Matthew’s face suddenly became serious.

Because he really couldn’t figure it out.

Why would anyone want to track him? He was just an ordinary first-year freshman and had no social relationships in the wizarding world.

Could it be that the witch, wrapped in a thick black scarf down to her feet, was actually a character similar to a Muggle trafficker? Was she trying to abduct him?

It was possible. The Hog’s Head Inn had always been the gathering place of “gulls, ghosts, and snakes.” Since this witch came from there, she might be planning something.

In places like Hogsmeade, she wouldn’t be easy to start with, but when it got dark when she tried to return to Hogwarts, the secluded path between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade would be the best place for her to attack.

Matthew put down the mead in his hand and stood up.

He was ready to go to “Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasion” to find Profesor Slughorn, who had bought his robe there, and then return to Hogwarts with the professor. Having an adult wizard with him would surely deter the witch from wearing the thick black scarf.

But soon, Matthew sat down again. He realized something was wrong. He picked up the mead and took a sip.

He had been at the Hog’s Head Inn before, but Professor Slughorn had picked him up.

Even if the witch wrapped in a thick black veil was planning something, it should have been visible to Professor Slughorn. After all, Professor Slughorn was a well-known figure in the wizarding world.

Then why was she so quickly following him? Under normal circumstances, even if she had initially intended to commit a crime, she should have given up at this point.

Was it because she wasn’t afraid of Professor Slughorn at all? Or perhaps she had a reason to target him?

Suddenly, Matthew’s face changed. It occurred to him that he had no social relationships in the wizarding world, but he did have something precious and potentially dangerous in his hands—the book.

Because of the influence of that book, the Sorting Hat acted strangely, placing him in Slytherin.

Because of the book, Bloody Baron had mistaken him for a ghost.

Could it be that the witch wearing the thick black veil was a witch studying mysteries, and she had sensed something about him that attracted her?

Or maybe she wasn’t a witch at all but a disguised wizard!

While sipping the mead in his glass, Matthew glanced from the corner of his eye at the witch in the thick black scarf. She had ordered a small glass of lemon juice and was secretly observing him.

This further deepened Matthew’s previous judgment. If the book genuinely attracted her, then the plan to find Professor Slughorn would have to be canceled.

Professor Slughorn might not be able to handle her, and during the Christmas season, he might not be as vigilant as he should be.

Moreover, Matthew didn’t know where Madam Malkin’s was from where he was right now. Does he need to go through an alleyway to reach there faster? What if the witch intercepted him before he could reach the place?

What could he do about it? Hogsmeade probably had no Aurors patrolling.

Matthew raised his glass and finished the mead. He thought of a way.

When Matthew walked out of the Three Broom Bar, he could vaguely see through the frozen window that the witch was also hurrying to settle the bill and quickly catching up.

There was no doubt that she was indeed tracking him. He estimated a 70% possibility due to the book and a 30% possibility due to other reasons.

Trying to lose her by speed alone would probably be impossible. So, he had to do something else.

Matthew didn’t rush and went to Honeydukes Sweets Store. The popular store was crowded with witches and wizards snapping up candy.

The witch wearing the thick black scarf, hesitated for a while but didn’t choose to chase after him. This was what Matthew had expected.

Honeydukes was too crowded, and his small frame could easily get lost. It would be much more challenging for an adult like the witch to navigate.

She was probably worried about losing him, so she chose to wait nearby. Matthew approached the Honeydukes counter, pretending to choose sweets.

The busy store environment made it easy for him to blend in. The owners, Ambrosius Flume and his wife, were too occupied with receiving customers to notice him.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, Matthew sneaked behind the counter and discovered the entrance to the cellar; he took out his wand and softly said, “Alohomora!” The cellar door opened, and Matthew entered, closing it behind him.

In the cellar, he found piles of crates and wooden boxes. He searched the dusty floor, occasionally squatting down and reaching out to touch.

After almost five minutes, he found a trapdoor hidden in a corner—it blended perfectly with the gray floor.

Once inside, he entered a tunnel that connected Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. This tunnel was built by wizards specifically for the goblin rebellion in the 17th century.

While students commonly used it to sneak into Hogsmeade, Matthew was now using it in the opposite direction.

Using his wand to illuminate the path ahead with a Lumos spell, Matthew walked unhurriedly through the tunnel.

After about fifteen minutes, he arrived at a stone slide and began climbing. He climbed until he hit something on top of his head.

“Dissendium!” Matthew whispered. A small hole large enough to crawl through appeared before him, and he crawled out slowly.

Looking back, he saw a statue of a hunchbacked, one-eyed old woman. As he emerged, the small hole closed again.

He had successfully returned to Hogwarts.

“It seems I can’t go to Hogsmeade casually,” Matthew muttered to himself as he returned to the Slytherin common room.

Today had been his first time experiencing Hogsmeade, and it hadn’t gone as planned.

The seventh-year girls had already left in the common room in the morning, and only Agnes Lestrange remained.

“Wickfield!” Lestrange called out his name just as Matthew returned to his bedroom.

“What’s wrong?” Matthew turned around, curious about why she had called him.

“I suggest you keep a certain distance from Slughorn,” Lestrange said coldly. “He is a dangerous man.”

“Huh?” Matthew frowned, confused. “I don’t quite understand.”

Lestrange ignored him and bowed her head, leaving Matthew with unanswered questions.

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Published On: August 5, 2023

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