The Pencil Portrait Problem: A Theodore Nott Mystery by Northumbrian
Summary: An incredibly valuable item has gone missing, and everybody is completely stumped. There is no way a stranger could have entered the room! How was the crime committed? More importantly, whodunit? Were those blue beads on the floor before? What about those two mugs on the table? Why is Pansy sitting on Blaise’s lap?

Theodore Nott investigates.

This is Northumbrian of Ravenclaw house writing for the 2011 Mysterious May Challenge in the Great Hall, Prompt #1 – The Amateur Sleuth.
Categories: Mystery Characters: None
Warnings: Mild Profanity
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: Yes Word count: 10705 Read: 14545 Published: 05/28/11 Updated: 10/16/12

1. The Observations of Theodore Nott by Northumbrian

2. The Performance of Pansy Parkinson by Northumbrian

3. The Perceptions of Blaise Zabini by Northumbrian

4. The Investigations of Theodore Nott by Northumbrian

5. The Unexpected Actions of Susan Bones by Northumbrian

The Observations of Theodore Nott by Northumbrian
Author's Notes:
This was originally submitted as a one shot, with five short chapters. It's unlikely that the contest it was submitted to will ever be judged, so I've edited it to better fit with some of my other stories. Doing that has pushed it over the 10000 word chapter limit, so it's now five chapters.
1. The Observations of Theodore Nott

Draco Malfoy was an arrogant fool; of that, there was no doubt.

Theodore Nott silently followed the Head Boy and his two moronic henchmen through the corridors of the castle. Malfoy was strutting, chest puffed out with self important pride. Ever since school had restarted, Malfoy had swaggered everywhere. He had even shown a few disbelievers his Dark Mark. Theodore could barely believe Malfoy’s stupidity. But then Draco had always been a gloater.

Theodore and his father had discussed a number of strategies over the past two years. Thornton Nott was a Death Eater, and because of that fact, Theodore knew that the Dark Lord was using Malfoy Manor as his headquarters, that he had killed Professor Burbage in the house, and that he had taken (and lost) Lucius Malfoy’s wand in his latest failed attempt to kill Potter.

Theodore also knew that Draco had been unable to watch the cold-blooded murder of Professor Burbage. Death was unpleasant of course, Theodore knew that. He had watched his grandmother die from fever when he was eight years old. But Draco was weak, because he’d never stood alone. Draco walked in shadow of the power of others, and relied on it to protect him. His strength had always lain in the people who stood behind him; whether that was his parents, Crabbe and Goyle, Professor Snape or the threat of the Dark Lord, it was immaterial.

Now, Draco was back at school, and for some reason, Professor Snape had decided to make him Head Boy. Perhaps it was on the Dark Lord’s orders. Perhaps it amused the Dark Lord to have a Death Eater as Headmaster and another as Eater Head Boy.

At Malfoy Manor, Theodore knew, Draco had been useless and insignificant, smaller and less skilled than the other Death Eaters. Here, he was once again superior and his arrogance had returned. Draco, it seemed, was incapable of learning. Like his father, Draco was a Death Eater and he was certain of his superiority. The Malfoys were idiots. His own father was much more sensible. As he walked through the castle, Theodore thought back to his father’s final words before he left for Hogwarts.

‘The Dark Lord is resurgent, Theodore; he is still looking for followers, but you will not join him.’

Theodore had not argued, he had simply said, ‘I know, father. We have discussed my options many times. The Dark Lord has not won. Not yet.’

His father had smiled and nodded. That was the greatest praise. It was the only praise Theodore ever received.

‘The Dark Lord is, we are told, invincible,’ his father said. ‘But we were told that more than twenty years ago too, and then he vanished and we suffered the consequences. The Dark Lord has not told anyone exactly what happened all those years ago. But he is still afraid of Potter, though he pretends otherwise. You know that he has tried and failed to kill Potter several times. And you know that Potter became an adult days after his last attempt.’

Despite the fact that they were safe inside Pennerley Hall, safe behind protective enchantments which were many centuries old, Theodore’s father looked around and lowered his voice even further before continuing.

‘I am his loyal servant, Theodore; I have no choice in the matter. But I am not as foolish as young Lucius Malfoy. The Dark Lord has again failed to kill Potter. He fell once, and he may fall again. You are a Nott; you are the last of the Notts and I hope that I have taught you well. You are of age, and you will make your own decisions, but I firmly believe that you must play the long game, Theodore. Siding with Potter is not an option for you, but neutrality is. Be neither Death Eater nor rebel; do nothing for either side. If the Dark Lord triumphs, then you can join me at his side; if he falls, then unlike the Malfoys, you will remain free. Now is the time for you to plan. What will you do if the Dark Lord falls?’

