Soon, the Slytherin common room was filled with people.
Despite the early hour, everyone seemed wide awake.
They gathered around the faint green fire, sinking into the soft armchairs and discussing the recent events.
Matthew hadn’t intended to join the conversation, but a few of his “friends” had already saved him a seat.
“Matthew, come here!” Draco called out to him, pointing to the spot beside him where Vincent, Gregory, and Theodore were seated.
Reluctantly, Matthew made his way over and settled into the crowded space.
The chillier weather made sitting by the fire a comfortable experience, but Matthew’s mind was elsewhere.
“There is another attack happening, isn’t it?” A Slytherin student said, “Headmaster Grindelwald was saying lots of nothing then!”
“Don’t be stupid! That’s impossible. It must be another accident.” Another replied.
“What accident is it then?” The students got into a heated argument.
While all of these are happening, Matthew can’t help but feel bothered by it instead of afraid.
Matthew closed his eyes and reclined halfway in the armchair, enjoying the warmth radiating from the flames.
“Matthew,” Draco leaned in and whispered, “Have you figured something out?”
Taken aback, Matthew glanced at Draco with surprise. He quickly retorted, “Of course not. I haven’t given it much thought…”
“…Principal Grindelwald is here at Hogwarts,” Draco calmly inquired, “Have you ever seen him face a situation he couldn’t handle before?”
“Never,” replied the prefect Miss Gemma, “Never before. Principal Grindelwald has always seemed invincible.”
“That might not be enough,” Matthew said, keeping his eyes closed and remaining composed.
“But this time feels different!” the third-year Slytherin girl said. “In just two months, four people have been attacked…”
“Was the Headmaster at Hogwarts during the attacks?” Miss Gemma argued.
The debate erupted once again.
Feeling tired of the ongoing discussion, Matthew wished to distance himself from the warmth of the fire and retreat to his bedroom.
Suddenly, a creaking sound interrupted their quarrel, and the door to the Slytherin common room swung open again.
This time, an unexpected visitor entered the Head of Slytherin House, Professor Horace Slughorn.
Despite being the head of Slytherin, Professor Slughorn had always been a rather partial professor.
Unlike the other heads of house, he rarely showed favoritism towards his own students, which led to some complaints.
However, as he entered the common room, everyone greeted him with a chorus of “Professor.”
“Oh, good evening!” Slughorn greeted with a smile, glancing at Draco. “Draco, how has your recovery been?”
“Excellent, Professor. I’ve fully recovered,” Malfoy quickly replied.
“That’s great. It’s a shame you haven’t attended a party yet,” Slughorn remarked, shifting his gaze to Matthew. “And what about you, Matthew… The Halloween dinner was interrupted, and these things happened. Are you afraid of the ‘unfortunate incidents’?”
“I’m not scared at all, Professor. I just didn’t have much appetite.” Matthew replied calmly.
Slughorn chuckled, and the surrounding Slytherin students managed to force a somewhat reluctant smile.
“It’s quite simple. I’ll have the house elves prepare some treats for you later! How about grilled quail?” Slughorn kindly patted both Matthew and Malfoy on the shoulders.
At that moment, he raised his head and looked at everyone in the room, his tone shifting from warmth to seriousness. “Indeed, there’s nothing to be afraid of… It was a minor incident in the Forbidden Forest. Professor Grindelwald has discovered the truth and specifically asked me to inform you…”
“What happened, Professor?” Draco asked with concern.
“Good question, Draco!” Professor Slughorn nodded approvingly. “It was merely an act of poaching…”
“Professor Kettleburn had been raising a group of precious unicorns in the Forbidden Forest. Someone attempted to attack them on the eve of Halloween, trying to get some advantages…”
“Was the poacher caught?” Matthew interjected this time.
“Headmaster Grindelwald and Professor Kettleburn are currently pursuing the culprit. I doubt they’ll be able to hide for long,” Professor Slughorn replied.
“What about the unicorns?” a girl asked anxiously. “Are they alright?”
“They’re unharmed!” Professor Slughorn reassured, spreading his hands. “They were just a little frightened, so you probably won’t be able to interact with them in the Magical Creature Care class for some time…”
“Oh, that’s disappointing!” the girl sighed in frustration.
Professor Slughorn answered a few more questions from the students before growing impatient. “Well, children, it’s time to rest. Sleep well tonight!” he announced loudly.
With that, he exited the Slytherin common room without looking back.
When Professor Slughorn walked through the stone gate, he heard someone calling after him. “Professor Slughorn!”
“Oh, Matthew!” Slughorn’s face remained kind. “What is it?”
“Can you tell me the truth…” Matthew lowered his voice and asked, “Are the unicorns really unharmed?”
“Well, I suppose I can’t hide it from you, Matthew… You clever little ghost!” Slughorn chuckled, but his expression quickly turned serious.
“No, they’re not unharmed. One of the unicorns was attacked, and its blood was drained… Professor Kettleburn is quite distressed.” Professor Slughorn explained with a calm voice.
“Killing a unicorn is a grave crime; what a bunch of bastards!” He muttered.
Matthew furrowed his brow and continued, “So, when you said they were just a little frightened…”
“Headmaster Grindelwald has temporarily relocated those poor little creatures to Austria… Two unicorns have been killed in two months. It’s a significant loss!” Professor Slughorn sighed.
“Alright, my boy, don’t dwell on it anymore. Go back and rest!” Professor Slughorn assured Matthew.
“Okay, thank you, Professor!” Matthew nodded obediently.
As he turned around and headed back to the common room, a faint smile appeared on the corner of his mouth.
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