Chapter 8 ~ The Haunted House of Malfoy
Hermione wanted to stay in Gryffindor Tower the next morning – she felt too insecure to walk about the Hogwarts corridors. Rick was trying to convince her not to be intimidated by Malfoy. “You know how I heard you calling me last night from the dungeon?” he said. “Well, I think there’s some kind of, umm ... well ... link between us,” Rick said, blushing.
“What do you mean?” asked Hermione.
“I mean if you’re in trouble or need me, I think I’ll know it, and I’ll come to you. I mean ... that’s what happened last night. But after I had been ... err, comforting you and ... err, holding you, afterwards in the common room, it seemed like the link became a lot stronger.”
“What do you mean by a ‘link’?” asked Hermione, becoming curious. “Do you have this ‘link’ with Harry, or anyone else?”
“Well ... no,” said Rick. “Not that particular kind of link ... no.”
“What kind of link is it then?” persisted Hermione.
Rick sighed. This was getting difficult, for lots of reasons. “Hermione, I know this is going to sound stupid,” he said, “and I know how much it annoys you that I hide things from you, but the truth is that there are lots of things that even I don’t understand about myself.”
“So you don’t have any idea what this mysterious link is?” asked Hermione, getting annoyed at Rick’s typical evasiveness.
“Umm ... I do have an idea,” said Rick. “But I could be wrong, of course.”
“So tell me what your idea is then,” asked Hermione, finally pinning him down.
“I think it’s because of the way I ... err, feel about you ... I like you a lot, Hermione,” said Rick, blushing.
“Oh Rick,” said Hermione, not knowing what to say. She could have said that she liked him a lot too – because she did – but she wasn’t sure if she should say it. She wasn’t sure what to say or do about the way she felt about him. It was all so far removed from her experience – and reading.
Rick was in a real quandary. His feelings for Hermione were starting to overwhelm him. He found himself thinking about her all the time, wanting to get closer to her – a lot closer. He had to keep reminding himself, that he was here for a purpose, a very important purpose, and he could not afford to allow himself to be sidetracked.
The great witches and wizards of the Light had put a great deal of themselves into him. They had pinned their hopes for the future of Wizardkind on him. So much was riding on him; the future of so many good people. No, he didn’t have time for romance. He must not allow himself to become besotted with Hermione! He had to stay focused on his great task. He had to commit all his energies to the purpose for which he had been sent to this world. I have to be strong! Rick told himself firmly.
“Umm ... Hermione,” said Rick, trying to steer things away from the unfortunate direction they had taken. “If we all stay together – you, me, Harry and Ron – I think that after what happened last night, Ron may be willing to accept me now – we can all look after each other. I know you take a few classes that no one else does, but I can walk you to and from those classes and monitor you when you’re alone in them. If there are any problems, I can be there in a flash.”
“What do you mean by ‘be there in a flash’?” Suddenly, Hermione’s eyes opened wide, as she stared at Rick in astonishment. “You’ve been Apparating around Hogwarts, haven’t you? That’s how you beat us to Potions that first day, and how you got down to a dungeon which must be a good five minutes run from Gryffindor Tower in less than a minute! But Rick, I know that it’s simply not possible – it’s stated unequivocally in ‘Hogwarts, a History’ on page 678 and on —”
“- pages 978, 1205 and 1634,” added Rick with a grin. “Great book, but desperately in need of an update.”
Hermione was shocked, “How can you know all that? It took me four years to memorize that book and you’ve only been here four weeks ... and I’ve never even seen you reading it,” she demanded in righteous outrage.
“Good memory,” said Rick modestly. “Look Hermione, you’re a bit sharper than Harry and Ron – you seem to pick up stuff about me that they miss. I know it’s hard to hide things from your friends and I really don’t want to upset things between you, but could you please do me a favour and not tell them – or anyone – what you figure out about me ... err ... like the Apparating. Please, just trust me. The more I keep secret, the better it will be for all of us. OK?”
