The holiday season flew by at an astonishing speed.
The day before the new semester, the returning students made their way back to Hogwarts, filling the Slytherin common room with noise and chatter.
For Matthew, there was a tinge of regret.
He could no longer bask in the warmth of the enormous fireplace in the common room.
He couldn’t engage in a game of wizard chess with Miss Lestrange by the peaceful crackling fire.
Among the returning students were, of course, Matthew’s roommates: Draco, Vincent, Gregory, and Theodore.
On the night of their return, they toiled away throughout the night, diligently completing all the holiday homework. Rather, they finished copying it.
The new semester began on the second day.
In the first Transfiguration class, as Matthew laid eyes on Professor Trocar standing at the podium, he suddenly realized that the professor had not attended the Christmas dinner, nor had they crossed paths during the entire holiday break.
Of course, this wasn’t surprising. Just like the students, the teachers also had their own holidays.
Aside from those who considered Hogwarts their home, most professors would leave the campus during the break to reunite with their families.
The thought briefly surprised Matthew as he wondered if Vampires had families too.
During the first class, Professor Trocar did not introduce any new material.
Instead, they led the students in a review of the Transfiguration concepts learned in the previous semester. The professor emphasized the principles of Transfiguration: observe, imagine, be decisive, and be cautious.
In the afternoon, during the History of Magic class, Professor Bagshot surprised everyone with an unexpected quiz.
The test proved to be challenging, leading to groans of dismay from the massive class.
Matthew was no exception. He had not systematically reviewed the material, and he felt that his answers on the paper were a jumbled mess.
However, there was one question that gave him a glimmer of hope.
It required a detailed description of the epic duel between Merlin the Grand Magus and the Black Witch Morgana on Avalon Island in the sixth century.
Luckily for Matthew, he had just finished reading a book called “The Legend of Merlin” during the Christmas break.
He felt confident that he could score full marks on that particular question.
Tuesday’s Herbology class was universally disliked.
It meant braving the cold weather, leaving the comfort of the castle, and making the trek to the greenhouse. It was undoubtedly a torment in the coldest time of the year.
At the entrance to the greenhouse, Matthew and his classmates encountered the first-year students from Gryffindor and Hufflepuff who had just finished their Herbology class.
Evans appeared battered, as if he had fallen on his way to the greenhouse.
Matthew could see Neville wore an expression of anger.
“Neville!” Matthew approached Neville and greeted him. “It’s been a while. Is something bothering you?”
“Yes!” Neville replied, his gaze shifting to someone beside Matthew. He spoke indignantly, “I never thought Hogwarts would be so irresponsible!”
“Irresponsible?” Matthew was taken aback. “Sorry, I don’t quite understand…”
“Do you remember Ronald Weasley? The boy who was attacked in the first month of school…”
“Of course, I remember,” Matthew said curiously. “What happened to him?”
“The Hogwarts hospital refused to let him go home. His body hasn’t fully recovered… He’s still unconscious,” Neville said, his indignation growing. “But at the end of the Christmas break, when his family came to visit him at Hogwarts, they discovered something shocking…”
“…Ron was clearly infected with a strange poison, but the Hogwarts Hospital never administered any antidote! When he was first attacked, they only gave him some blood replenishing potion… Since then, they’ve been sustaining him with recovery potions…”
“…Ron’s parents were furious, but Madam Pomfrey from the school hospital told them it was the correct treatment and warned them not to question it. Ron’s father naturally didn’t believe her, and then their family was expelled from the school hospital by Madam Rosier…”
“…And they were warned not to disclose this to anyone, or Ron’s father would lose his job at the Ministry of Magic. I happened to overhear their conversation…”
“…Hogwarts is simply too irresponsible! If they can’t cure Ron, why not transfer him to St. Mungo’s Hospital? They would find a solution there…”
Neville continued to express his grievances, but soon, a stern voice interrupted him from the direction of the castle.
“Neville Longbottom!” Professor Sinistra, the Astronomy teacher and the Head of Gryffindor’s House, stood there, glaring at Neville.
Neville shrank back and begrudgingly made his way towards Professor Sinistra.
On Tuesday night, as Matthew passed the second-floor staircase near Mr. Pringle’s office, he spotted two familiar figures. Fletchley and Neville, following Mr. Pringle in a subdued manner.
Heavy bags weighed them down, and their hands and feet were shackled with chains as they descended the stairs. Mr. Donald trailed behind them, watching intently.
“Were they… being punished?” Matthew wondered to himself.
In summary, the first week of the new semester was filled with various minor incidents.
However, overall, Hogwarts Castle remained relatively calm, defying Matthew’s expectation of another attack soon happens when the semester starts.
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