Since the first Dueling Club meeting, Lockhart had been noticing that his once-celebrated status among students was rapidly declining.

The abrupt end of the Dueling Club activities had undoubtedly contributed to this decline.

Despite these circumstances, Skyler managed to maintain a good teacher-student relationship with Professor Lockhart.

He would occasionally visit Lockhart’s office to seek clarification on various aspects of Defense Against the Dark Arts, especially those intricately described in Lockhart’s books.

With each visit, Skyler would bring along a bottle of Ogden Aged Fire Whiskey, making it rather awkward for Lockhart to turn him away.

Skyler’s keen intellect and diligent approach to learning left Lockhart feeling rather inadequate.

For instance, when Skyler discussed the Mending Charm detailed in “Wandering with the Werewolves,” Lockhart couldn’t help but sense that Skyler regarded it with more curiosity than admiration.

To the genius within Skyler, understanding the intricacies of the Humanoid Restoration Curse was an intellectual challenge.

Lockhart, on the other hand, didn’t possess the capability to use such a spell.

Even when Skyler inquired about the spell, Lockhart struggled to provide satisfactory answers.

He fumbled through the conversation, hoping to keep the young wizard at bay, but Skyler seemed to read his intentions clearly and mentioned he would visit another time.

Lockhart had been compelled to return to his previous residence during the Christmas break in search of something useful.

The memories of his encounter with the old Armenian wizard from “Wandering with the Werewolves” had left a deep mark on him.

Lockhart had initially spent considerable time investigating the situation, even venturing to the village ravaged by the werewolf to glean information.

To keep the secrets hidden, he’d cast Obliviateon the villagers to erase their memories of the incident.

Lockhart was indeed familiar with the Mending Charm, as it was central to “Wandering with the Werewolves.”

He’d hoped to leverage this spell for his own fame.

However, despite meticulously studying it, he had failed to master it.

Thus, when Skyler inquired about it, Lockhart could hardly provide a satisfying answer and merely used the moment to distract him.

This time, Skyler acquired Lockhart’s research notes.

Skyler meticulously delved into Lockhart’s research notes during the two-week Christmas break.

While Lockhart’s magical prowess wasn’t particularly strong, his gift lay in the skill of writing.

His research notes were remarkably detailed and neatly arranged, making them a pleasure to read.

As January approached, the second semester began, and students returned from their Christmas holiday.

The trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione found themselves in a temporary silence due to their previous ordeal.

In a misguided experiment, Hermione had mistakenly used cat hair instead of human hair in the Polyjuice Potion.

As a result, she had transformed into a cat-girl and spent several weeks recovering in the school hospital.

Harry and Ron, despite not being expelled, were relegated to serving various cleaning duties under the watchful eye of Filch.

In Filch’s eyes, Harry was still considered responsible for the presumed death of his cat, making every task Filch assigned as unpleasant as possible.

Meanwhile, Draco, Goyle, and Crabbe had quickly healed under magical care and were discharged from the hospital just two days later.

Although Draco’s embarrassment had been witnessed only by a select few, the news of his being beaten had swiftly spread within The House of Slytherin.

This experience had the unintended effect of humbling Draco, who had previously carried himself with a certain level of pride. He had turned remarkably subdued.

On the other hand, Ginny had attempted to rid herself of the diary and disposed of it in the third-floor girls’ bathroom, only for it to be discovered and picked up by Harry.

Unbeknownst to Ginny, Skyler had observed the entire exchange from the shadows.

Skyler’s experiences, including the Dueling Club and the events in the Slytherin common room, had elevated his status within Slytherin House.

Defeating Harry Potter twice had solidified his reputation among his peers.

Students from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw would greet Skyler in the corridors, while those from Gryffindor regarded him as a formidable adversary and Gryffindor’s foremost antagonist.

Skyler remained unfazed by this childish animosity, seeing it as a trivial matter.

In contrast to Draco’s complex emotions driven by his past adoration for Harry, Skyler held no ill will toward Harry and Ron.

The perceived animosity between them, from Skyler’s perspective, was rooted in youthful naivety.

Skyler’s goals and ambitions were entirely different, primarily focused on defeating Voldemort.

His interaction with Dumbledore and other pure-blood families also factored into his plans.

His encounters with Harry were merely incidental, with no intention of humiliation or provocation.

The experience with the Dueling Club had a profound impact on Skyler, prompting him to take action.

He decided to create a small-scale Dueling Club within Slytherin House, specifically inviting first and second-year Slytherin students to participate.

