Practice makes perfect.
"I'll take Guilty Gryffindors for
200 hundred, Jack."
On Monday morning, April 7, the
Slytherins were milling about their common room in robes and pajamas,
awaiting Snape's inspection on this first day of the final term of the
year. Most of them hadn't seen their housemaster since his lecture;
Malfoy and Warrington had spent the Easter hols riding herd over the
Slytherins so Snape could take uninterrupted solace in the company of his
friend, Elizabeth. She, it turned out, was on furlough from a vanguard
already engaging in skirmishes with the Dark Lord and was as much in need
of comfort as Snape.
She's not the only one,
Malfoy thought, his eyes falling on Marybeth who was drowsing in a chair
beside Violet and Goyle. Marybeth's night terrors had increased after
Elizabeth's arrival; she now required two older housemates sleeping in the
corridor outside her door each night to prevent her from screaming the
house down. Malfoy rubbed his stiff neck as he watched her; half a dozen
wool blankets had not been sufficient to protect him from the corridor's
draft. He wondered if he could get away with borrowing Snape's cane to
administer a therapeutic stroke or two. It might not help Marybeth but it
would sure make him feel better.
"Ahem!" Violet cleared her throat
loudly, and Malfoy jerked his attention back to the matter at hand.
"Right!" he called with a smarmy
grin as he pretended to read from an imaginary card he'd whipped through
the air and was holding pretentiously in front of his nose. "This
notoriously bad-tempered Slytherin Shoulda-been did the time after Peter
Pettigrew did the crime."
They were playing 'Name that
Inference,' a game Malfoy had invented shortly after Snape's lecture.
Violet gave an excited bounce and slammed her hand down on a service bell
floating in front of her only to discover that Goyle had muted it with a
silencing charm. "Who is Sirius Black?" he announced with a superior
smile after tapping his own bell.
"Right you are!" Malfoy
proclaimed as Violet stomped her foot and folded her arms furiously across
her chest. "Next category?"
"Free-wheeling faculty for
100," Goyle suggested. Malfoy whipped out another invisible card while
Violet gave the wand she had tucked beneath her folded arm a subtle jerk
in Goyle's direction.
"This 'king of the castle'
boasts a 'king of beasts' door knocker outside his office, clearly
demonstrating an invalid favoritism that ought to be abandoned."
"Erodel bmudsub lasiohw!"
Goyle shouted after giving his bell an authoritative slap.
"What?" Malfoy laughed as
the Slytherins around him burst into snorts and guffaws. Violet leaned
over and slapped Goyle's bell.
"I believe he said, 'Who
is Albus Dumbledore?'" she called sweetly. "Backwards."
"Teloiv!" Goyle shouted,
grabbing his 2nd year opponent from behind as his housemates applauded
enthusiastically. Violet shrieked the charm to end the backwards-speaking
spell but Goyle hauled her out into an open section of common room anyway.
"100 points to the bad-tempered
little Slytherin who's about to get pounded!" Malfoy announced as Goyle
grasped Violet firmly under the armpits and began to twirl her in
nauseatingly rapid circles. She was just about to scream for mercy when
Pansy shuffled into the room, glancing this way and that as she yawned and
stretched. Suddenly she stiffened, then cried out, "Where's Millicent?"
The Slytherins froze. Goyle set
Violet back on her feet and held onto her as she wobbled, whipping his
head frantically to the right and left as he searched for Millicent. No
one saw her anywhere and Pansy bolted for the common room door only to
spring back as it banged open and Snape stalked into the room. Already
fully dressed, he swooped down on his students with renewed energy as his
robes billowed vigorously behind him. He stopped briefly to raise a
perilous eyebrow at Pansy, who gulped, turned tail, and scurried away to
join her housemates in line. "Uh oh!" she mouthed to Malfoy as Snape
marched to the head of his students' two queues.
He'd just begun to count their
noses when the common room door banged open again and Millicent rushed in,
racing to a spot in line between Pansy and Tracey. She was still wearing
the holiday togs she'd been dressed in the day before but they were now
thoroughly wrinkled. Technically, she'd made it just in time, but Snape
glowered at her anyway.
"Where have you been?" he demanded
"I'm sorry, sir," Millicent
assured him. "I fell asleep studying in the Ravenclaw common room with
Malfoy and Warrington exchanged
looks. They should have noticed her absence, Malfoy realized, and he felt
a dash of annoyance with Millicent for not telling him she was going.
Then he saw her flinch and realized with a smirk that he wasn't the only
one with a sore neck this morning.