Hermione looked at Rick for a long time. The more she learned about him, the more mysteries there were ... it just seemed endless, trying to unravel him. Hermione could not stand mysteries, she had to know everything ... it was just so annoying! Rick was just so annoying! But she really liked him. Oh! What was she going to do?
“OK,” she said finally, “I’ll keep your secrets – for now. Come on, let’s grab Harry and Ron, and get some breakfast.”
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Over the next few weeks, the Hogwarts students began to get organised. The Inquisitorial Squad had become a Pureblood vigilante gang, hexing anyone they didn’t like with impunity. Their favourite targets, of course, were the Muggle-borns. The resistance to them began with the sixth year Gryffindors. They started moving about the corridors in a single group wherever possible and always made certain that any likely targets amongst them, like Hermione and Dean Thomas – also Muggle-born – were never alone.
Rick was happy to see Harry come out of his shell and get involved. At last, Harry had found something he could do, to defy his enemies, instead of just sitting and waiting for them to attack. Ron was also active in the resistance; he was their logistics expert. He analysed the class timetables of each year and helped to organise them to move about in groups to protect themselves, especially the Muggle-borns.
Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, inspired by the resistance shown by the Gryffindors to Draco Malfoy and his gang of Slytherin thugs, followed the Gryffindor lead. They emulated Ron’s strategy of forming protective groups at each year level when moving around the castle.
Most of the non-Slytherin Purebloods had not shared in the Slytherins’ delight at Lucius Malfoy’s plans for Hogwarts. They might be proud of their Pureblood heritage, but that didn’t make them Pureblood racists. Not all of the Slytherins were Pureblood racists either, but they were outnumbered by their housemates and had to at least pay lip service to the Pureblood Power ideology.
Hogwarts, under Albus Dumbledore, had nurtured an attitude of tolerance. Witches and wizards were judged not by their blood or their ancestors, but by what they made of themselves. What was important, was their own personal qualities, and the magical powers they developed. For this reason, most of the students did not easily succumb to the influence of Umbridge and Lucius Malfoy.
The students were not alone. Their Professors were as supportive and protective as possible. They were all extremely upset with the new regime under Umbridge and Lucius Malfoy, but they couldn’t act too overtly against them, for fear of being dismissed, and thus leaving their students even more vulnerable.
Professor McGonagall, however, didn’t need to be careful; she was only there until a replacement Transfiguration teacher could be found. She was a very powerful witch and as long as she remained at Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy and his fellow thugs wouldn’t dare try anything when she was around. McGonagall was proud of the Hogwarts students, at the way they were all standing up to the insufferable Umbridge and her Inquisitorial Squad. Not that Umbridge was doing very much herself. She wasn’t interfering or bombarding them with Educational Decrees, as she had done the previous year. She seemed to be keeping a low profile and leaving the Inquisitorial Squad a free hand at their bullying.
Harry Potter had become the leader and figurehead of the resistance. The other students, not only the Gryffindors, looked up to him and drew strength from his defiant example. They all knew that he was marked and that his future was bleak, that the odds were heavily stacked against him – if he wasn’t giving up, then neither were they.
The student resistance was so strong now, with Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs united against the Inquisitorial Squad, that they could no longer attack openly in the corridors of Hogwarts as they would soon be heavily outnumbered. They resorted instead, to sneak attacks.
One Monday morning, when Harry, Hermione, Rick and Dean were on their way down to Snape’s dungeon for Potions, Rick, scanning ahead as usual, spotted an ambush. There were four of them, two on each side of the corridor, concealed behind heavy drapes. Rick whispered to the others to dive when he told them. At his signal, the four Gryffindors hit the ground. The hexes flung by the Inquisitorial Squad flew over them hitting the two on the opposite side. Draco Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson, Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini didn’t make it to Potions that day. They spent the next two days in the hospital wing recovering from the messes that they had made of each other.
