The second event of the competition unfolded in relative obscurity, hidden from the eyes of the spectators. The judges relied solely on the mermaids’ reports to formulate their scores.

Consequently, the audience, limited to witnessing only the entrance and exit of the participants from the water, was left in suspense about the events transpiring beneath the lake.

Following the conclusion of the second project, an intriguing scenario unfolded – everyone yearned to unravel the mysteries submerged within the lake.

Consequently, Ron and Daphne found themselves becoming the focal points of numerous inquiries throughout Hogwarts.

For the first time, Ron experienced the sensation of being at the center of attention, much like Harry. He recounted the events repeatedly, with slight variations in each retelling.

Initially, his narrative remained factual – in Professor McGonagall’s office, Dumbledore employed magic to hypnotize the hostages, assuring them of their absolute safety and their imminent awakening upon resurfacing from the water.

However, as the week progressed, Ron spun a captivating tale of abduction, depicting a daring struggle where he valiantly faced fifty armed mermaids who initially coerced his submission before restraining him.

Daphne had become Skyler’s most cherished person, becoming the subject of playful banter from everyone throughout the day.

However, at this juncture, she had shed the shyness and immaturity of a young girl, embodying the magnanimity befitting a noble family hostess.

Graciously, she expressed gratitude for everyone’s condolences and addressed the concerns expressed by others, openly acknowledging her status as Skyler’s official girlfriend.

Contrary to Skyler’s initial expectations, his popularity did not wane, even after gaining fame and officially declaring his relationship. The anticipated decline in his standing on the dream lover list of girls failed to materialize.

Somewhere along the way, news about Skyler’s relationships with Murray and Astoria began to circulate.

It became common knowledge that Skyler not only had one girlfriend but also several ex-girlfriends. Scandals involving girls who had previously been close, such as Cho, Luna, and Susan, started making rounds.

This led to a peculiar phenomenon – girls seemingly sensed hidden opportunities. If they couldn’t be the official girlfriend, the allure of being a secret lover seemed enticing.

Consequently, the popularity of the “Champion Skyler Fans Club” experienced a resurgence, with a dynamic mix of fervent supporters.

Notably, the majority of the fanbase comprised female enthusiasts, constituting nearly 80% of the entire support club.

This became a source of frustration for the male students at Hogwarts. Traditionally, in the Hogwarts culture, when male students reached the fifth grade or higher, they could extend their magical friendships to younger girls.

Through daily interactions, these friendships would gradually evolve into deeper relationships and, eventually, couples.

However, the current dynamics proved challenging for many senior male students. They discovered that their previously assumed advantages as older students no longer held sway. The younger girls showed no inclination to abandon them.

Consequently, these senior students, who had only a few years left until graduation, suddenly felt a sense of urgency, fearing they might miss out on the quintessential youthful experience of campus romance.

Cedric Diggory, who had harbored an interest in Cho, a junior student from Ravenclaw, decided to abandon his pursuit upon hearing the rumors surrounding her and Skyler. Fortunately, his good looks worked in his favor, leading him to establish a relationship with Angelina Johnson, a sixth-grade Gryffindor girl.

After being unceremoniously dumped on the day of the Yule Ball, Roger Davies found himself in a predicament.

He struggled to find a new girlfriend, and the allure of being the third-place dream lover seemed to vanish. Desperate, he attempted to reconcile with his blond ex-girlfriend, but his efforts were in vain. She rejected him outright, not sparing him a second glance.

Even though Valentine’s Day had come and gone, Skyler continued to receive numerous confessions and date cards. Some mysteriously appeared in his dormitory, despite the defensive magic he had set up (which, unfortunately, proved ineffective against inanimate objects).

Others were delivered by owl during breakfast, and the boldest ones were handed directly to him in the corridor.

The contents ranged from declarations of affection to requests for secret lover relationships, and invitations for weekend rendezvous in secluded corners of the school. Skyler was taken aback by the audacity displayed, especially when he examined a card adorned with a bright red lip print.

Apologizing hypocritically to his fellow male classmates, Skyler couldn’t help but emphasize that it wasn’t him trying to sweep through the entire female population of the school, but rather, it was the girls who were actively pursuing him.

His heart went out to the numerous male compatriots, particularly those on the brink of graduation who hadn’t yet secured a female partner.

This graduating class is poised to become the most single class in history. I wonder if this record will find its place in the annals of history, marking them with infamy for thousands of years.

After a few days of fervent discussion, the excitement gradually waned, and life for every one returned to its usual routine.

For Skyler, however, things took a busier turn.

The day after the Triwizard Tournament concluded, Hogwarts was shaken by a grave incident of mysterious student disappearances.

Astonishingly, all the missing students were Slytherin members, including the 7th-year male and female prefects, the 6th-year female prefect, and the 6th-year Quidditch goalkeeper.

Gallup, who had taken a leave of absence due to being infected with the werewolf curse, wasn’t considered missing as he had sneaked into Hogwarts from Hogsmeade village.

This situation made it impossible for Dumbledore to contain the matter. Unlike the second-year basilisk incident, where the victims were wizards of Muggle descent, these were children from pure-blood families.

Almost immediately after the disappearances, their families were informed, setting off a wave of concern among the wizarding community.

The Fawley family, Slughorn family, Selwyn family, and Bletchley family united forces in both the Ministry of Magic and the media to exert significant pressure on Dumbledore.

They even visited Hogwarts, demanding that Dumbledore provide a satisfactory explanation. Of course, this was merely a jest; the missing individuals were none other than the direct elite children of these four influential families, crucial to the future of their respective households. To claim that they were not distressed by their disappearance would be a blatant lie.

The Ministry of Magic took an active role in the investigation. While Minister Fudge had to maintain a certain level of respect for Dumbledore, there were limits to his actions. After all, he relied on the resources and support of pure-blood families to secure his position at the top.

After negotiations, Minister Fudge agreed to dispatch two elite Aurors to Hogwarts for an extended period to assist in the investigation of these mysterious disappearances.

One of these Aurors was Gawain Robards, a confidant of Scrimgeour and someone aware of the friendship between Scrimgeour and Skyler.

Despite their acquaintance, they managed to maintain a fa├žade of no contact under Dumbledore’s watchful eye. The other Auror was Minister Fudge’s confidant.

Dumbledore found himself equally perplexed by this perplexing disappearance.

The missing students were by no means feeble. While the principal couldn’t claim to know every student intimately, he was well-acquainted with the capabilities of the prefects.

Even Miles Bletchley, with the most unassuming background and achievements, had made a name for himself at Hogwarts. He was a skilled practitioner who thrived on notoriety. Prior to the preceding Quidditch finals, Slytherin’s interactions with Gryffindor were marked by a series of conflicts, often involving Miles.

His hexes and venomous spells allowed him to evade capture, landing the unfortunate Gryffindor wizard in the school hospital for days at a stretch.

Despite Dumbledore’s and the two Aurors’ extensive search efforts, it appeared that the missing individuals were last seen on the day of the second event. However, the following day, they had vanished without a trace.


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Published On: March 5, 2024

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