"You will not repeat this
behavior, Miss Bulstrode," Snape warned her.
"No, sir," Millicent promised.
Snape made a quick count and swept
from the room, leaving the Slytherins feeling a bit bereft. They gathered
together, not quite ready to get dressed and head for the Great Hall.
"He looks well," Crabbe observed
of their departed housemaster.
"Why shouldn't he?" Malfoy
muttered. The spring of irritation inside him coiled tighter as he
thought of his sore neck, Marybeth's distress, and the amount of time
their housemaster had invested last term in a potion the Slytherins found
admirable but not nearly as heart-warming as the rest of the school.
And then there was that lecture.
Snape should have said
something to us this morning, Malfoy thought, something
encouraging, something unifying, something...
That reminded him.
"What'd they say?" he asked
suddenly, whirling on Millicent. "The Ravenclaws... did they say
about Snape's lecture?"
Millicent shook her head. "I
don't know if it's because it was over a week ago or because I was there,
but it didn't come up at all."
Malfoy nodded slightly as the
Slytherins exchanged looks. Millicent's trip to Ravenclaw was the first
contact any Slytherin had had with the other houses during the break,
outside of seeing them at meals. An unusual pattern of early April
snowstorms had kept the students sequestered in the warmth of their common
rooms. Malfoy glanced briefly at the snow flying outside the window and
nodded again. "Let's get on with it, then," he suggested, and the
Slytherins headed off to get ready for breakfast.
"It is clearly a
misnomer," Snape lectured the second year Slytherins and Gryffindors in
potions class later that day. "Hair-raising solution can indeed be used
to give people the..." He rolled his eyes, then spat out the colloquial
term as if he found it literally distasteful. "...willies..."
students tittered and Snape whirled on them with a threatening glare. "I
wouldn't, if I were you," he snarled, and the students gulped obligingly
as he continued. "Its proper use is medicinal; it is the
equivalent of muggle adrenalin without the inconvenient stab to the
He jabbed his fist in the
direction of Violet's chest and she flinched.
"We will begin," Snape
explained as he moved among their desks distributing what looked like pale
worms, "by splitting rat tails."
The stumps of the tails
were freshly bloody, making Marybeth shudder. "What happened to the
rats?" she whispered. Violet could only shrug.
"Whole tails are acceptable in
this potion," Snape explained, "but split tails will disintegrate more
quickly, allowing the potion to set sooner. This is useful both
medicinally..." He cast a sour glance at them over his shoulder, "and
instructionally, since every last one of you will no doubt botch the
recipe on your first attempt..."
The Slytherins stared
pointedly at the Gryffindors as if Snape had not included them all in the
"...and thus require
sufficient time for a second."
Splitting rat tails turned
out to be trickier than Violet imagined. They were like steel rods
wrapped in fabric, hard to hold onto and nearly impossible to cut. "Why
can't we use diffindo charms?" Violet whispered to Marybeth as she sawed
away at the appendage between her fingertips. "There ought to be a magic
way to do this." She pressed down hard on her knife and neatly slit her
finger open to the bone.
Her gasp of pain and horror
brought Snape to her side almost immediately, snatching her hand and
holding up her finger to repair with the tip of his wand. The slit
disappeared instantly, leaving Violet pain-free but wobbly nevertheless.
"Thank you, sir," she whispered between pale lips as Snape nodded
brusquely and moved away to monitor the other students' efforts.
There was something
sinister about the way he circulated among them, waiting for flesh to tear
beneath the chopping knives so he could swoop down, wand drawn, and repair
the damage. After nearly every student in the room had required mending
at least once, an indignant Gryffindor whispered a little too loudly,
"Couldn't he just teach us how to avoid the cuts instead?"
Snape whirled on the
student with a frosty glare. "I am teaching you how to avoid them,
Mr. Abercrombie," he assured the youngster. "I'm letting you practice.
Practice is the only way to avoid them." With a flick of his wand, he
deposited a hundred more rat tails on the unfortunate Gryffindor's desk.
"Practice makes perfect," he smiled coolly.
The Slytherins giggled and
Violet turned to smile at Marybeth. She found her roommate staring
blindly at her cauldron, quaking where she stood.
whispered nervously. She gave her friend a little poke.
stammered, her head jerking as she twitched. "Practice makes perfect."
"Marybeth, what's the
matter?" Violet demanded, grabbing her roommate by the arm and giving her
a shake. "Marybeth? Marybeth! PROFESSOR SNAPE!"