‘Nott,’ Draco drawled. ‘You really should pay more attention when the Head Boy is talking to you. You really do not want to cross me.’

Theodore looked around. He had been deep in thought and had not really been paying attention to where he was being led. They were on the seventh floor of the castle; he recognised the tapestry of the ballet dancing trolls. But why were they here? There was nothing here of any interest.

‘Sorry, Draco.’ Theodore tried to sound contrite. He apparently succeeded, because Malfoy seemed mollified. ‘Why here?’ Theodore asked.

With a nod, Malfoy silently ordered Crabbe and Goyle to leave. They grunted their understanding and separated, one walking to each end of the corridor. Malfoy looked up at the tapestry and pulled an ornate oval mirror from inside his cloak.

‘You’re here because you are very good at concealment charms, Nott,’ Malfoy said. ‘Be grateful that I’m allowing you to help me. We are going to fix this mirror to the wall, behind the tapestry. And then we are going to conceal it, so that even if someone lifts the tapestry, they still will not detect the mirror.’

‘But why here?’ Theodore asked.

‘You don’t need to know, Nott,’ said Malfoy, revelling in the fact that he knew something which Theodore didn’t. ‘All you need to know is that I am helping the Dark Lord, and you are helping me.’

Instead of the mask of studied indifference he usually wore, Theodore attempted a look of sad resignation, and tried to look pleadingly into Draco’s cold grey eyes. It worked. Draco could never resist boasting, dropping hints about what he knew.

‘Potter might not be here at school, but his friends are,’ said Draco. ‘I’ve seen Longbottom and his two filthy blood-traitor girlfriends whispering together. They are plotting something, I know it! Three Purebloods, and yet they choose to side with Mudblood and Half-blood scum. If they are looking for a secret place to meet, they might try a secret store cupboard, which I know is on this floor. Potter has used it before, but so have I.’

Malfoy chuckled, and Crabbe and Goyle dutifully joined in with the laughter. Theodore attempted a smile.

‘If they try to use the hidden room, the mirror will see them; it can see through tapestries and it can see people who are invisible or otherwise magically hidden. It was made to be concealed, and the Sketch Board will draw anyone the mirror sees. If this works, I will know which traitorous students are on their side. I will know who is attending any secret meetings, and they won’t know how I know.

‘Now, help me lift this tapestry and hide the mirror.’

They worked quickly, but it still took them over half an hour. Theodore used almost every concealment spell he knew in order to conceal the Secrets Revealed Mirror. He examined the mirror carefully while hiding it. The mirror and the Sketch Board magically linked to it were a unique and priceless item. So far as Theodore knew, neither had ever before left Malfoy Manor.

The rumour was that the mirror and board had been made by Spurius Malfoy six centuries earlier, to observe his wanton wife, Voluptua. Several ancient wizarding families were supposed to have –Voluptua sketches”, highly prized erotica. The Malfoys had always denied the existence of such sketches.

‘Done,’ Theodore announced as he finally cast the illusion of stonework over the mirror.

Draco looked at the blank stone wall in satisfaction, ran his hand across it and lowered the tapestry back in place.

‘Not bad,’ Draco said. ‘I could have done it myself, of course.’

‘I know that you could, Draco,’ Theodore said meekly. No, you couldn’t, he thought to himself. I dismissed the one pathetic illusion you placed on the mirror, and you didn’t even notice.

Malfoy stood and gazed smugly at the tapestry. ‘Let’s get back to the dormitory. Come on, Crabbe, Goyle!’ he ordered.

‘Yeah.’

‘Right.’

The replies came and the group reformed. Theodore followed slowly behind the other three, pondering what he’d been told.

A hush fell when they entered the Slytherin common room. These days, Draco’s presence had that effect. Everyone was terrified of him, especially the new first-years. The four young men walked through the common room towards what, until last year, had been the NEWT level students’ study room. Now, it was Malfoy’s personal room, the Head Boy’s room. It even had a polished brass plaque on the door: –Draco Malfoy, Head Boy”. Despite the fact that Pansy was Head Girl, her name wasn’t there, and Theodore had been wondering whether he could use that to drive a wedge between the couple.

It was only three weeks into the first term and Malfoy had already begun to hold court in –his” room. He strode towards it, pulled open the door, swore loudly and drew his wand. Nott, looking into the room in astonishment, realised that Draco’s target was Pansy Parkinson, who was sitting in Blaise Zabini’s lap. Zabini’s head was bent forwards and resting in on Pansy’s two most prized assets. Both, however, were unconscious. He stepped forwards and pushed Draco’s wand aside.

‘Wait,’ Theodore ordered. Malfoy turned on him.

‘How dare you!’ Draco began. His pale, pointed face was pinched; small flushes of pink on his cheeks showed his anger. Theodore realised that Crabbe and Goyle were looming behind him, that one word from Malfoy would see him flattened.

