Matthew and the others continued their hushed conversation when Neville was suddenly interrupted mid-sentence.

A mysterious wizard, dressed in dark, boldly kicked open the door of the remote teahouse, causing the aged teahouse owner, who was leisurely puffing on a cigar, to react with nonchalance.

Neville promptly closed his mouth, but the stern-looking dark-clad wizard had already advanced towards them.

Hermione and Neville exchanged surprised glances.

The dark wizard eyed each of them suspiciously, appearing taken aback by their youthful age.

However, he soon regained his composure and barked sternly, “What are you lot discussing in here?”

The entire teahouse fell into an eerie silence as the intruder made his presence known.

Witches sipping tea at nearby tables hurriedly paid their bills and left, abandoning their tea and pastries.

In contrast, the cigar-smoking old wizard and the teahouse owner began gathering the silver and copper coins, seemingly unperturbed by the intrusion.

“We were just having a conversation…” Neville quickly stood up, addressing the unexpected guest. “Just a friendly chat.”

“Chat?” The dark wizard sneered and waved his hand, summoning a few rusty iron chains onto the table before them. “I find that hard to believe…”

“I don’t understand…” Neville feigned ignorance, attempting to play it off.

“What exactly were you discussing just now? We can continue that conversation in more detail at Azkaban!” The dark wizard roared menacingly, his grip tightening on Neville’s wrist.

Hermione sensed that something was amiss and instinctively reached for her wand, but Matthew held her hand in time, shaking his head subtly.

Matthew then stood up and approached the intruder.

The dark wizard eyed him suspiciously, his wand trained on Matthew’s chest.

“Sir, we were truly just having an innocent conversation,” Matthew took a few steps back, signaling his lack of hostility.

Simultaneously, he pulled out a coin purse from his pocket.

“Please trust us,” he implored with an air of sincerity. “We’re merely Hogwarts students, and perhaps we unintentionally discussed something inappropriate. I can swear we harbor no ill intentions. Please, trust us…”

As he spoke, Matthew respectfully presented the coin purse, filled with golden Galleons, to the dark wizard.

The dark wizard accepted the purse and appeared to weigh its contents. Upon hearing the jingle of gold coins, he nodded with satisfaction.

“Not bad,” he remarked slowly. “You’re just ordinary students, and you shouldn’t be meddling in the wizarding world’s affairs like the members of the Order of the Phoenix.”

“Exactly!” Matthew quickly agreed, maintaining a friendly demeanor. “We understand. Thank you for your understanding. We’ll be more cautious in public conversations from now on.”

With that, he put the coin purse back in his pocket.

The dark wizard shot a final glare at the cigar-smoking old wizard and then turned to leave the teahouse.

The cigar-smoking old wizard remained nonchalant, and the teahouse owner, who had bowed his head throughout the entire incident, continued to puff on his cigar as if nothing had happened.

As the menacing dark wizard departed the teahouse, Matthew, Neville, and Hermione finally breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“What on earth just happened?” Neville collapsed into a chair, still looking somewhat shaken.

“It seems we stumbled upon some forbidden words,” Matthew explained in a low voice, “Do you remember Draco’s experience in first year? He uttered the word ‘Mudblood’ at Hogwarts and ended up in the school hospital. It’s some form of magic…”

“…Recall what we were discussing; they didn’t want us spreading certain topics…” Matthew added.

“I see,” Hermione grasped the situation.

Matthew, however, quickly signaled her to stop speaking the prohibited words again, prompting her to cover her mouth in compliance.

The three of them fell into another short silence.

“So, what should we do now?” Neville inquired in a hushed tone.

“What else can we do? We have to be cautious,” Matthew replied, shrugging with uncertainty. “But it’s unsettling. Wizards can’t suppress free speech in this manner. Let’s keep an eye on things; there’s bound to be some changes.”

Neville and Hermione both nodded thoughtfully.

It was no longer comfortable to stay in the teahouse.

The three paid their bill and exited the establishment.

The shabby teahouse owner accepted a few silver cigars from them before returning to his counter to resume smoking.

Stepping outside, Hermione suddenly remembered something and gave Matthew an incredulous look.

“What’s the matter?” Matthew felt a twinge of unease.

“Aren’t you the one who broke into Gringotts, Matthew?” Hermione asked in a low voice. “Where did you get all this money?”

Judging from the size of the purse handed to the dark wizard, it contained at least a hundred Galleons.

Matthew, an ordinary Muggle-born student, had briefly worked as a temporary employee, so conjuring such a sum was quite out of the ordinary.

“It’s simple,” Matthew grinned triumphantly. He leaned in close to Hermione’s ear and whispered, “I came prepared. With a basic Transfiguration spell, I made Copper Knuts appear exactly like Galleons in both appearance and weight… of course, there’s no magical protection on them. If he tries to use them, he’ll be found out!”

“Ah, I see,” Hermione replied, slightly anxious.

“If they catch on, they catch on,” Matthew shrugged nonchalantly, then asked, “Do you really think they’ll expose this matter?”

Hermione was at a loss for words.

“Let’s not discuss this on the street. Let’s go,” Matthew waved to his two friends.

The three of them then vanished into the bustling streets of Diagon Alley.

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