Skyler’s growing reputation rapidly attracted numerous new members to the club, including even the prideful Theodore Nott and Blaise Shabini.

Skyler didn’t teach them powerful combat spells or advanced fighting techniques; instead, he started with the fundamentals of wand handling and casting.

The young wizards were initially somewhat intimidated by Skyler’s reputation, and a subtle sense of disappointment loomed among them.

However, after participating in several club activities, they realized significant improvement in their standard spellwork and transformation skills.

Skyler’s guidance became evident, and once again, he earned a surge of respect and admiration among his peers.

After the incident in the Slytherin Lounge, there had been no further attacks within the castle, and before they knew it, the Easter holiday in April had arrived.

For the second-year students, it was time to choose their elective courses for the third year.

Divination, Arithmancy, and Muggle Studies held no appeal for Skyler.

As for Ancient Runes, Skyler had a considerable level of confidence in his ability to grasp the subject, doubting whether Professor Bathsheda Babbling could offer him any insights.

In an effort not to waste time on courses that held no practical interest, Skyler, after several discussions with Lucius, opted for Magical Biology, and, with Lucius’s influence as a school director, he successfully convinced Hogwarts to reintroduce the long-discontinued “Alchemy” course.

Alchemy was a specialized field and had been discontinued due to a lack of student interest and the challenge of finding a qualified professor.

However, these were not issues for Skyler.

He was confident in his ability to persuade a majority of Slytherin’s students to enroll in the course.

Moreover, finding a suitable professor was not a significant hurdle for pure-blood families.

As far as Skyler knew, the two most prominent families in the British alchemy world were the Nott family and the Burkes family, both of whom shared a deep connection with the Malfoy family.

With Lucius’s involvement, they had little reason to deny him this favor.

During this time, Professor Sprout also announced that the Mandrakes were hosting a lively and joyous dance in the third greenhouse.

The Mandrakes were about to reach maturity, and soon, they would be able to provide a cure for those who had been petrified.

These positive developments put a smile on everyone’s face, and the students redirected their attention toward the upcoming Gryffindor vs. Hufflepuff Quidditch match.

Just when Skyler thought the days would continue to pass uneventfully until May, a harsh dose of reality brought a deviation from the established path.

The House of Slytherin comprised students from wizarding families with profound backgrounds.

The relationships among these ancient families were intricate and interwoven.

Not only were they allies who upheld the concept of “pure-blood supremacy,” but they also engaged in various power struggles and ambitions.

These families instilled in their young heirs a sense of competition, emphasizing the survival of the fittest from an early age.

In the sorting ceremony, the Sorting Hat often placed the ambitious and power-hungry individuals into Slytherin.

Consequently, it created a unique situation within the house, with various factions and hierarchies of power.

While Draco’s strategic use of Malfoy family resources allowed him to secure the position of the Quidditch team’s Seeker, and Skyler had risen to prominence with his victories over Harry Potter, some Slytherin pure-blood children perceived these achievements as calculated moves by the Malfoy family.

Despite the Malfoy family’s substantial financial power and influence in British politics and business, some entities still attempted to entice them.

Among the pure-blood families, the Lestrange, Rosier, and Black families were the most powerful originally.

However, they had suffered severe setbacks during the Second Wizarding War.

The Lestrange family saw two brothers from their direct bloodline imprisoned, Ivan Rosier perished at the hands of Alastor Moody, and the Black family experienced deaths and imprisonments.

The Black family’s ancestral line was on the brink of extinction, with no apparent heirs.

These setbacks presented opportunities for other families to claim their territory.

While the Malfoy family thrived through a combination of cunning alliances and the loyalty of the Goyle and Crabbe families, the Lestrange, Rosier, and Black families saw their power significantly diminished.

To exploit the vacuum left by the Lestranges, Rosier, and Blacks, other pure-blood families cannibalized their industries and market positions.

Despite their past rivalries, the Malfoy family emerged as the most potent force among the pure-blood families.

With Lucius’s leadership and influence, the Malfoys persuaded the Goyle and Crabbe families to align with them.

Additionally, they forged strong partnerships with the Parkinson and Borgin families.

The Avery, Nott, and Carrow families, among others, also clawed their way up from their weakened positions and grew in strength.

Even those pure-blood families that appeared low-profile, such as the Greengrass and McMillan families, had quietly built powerful networks and extended their influence.

The Greengrass family, to which Daphne belonged, had absorbed small, lesser-known families.

In addition, they orchestrated the assimilation of the Shafiq family into their ranks, thanks to Daphne’s and Meredith’s connections.

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Published On: December 2, 2023

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