The next ambush was better planned. Draco and his thugs – there were seven of them this time – were all on the same side of the corridor, again concealed behind a heavy drape. The corridor lay between Gryffindor Tower and the Great Hall. The plan was to lay some hexes on Potter and his ‘fan club’ on the way to breakfast. They couldn’t use anything lethal, like the Unforgivable Curses so openly, but they had some very nasty hexes ready for them.
Rick almost missed them, as he approached with the other sixth year Gryffindors. He was thinking about Hermione – again – instead of staying focused, and checking what lay ahead. Harry was in the lead, when Draco and his gang jumped out from their hiding place, hurling hexes furiously.
Rick barely managed to get a Reflecting Shield up in time – it was a very close call. The Gryffindors reacted quickly, turning and pointing their wands at their attackers. But before they could cast a curse in anger, the members of the Inquisitorial Squad were writhing in agony on the floor. They were experiencing the effects of their own nasty hexes, hurled back at them, with double the original power, by Rick’s Reflecting Shield.
The Gryffindors looked at each other in confusion, wondering who had made such a mess of Malfoy and his mates. Harry and Ron were both pretty sure that Rick must have done it, but they knew by now to keep quiet. Hermione caught Rick’s eye, before he looked innocently down at the floor – she had no doubt at all.
Rick, however, was feeling anything but innocent. Damn it! he thought. I have to stop thinking about Hermione all the time! This is not what I’m here for! The next time, it could cost Harry his life. I have to get Hermione out of my head! I just have to! he told himself. But somehow, he didn’t feel very convinced. For all his awesome magical powers, Rick was just like any other sixteen year old boy in love. He might know what he should do, but overcoming his powerful emotions and doing it, was another matter entirely.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Draco Malfoy and his six friends spent the rest of the week in the hospital wing. He couldn’t figure out how Potter and his ‘fan club’ had managed to foil his attack yet again. He was becoming afraid of their power and decided against further attacks – on them at least.
Draco never found out who had attacked him that night down in the dungeon, as he was about to take his revenge upon the Mudblood Granger. He was pretty sure it must have been Potter. There had probably been a whole bunch of them.
Weasley obviously wasn’t as stupid as he looked, he thought – not that that was possible, mind you. He must have alerted the others to what Pansy was up to. Potter was probably waiting under his own invisibility cloak when she entered their common room. Damn Pansy! He just couldn’t rely on anyone to do anything properly, not even Pansy with all her sly cunning. He had given her a tongue lashing and had called off the date to Hogsmeade.
Still, his father and the Dark Lord had plans for Potter – Final Plans. Yes, maybe he would leave Potter for them to deal with. Once Potter was safely out of the way, it would be open season for the Inquisitorial Squad. In the mean time, he could at least enjoy taunting Potty and his pathetic little fan club – that was a pleasure he excelled in.
The following week, the Gryffindor and Slytherin sixth years were making their way towards Hagrid’s hut for Care of Magical Creatures, which they still took together, much to their mutual dislike.
Hagrid had been replaced by Professor Grubbly-Plank, soon after Umbridge’s arrival. But Care of Magical Creatures was still held outside Hagrid’s hut as it was near to the magical creature enclosures.
“Well, if it isn’t little Pot-head with his Mudblood trash,” sneered Draco. “Be sure to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine – while you still can, that is,” he said with an evil laugh.
Ron was already reaching for his wand, but Rick and Harry grabbed him, before he could attack Draco.
“Ron,” said Hermione, with a calm dignity, “don’t lower yourself to Malfoy’s level. Leave him alone in the gutter where he belongs.” The Gryffindors all sniggered at Draco.
“Brave words, filthy Mudblood. Keep up your mindless ranting while you can – because you haven’t got much longer,” Draco snarled back at her in anger.
Hermione turned and glared at him hard. “You don’t scare me, Malfoy. You’re just a little wimp.”
