interjected.
“No,” Rosier replied with a faint smile. “There’s nothing in this world that can elude your awareness…”
“Vinda,” Grindelwald shook his head gravely, “I’ve never been all-knowing, and no one possesses such a capability… Prophecy, it’s about illuminating the future rather than constraining it to a rigid path…”
“…Fate should be within our grasp, not determined solely by prophecy!”
Rosier nodded contemplatively.
After a pause, she continued her report. “From the current situation, it’s evident that those rats have a deep understanding of our circumstances, which isn’t normal… Lord Grindelwald, I suspect that there may be a spy for them within Hogwarts…”
“It’s a possibility,” Grindelwald replied composedly. “This world has never been monolithic…”
“I will root out the rat hiding among us as soon as possible!” Rosier declared resolutely.
“No…” Grindelwald shook his head. “To be precise, it’s a phoenix that’s concealed among us!”
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