‘Wait,’ Theodore said again. ‘This is a set-up, Draco; it must be. Perhaps you should check the cupboard.’

Still shaking with anger, Draco nodded, pulled a key from his robes and dashed across to the large former broom cupboard where the Sketch Board stood, hidden and protected.

‘Close the door,’ Theodore ordered Crabbe. To his surprise, Crabbe obeyed. Theodore looked quickly around the room, trying to remember how it had looked when they left.

Blaise had been on guard. He’d been alone in the room. Now, Blaise sat sleeping in Draco’s ornate chair. Pansy, had changed out of her uniform. For some reason she was wearing lots of make-up and a very revealing dress robe. She sat on Zabini’s knees, her arm was draped over his shoulder and her head bent forwards, resting on the back of his neck. Zabini’s head was so deep in Pansy’s cleavage that Theodore wondered whether he could breathe.

Theodore fought back his anger, and something akin to jealousy, and forced himself to observe. He looked around the rest of the room while Draco fumbled with the key. There were several green beads on the floor; they had not been there when they had left. Draco had stood on a couple of them in his haste to reach the cupboard and had slipped and almost fallen. One of the beads shot out from under Draco’s foot and ricocheted off the skirting board, skittering and dancing across the polished wooden floor.

Was there anything else different? Theodore continued to scrutinise the scene. The table alongside Draco’s chair contained two mugs of Butterbeer, one almost full, the other with only a few drops in the bottom. Theodore took out his wand and checked. Both contained a sleeping draught.

Draco screamed; it was a high-pitched and petulant squeal. ‘It’s gone!’ he howled in anger and frustration. ‘The Sketch Board has gone!’

‘Then I’d better find out who took it, hadn’t I?’ Theodore volunteered.
The Performance of Pansy Parkinson by Northumbrian
2. The Performance of Pansy Parkinson

Pansy Parkinson strutted from the Head Boy’s Room with as much dignity as she could muster. Draco could be very hurtful sometimes. In many ways he was very immature, but he was a boy, and boys were often immature.

Nevertheless, he had dismissed her and her friends. He had belittled her in front of them. She was Pansy Parkinson; he could not treat her like that!

Draco was rich, well connected and a pure-blood. He was ideal boyfriend material, but he no longer seemed to be interested. She had successfully ensnared him in their fifth year, and everyone still knew that she was Draco’s girlfriend. However, Draco seemed to have forgotten the fact. In the middle of last year, Draco had become even more secretive and moody than usual. He was always scuttling off somewhere, always bust woth a –secret mission for the Dark Lord”. She had continued to be attentive to his needs, but had he neglected her, which was a constant source of annoyance to her. It was unacceptable. She needed to remind him of her worth. It was the Dark Mark, she was convinced of it; it had changed him somehow. Her friends expected her to know what was going on, and she didn’t.

Draco was not the best-looking boy in the school; he wasn’t even the best-looking boy in her House; that was definitely the decidedly dishy Blaise. But Draco had wealth and power; Blaise merely had wealth. Draco should listen to her, confide in her, but he didn’t. She had considered flirting with Blaise, but he’d rebuffed her early in their fifth year, making it obvious that he wasn’t interested. Her half-hearted attempts to approach him the previous weekend had been instantly dismissed.

‘I’m not stupid enough to steal something from Malfoy,’ Blaise had told her. ‘Not even something he doesn’t really want.’

She’d protested, but Blaise had waved away her objections. ‘Draco doesn’t love you, you know; he simply tolerates you. You need him more than he needs you, and he knows it.’

‘What do you know about love?’ she’d asked spitefully.

‘I love pretty girls,’ Blaise had said. ‘I love to make them laugh and smile. And I love to kiss them. Draco loves only one person, and that person is Draco. If I wanted you, I’d chase you, though frankly, Pansy, you’d be very easy to catch. But I don’t want to chase you, because like I said, I love pretty girls.’

Pansy strode angrily along the girls’ corridor and into her dormitory. She was pretty! Not gorgeous, she knew that; her jaw was square, her eyes small, and her tiny, upturned nose made the rest of her face look even larger and flatter than it was. However, she had other assets she could use. When she dressed properly, men didn’t notice her face, because their eyes never travelled that high.

‘He hadn’t told you anything, had he?’ asked Millicent. She was positively crowing in delight. ‘You were as surprised as the rest of us when he told us about that mirror and the Sketch Board. It’s a family heirloom; it must have cost a fortune, and he brought it here and didn’t tell you. Vince and Greg both knew, but you didn’t.’

‘Crabbe and Goyle didn’t know either. If they weren’t surprised it’s because they’re so thick, not because they knew anything,’ she snapped. ‘Anyway, what do you know about boys, Millicent?’