“Oh, but it’s the Dark Lord that you should be afraid of, little Mudblood – very, very, afraid,” he added darkly with a horrible sneer on his face. “You won’t escape your fate, you’ll get what you deserve.”
Hermione was not going to be intimidated by Malfoy. “Well I’m not scared of your ‘Dark Lord’,” she said, raising her chin. “As far as I’m concerned, your ‘Dark Lord’ is nothing but a ‘Dark Fraud’.”
Draco gasped. He was outraged to hear his master insulted like this. The Slytherins were all in shock; even some of the Gryffindors felt uncomfortable. It was as if Hermione had broken some sacred taboo.
But Harry was delighted with the effect of Hermione’s words on Malfoy.
“Hermione’s right, he’s nothing but a fraud and all you brave Purebloods cower before him like timid little mice,” he said derisively.
“Shut-up Potter,” screamed Draco, appalled at this sacrilege. “You don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, but I do,” said Harry. Finally, overcoming the fear of his memories, he continued. “I was there in the graveyard at Little Hangleton, at the end of fourth year, when Voldemort summoned his Death Eaters. Your father was there, Malfoy, and he was cringing and grovelling before Voldemort just like the rest of them. He’s not even a Pureblood – did you know that? Voldemort – or Tom Riddle, I should say, that’s his real name – had a Muggle father. He’s a mixed-blood wizard. Under your father’s reforms he wouldn’t even be allowed into Hogwarts now. What a joke, and yet all his Pureblood Death Eaters bow down before him like slaves.”
Malfoy remained silent with rage.
“Why, you’re too scared to even say his name, aren’t you?” teased Harry, enjoying himself. “Go on, Malfoy, say it ... it’s Vol-de-mort. But he should be called ‘Mouldy-pork’, you know, I’ve seem him and that’s what he looks like, a rancid maggot-infested blob of mouldy pork!”
Draco was too angry to speak for a few moments. “That’s enough, Potter, you will pay for this,” he finally said, trembling with rage.
“And what are you going to do about it?” asked Harry, stepping closer to him. “I know – why don’t you challenge me to a Wizard Duel, to defend the honour of your precious ‘Mouldy-pork’?”
“No, Harry,” cried Hermione fearfully, “he’ll cheat, you know he will.”
“Oh no, he won’t,” said Ron. “This will be a formal Wizard Duel. It’s a kind of magical contract and it’s not possible to cheat. Right, I’m Harry’s second. Go on ferret-face, name your second. I’m really going to enjoy this.”
“Yeah,” said Harry, “let’s see if you have the guts to face me in a fair fight, one on one, without Daddy Death Eater or your Inquisitorial Idiots to hide behind. Come on then, show us the Malfoy Pureblood Power,” he taunted.
Draco turned a ghastly white; he was trapped. There was no way he was going to face Potter in a fair fight. Everyone – Gryffindors and Slytherins were looking at him expectantly, waiting for him to respond to the challenge.
Finally, he thrust his chin arrogantly in the air, saying, “I’d like nothing better than the chance to finish you off, Potter – but someone else has already reserved that pleasure. Don’t worry, you won’t have long to wait,” he added, trying to hide his cowardice with his snide tone. But he wasn’t fooling anyone, not even the Slytherins.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
The following evening as they were finishing their meal, Professor Umbridge appeared at the Gryffindor table. “Hem, hem,” she said. “Potter, I want to see you.”
“What ... what for?” asked Harry nervously.
“You’ll find out, don’t worry,” she said in a less than reassuring voice. “Hurry up and finish eating, I will be waiting for you through there,” she said, indicating the door to the room next to the teachers’ table, where Harry had gone after his name had come out of the Goblet of Fire. “Don’t keep me waiting,” she added, and turned to leave.
“Oh, Harry,” cried Hermione. “I don’t like this at all. I have a really bad feeling about it.”
