As the cold winter gradually receded, spring was inching closer day by day at Hogwarts.

The sun began shining brightly on the castle again, filling it with renewed warmth.

The optimistic atmosphere was spreading throughout the halls and corridors.

There had been no attacks for several months, though the truth about Finch-Fletchley’s disappearance remained unknown to the students.

Madam Pomfrey had shared some exciting news with everyone: Ronald Weasley, the only remaining “victim” still in the hospital, was steadily recovering. In another month or two, he would be discharged.

“People are saying that the attacker hiding in Hogwarts has lost their courage,” Matthew often heard discussions like this.

“They must have been intimidated by Professor Grindelwald, even though he left Hogwarts a month ago. They’re still too afraid to show themselves!”

However, this kind of “optimism” did not affect Hermione and Neville. Armed with insider knowledge, they worked tirelessly to uncover the truth.

They had been diligently following Professor Rosier, cautiously avoiding detection.

Despite their efforts, Hogwarts seemed to be heading in a positive direction overall.

Matthew was taken aback on February 14th when he entered the auditorium for breakfast.

It seemed like he had taken a wrong turn.

The auditorium had undergone a dramatic transformation, reminiscent of the festive decorations during Christmas and Halloween.

The walls were adorned with vibrant pink flowers, and heart-shaped confetti cascaded from the ceiling.

Each time the confetti touched someone, it would disintegrate into ash and vanish.

Matthew felt disoriented as he made his way to the Slytherin table, where he found Miss Gemma the prefect, already having breakfast.

“What’s going on?” Matthew asked, puzzled by the extravagant decorations.

Miss Gemma replied matter-of-factly, “Today is Valentine’s Day, a day worth celebrating once a year!”

Matthew nodded dumbfoundedly, still looking around with surprise. He couldn’t recall Valentine’s Day at Hogwarts being celebrated on such a grand scale before.

“This celebration has been going on for decades. The castle’s front doors will be open all day, and the gardens will be accessible to all students!” Miss Gemma explained with a smile. “Additionally, fourth-grade students and above have the day off.”

“Really,” Matthew murmured, trying to process the information. “What about students like us, below third grade? Do we have the day off too?”

Gama responded simply, “No! You still have classes as usual!”

Matthew was momentarily speechless.

“After dinner, there will be a celebration, and it’s rumored that Professor Grindelwald will make an appearance towards the end of the event,” Gama added mysteriously.

“Of course, it’s nothing we lower grades need to worry about,” Matthew commented wryly.

“After all, you’re still young,” Gama said, smiling as she ruffled Matthew’s hair.

With that, she left, and Matthew quickly finished his breakfast.

As he stepped into the hallway, he noticed pairs of Hogwarts students engaged in intimate conversations, heading towards the castle’s garden.

The Hogwarts gardens were seldom open on weekdays, and he had heard rumors about their beauty, but he had never had the chance to explore them.

However, there was no time for sightseeing now as they had a Herbology class in the morning.

Walking past a flying golden cherub, Matthew headed in the direction of the greenhouse.

In the new semester of Herbology, Professor Sprout fulfilled her promise from the previous semester.

She began taking the first-year students to the third greenhouse, where they would encounter more magical plants, some of which were even considered “dangerous.”

Today, their focus was on a species of damp vines.

These vines thrived in dark and humid environments. They coiled up into tight balls, appearing dark green with long tendrils resembling snakes.

“Does anyone know what these vines are?” Professor Sprout asked loudly, addressing the first-year students from Ravenclaw and Slytherin.

Hermione’s hand shot up before Matthew could respond.

“Miss Granger?” Professor Sprout acknowledged her.

“These are Devil’s Snare, professor,” Hermione replied confidently.

“Excellent!” Professor Sprout praised. “Miss Granger, could you please share the characteristics of Devil’s Snare with the class?”

Hermione described the plant’s features in great detail, “The mature Devil’s Snare extended snake-like tendrils to ensnare anyone who ventured too close, causing injury or even death. The vines would loosen their grip if the entangled person relaxed and stopped struggling. Additionally, Devil’s Snare was afraid of flames and sunlight.”

Hermione received sincere praise from Professor Sprout, causing her cheeks to flush with pride. She cast a triumphant glance at Matthew.

The Herbology class continued with Professor Sprout introducing them to the dangerous plant and allowing them to observe it closely.

Overall, it was an engaging and educational Herbology lesson, and when Professor Sprout finally announced its end, the students were reluctant to leave.

As the Ravenclaw and Slytherin first-year students exited the greenhouse, Matthew’s sharp eyes caught sight of snow-white owls flying towards them.

He recognized one of them as “Kreatcher.” Neville’s owl, which he had encountered on the Hogwarts Express.

The owl flew first to Hermione, delivering a note to her, and then it flew to Matthew, dropping a message in his hand.

They exchanged glances and discreetly moved away from the larger group, finding a quiet corner to read the notes.

Both notes were identical, hastily scribbled handwriting revealing the sender’s anxiety.

The message read:

“Come to the garden. Something has happened!”

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Published On: August 18, 2023

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