‘A lot more than you,’ Millicent crowed triumphantly. ‘Me’n Marcus are eterned!’

‘You’re what?’ Pansy asked, suddenly confused. ‘Marcus who?’

‘Marcus Flint,’ Millicent said proudly. ‘He bought me this.’ She fished a chain out from beneath her school robes. ‘It’s an eternity ring, so we’re eterned.’

Pansy groaned, but before she could make a cutting remark, Millicent spoke again.

‘What’s Draco ever bought for you, Pansy?’ she asked, jubilantly.

With as much dignity as she could muster, Pansy turned her back on Millicent, strode haughtily towards her chest and pulled out a set of fine dress robes. Slipping out of her school robes, Pansy put on the dress robes, sat in front of her mirror and began to carefully apply her make-up.

‘What are you doing?’ Daphne asked. ‘It’s already ten o’clock.’

‘I’m going to make sure that Draco notices me. I’m going to give him a present, and test this mirror thing of his at the same time,’ she announced. ‘Despite what Bulstrode thinks, Draco does tell me things. I know which tapestry he‘s going to put the mirror behind. I’m going to go up to the seventh floor—to Draco’s secret place, and pose in front of this tapestry. Then Draco will know that his mirror works, because he will have a sketch of me in my dress robes.’

Millicent Bulstrode snorted in disbelief. Pansy ignored her and continued to apply her make-up. Finally satisfied, she carefully readjusted her cleavage. Finding her lapis lazuli necklace in her jewellery box, she fastened it around her neck and positioned it for maximum effect, ensuring that the largest teardrop-shaped stone lay gleaming between her breasts.

‘If Draco likes what he sees, I may be some time,’ said Pansy. She pulled on her cloak to conceal her dress robes and swept proudly from her dormitory, her head held high.

Passing the doors to the dormitories for the girls in other years, she stepped out into the Slytherin common room. Silence fell. She glared at the few younger children who were still up, making certain that they knew who was boss.

As she stared around the common room, she glanced across to the door to the Head Boy’s Room. The sign annoyed her. There had never been a Head Boy’s Room in Hogwarts. After all, the Head Boy was no more than the most senior male prefect. There should not be a Head Boy’s Room unless there was a Head Girl’s Room, too. Perhaps she could persuade Draco to share.

She wondered if Blaise was still in the room. He should be. He was supposed to be on guard. Not for the first time, she wondered what it would be like to kiss Blaise Zabini. He would be more passionate and attentive than Draco; she had little doubt about that.

On an impulse, Pansy strode across to the door. If Blaise was there, she could show him her robes, show him what he was missing, and if he wasn’t, then she’d be able to tell Draco that she’d checked up on Zabini, and that he’d failed to do his duty. That would teach the smug and self-assured Blaise Zabini that it was unwise to mess with Pansy Parkinson.

She pulled open the door. Zabini was sitting slouched in an armchair. He was sound asleep. Smirking, Pansy quietly closed the door and tiptoed towards him. She was preparing to shout in his ear, when from the corner of her eye, she saw a sudden movement, and heard a crash.

When Pansy woke, it was to the sound of Theodore Nott gently whispering her name, and also that of Blaise Zabini. She opened her eyes to see the equally startled profile of Blaise Zabini, inches away from her face. He had just lifted his head from her chest; her arm was around his neck and she was sitting on his lap. Draco stood immediately behind Theodore Nott, who was pulling rather alarming faces at her. Nott seemed to be attempting to show some emotion, but whatever the emotion was, it was obviously a new concept for the skinny little boy, and she had no idea what he was trying to tell her. Draco was, as always, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle.

Embarrassed and annoyed, she squealed, and Zabini cursed. They disentangled themselves from each other and stood.

‘What in Merlin’s name is going on?’ Draco asked. ‘Where is the Sketch Board?’
The Perceptions of Blaise Zabini by Northumbrian
3. The Perceptions of Blaise Zabini

Blaise Zabini smiled at the three girls.

‘You’ve changed your hair, Romilda; it suits you,’ he said quietly. Romilda Vane beamed, though her face fell when he gently held her friend’s hand and lifted it. ‘I’ve never seen that bracelet before, Frankie; it’s very pretty. Is it new?’ Frankie Curling smiled and nodded.

‘Zabini!’ Draco Malfoy shouted across the library. ‘Head Boy’s Room, now! I have something very important to discuss with you.’

Blaise saw several heads lifting angrily. The pretty Patil twins and the curvy Brown girl all glared at Draco, obviously annoyed. Ernie Macmillan inflated his chest; the pompous oaf was obviously about to stand and say something fatuous. The skinny Bones girl was sitting next to Macmillan. She spoke quietly and he sat back down and remained silent.