“Yeah, me too,” added Ron. “Maybe we should all dash back to Gryffindor Tower, or find McGonagall or something.”
“I’ll just have to go,” said Harry. “There’s no escaping Umbridge in this castle – what will come, will come,” he said, trying to hide his fear and apprehension.
Harry wanted to put on a brave face for his friends, but he certainly didn’t feel very brave. He was filled with foreboding; events were spinning out of control. He gripped his wand through his robes, and giving Hermione and Ron one final glace, he walked off to meet Umbridge. Helplessly, they watched him until he entered the room and closed the door behind him.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
The Headmistress was standing by the fire when Harry entered. “Ah, Potter,” she said disdainfully. “You know I did try to teach you some discipline last year, but unfortunately, you wouldn’t learn; you are still quite out of control.”
“Expelliarmus!” came the spell from behind Harry. His wand was ripped from his hand and he was thrown hard against the wall, falling in a heap on the floor.
Standing over him, pointing his wand down at him while tucking Harry’s wand into his robes, was Lucius Malfoy, looking extremely pleased with himself. At his side, stood a gloating Draco Malfoy.
“Thank you, Headmistress, you may go,” said Lucius, brusquely dismissing her. Umbridge uttered a small “hem, hem,” as she obediently left the room.
“Well, Potter, how nice to see you again,” purred Lucius, keeping his wand trained on Harry’s chest as he lay sprawled on the floor. “And I’m sure you can guess who else is very keen to see you ... again.”
“Father,” said Draco. “Can’t I have a little fun with him before you take him away? This is my last chance. I’ve wanted to use the Cruciatus Curse on him for five years now – and anyway I need to practice it, before I receive my initiation from the Dark Lord.”
“As much as I’d like to indulge you and allow you a little sport, Draco,” his father replied, “the Dark Lord instructed that Potter is to be brought to him unharmed – and he is not lenient with those who disobey him. No, I won’t allow anything to spoil this – my moment of triumph.”
“This will be the highlight of my career as a Death Eater – handing our Lord his mortal enemy – the one who stands between him and Immortality,” he said, his voice rising in anticipation. “Oh yes, Draco,” he continued rapturously, “the Dark Lord will reward me with great power and privilege, and finally, I shall be his undisputed lieutenant. This will be remembered as one of the great events in the history of the Malfoys.”
At that moment, all the candles in the room spluttered and the fire died down, as a cold wave swept through the room. The candles and fire returned quickly to their normal state, but the cold shivery presence remained. Lucius looked about wildly, but there was nothing to see. “Who is that? Who are you? What are you?” he demanded.
“Why, a ghost of course,” replied a spectral rasping voice, which seemed to be coming from nowhere in particular, and yet from everywhere. Draco jumped behind his father in fright, clinging to his arm.
“Well I’m not afraid of ghosts,” spat Lucius. “I’m quite used to them, and anyway, you have no real power in the world of the living,” he added, turning his wand back on Harry. “Anyway, you don’t look like much of a ghost to me, I can’t even see you,” he added dismissively.
“Ah,” replied the ghost, “that’s because I am a very special ghost, and I have very special powers – even in the world of the living.”
“Whose ghost are you?” asked Lucius, beginning to lose a little of his confidence.
“The ghost of one of the Founders of this very school.”
“From my voice, it should be obvious that it wasn’t a ‘Witch Founder’,” laughed the ghost, enjoying the pun. “So that leaves just two possibilities.”
“Salazar Slytherin?” asked Lucius hopefully.
“No, Godric Gryffindor – at your service.”
“Now look, I’m rather busy right now, I don’t have time for these games. Perhaps you would care to come back at a more convenient time,” said Lucius, anxious now that his great mission might be placed in jeopardy by this ghost or whatever it was.
“Well actually, this is a most convenient time – for me.”
“What exactly do you mean?” asked Lucius, attempting to sound more confident of the situation than in fact he felt.