Their housemaster hurried
over to them, then squatted down in front of Marybeth, who didn't seem to
notice him. She stared at the contents of her cauldron as if seeing a
nightmare within, shivering and twitching as she whispered, "Don't. Don't
Snape took the girl by
both arms and squeezed hard. "Miss Montague!" he hissed. "Miss Montague,
look at me this instant!"
Marybeth shook harder.
Snape grabbed her chin and forced her gaze away from the cauldron. "Look
at me!" he commanded. "What is the matter with you?"
Marybeth peered at Snape
in confusion, squinting at him as if trying to see him through a cloud of
smoke. Then she suddenly flung her arms around his neck and clung to him
for dear life, her voice rising to a scream as she cried, "Don't let them!
DON'T LET THEM!"
The class watched in
embarrassed silence as Marybeth sobbed on her teacher's shoulder. Snape
glared back at them, then placed a reassuring hand on the back of
Marybeth's head. He stood up, picking the child up with him, and pressed
her face into his shoulder, muffling her sobs.
"Miss Guilford, find
Professor Dumbledore and ask him to come to the hospital wing immediately.
Miss Rosich, find Malfoy and tell him to take over potions classes until I
return." With that he carried Marybeth quickly out of the room.
When Violet and the
headmaster arrived at the infirmary, they found Snape sitting on a cot
with Marybeth in his lap while Madam Pomfrey fed her the Draught of Peace
drop by drop. Snape seemed to be supervising the dosing closely, to Madam
Pomfrey's extreme irritation. Her temper did not improve when Dumbledore
thanked her and asked her to excuse them.
"She needs a full dose,
not just a few drops," the nursed huffed.
Dumbledore promised, and Madam Pomfrey retreated, muttering indignantly
beneath her breath. Dumbledore turned his mild gaze upon Violet.
"Now, Miss Guilford, a
brief summary for Professor Snape's benefit, if you don't mind."
Violet nodded, glancing
nervously at Marybeth as she spoke. "She wasn't crazy about rats having
their tails cut off, and of course fingers were being sliced open right
and left, but it was the 'Practice makes perfect' comment that seemed to
set her off." She looked to Snape to see if he understood why, but he
looked as puzzled as she did. Marybeth sobbed on his shoulder, her
fingers clenching the fabric of his robe, oblivious to them all.
"Then what happened?"
"She was shaking," Violet
remembered, wishing Marybeth would make eye contact with her, "and
muttering, 'Practice. Practice makes perfect.' That's when I shouted for
"Thank you, Miss
Guilford," Dumbledore nodded. "You may return to class."
With one last worried
glance at Marybeth, Violet slipped quietly out of the hospital wing and
hurried back to potions class. Malfoy, short on time and apparently not
as adept at finger repair as Snape, had chosen to let the students watch
him brew the hair-raising solution instead of making it themselves. When
he saw Violet re-enter the room, he barked, "Everybody take two steps
back!" The students backed away from his desk and Malfoy added with a
snarl, "Stay right where you are and don't move a muscle! Miss Guilford,
God, I love him,
Violet thought as she slipped eagerly into the hallway with Malfoy right
behind her. She told him the entire story, then waited patiently while he
mulled it over. "What do you think it means?" she finally asked.
Malfoy shook his head.
"'Practice makes perfect,'" he muttered to himself, then shook his head
again. "I never heard my dad say anything like that," he admitted. "Of
"Well, I was just thinking
about the timing," Malfoy mused. "Voldemort returned in June, my dad died
in November, Marybeth went home in April. Maybe 'practice' took place
last summer." They thought about that for a second, then Malfoy snapped
his fingers. "Pansy!" he exclaimed.
"I'll go get her!" Violet
volunteered eagerly, and Malfoy had to grab her by the arm to keep her
from darting away down the hall.
"We'll ask her later," the
temporary teacher corrected, taking Violet by the scruff of her neck to
haul her back into potions class.
Snape soon grew weary of
Dumbledore's mollycoddling. The stakes were too high for such indulgence,
he thought; he could not get Elizabeth's tales of battlefield woe out of
his mind. He picked Marybeth up and set her down firmly on her feet in
front of him.
"Miss Montague," he
scolded, giving her a little shake, "stop this nonsense immediately!"
Dumbledore flinched but
Marybeth took a deep breath and shuddered, trying hard to pull herself
"There is a secret inside of you,
young lady," Snape continued. "We would be most obliged if you could tell
us what it is."