A tall, hook-nosed and bespectacled Slytherin sixth-year girl, whose name Blaise had never bothered to discover, stood, closed her books and slouched past Draco, Crabbe and Goyle. Draco muttered something which made the girl slump lower. She looked to be close to tears.

Blaise smiled apologetically at the three fifth-year girls in front of him.

‘I’d better go,’ he apologised. ‘If I don’t, we could all be in trouble.’

Madam Pince arrived. She glared at Malfoy, who simply stared arrogantly back at her.

‘We’re leaving,’ Draco told the Librarian, speaking deliberately loudly. ‘Come on, Zabini, don’t dawdle.’

Blaise squeezed Frankie’s hand before releasing it.

‘See you later, ladies,’ he said. He grinned and winked, and the three girls giggled.

‘You’re going to do a job for me, Zabini,’ Draco said as they walked down the stairs towards the Slytherin dormitory.

‘Certainly,’ said Blaise politely. Draco hadn’t asked a question, he’d made a demand, and saying no to the Head Boy was not a good idea.

‘You were talking to three Gryffindors,’ accused Draco.

‘I was flirting with three girls, Draco. You should try it; it’s fun,’ replied Blaise wryly. ‘You’d be surprised what people tell you if you’re nice to them. Vane is a pure-blood and I’m not sure if she’s a blood-traitor yet. Her very pretty friend Frankie is a half-blood, and so is the other girl. They all think that Longbottom and the snooty Weasley bitch are up to something, but they don’t know what.’

‘I’m not stupid, Zabini, I know that they’re plotting, but I’ll have a surprise for that that stupid oaf Longbottom and the ginger slut if they try anything.’ Draco rubbed his hands in expectation. Crabbe and Goyle, who had been lumbered silently along behind them, chuckled. Each of them carried a large satchel, and Blaise wondered what they contained.

‘You know a spell which prevents objects from being Summoned, don’t you, Blaise?’ Draco asked.

The only way you could know that, Draco, is if you tried to Summon something from my trunk, Blaise thought.

‘Not exactly,’ he replied mildly. ‘I know a spell which prevents objects being summoned from inside an enchanted area; a box or a trunk or a room. I know several very good alarm spells too, as you know. My trunk is alarmed and everyone heard when the alarm went off last weekend. I only wish that I’d caught the attempted thief.’

Draco scowled.

‘My mother has a lot of very expensive jewellery and she’s very protective of it,’ added Blaise. ‘She taught me several very useful alarm and protection spells. You won’t find any of them in the standard book of spells.’

‘Well, I have something very valuable which I need protecting, and you’re going to help me,’ said Draco.

‘It will be a pleasure,’ Blaise lied glibly.

They reached the dungeon corridor. In the distance, Blaise noticed the tall girl with glasses from the library slouch through the portrait hole.

Draco strode up to the portrait and spoke the password. The portrait swung open and Draco stepped through and into the Slytherin common room. Blaise and Crabbe followed; Goyle, however, stumbled and fell flat on his face.

‘Shoelace,’ Goyle grumbled as he crouched in the corridor and refastened it. Draco folded his arms and impatiently tapped a foot.

Goyle finally stood and plodded slowly into the common room. Draco strode through, ignoring the silently staring students. He pushed open the door to the Head Boy’s Room and imperiously motioned Blaise into the room. Inside, the other Slytherin seventh-years were all sitting, waiting. Weedy little Theodore Nott sat in silence, opposite five chattering girls. Blaise suppressed a smile. Poor little Theodore, he had no idea about girls. There was a thud behind him and Blaise looked around to see Gregory Goyle on the floor again.

‘Shoelace,’ Goyle grumbled for a second time, as he again retied his lace.

‘You can’t even fasten your shoes properly, you clumsy oaf,’ snapped Draco angrily. ‘You are carrying a priceless artefact, Goyle. You’d better hope that it remains undamaged. Close the door behind you when you finally manage to sort yourself out.’

Draco turned his back on Goyle and strolled across the room. He sat in the ornate high-backed, almost throne-like wooden chair he had claimed as his own, and made himself comfortable at the head of the table. Goyle closed the door and moved across to sit next to Draco.

‘Hello, Draco,’ said Pansy, smiling. Draco ignored her.

Poor Pansy, Blaise thought. All that time vamping Malfoy, persuading him that she was the girl for him, and it’s all gone to nothing.

‘Davis, make sure that the door is locked, and that we can’t be overheard,’ Draco ordered.

The small mousey girl silently rushed to obey. Blaise watched her lazily. Outside classes, he rarely spent any time with any of the Slytherin girls in his year.