“I mean, that I’ve come here expressly to prevent you from abducting one of my Gryffindors.”
“Well you can’t prevent me doing anything, no matter whose ghost you are – or claim to be. You have no power to interfere in our realm. Now be gone, before I teach you the consequences of meddling with a Malfoy!”
Harry, meanwhile, had sat up on the floor, attempting to figure out what was going on. Was it possible that this really was the ghost of Godric Gryffindor? Was there hope for him, yet?
“With what were you planning to ‘teach’ me?”
Lucius Malfoy stared in horror at his empty hand. “Where is my wand?”
“Don’t worry, you won’t be needing it.”
Lucius immediately drew Harry’s wand from his pocket, but before he could even point it at Harry, it flew up in the air and landed in Harry’s hand.
Harry immediately pointed it at Draco and said “Expelliarmus.” Draco flew back against the wall as Harry caught his flying wand, which he pocketed before getting up from the floor and pointing his wand menacingly at Lucius Malfoy.
“Well, it looks like there’s been a bit of a glitch in your plans for this evening, Mr. Malfoy,” grinned Harry.
“Well done, Harry, you’re a credit to your house ... well, err, to my house really, but you can put your wand away for now. Why don’t the three of you sit down and make yourselves comfortable; I thought we might have a little fireside chat.”
Harry did as he was asked, but Lucius was making a dash for the door. He suddenly stopped and flew back through the air, landing neatly in an armchair by the fire. Draco, lying groggily on the floor where Harry’s spell had thrown him, also came sailing through the air to land in the chair next to his father. They attempted to struggle out of their chairs at first, until they discovered that they couldn’t.
“It’s so very nice of you to join me, Lucius. You know, you should feel greatly honoured. You are one of the main reasons for my coming back to visit my ‘old school’ after these thousand years. I keep in touch with the other Founders, you know – well Rowena and Helga at least – Salazar is still a bit peeved about us ganging up on him over a difference of opinion – and keeps pretty much to himself – which suits the rest of us quite nicely.”
“We three Founders are very concerned with what you and this chap Riddle are attempting to do to our school. So we decided that it’s time to put a stop to it – and to you.”
“Me? Are you going to kill me?” he asked in panic.
“No, no, that won’t be necessary – and anyway, we’re in no hurry for you to turn up in our realm – believe me. No, we had a bit of a think about it and decided upon a suitable punishment for you. One that would fit your crimes – and ensure that you don’t commit any more.”
“And what punishment is that?” asked Lucius nervously, fearing that it might be some kind of super powerful Cruciatus Curse.
“Oh, it won’t hurt a bit – ‘Squibbus’. There, all done! I’ve just cast our new spell on you and you didn’t feel a thing.”
“What exactly is this spell?” asked Lucius nervously. “What does it do?”
“Oh, it’s really rather clever,” said the ghost happily. “It was Rowena’s idea, she’s such a brilliant witch, you know. It’s called the ‘Squibbus Spell’ – but surely you can guess what it does.”
“What?” shrieked Lucius in disbelief, trying, but failing to get up. “That’s impossible! My Master spent years searching for such a spell and he assured me that it’s not possible.”
“No, it’s not possible for your vile master, most fortunately. Nor is it possible for anyone in your realm. In fact, I believe that I am the only sentient being – or perhaps I should say sentient been –” he chortled, “who can perform this spell.”
“I don’t believe you, it’s not possible,” cried Lucius desperately, unwilling to allow himself to think the unthinkable.
“Well, to be perfectly honest, neither am I. You see, this is the very first time that it has ever been cast; you should feel greatly honoured, you know. Why, you’ll probably be in all history books. You’ll be famous – in a somewhat ignominious sort of way. But I’m very anxious to know if it’s worked, so would you be kind enough to try some magic?”
Draco’s wand floated out from Harry’s robes and landed in his father’s hand. He immediately pointed it at Harry and said “Crucio!”