Marybeth's sobs quieted to
sniffles as she stared blankly beyond Snape's shoulder, trying to
remember. Finally she shook her head. "I don't know what it is, sir,"
she whispered miserably to Snape.
"What is the last
Snape began tersely, but Dumbledore silenced him with a raised hand. He
nodded to Madam Pomfrey who took Marybeth aside to administer a full dose
of medicine and tuck her into bed. Dumbledore led Snape to the corridor
outside the hospital wing.
"Extra security measures,
I think," the elderly wizard murmured, "and perhaps an additional
conversation with Miss Guilford?" Snape nodded, then checked on Marybeth
once more before returning to potions class. He thanked Malfoy curtly for
his services, disposed of the potion brewing on his desk, and dismissed
the second years early so he could have a little chat with Violet.
"Miss Montague's dreams,"
he began delicately. "Does she cry out or say anything in her sleep?"
"Sometimes, Violet nodded,
"though I've generally stopped listening."
Snape stared intently at
the child. "Start again," he ordered, "and write down anything she says.
Make her sit up and write down everything she can remember as well. Is
Violet nodded, her eyes
She was waiting with
Malfoy outside the Great Hall that evening to catch Pansy coming out of
dinner when the rest of the Slytherin quidditch team suddenly appeared and
"Let's wait on practice this term
until the weather improves, shall we?" Warrington suggested. The other
players nodded emphatically and Malfoy was just about to acquiesce when
Pansy exited the hall. He grabbed her arm and pulled her into the group,
taking a quick glance around to be sure they were alone.
"Pansy," he asked the girl softly,
"does the phrase, 'Practice makes perfect' mean anything to you?"
"Jennifer was babbling about that
at dinner!" Goyle spoke up. "What's it about, anyway?"
Violet brought him up to speed
while Pansy pondered the question. "Just fashing," she finally told
Malfoy with a shake of her head.
"What's fashing?" Violet wondered.
Pansy smiled at her.
"Fashers are drinkers with a
flying problem," she winked.
It took the older Slytherins a few
seconds to burst out laughing. Violet didn't get the joke at all.
"You should never drink and fly,"
said Malfoy helpfully, but Violet just shook her head. The Slytherins set
off for their common room while Pansy explained.
"It's this stupid game played by
former quidditch players gone to seed," she told the others. "They
combine flying with drinking too much mead. As I understand it, each race
usually ends with a huge sick-fest."
"Ew!" Violet grimaced. Pansy
"Mum would always look put out
when Dad went fashing on Thursday nights," she remembered, "but he would
insist, 'Practice makes perfect!'"
"How did he look when he got
home?" Malfoy asked more thoughtfully than the others noticed.
"Flushed," Pansy admitted.
"Feverish... like he'd been up to something pretty gross."
They let themselves in the door to
their house only to stop short at the sight of Marybeth sitting on a
nearby sofa reading her spellbook. Pansy and the quidditch team members
exchanged guarded looks, then sauntered amiably over to the little
"How are you feeling?" Malfoy
asked the youngster cheerfully.
"Stupid!" Marybeth snapped.
"Well, that's as it should be," he
assured her, and was rewarded with the first smile he'd seen from her in
days. The Slytherins took seats on either side of her or leaned over the
sofa as Malfoy crouched down in front of her and gave her knee a
"Listen, Marybeth," he began
gently, "this 'Practice makes perfect' thing..."
Marybeth blanched and Malfoy gave
her knee a few pats.
"It didn't take place on Thursday
nights, by any chance?" he asked with an encouraging little smile. The
grin froze on his face as Marybeth slid off the sofa and fell to the floor
in a dead faint.
"Oh, shit," Malfoy groaned.
"What on earth did you think you
were doing?" Snape roared as he stormed angrily back and forth before
Malfoy, Millicent, Crabbe, Goyle, Warrington, Tracey, Violet and Pansy.
I hate our quidditch team, Pansy thought.
"Give me one good reason not to
flog the lot of you!" Snape demanded.
Malfoy couldn't help but snort.
"You've forgotten how?" he quipped, then paled like the full moon when he
realized he'd said that out loud. His housemates stared at him in abject
horror before simultaneously taking one large step away from him.
Snape stared darkly at the boy who
now stood quite by himself. He might have found his students' resentment
of his absent firm hand laughable if he weren't feeling so guilty about
Marybeth. He strolled slowly across the room to stop in front of Draco,
then whispered coolly, "I'm rather surprised that came out of your mouth,
Draco twitched with guilt but
Violet piped up immediately on behalf of her hero. "Please, sir," she
called fervently. "Please excuse Malfoy." She narrowed her eyes just a
fraction and continued as pointedly as she dared, "He's had a lot to take
care of lately, after all. You understand."
