Ten minutes later, Matthew Wickfield strolled out of Hogwarts Castle, descending the marble steps. With the conclusion of the last Defense Against the Dark Arts class, the first week of Hogwarts classes had ended.
Although he had accumulated a significant amount of coursework essays, totaling almost five feet, he still found the compact and fulfilling life enjoyable without being overly exhausting.
As he lay in bed, Matthew reflected on the day’s accomplishments every night, finding immense satisfaction in his endeavors.
As he aimlessly wandered down the stone steps, Matthew unconsciously found himself near the greenhouse between the castle and the Forbidden Forest. He had grown weary of the atmosphere in the Slytherin common room, finding it oppressively gloomy.
The sight of the aquatic creatures outside his bedroom window had become mundane and tedious. It baffled him why the Sorting Hat had assigned him to Slytherin when any other house seemed more suited to his temperament.
Lost in his thoughts, Matthew scanned his surroundings and noticed two adult wizards conversing. They stood near a corner by the greenhouse, their backs facing him. One of the wizards, adorned in dragon leather gloves, held a lifeless chicken in his left hand.
The unmistakable prosthetic limbs identified the other individual as Professor Kettleburn, the Hogwarts professor responsible for the care of magical creatures.
“This is the third chicken to be attacked this week, and it has been completely drained of blood!” Professor Kettleburn exclaimed.
“Could it be a weasel? None of my birds or snakes have tracked down the true culprit. It’s quite peculiar, don’t you think? What are your thoughts on this?”
“It’s indeed strange,” calmly replied another voice. “Perhaps it’s a vampire?”
Matthew frowned upon recognizing the voice of Professor Trocar. His interest was piqued by their discussion of vampires, and he couldn’t help but listen attentively.
“I believe you might be right. I need to discuss this with Professor Rosier. There could be a migration of vampire colonies within the Forbidden Forest,” Professor Kettleborn excitedly suggested, gesturing with his prosthetic limb.
“Perhaps she will grant me permission to venture deep into the forest and eradicate their nests!”
“In that case, I may not be able to accompany you, Silvanus,” Professor Trocar interjected, shaking his head.
“Mrs. Rosier has always harbored a bias against me.”
“That’s just her personality,” Professor Kettleburn responded.
“But if you spend more time with her, you’ll realize she’s actually kind-hearted, and you may come to admire her.”
“Perhaps.” Professor Trocar replied with a smile.
“Then let’s part ways for now.” Professor Kettleburn said while taking his leave.
“Goodbye, then.” Professor Trocar replied
The two professors went their separate ways, oblivious to the fact that a young boy had overheard their entire conversation from a hidden corner. Matthew mulled over their discussion as he slowly made his way back to the castle.
Just as he reached the castle’s steps, a familiar voice called out his name from behind.
“Wickfield!” Matthew turned around to find the three familiar faces of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle.
“Malfoy?” Matthew glanced at his roommate, observing the smug expression on his face as if he had discovered some damning secret.
“What’s the matter?” Matthew inquired, his voice calm.
“Hahaha! I have discovered something!” Malfoy laughed uproariously.
“Your parents are nothing but ordinary Muggles… When I asked you at the school banquet, you actually claimed that your parents had passed away.”
“I simply stated that I couldn’t recall their appearance, which is the truth,” Matthew responded calmly. “But you’re correct; they were indeed Muggles.”
As a Muggle-born wizard, Matthew knew that keeping his heritage a secret would be challenging.
Several people at Hogwarts, including Penelope, Neville, and Hermione, were already aware of his background, and it was only a matter of time before his Slytherin classmates discovered the truth.
However, he had always avoided discussing it to prevent unnecessary conflict within the house that prided itself on pure-blood lineage.
“I suppose the Sorting Hat must have made an error with Zabini and me.” Matthew nodded, agreeing with Malfoy’s notion of the Sorting Hat’s mistake.
“Is that all?” Matthew asked, looking at Malfoy and his two cronies, “Farewell then!” Matthew turned away, intending to return to the Slytherin common room.
But just as Matthew was leaving, Draco Malfoy couldn’t contain his offense. “Stop right there, you filthy Mudblood!”
“Draco… Draco…” Before Malfoy could finish his sentence, Crabbe and Goyle panicked beside him.
Suddenly, a loud “slap” echoed through the air.
Matthew turned around and witnessed a rather intriguing sight—Draco Malfoy lying on the ground, his face half-swollen and red. It appeared as though someone had given him a hard slap.
And it didn’t end there.
Another “slap” followed, and the other side of Malfoy’s face swelled up as if an invisible force was vigorously slapping him.
“What in the world?” Matthew was taken aback.
“Slap… slap… slap…” The invisible slaps continued, rhythmically striking Malfoy’s face.
Malfoy attempted to cover his mouth with his hands, but an unseen power forced them apart.
“Slap!” Another resounding slap.
A sudden recollection flashed in Matthew’s mind—the words uttered by Headmaster Grindelwald during the opening banquet, “I also want to remind everyone that using derogatory words such as mud blood, part-Muggle, blood traitor, and such is strictly forbidden in this Hogwarts. If you doubt this, you are welcome to test it.”
After receiving five or six slaps on his face, Malfoy’s punishment finally ceased.
Crabbe and Goyle hurriedly assisted Malfoy, who struggled to speak with his swollen face.
Matthew couldn’t help but smile, observing the three figures hastily retreating.
At that moment, he felt a newfound appreciation for Hogwarts and its peculiarities.
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