Harry tensed up for a moment, but when nothing happened, he grinned at Lucius and said, “Not even an itchy nose.”
Lucius panicked; he tried a Summoning Spell on a book, but it didn’t come. He tried Lumos, but not a flicker came from the wand. Finally in desperation he tried Wingardium Leviosa on a piece of parchment, but it didn’t budge.
“Wonderful, absolutely wonderful! It works perfectly! Rowena is so ingenious, don’t you agree?” he said delightedly.
“How long exactly, does this spell last for?” whispered Lucius fearfully.
“Forever! It’s permanent, absolutely permanent! I couldn’t reverse it, even if I wanted to. You, Mr. Malfoy, are a Squib!”
Lucius was totally stunned – his life was over. As the appalling reality sank in, his stiff upper lip began to quiver; the blood drained from his face – which turned a pallid white; his hands began trembling uncontrollably. This was, without question, the most terrible and shameful moment of his life. In one calamitous moment he had been reduced from a proud and powerful Pureblood, who stood at the pinnacle of Wizarding society, to a thing which he utterly despised, and loathed – a Squib!
“I know things must seem quite bad right now, but they could be a lot worse, you know.”
“However do you mean?” mumbled Lucius. He had sunk into a deep depression, and was finding it difficult to think clearly. His mind wanted to shut down, to self-destruct, rather than acknowledge the terrible truth of the detestable thing that he had become.
“Well, you’re a wealthy man Mr. Malfoy. I suggest that you convert some of your gold into Muggle money and disappear into some very obscure part of the Muggle world – like Mongolia.”
“But why would I want to do that?” he asked in befuddlement.
“Well firstly, you’re going to have to live in the Muggle world, you’re a Squib now, remember.... Secondly, I believe that you have just failed your master in a most important mission, one that is very dear to his heart – or whatever he has in lieu of one. He’s not the forgiving type, I’m sure you’ve noticed. A quick painful death is probably the very best you could hope for. Thirdly, I believe that your master has a rather low opinion of Squibs – such as yourself – he and your (former) fellow Death Eaters plan to exterminate them, don’t they?”
Lucius Malfoy cringed in fear, as the import of the ghost’s words sank in.
“Yes, I would attempt to get very far away, and very fast, if I were you. But there is also another matter to consider. As I said, things could be worse, a lot worse.”
“How?” asked Lucius morosely, unable to imagine how things could possibly get any worse than they were right now.
“How many centuries old is the Malfoy family?”
“We can trace our ancestors back to the time of Merlin.”
“And Draco is the sole heir to the House of Malfoy?”
“Why, yes,” replied Lucius, nervously.
“You see the Squibbus Curse not only renders the witch or wizard a Squib, it also guarantees that their future progeny will also be Squibs.”
Both Malfoys fell silent, as the spectre of the end of the House of Malfoy loomed large, before them.
“If I were to Squib young Draco here, the House of Malfoy would become a house of Muggles – forever.”
Lucius and Draco gasped in horror.
“But you can’t do that! Draco hasn’t done anything —”
“Oh, yes, but he has,” replied the ghost. “I’ve been keeping an eye on events here at Hogwarts for some time now. Young Draco has been bullying and leading attacks on other students, particularly the Muggle-born students. He attempted to fatally poison two of my Gryffindors, as you well know. He also recently attempted to take a most terrible revenge upon a Gryffindor witch.
“All such behaviour must end. If there is any recurrence of this kind of behaviour against any witch or wizard of any Hogwarts house, including his own, I will immediately Squib Draco. If he has anything at all to do with Voldemort or his Death Eaters, I will Squib him.
“The same goes for Mrs. Malfoy. She is to cut all ties with Voldemort and his Death Eaters. And if so much as another Malfoy Knut should end up in the Minister of Magic’s pockets or his Gringotts vault, both mother and son will share your fate. I do hope you understand me.”
