The situation seems to have become more complicated.
After they finished their dinner that night, an unexpected guest suddenly appeared in the Slytherin common room.
It was Mr. Pringle and his dog, Mr. Donald.
As the caretaker, he rarely broke into the common rooms of various houses under normal circumstances.
“Matthew Wickfield and Agnes Lestrange, are you here?” he shouted.
Matthew and Lestrange raised their hands one after another.
Mr. Pringle walked over, looking at them both before recording something on the parchment in his hand. Afterward, he hurriedly left with the golden retriever.
“What’s the matter?” Matthew glanced at Lestrange, puzzled by the sudden visit.
Lestrange shrugged, indicating that she didn’t know.
Matthew didn’t pay much attention, lowered his head, and continued to look at the “The Book of Merlin” in his hand.
The historical book, or novel, was borrowed from the library before Christmas.
Early the following day, thick snowflakes were flying in the sky, covering almost every castle window, making it darker than ever.
As Matthew passed the door of the auditorium, something strange happened.
Justin Finch-Fletchley, a first-year Hufflepuff student, was accepting blame from the Head of Hufflepuff, Professor Sprout.
Professor Sprout’s expression was unusually excited while Finley bowed his head in shame.
This was quite weird because Professor Sprout was known for being good-tempered, rarely reprimanding anyone, let alone a student from the house of Hufflepuff.
Matthew walked into the auditorium and saw Hermione eating breakfast at the only long table. He decided to join her.
“Huh?” Hermione glanced at Matthew, letting out a soft snort.
Since Hermione helped Matthew break into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom with Professor Flitwick, they hadn’t interacted much.
Hermione seemed to have some lingering resentment because she believed she had played a significant role in helping Matthew. She expected gratitude from him, but she didn’t hold grudges.
“What’s the matter?” she asked flatly.
“Professor Sprout at the door, and Fletchley…what happened?” Matthew asked curiously. “It’s the first time I’ve seen Professor Sprout so angry!”
“That Justin Finch-Fletchley…” Hermione’s face displayed a slightly contemptuous expression. “When he went to Hogsmeade yesterday, he ate too many candies at Honeydukes, then fell asleep at the Three Broomsticks. He slept there until closing time, and the bartender had to wake him up.”
“Asleep?” Matthew was stunned.
“Yes,” Hermione confirmed. “He didn’t show up until dark yesterday. He was terrified when his fellow students went to report to Mr. Pringle. Mr. Pringle was so anxious that he went from house to house, searching for anyone who hadn’t returned from Hogsmeade.”
Matthew suddenly remembered Mr. Pringle’s rare visit to the Slytherin common room the previous night, looking for him and Lestrange.
“So, what happened next?” he asked.
“It caused quite a stir in the whole school. Just as Headmistress Rosier was about to go to Hogsmeade to find him, Fletchley suddenly returned,” Hermione explained. “So this morning, both Professor Sprout and Headmistress Rosier gave him a severe scolding!”
“That’s it!” Matthew nodded thoughtfully.
“Is there anything else?” Hermione said dryly, finishing her breakfast. “If you don’t mind, I’m done here.”
“It’s okay. Thank you very much, Hermione!” Matthew smiled, attempting to flatter her.
As Hermione left, Matthew continued to ponder while eating his breakfast.
For the next few days, Matthew enjoyed a peaceful time.
The blizzard outside the castle was intense initially, and the heavy snow almost blocked the pathways.
Most of the Hogwarts students had no interest in going to Hogsmeade, and Matthew hadn’t even considered it for a long time.
Most of his days were spent reading books in the common room, occasionally visiting the library.
When genuinely bored, he and Lestrange played Gobstones and Wizard Chess.
Gobstones, a game similar to Muggle Marbles, involved thirty small round stones.
Each player started with fifteen stones, aiming to collect all of the opponent’s stones. The twist was that when one team lost a point, the stones sprayed an unpleasant liquid on the loser’s face.
It was a simple game, and although Matthew lost more often than he won, he wasn’t a match for Lestrange most of the time.
As for Wizard Chess, the rules were similar to Muggle chess, but the pieces moved to their target squares on their own, following the player’s commands. When a chess piece was taken, it was knocked over by the opponent’s piece and dragged out of the board.
Matthew fared better in Wizard Chess, winning more often than not, which helped him gain the trust of the set of chess pieces left by Draco.
On Christmas morning, Matthew sat at the foot of his bed and noticed a small pile of packages, his Christmas presents.
There was a bottle of mead in exquisite packaging, given by Professor Slughorn.
Matthew had given his Head of House a box of candied pineapple the day before.
Two days earlier, he had commissioned a seventh-year Slytherin girl from the common room to buy it from Honeydukes.
Other presents included a box of brand new wizard chess and a “Compendium of Modern History of Magic.”
Matthew shifted his gaze to the last package, a beautifully wrapped Christmas gift box with no signature.
He couldn’t help but blink, wondering who would give him a Christmas present anonymously.
He gently untied the gift string and opened the box…
“Huh?” Matthew let out a snort as he looked at the contents.
His expression gradually turned serious, but then he suddenly smiled.
Because the last Christmas gift was a simple, familiar, and mysterious book.
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