Matthew and Shafiq entered the Slytherin common room, their conversation still centered on Christmas topics, despite the holiday being a distant memory.

As they strolled past the auditorium, a sudden, piercing cry of pain erupted from Shafiq.

Alarmed, Matthew furrowed his brow and asked, “What’s happening?”

Shafiq’s response came as a trembling whisper, “Matthew… my head… it hurts.”

This unexpected turn of events worried Matthew deeply.

He asked with great concern, “Should I take you to the Hospital Wing?”

However, the late hour made the hospital impractical, and Shafiq weakly uttered, “No… Take me to Professor Slughorn…”

Matthew hesitated momentarily, but Shafiq’s pleas left him with no choice. He reluctantly agreed, “Alright, I’ll take you there now.”

Helping Shafiq, Matthew led her back to Professor Slughorn’s office.

During this time, Matthew couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off about Shafiq’s behavior, extending beyond her sudden pain.

Shafiq’s demeanor had been inconsistent before, sometimes warm and friendly, other times distant and aloof.

Her fluctuating behavior had left Matthew puzzled, but now, her suffering demanded his immediate attention.

Upon their return to Professor Slughorn’s office, Matthew discreetly knocked on the door.

Professor Slughorn, now attired in a green velvet pajama set and matching nightcap, appeared in response.

“What’s going on, Matthew?” he inquired loudly, clearly prepared for rest.

Before Matthew could respond, Professor Slughorn’s expression shifted as he observed Shafiq’s condition.

His shock was palpable. Without hesitation, he scooped up the young girl and carried her into an inner room.

Shortly thereafter, Professor Slughorn rushed back out, clutching a small bag tightly.

Matthew stood by, feeling somewhat out of place as he observed Slughorn swiftly prepare a potion.

Slughorn’s movements were so rapid that Matthew struggled to keep up.

Minutes later, Professor Slughorn handed Shafiq a crystal bottle containing the concoction.

Finally, Professor Slughorn’s relief was evident.

Throughout the process, Matthew remained quiet and passive, carefully watching but not showing much interest.

With his work complete, Professor Slughorn inquired, “What’s the matter, Professor? Shafiq, how is she?”

“Of course, thank you for bringing her here in time,” Professor Slughorn replied quickly. “Poor Shafiq has had a congenital genetic condition since childhood, requiring timely Potions to manage…”

Matthew offered a polite smile and nodded, but deep inside, he sensed that Professor Slughorn’s explanation was a temporary facade rather than the whole truth.

Just moments after Shafiq had taken the medicine, she seemed unchanged.

Matthew, feeling perplexed, calmly said, “Professor, we should be going now.”

Before Professor Slughorn could respond, the office door was knocked upon once again.

“Wait a moment, Matthew,” Professor Slughorn frowned. “We have unexpected visitors at this late hour.”

With no other option, Matthew remained in place, awaiting developments.

The door was abruptly thrust open, as if pushed by force.

“Severus?” Professor Slughorn exclaimed, recognizing the newcomer.

“Professor Slughorn!” The voice of Professor Snape indeed reached them from outside.

However, the tone of the present Transfiguration Professor was far from the usual gentleness exhibited in the classroom.

“Don’t act like a child,” he coldly chastised. “Now is the time to make a choice!”

Slughorn’s voice quivered with fear, “Severus… I have students here…”

“This is your final warning!” Professor Snape continued, ignoring Slughorn’s protests. “You are an intelligent man; you should be able to guess what’s about to happen.”

With a stammer, Slughorn finally nodded in agreement, “Alright… Thank you, Severus… I’ll consider…”

“Time is running out…” Professor Snape delivered a final ominous message before departing.

Through the partially open door, Matthew could confirm the figure of their Transfiguration Professor, dressed in his familiar black attire, leaving the scene.

Inside the office, Matthew and Shafiq exchanged uneasy glances, sensing that they had overheard something ominous.

Professor Slughorn returned, his demeanor marked by despondency, his face etched with worry.

Shafiq perhaps unaware of the gravity of the situation, asked innocently, “Professor, what did Professor Snape mean by those words?”

Matthew expected Professor Slughorn to refuse to answer. However, to their surprise, Professor Slughorn conjured a bottle of mead and three wine glasses.

Matthew asked cautiously, “Should we head back? It’s getting late…”

“No, there’s still time for a few drinks with an old, weary man…” Professor Slughorn shook his head somberly, proceeding to pour the mead generously.

With a sigh, he said, “By the way, let me tell you a story…”

“A story from fifteen years ago…”

To be honest, Matthew hadn’t initially been eager to hear a story.

However, when Professor Slughorn mentioned the events from fifteen years ago, his curiosity was instantly piqued.

It was undeniable that recent peculiar occurrences, including the Azkaban fugitives, changes in the Order of the Phoenix, and the upheaval at Hogwarts, all seemed linked to events fifteen years prior.

The truth about this incident couldn’t be found in any book, leaving individuals like Slughorn as the sole repositories of knowledge.

Matthew leaned in, eager to hear more.