The ghostly voice paused pointedly, to let the gravity of its words sink in, before continuing:
“Good, I think that concludes our conversation. Draco, you will need to escort your father back to Malfoy Manor so that he can arrange his affairs and be gone. He’ll need your help. Without magic, he won’t even be able to find his own house.
“And Draco, I’m sure that you would prefer to keep the somewhat ‘embarrassing’ events of tonight secret for as long as possible. Harry, I would also ask you to ensure that what has happened in this room tonight does not become common knowledge at Hogwarts.”
With that the ghost seemed to have gone. Draco and his father hurried quickly from the room, studiously avoiding Harry.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Ron and Hermione jumped up and ran over to Harry as he entered the Gryffindor common room. Hermione lunged at him, almost knocking him to the floor, as she threw her arms around him, hugging him desperately, tears of joy and relief running down her face.
Ron put an arm around Harry’s shoulders, pulling him close. He, too, seemed close to tears. “You’ve no idea how worried we’ve been, mate,” he said with feeling.
“Oh Harry, Harry,” cried Hermione. “We were so afraid that we’d never see you again. It’s been just awful waiting here. But you’re OK,” she said joyfully, dragging him over to their corner spot. “Tell us what happened.”
As they were sitting down, Rick came down the stairs from the boys’ dormitories, yawning.
“Where have you been?” asked Ron.
“Asleep,” said Rick.
“But when I went up to the dorm looking for you, when we got back from dinner, you weren’t there,” said Ron.
“No, I dashed off to the library after dinner. I needed to look something up for our Potions assignment,” explained Rick. “But I became really tired – Potions does that to me – so I came back for a nap. I saw you and Hermione sitting over here, but I went straight up to the dormitory, I was so tired. Why were you looking for me anyway?” he asked.
“Well because of Harry, of course,” said Hermione. “Didn’t you hear Umbridge tell Harry to meet her after the meal?” she asked.
“Err, no,” said Rick, “I must have already gone to the library. What happened Harry?” he asked with concern.
Harry proceeded to tell them the whole unbelievable story of how Umbridge had merely been a decoy to allow Lucius Malfoy to stun him. It was his worst nightmare come true. Lucius Malfoy was to deliver him over to Voldemort. Then just when he had given up all hope, the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor came dramatically to his rescue.
Hermione, Ron, and Rick sat listening wordlessly, until he finished his incredible tale. Then there was silence.
Hermione was the first to speak. “What Lucius Malfoy said about ghosts having no real power in this realm is correct. All the books say the same thing. Their only means of interference is through threats and instilling fear, but they can’t actually, physically do things. It’s like they are not quite in the same dimension as us,” she explained.
“Well, the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor was definitely in the same dimension as the Malfoys,” grinned Harry. “No doubt about it. He said that he was a ‘special’ kind of ghost. Maybe there are different kinds – they may not all be like Nearly Headless Nick and Moaning Myrtle and the other ones around here that don’t seem to do very much.”
“It’s true that there are different kinds,” conceded Hermione, but I’ve never read anything about any ghost that could act in the world of the living.”
“Hermione,” smiled Rick, “when are you going to realise that just because a book says that something is impossible, it doesn’t necessarily make it impossible? Books aren’t infallible, you know.”
“Yeah,” agreed Ron, “I’ve been telling her that for years now. But you know, this is too good to be true – Lucius Malfoy, turned into a Squib! I can’t think of anyone more deserving – I can’t wait to tell my Dad!”
“You can’t,” said Harry. “The ghost asked me not to spread the news around, so we have to keep this secret to ourselves.”
“Yes, he’s right,” said Hermione. “Ron, you’re just going to have to control yourself and not taunt Malfoy about it. But don’t worry,” she grinned, “I expect he’ll be on his best behaviour from now on.”
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Coming up: Chapter 9 ~ The Rise and Rise of the Resistance
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