After Halloween, the weather took a turn for the worse.
A relentless, chilling wind battered Hogwarts Castle, making every journey from the castle to the greenhouse for Herbology classes a shivering ordeal for the students.
They bundled themselves up in thick woolen sweaters beneath their robes to ward off the biting cold.
One mid-November morning, as Matthew made his way to the Great Hall as usual, he was met with an unusual sight.
The Great Hall was in chaos, packed with students, and the four long tables were almost filled to capacity.
The students were buzzing with conversation and arguments.
“What’s going on?” Matthew looked around in bewilderment.
He walked over to the Slytherin table, where he realized that the golden plates were empty, unlike the usual spread of food.
Clearly, this was the cause of the commotion, and many students were discussing it.
“What’s happening…” Draco complained loudly. “It’s already past seven-thirty, and breakfast hasn’t started. We can’t attend classes on empty stomachs, can we?”
“Why hasn’t the staff come to prepare our plates?” Theodore voiced his dissatisfaction.
“Food can’t just appear out of thin air… That would violate Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration,” Prefect Gemma corrected him. “Our usual meals are prepared by the House-elves.”
“In the Hogwarts kitchen, there are nearly a hundred house-elves. There are more house-elves here than in any other house in the UK,” she added. “They prepare three meals a day and sometimes clean up at night or tend to the fires…”
“But why is it like this today?” Theodore asked, perplexed. “Where are the House-elves?”
“I don’t know,” Prefect Gemma shook his head. “It might be Pippi’s doing. Perhaps it caused chaos in the kitchen, preventing the house-elves from working…”
Pippi Ghost was a Hogwarts ghost known for its pranks, but unlike other ghosts, it had a physical presence and could interact with objects.
Rumor had it that many years ago, it had caused a lot of trouble at Hogwarts.
However, its pranks had become less frequent and less malicious since Grindelwald became the principal.
As more students filled the Great Hall, a sense of impatience grew among them, and some decided to leave on empty stomachs.
Just as Matthew contemplated whether to do the same, a black owl swooped down and dropped a note in front of him.
Similar notes were delivered to almost every member of the Slug Club, including Draco and Shafiq, who were not far from Matthew.
This was indeed welcome news, as it meant they wouldn’t have to go hungry.
The Slug Club members rose from their seats at the four House tables, but they remained quiet to avoid further public disruption.
After leaving the Great Hall, they made their way to the office of Professor Slughorn.
Neville and Hermione stopped at the top of the first-floor stairs, waiting for Matthew to join them.
“This letter from Professor Slughorn is a real lifesaver,” Neville said with enthusiasm as soon as Matthew reached them. “It’s said that Hogwarts hasn’t experienced such a situation in decades.”
“What on earth happened?” Hermione asked with a puzzled expression. “Why is breakfast affected today?”
Matthew shook his head. “Our Prefect suggested it might be Pippi Ghost causing trouble in the kitchen, but I find that unlikely. Let’s go to Professor Slughorn’s office first; he may have some answers.”
Both Neville and Hermione agreed.
The three of them arrived at the door of Professor Slughorn’s office together and, upon entering, found that many Slug Club members had already gathered there.
“Welcome, my dear students,” Professor Slughorn greeted them warmly. “This is the first time such an incident has occurred during my tenure at Hogwarts. Fortunately, my office is well-stocked with fresh food. It should satisfy your appetites.”
With that, he passed a basket of bread rolls to Matthew and his companions.
“Thank you!” The three of them expressed their gratitude.
Neville, still chewing his food, eagerly devoured a bread roll.
He was clearly quite hungry.
Matthew wasn’t in a hurry to eat and asked with concern, “Professor Slughorn, what happened? I heard it might be due to Pippi Ghost causing chaos in the kitchen. Could you clarify?”
“Pippi? Oh, no, that’s highly unlikely,” Professor Slughorn quickly dismissed the notion. “It wouldn’t dare. The real reason is likely that the House-elves in the kitchen are on strike.”
“On strike?” Neville spoke with his mouth still full. “I find that hard to believe. House-elves are the most loyal creatures. They take pride in their work and are embarrassed to be free.”
“I don’t know,” Slughorn sighed. “But Mr. Longbottom, that’s what appears to have transpired.”
“How long will this strike last?” Hermione inquired with a worried expression.
“I certainly hope it will end soon. Professor Rosier is currently considering a solution,” Professor Slughorn replied. “But if the House-elves are unwilling to return to work, Hogwarts will need to make other arrangements. Please don’t worry too much.”
As he spoke, Professor Slughorn brought out plates of sausages, bacon, and a large glass of milk.
It was quite a hearty breakfast.
“The taste is actually quite good!” Neville remarked with a mouthful. “You should all eat more!”
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