The other six Slytherins whimpered
with suppressed anxiety or mirth. Snape folded his arms carefully across
his chest and gazed down the queue, pausing to study each child's face as
he frowned ominously. Then he suddenly flung his arms down in disgust and
snapped, "Oh, stop this nonsense!" before storming over to his desk. The
Slytherins spun around to watch him as Snape dropped into his chair,
kicking his feet up on the desktop. He gazed sourly at his students, then
jerked his head in the direction of their common room.
"I was right down the hall the
entire week," he reminded them. "The entire term, for that matter!"
The Slytherins exchanged sheepish
looks. "We were just trying to help, sir," Malfoy insisted.
Snape rubbed his throbbing temples
at the memory of Madam Pomfrey's reaction when he'd carried Marybeth back
into the hospital wing. I trust you're grateful, little girl, he
thought, for the hands-on care of Slytherin House. He lifted a
stern face to his students.
"I have no higher priority than
the well-being of my house," he lectured them firmly. "But you need to
remember that the demands placed on my time and attention by the
challenges we face will doubtless increase before they improve." He
waited for a response and the Slytherins nodded obediently. "I would
appreciate it, therefore, if you would refrain from inflicting idiocy upon
each other and instead give each other your very best." He rose and swept
across the room to open the door for them. "Otherwise," he promised
sternly as they filed out before him, "I will give you six of my very
He shut the door behind them with
an authoritative bang, making them jump. They shook their heads
defeatedly at one another, then set off silently down the corridor back to
their house. They had nearly reached the door to their common room when
Violet suddenly giggled.
"What?" Malfoy demanded as the
Slytherins bunched up around her.
Violet shook her head, putting a
guilty hand over her mouth to keep from laughing any more. The effort to
restrain herself was too much and she blushed bright red, causing Goyle to
"Did you see her hit the floor?"
he asked his housemates, and Violet burst out laughing.
"Boom!" the little second year
cried, smacking her hands together to illustrate. "Just like a
The Slytherins roared except for
Malfoy, who pressed his lips together hard and scolded, "It's not funny,
Violet!" before giving in to his own snickers. They laughed uproariously
as they smacked their hands together and cried "Boom!" over and over until
their bellies ached. Finally, with much gasping and wiping of eyes, they
sobered and stood quietly exchanging sheepish looks.
"Let's go visit her!" Violet
suggested. The others nodded and they hurried past the door to their
house only to stop short at the sound of someone approaching from the
opposite direction. It was several people, in fact, making an angry hum as
they grumbled to each other in low voices. While the Slytherins watched
in surprise, the students of Gryffindor swarmed around the nearest corner,
a grumpy Harry Potter leading the way. He marched right up to Malfoy and
demanded, "Fancy a visit?"
"To what do we owe the honor?"
Malfoy inquired a few minutes later when the two houses were comfortably
settled in the common room. The Gryffindors exchanged ominous looks,
letting anticipation build to an appropriate level before breaking their
"Sybil Trelawney has moved into
Gryffindor Tower," Neville announced.
Eyebrows sprang up all over
Slytherin, none higher than Malfoy's. With a shake of his head, he
quickly rearranged his expression to conceal his full reaction.
"Whatever for?" he asked casually.
"We have no idea," Ron moaned,
falling back against his sofa with a thud.
Tracey giggled with delight at the
Gryffindors' lack of hospitality. "Did you leave her all alone?" she
gasped, and Malfoy suddenly scanned the faces throughout the room.
Where's Granger? he
"We left her in the enraptured
company of her fan club," Ron assured them. "Parvati and Lavender just
Malfoy's mind raced. Your very
best, he heard Snape whisper ominously in his head. He forced himself
to stretch lazily before inquiring, "Does Granger?"
Ron and Harry looked up sharply.
"Adore her?" Malfoy added with a drawl, as if he were simply cataloging
another aspect of Hermione's inadequacy. "I thought she quit divination."
"She stayed behind to study,"
Malfoy waited until Ron had turned
away to set up a game of wizard chess with Warrington before climbing
slowly to his feet. "Think I'll do some studying myself," he announced
and headed for his cell, pausing long enough to catch Harry's eye and jerk
his head almost imperceptibly in the direction of his room.