There seemed to be absolutely no life in Tracey Davis. She existed only to agree with Pansy, and do the bidding of the other girls. As he watched, he wondered if there wasn’t more to both Davis and her closest friend, Perdita Spinks. The two said little, but as he looked at them closely, he began to speculate. Perhaps they were simply keeping in the background.

Davis had good bone structure and an attractive face, but she chose not to do anything about it. She was deliberately mousey, he realised. The girl was almost insubstantial, as though a light wind would blow her away and so unnoticeable as to be almost invisible. Blaise looked at the girl curiously. There was, he suddenly realised, a lot more to Davis.

Black-haired and round-faced Spinks, too, could tidy herself up and make herself look a lot more attractive, but she didn’t. She was much taller and more substantial that her friend Davis. Suddenly curious, Blaise observed them both closely. If they tried, both girls would outshine Parkinson and her horse-faced best friend Daphne Greengrass. Perhaps that was why they didn’t.

‘This is your big opportunity,’ Draco began grandly. ‘Within days, or weeks at most, the Dark Lord will track down Potter. There is no doubt that –the moron who lived” will be dead by Christmas, and then the work will really begin. The Dark Lord is already in charge, and it’s now time for you all to decide where your loyalties lie. We are all pure-bloods here.’

Draco was declaiming arrogantly and watching a stony-faced Theodore Nott. He wasn’t watching the people he should be. Blaise noticed Tracey shrink a little at Draco’s words, and realised that Nott, too, was watching the girl. So - Davis’ blood wasn’t pure! That information might be useful, if it were true. There were a couple of pretty Ravenclaw sixth-years he might be able to persuade to do some genealogical research for him.

‘When we leave Hogwarts, it will be to a world where the friends of the Dark Lord are rewarded,’ continued Draco confidently. ‘Your willingness to help me now will be a point in your favour in the future. There are disruptive elements within the school, and although the Headmaster disagrees with the Ministry, Madam Umbridge is intending to reintroduce the Inquisitorial Squad to deal with them. You will all join, won’t you?’

Everyone tried to nod enthusiastically.

‘Of course, Draco,’ said Pansy ingratiatingly.

‘The blood-traitor Weasley girl has already started causing trouble,’ Draco announced. ‘And that useless fool Longbottom is helping her. I won’t be able to do anything about the dissent in the Gryffindor dormitory until the Ministry sacks that ignorant Mudblood loving old bat, McGonagall. I really don’t see why we should put up with her bullying and incompetence.’

‘Perhaps you should try actually working in her classes,’ Blaise observed languidly. He regretted his words instantly.

‘Watch what you say, Blaise,’ Draco threatened. ‘If you’re not with me, you’re against me. Just remember that.’

‘I’m with you, Draco,’ said Pansy. ‘You can count on the Head Girl, and her friends.’

‘I’m on your side too, Draco,’ Blaise protested. ‘You I’ve got no time for the vicious little ginger blood traitor, but I think that the Dark Lord should be watching her; she’s Potter’s girlfriend.’

‘They split up at Dumbledore’s funeral, Blaise,’ pronounced Pansy dismissively. ‘Keep up with the gossip. Potter’s probably busy getting off with that Mudblood cow Granger now.’

‘That ugly bitch should be rotting in Azkaban with the other scum,’ said Draco venomously. ‘At least this year we don’t have to deal with whining, filthy little Mudbloods like Granger.’

Blaise remained silent. They were wrong about Ginny Weasley and Potter, he was certain of that, but there was no point in annoying both the Head Boy and the Head Girl.

Draco nodded at Crabbe and Goyle. Crabbe immediately began to unfasten his satchel. Goyle, however, was staring vacantly into space, so Crabbe nudged him. Goyle immediately followed Crabbe’s example and soon, two flat, cloth-wrapped bundles were carefully placed on the table.

‘Weasley and her cronies will certainly try to involve students from other houses. That’s what they did when Madam Umbridge was in charge, and this is how we’re going to catch them,’ Draco announced. ‘This is the Secrets Revealed Mirror.’

Everyone on the room, apart from Theodore Nott, pushed their chairs back when Draco spoke.

‘So, you all have secrets.’ Draco chuckled cruelly. ‘Everyone except Nott.’

‘Oh, I have secrets, too, Draco. Lots of them,’ said Nott mildly. ‘But I’ve heard of the mirror, and I know that it won’t find them.’

Draco opened one of the bags and pulled out a flat wooden board. It was two feet long, eighteen inches wide, and half an inch thick. A brass tube screwed to the side of the board contained a pencil, and several sheets of parchment were held onto the front of the board by brass clips.

‘The Mirror is in the other bag,’ Draco announced. ‘The Sketch Board magically draws the likeness of anyone in front of the mirror, even if they are invisible or in any wan magically concealed. We are going to put the Sketch Board into that old broom cupboard,’ Draco pointed to the only other door in the room. ‘And I’m going to put the mirror on the seventh floor corridor and use it to check on the troublemakers. I’ve already prepared the cupboard. I’ve had a new magical lock fitted, and I have the only key. The door has been strengthened too.

