“What!” Morgana exclaimed loudly. “Do you know where the Philosopher’s Stone is?”
Matthew neither nodded nor denied it. Instead, he calmly took out a greased paper bag from his pocket.
With deliberate slowness, he opened the greased paper, revealing its contents, and handed both the contents and the greased paper to the “little boy” in front of him, who was shorter than him by half a head.
“What’s this?” Morgana frowned as she saw what was wrapped in the greased paper, pinching her nose with her other hand.
In front of her lay a filthy cloth strip that had been enclosed for an unknown period of time.
A putrid odor filled the air as soon as it made contact with the fresh air.
“Ms. Morgana, I suggest you take a closer look,” Matthew calmly advised. “It’s best to smell it again.”
Morgana gave Matthew a skeptical look before turning her attention to the boy standing before her.
His expression seemed incredibly sincere. Resisting the stench, she brought her nose closer to the soiled cloth strip—
In an instant, she was taken aback.
With an almost imperceptible speed, Morgana appeared right in front of Matthew, shouting hysterically, “Where… where did you get this… this thing!”
Beyond the disgusting stench, she recognized a familiar scent that had been with her for hundreds of years.
The scent of the Philosopher’s Stone!
“Calm down, Ms. Morgana!” Matthew suddenly felt immense pressure, causing his legs to weaken. He quickly pleaded, “Please, calm down… Calm down…”
The cloth strip wrapped in greased paper was nothing more than a mop strip!
Nearly half a year ago, during his second “after-school practice,” Matthew was instructed by the castle caretaker, Mr. Pringle, to clean Professor Rosier’s office.
At the time, Matthew chanced upon a droplet of bright red liquid resembling blood beneath Professor Rosier’s chair.
Without hesitation, he wiped it up entirely with a mop.
However, after a series of events, when he returned the cleaning supplies to Mr. Pringle’s office, Matthew discreetly tore a small piece of cloth stained with a bit of that bright red liquid from the mop.
Upon returning to the Slytherin common room, he carefully wrapped the cloth strip in greased paper, preserving and sealing it.
Initially, Matthew kept a watchful eye on the cloth strip, unsure of its significance.
Yet as time passed and more evidence surfaced, he was able to piece together about 80 to 90 percent of the puzzle.
Professor Bagshot once said, “Wizards like Gellert Grindelwald held no interest in using the Philosopher’s Stone for life-prolongation elixirs…”
Matthew also wondered if Professor Grindelwald would accumulate vast wealth through the Philosopher’s Stone…
And the notion of hiding away precious treasures like a dragon in a fairy tale, rather than utilizing them, seemed inconceivable for Professor Grindelwald!
As a result, Matthew quickly uncovered the answer to the Philosopher’s Stone’s whereabouts—
“Immortality” was not a formidable magic; the wizarding world boasted numerous means of achieving such an effect, making elderly wizards appear youthful.
Yet, such magic, like Muggle makeup, merely produced illusory appearances.
Regardless of how stunning the transformation was, when the magical facade dissipated at night, a reflection in the mirror would still reveal the truth—the appearance of “Immortality” would appear aged.
But Professor Vinda Rosier’s “Immortality” was different.
Her youthful countenance and skin appeared natural, devoid of any magical disguise.
It was as if time had passed without leaving a trace on her.
The sensation was unmistakable, especially when Matthew left Professor Slughorn’s office and came into close contact with the Headmistress.
Matthew became almost certain of the Philosopher’s Stone’s whereabouts at that moment.
You see, the Philosopher’s Stone, as the most precious, purest, and most magical substance, the pinnacle achievement of alchemy, had one final purpose—
Furthermore, what the Philosopher’s Stone offered was true eternal youth, halting the passage of time within one’s body entirely until the individual departed from the world, untouched by age…
Though this use of the Stone was the least conspicuous of the three.
For Professor Grindelwald, a unique and precious magical item like the Philosopher’s Stone being employed as a mere “cosmetic” by one of his most loyal subordinates might appear peculiar.
However, it might seem reasonable if Professor Grindelwald undertook such an endeavor.
Of course, Matthew would keep the origins of the cloth strip private.
Morgana, on the other hand, grew increasingly anxious. She shouted, gripping Matthew’s collar, lacking any semblance of decorum, “Where did it come from… this thing… where did you get it…”
“Calm down, Ms. Morgana,” Matthew smiled. “Now, can you believe what I told you earlier?”
“Very well!” Morgana appeared somewhat calmer, taking a deep breath. “Now, I believe you… You can lead me to find the Philosopher’s Stone…”
“And what about the conditions I stated earlier?” Matthew asked, grinning.
“Yes, I will fulfill all of them,” Morgana replied, her voice low. “I won’t harm Neville Longbottom or Hermione Granger, nor will I take Harry Evans’ life…”
She paused, then continued slowly, “And of course, I won’t harm you… if you assist in locating the Philosopher’s Stone.”
“Alright, let’s make a pact!” Matthew suddenly felt a twinge of childlike playfulness as he extended the little finger of his left hand.
“What does this mean?” Morgana asked, perplexed.
“It’s a way Muggles make promises,” Matthew explained. “When two people intertwine their little fingers, they cannot break their word or deceive each other…”
“A Muggle’s method of making agreements?” Morgana sneered, seemingly unimpressed.
Nevertheless, she extended the pinky of Harry’s right hand to join with Matthew’s.
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