The screams of the House-elves gradually dwindled and eventually vanished entirely.

The presence of those “saints” disappeared as well, leaving only a desolate castle behind.

Three children, who couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed, stood there in shock.

“Unforgivable… unforgivable… unforgivable,” Hermione muttered, her eyes red and her tears exhausted from crying.

“Let’s go…” Neville whispered, his voice trembling. “We need to get out of here. This… this is too much.”

Matthew nodded in agreement.

Just as they were about to turn and leave, Matthew’s expression abruptly changed.

“Wait a moment!” he said urgently.

He squatted down, then hid in the bushes again, retrieving a purse from his pocket—a Christmas present given to him by Neville a few months ago.

“What’s wrong?” Neville asked with curiosity.

Matthew didn’t respond with words; instead, he quickly opened the purse.

Inside his pocket, he had been feeling an unusual warmth from his wallet.

Indeed, it was the “Flor flower” he had concealed within his wallet.

Flor flowers were highly magical plants.

Their fresh petals were closely connected to the root, and even when separated, the root would continue to point in the direction of the petals.

Such guidance caused the root to emit heat.

However, this was strange because Matthew hadn’t attempted to use the Flor flower since he obtained it secretly a few months ago.

All the petals were still intact on it. So, why was it guiding him now?

Matthew considered it carefully, and the only possibility he could think of was that the Flor flower was now directing him towards the petals he had accidentally dropped when he first acquired it.

But this was puzzling; if this were the case, he should have discovered this guidance the day he obtained the Flor flower.

Until now, the Flor flower had suddenly begun to act oddly.

Who could be deliberately using it to guide him?

Matthew was lost in thought.

McGonagall and her three students, the Azkaban fugitives, were taken away and would face trials before being sent to Azkaban.

The House-elves, who had chosen not to obey, had been eliminated as they no longer held value.

The Centaurs were fortunate not to have stayed at Hogwarts for an extended period, allowing them to escape the same fate as the House-elves.

Hogwarts returned to a semblance of calm.

Argus diligently cleaned the hallways to prevent any traces of the House-elves’ gruesome fate from lingering.

Students were temporarily evacuated from the castle as efforts were made to search for the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix.

The last remnants…

Upon Grindelwald’s return to his castle, Rosier and Lupin awaited him.

“I apologize, Lord Grindelwald,” Rosier said with regret, “We found nothing. There are no strangers within Hogwarts.”

“It’s of no consequence,” Grindelwald replied calmly. “If someone like that were present here, they wouldn’t have eluded me for so many years.”

“In addition, the three fugitives were interrogated intensely,” Rosier continued, “but they genuinely lack knowledge of the final member of the Order. They all identified McGonagall as their sole contact.”

“Peter Pettigrew, the Animagus who transforms into a rat, spent the past year disguised as an Auror investigating various locations within Hogwarts. He orchestrated the House-elf uprisings on his own. However, his Animagus form made him conspicuous.”

“Furthermore, the other Aurors from the Ministry of Magic…” Rosier continued, her tone growing cold, “I doubt they are entirely clean. I find it hard to believe that colleagues who spend every day together wouldn’t detect someone among them using Polyjuice Potion or other disguises. However, I have no concrete evidence.”

“If there’s no evidence, there’s no basis,” Grindelwald responded indifferently. “Frankly, Vinda, we should be prepared for the hidden resentment and opposition from ordinary wizards, even if it occurs behind closed doors. As long as they don’t openly oppose us, they can serve as potential allies.”

“I understand, Lord Grindelwald,” Rosier nodded thoughtfully.

“Lastly, there’s Sirius Black,” Grindelwald continued. “His Animagus form is a black dog, the Grim that Remus and his students saw a few months ago. He was solely responsible for the disturbances and riots caused by the horsemen. Unfortunately, he couldn’t fully control the situation in the end.”

“All three members of the Order of the Phoenix shared a single connection—with Minerva McGonagall as their sole contact. No matter how we press them, they refuse to divulge the name of the final Phoenix member. I suspect that Minerva may have removed her own memories…”

“So, are we to return empty-handed?” Rosier asked disappointedly.

“No, I believe there’s still hope,” Grindelwald said with conviction. “I have a strong feeling that I know who the final member is.”

“Lord Grindelwald…” Rosier said in astonishment.

“In that case, leave it to me,” Grindelwald declared.

With that, Grindelwald vanished from their sight, apparating within the confines of Hogwarts as the Headmaster.

In Professor Slughorn’s office, the man lounged comfortably on a recliner.

He held a large glass of mead in one hand and indulged in pineapple compote with the other.

He even licked his fingers after enjoying a spoonful of compote.

He was clearly at ease.

Suddenly, a cloud of light blue smoke materialized, and Grindelwald appeared before him.

“Good afternoon, Horace,” Grindelwald greeted elegantly.

“Good afternoon, Headmaster,” Professor Slughorn responded calmly. “Would you like to taste some pineapple compote or have a glass of mead?”

“No, thank you, Horace,” Grindelwald declined. “I’m more interested in your intentions today. What was your true goal?”

Professor Slughorn raised an eyebrow but remained composed.

He leisurely poured another glass of mead, sipped it, and then dug into pineapple compote once more.

“I’m sorry, Headmaster,” Slughorn finally spoke, “but I believe I can’t disclose the answer to that question.”

“Your character?” Slughorn said coldly. “Indeed, I, Horace Slughorn, am a snobbish, smooth-talking individual. I don’t care who holds power in the magical world, be it you or Dumbledore. It doesn’t matter even if it’s a lunatic obsessed with dark magic.”

“But I care about Hogwarts!” Professor Slughorn’s expression turned serious, a rare sight for him when facing outsiders.

“I love Hogwarts… I’ve taught at this castle for many, many years,” he said slowly. “I remember my colleagues and my exceptional students. Besides daily enjoyment, they are the reason I exist, my purpose.”

“But with your arrival, Grindelwald, everything has been ruined!” Slughorn’s voice grew more intense.

This might have been the first time he had displayed such emotion in front of others.

“Armando Dippet… Albus Dumbledore… Minerva McGonagall… They perished, vanished from this world. My friends at Hogwarts just ignored me…”

“And my once-proud students… Tom… Mikel… Lily… They all had to disappear from this world. Maybe I won’t ever encounter them again in my lifetime…”

“You’ve destroyed everything I hold dear, Grindelwald. That’s why I stand against you!”

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Published On: December 1, 2023

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