‘Now I want every one of you to place an alarm spell in the room. I want everyone here to know the instant someone steps inside that room. Blaise, you will enchant the room to make certain that, even if someone somehow manages to open the door, they can’t use a Summoning Charm to remove the board without entering the room.’

‘But how will you collect the drawings and replace the parchment, Draco?’ Pansy asked.

‘By setting off the alarm spells, obviously,’ Draco snapped. ‘Now, get to work, everyone.’

It took over an hour. Blaise watched everyone carefully as they all fixed alarm spells in the six foot square stone walled cupboard. Bulstrode, Crabbe, Goyle and Spinks all spoke their spells, and Blaise was certain that he could easily undo them. The others, however, cast complex non-verbal alarm spells.

Blaise was impressed by Draco’s ingenuity. Standard alarm spells worked when anyone other than the caster entered an area. This way, even if Draco was placed under the Imperius Curse (the simplest way of avoiding alarm spells) nine alarms would still sound. Only the ten of them knew that the board was in there, and none of them was stupid enough to attempt to remove ten very different alarm spells.

To Draco’s disgust and Nott’s obvious interest, Blaise silently cast his Anti-Summoning spell. While he did so, Pansy and Daphne, under instruction from Draco, assembled a wooden tripod-easel.

Once the easel was completed, Draco carefully rested the Sketch Board on it and turned to Pansy.

‘Put it in the cupboard,’ he ordered.

‘But I’ll set off the alarms,’ Pansy protested.

‘Exactly,’ agreed Draco.

Pansy sullenly obeyed. The instant she entered the cupboard, a dissonance of alarms, bells, hooters, whistles, and the ear shattering scream of Blaise’s own spell sounded. Everyone except Draco turned off their alarms. He watched Pansy in cruel amusement and waited until she had placed the easel and left the room before finally shutting off the annoying whistle.

‘Accio Board,’ Draco said. The Sketch Board remained on the easel.

‘Accio Easel,’ he tried. Still nothing moved.

‘Excellent,’ he announced. He locked the cupboard door and placed the key carefully in his pocket. ‘Don’t think of stealing the key; this is a personal lock and the key will only turn in the lock if I’m holding it.’

Draco turned and looked around the room, giving everyone a smug smile.

‘Girls, you can leave. Get out, now!’ Draco ordered. Pansy led the girls from the room and Blaise once again wondered why Pansy put up with Malfoy.

‘Zabini, you stay here and guard the Sketch Board until I get back,’ added Draco. ‘You three, follow me.’

Nott exchanged an exasperated glance with Zabini and followed Draco, Crabbe and Goyle from the room.
The Investigations of Theodore Nott by Northumbrian
4. The Investigations of Theodore Nott

It was well after midnight, but all of the seventh-year Slytherins were awake.

Theodore Nott put down his quill and looked across the table towards Perdita Spinks.

‘Thank you, Perdita,’ he said quietly. ‘I’m sorry that you’ve had to wait so long. But our story corroborates that of the other girls. I’m afraid that none of us will get any rest until I give the Head Boy some answers. Would you mind helping me rearrange the chairs, please? Then we can ask the others to come back in here, and hopefully, if I can satisfy Draco, we’ll eventually get into bed.’

Perdita stared, shook her head and reached across the table to squeeze his hand. Theodore flinched at her touch. Looking into Perdita’s eyes, he saw embarrassment and confusion.

‘I was just going to say thank you,’ she told him. She lowered her voice. ‘You know how petulant Draco can be when things go wrong for him. It’s never his fault, is it?’

‘Usually, it is,’ said Theodore, hoping that he’d judged her mood correctly.

Perdita smiled, nodded, and again moved her hand across the table. She was trying to be friendly, Theodore realised. Having friends required trust, and helping people for no reason. Trusting people was dangerous, –Trust no one,” his father always said. Draco didn’t trust either, it was safest. He watched Perdita’s hand, as she again made a move, instigated contact. What did it mean?

He knew that, theoretically, many people liked to be touched and held, but his mother had died when he was in his fourth year, and his father had always been remote. His father was untouchable, both figuratively and literally. Physical contact made Theodore nervous, but his lack of response had made Perdita unhappy. Perhaps if he told the truth, it was worth a try.

‘My mother died a few years ago,’ Theodore admitted. ‘My father is not… he doesn’t like being touched by anyone. I’m sorry that I flinched, before, it’s just that no one touches me.’