It took Harry a few minutes to
slip away unnoticed. "Cast an imperturbable charm," Malfoy advised him
when Harry finally joined the Slytherin in his private quarters. Harry
put the spell in place and sat down opposite Malfoy on his bunk.
"What do you know?" Malfoy asked
him point blank.
Harry blinked. Then he folded his
arms across his chest and shot back, "What do you know?"
The dance begins, Malfoy
thought. "Do you know about second year potions class today?" he asked
Harry shrugged. "Marybeth pitched
a fit," he said lightly. "I wasn't going to mention it."
It occurred to Malfoy that he owed
Potter an apology for thinking so poorly of him first term. Fortunately,
this wasn't the time for it. "And now," he muttered instead, "Trelawney
has moved into your tower."
He climbed off his bed and crossed
the room to look out his enchanted window, aware that Harry was watching
him through narrowed eyes. "Did Granger stay behind to question
Trelawney?" he asked over his shoulder. "Or maybe to help McGonagall keep
an eye on her?"
Harry didn't answer. Instead, he
climbed off the bed, too, and walked slowly across the room to stand
directly behind Draco. "What do you know, Malfoy?" he asked quietly.
The Slytherin turned slowly away
from the window. "I know a child was born," he confessed.
Harry jumped as if stung. "How do
you know that?" he demanded, then glanced quickly over his shoulder as if
to verify the spell on Malfoy's door.
"I found something the night I
played Floo Tag with Ron," Malfoy explained quickly. "I found my dad's
diary in Snape's parlor." No need to add that the information about the
prophecy had come from Snape's memory, he decided. He watched some sort
of understanding fill Harry's face.
"You were reading!" the Gryffindor
murmured. "That's why you weren't moving!"
The marauder's map comes
through for Slytherin! Malfoy thought, taking care not to smirk. "Now
I'll tell you something you don't know," he said, resuming his seat on his
bed. Harry sat down across from him and listened intently as Malfoy told
him about Pansy's father and Marybeth's second fainting spell. "Was
Trelawney the seer?" he asked when he'd finished.
"I think 'Practice makes perfect'
must have something to do with getting information from Trelawney," Malfoy
surmised, "and so must Snape and Dumbledore. That's why they moved her to
Gryffindor Tower... for safer keeping."
Harry could see the logic in that,
but surely there were a million things the Death Eaters could be
practicing. "What makes you so sure it's about Trelawney?" he asked.
"It has to do with a woman,"
Malfoy insisted. "That's why Marybeth's night terrors increased after
Elizabeth arrived." Harry looked puzzled and Malfoy grinned. "Snape had
a visitor last week," he explained coyly. He thought the Gryffindor might
be embarrassed, but instead, Harry grinned back.
"Did you know he kissed
McGonagall?" he asked Malfoy. "Easter Sunday? Right on the mouth!"
Both boys laughed out loud. "I
wish Mum and Dad wouldn't do those things in front of us kids," Malfoy
drawled, and Harry laughed even harder. After they'd sobered up again,
their thoughts crept back to the matter at hand.
"Should we go talk to Marybeth?"
"She's not here," Malfoy shook his
head. "She's back in the hospital wing. And Snape promised a righteous
flogging to anybody who traumatizes her again."
Harry thought it over. "It might
be worth it," he mused, making Malfoy scowl.
"To you, I suppose," the Slytherin
Harry's mouth popped open in
protest. "I meant the beating," he berated, "not traumatizing Marybeth!"
He glared at Malfoy until the blonde boy finally conceded with a nod.
They sat in silence for a while.
Then Harry spoke up tentatively. "Malfoy," he whispered, "do you
suppose..." It was difficult to say out loud. "Whatever they're
practicing, do you suppose they're trying it on... the missing girls?"
A wave of horror washed over
"They might even have done it
"No!" Malfoy cried, springing to
his feet. "No! They wouldn't have!" He paced to his window and back
again, searching his brain for a reason not to believe it. It wasn't that
they were daughters. He wouldn't put much past a Death Eater.
"Marybeth's too young," he insisted when he was standing in front of Harry
again. "There's no point in practicing on a child the techniques you're
developing to get information from a woman."
Harry didn't argue. Instead, he
asked gently, "What about the others? The teenagers?"
Malfoy stood silently before him.
He thought of how much Goyle had fancied Queenie Greinglass... and of how
angry he'd been with the defectors.
"Never mind," Harry
interrupted his reverie. "Listen, I've got an idea. It's about Marybeth."
An Obedient House