Professor Slughorn distributed two glasses of mead to the students and raised his own.

“You must be curious about the three Azkaban fugitives… Why did they break into Hogwarts after escaping from Azkaban?” Professor Slughorn’s face had reddened, likely due to the effects of the alcohol.

He began, “It’s because the three of them were once Hogwarts students, fifteen years ago… Their names were James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew…”

This revelation resonated with Matthew, who had overheard Professor Slughorn mention these names through Hermione’s wiretap device in the Three Broomsticks Bar.

“But,” Professor Slughorn continued, “It wasn’t just them… In that year, Hogwarts had an extraordinary assembly of students, mainly in Gryffindor. Alongside the trio, there were Remus Lupin and Severus Snape…”

Matthew was taken aback. Could it be that Severus Snape in this world had truly been sorted into Gryffindor?

“…It’s hard to believe that an entire generation at Hogwarts boasted such intelligence and talent. Even Peter, who may have been considered the weakest, had his merits. They were unique, and it’s been many years since I’ve seen their like in Hogwarts…”

“Wait, Professor,” Matthew interrupted, unable to contain his curiosity. “The ‘Severus Snape’ you mentioned – is he our Potions Professor, Professor Snape?”

Professor Slughorn sneered and replied without hesitation, “Certainly not. He’s an impostor.”

Matthew wasn’t entirely shocked by this revelation, but hearing it from Professor Slughorn added a layer of intrigue.

“An impostor?” Shafiq echoed in surprise.

“Indeed,” Professor Slughorn affirmed. “The real Severus Snape vanished fifteen years ago. For a decade and a half, no one knows where he is or what he’s been doing… The person claiming to be ‘Severus Snape’ is likely in disguise…”

Matthew absorbed this information, realizing the magnitude of what he had stumbled upon.

“The reason I can discern this,” Professor Slughorn added with a touch of pride, “is because I’m intimately acquainted with my exceptional former students.”

Matthew’s mind raced as he processed the revelations. His questions multiplied.

“What happened fifteen years ago?” he inquired eagerly.

Professor Slughorn fell into a contemplative silence, lost in memories, and then slowly began to recount, “Fifteen years ago, those five remarkable students… they were so gifted, so intelligent… they stumbled upon something they should never have discovered…”

He seemed to muster his resolve to reveal the truth.

“They unearthed the secret of Gellert Grindelwald.”

“What secret?” Shafiq asked with wide-eyed curiosity.

“It was the Headmaster’s darkest secret,” Professor Slughorn continued. “I carried this secret for many, many years… Now, I’ve decided to share it with you.”

“Gellert Grindelwald wasn’t the legitimate Headmaster of Hogwarts. He seized control through force, devoid of any rightful authority…”

“But there’s more to it!” Professor Slughorn paused for a long moment.

“Headmaster Grindelwald had cast a potent enchantment, granting him a semblance of authority within Hogwarts. But it wasn’t nearly enough…”

“Because Hogwarts itself is a formidable magical entity, having lived for a millennium, and it’s been further empowered and shaped by successive Headmasters. Its power is unparalleled!”

He continued, “Even wizards of Headmaster Grindelwald’s caliber pale in comparison… The students believed they had found a way to awaken the dormant power of Hogwarts Castle, potentially driving Grindelwald away…”

“Did they succeed?” Shafiq inquired nervously.

“Without a doubt, they failed…” Professor Slughorn shook his head, “Primarily because…”

“There was a traitor among them!”

“A traitor?” Matthew exclaimed in astonishment.

“Yes,” Professor Slughorn confirmed, “A traitor who betrayed them at the most critical juncture… People loyal to Principal Grindelwald infiltrated their plans…”

“More students were involved in this endeavor than just the five of them. Many at Hogwarts shared their beliefs, including my favorite student, Lily Evans… They were all caught up in the sweeping wave.”

“However, there was a spy hidden within the castle. He issued a warning in the end… The children escaped, and those who sympathized with them but hadn’t revealed themselves destroyed any evidence that could incriminate them…”

“From that point forward, the wizards involved in that incident either rotted in Azkaban or went into hiding… Except for Lily Evans, who remained a vocal opponent of Grindelwald and remained free…”

Slughorn sighed with regret, “To be honest, I sympathized with those children… Well, I can’t say they’re children anymore. If they’re alive, they’d be in their thirties now… But it’s more than sympathy; they were too passionate and easily led astray…”

Matthew reflected on the grim tale. “So, the three Azkaban fugitives, upon returning to Hogwarts, are attempting to awaken the dormant power of Hogwarts Castle and potentially drive Headmaster Grindelwald away?”

Professor Slughorn nodded solemnly, “Indeed, and they are not alone. All the recent bizarre occurrences within the castle revolve around this goal… Soon, the castle may become a battleground.”

Matthew realized that they were on the precipice of a profound and dangerous journey into the secrets of Hogwarts and its tumultuous history.

Read up to 40 Chapters ahead on my Patreon page!

Published On: November 25, 2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *