Another peaceful night enveloped Matthew and his friends in the dormitory as they savored the cold quail sent by Professor Slughorn’s house elf.
Contentment washed over him, and he peacefully succumbed to slumber amidst the soothing melody of waves caressing the shoreline.
The following day marked Halloween, a one-day holiday for the students of Hogwarts.
After relishing a satisfying breakfast in the auditorium, Matthew made his daily visit to the library.
Since it was early, the library was devoid of any students.
He meandered through the labyrinth of bookshelves, seemingly searching for something. Before long, his quest led him to a weathered, tattered book.
As he reached for the book, a small hand abruptly grasped his arm.
“Matthew!” a familiar voice whispered in his ear. “I need to talk to you!”
Matthew narrowed his eyes and cleared his throat. “Good morning, Miss Hermione.”
“Good morning,” Hermione replied, her nod carrying a cold expression. She swiftly interrogated him, “I finally caught you. Have you been avoiding me lately?”
“Of course not!” Matthew vehemently shook his head, feigning innocence. “How could you think such a thing?”
“Do you have time to chat with me now?” Hermione’s gaze bore into him with solemnity.
“Okay,” Matthew reluctantly conceded, shrugging his shoulders in resignation.
Aware that the library was not an ideal location for their conversation, Matthew first approached Mrs. Pince and completed the necessary procedures to borrow some books.
Hermione waited for him by the library entrance.
“Where should we go to talk?” Matthew inquired, balancing the book in one hand.
“I know a secret place!” Hermione’s face brightened with triumph.
“Where?” Matthew cast a skeptical glance her way.
“Between the castle and the basement, near the potions classroom, there is a girl’s bathroom,” Hermione revealed. “Don’t worry, it’s abandoned. Besides the occasional wail of a ghost, there’s nothing there. It’s a hidden and safe spot!”
Matthew blinked, realizing that the girl’s bathroom Hermione referred to might be the entrance to the Secret Chamber.
However, he shook his head resolutely, his principles guiding him. “No, I cannot enter the girls’ bathroom. It goes against my moral code.”
“But…” Hermione hesitated briefly.
“Just find an empty classroom if you have something confidential to discuss.” Matthew suggested, scanning the passers-by near the library entrance.
“Okay…” Hermione reluctantly agreed.
They settled for the nearest magic history classroom, shrouded in complete darkness.
Matthew pulled open a curtain, allowing a sliver of light to permeate the space, and sat nearby.
He began perusing the worn-out book he had retrieved.
“If there’s something on your mind, speak now.” Matthew urged in a measured tone.
Hermione’s voice carried earnestness as she addressed him. “Matthew, don’t you feel any sense of urgency regarding the recent string of attacks?”
“No.” Matthew shook his head.
“You truly…” Hermione stared at him, a mix of exasperation and disappointment in her eyes.
Undeterred, she continued, “Four students have been attacked, and apart from Malfoy, the rest are either dying or dead…”
“Professor Grindelwald assured us that the castle is now safe, and there will be no further attacks,” Matthew calmly replied.
“Do you genuinely believe his words?” Hermione’s voice resonated with doubt.
“Without a doubt.” Matthew replied, spreading his hands.
“Are you absolutely certain that Principal Grindelwald is present at Hogwarts?” Hermione gritted her teeth, her tone escalating.
A peculiar expression flickered across Matthew’s face.
“It seems you’ve realized it too.” Hermione declared a triumphant gleam in her eyes.
“No,” Matthew countered, shaking his head. “I saw him at the head table just before breakfast.”
Hermione glanced around cautiously.
Then, her voice dropped to a near-whisper. “But… Professor Rosier wasn’t there, right?”
“I don’t understand. What are you implying?” Matthew’s expression remained impassive.
“Headmaster Grindelwald and Headmistress Rosier never appeared before us simultaneously.” Hermione persisted.
“That’s because Professor Rosier is injured,” Matthew retorted matter-of-factly. “And they both attended the dinner last night.”
“Last night was the Halloween dinner,” Hermione stated gravely. “Headmaster Gellert Grindelwald has never missed such a formal banquet. Yet, apart from those significant occasions, he rarely appears at Hogwarts.”
“That’s because Professor Grindelwald is exceptionally busy,” Matthew hesitantly replied.
“That’s not a convincing reason,” Hermione scoffed, a dismissive tone lacing her words. “I can affirm that the Grindelwald who has appeared at Hogwarts during this period has been an imposter assumed by Professor Rosier, using the ‘Polyjuice Potion.’ Professor Slughorn described the potion’s effects in our first class.”
“Of course, I’m familiar with the Polyjuice Potion,” Matthew interjected swiftly. “However, this is an extremely serious accusation!”
“Wait,” Hermione said, reaching into her heavy schoolbag and swiftly retrieving a book.
She turned to a specific page and spoke firmly, “And… because Gellert Grindelwald has never been the true principal of Hogwarts!”
Matthew Wickfield was genuinely taken aback this time, his gaze fixed on Hermione.
“This is an even more severe accusation!” he replied, his voice tinged with seriousness.
“Hogwarts: A History, a book clearly states that each principal of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is chosen independently by the castle…” Hermione explained.
Hermione rapidly continued. “Hogwarts Castle, originally a compelling, magical creation, has never recognized Grindelwald as the principal. Hence, whenever he appears at Hogwarts, the castle naturally rejects and suppresses him with its power, preventing him from staying too long.”
“So, who is the real Headmaster?” Matthew asked, his tone devoid of emotion.
“I don’t know, but I’m certain that person is still alive somewhere!” Hermione firmly replied.
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