‘You poor thing,’ Perdita said. She took his hand again, and this time he didn’t flinch. Her hand was warm and her caress gentle. She smiled at him, and he resolved to become a more tactile person. He needed to learn to appear friendly, which was something he’d never been good at.

He was –that weird little loner”, he knew that. Theodore carefully considered his dormitory mates. No one actually liked Crabbe or Goyle, not many people liked Draco, either. Zabini, however, was different. Of course, Zabini was tall, and good looking and Theodore knew that he’d never be either of those things. Nevertheless, he would study Zabini. He needed to learn how to make friends, or at least, to make some people feel sympathy towards him. If Voldemort fell, he would need friends who weren’t Death Eaters, and if Voldemort won, then perhaps people he’d befriended might turn to him for help, something which he could certainly use to his advantage.

He’d been staring vacantly into space, and Perdita withdrew her hand rather suddenly.

‘I need to carry out an experiment, so if you will help me with these chairs, please.’

Perdita nodded and silently helped him with the chairs. She was no longer smiling; perhaps he shouldn’t have drifted off into contemplation while she was holding his hand. Getting back to the business at hand, he asked her to place five chairs facing the desk, but several feet away. He then placed two pairs of chairs, including Draco’s, at right angles to the five, creating an open rectangle, chairs forming three sides, the table the fourth.

‘If you can sit there, please, Perdita.’ Theodore pointed at the fourth chair from the left in the row of five. Perdita sat obediently.

Theodore then pushed open the door to the Head Boy’s Room and peered out. Everyone else was sitting in the common room. He had now spoken to every Slytherin student in his year and he had all of the evidence he could gather.

‘Could everyone come through, please?’ he asked.

Draco was first into the room, pushing past Pansy in his haste. Theodore noted the malevolent glare Pansy gave her boyfriend.

‘Well?’ Draco demanded.

‘In a moment, Draco, I’d like everyone to take a seat first, please. If you’d sit here, Pansy.’ He guided her to the central chair, the one directly opposite his own. ‘Blaise, between Draco and the table; Millicent, you’re next to Draco too; Daphne, between Millicent and Pansy. You two, go to that end.’ He pointed Crabbe and Goyle to the two seats opposite Blaise and Draco. Tracey Davis sat uneasily between Perdita and Crabbe.

‘Well?’ Draco demanded again the moment that everyone sat.

Theodore walked silently around the table and sat. He looked around at his fellow Slytherins and clasped his hands.

‘Well?’ Draco was beginning to sound impatient.

Theodore looked directly across the table and into Pansy’s dark brown eyes.

‘Well, Draco, I’m satisfied that neither Pansy nor Blaise had nothing to do with this. Perhaps you’d like to apologise to them.’ Theodore noted the flash of thanks on Pansy’s face and turned to face Draco.

‘Their stories are ridiculous,’ Draco snapped.

‘So ridiculous that they must be true,’ replied Theodore evenly. ‘Any fool could have come up with a better story, and neither Pansy nor Blaise are fools. You saw me test the mugs. They both contained a sleeping draft. I’ve spoken to all of you. I know what happened, and how. But I still have no idea who. I’m hoping that Blaise will be able to tell us, but first. This is what I believe happened.’ Theodore Nott paused and looked at his fellow seventh years.

‘The thief - we’ll call her –X” - was in this room with us when you explained your plan, Draco,’ began Theodore.

‘Call her –X”? How do you know it was a girl?’ Pansy asked.

‘Because she kissed Blaise,’ Theodore said. ‘She was invisible, but Blaise is confident that it was a girl.’

‘Hopes, more like,’ Pansy whispered to her friends. Theodore ignored their giggles. He frowned; he was constructing a theory from carefully gathered evidence, but the girls seemed disinterested; they did not appear to understand the beauty of deductive reasoning.

‘How do you know she was here?’ asked Malfoy.

‘I don’t know, not for certain, but it’s extremely likely. You went to the library and, very publicly, announced to Blaise that you had something important to tell him. That, I think, was enough to pique someone’s interest. If it was not someone in the library, then the only alternative is that it was a fellow Slytherin. Unless you’ve been going around the school loudly bragging about your secret plan,’ said Theodore.

Draco hissed angrily.

‘Draco would never do something as stupid as that,’ said Pansy. She sounded sincere, but she was staring into Theodore’s eyes, and her face appeared to tell a different story.

‘Thank you, Pansy,’ said Theodore hastily. He turned his attention to Draco. ‘Even Goyle can tie a shoelace, you know. It was neatly done, very neatly done. You opened the portrait hole and entered the common room. Goyle tripped over his own shoelace, giving –X” the chance to slip into the common room. She was invisible, of course.

‘Then you ordered us all into this room and Goyle tripped over his lace again. Are your laces tied tightly, Goyle?’ Theodore asked. Goyle examined them carefully and grunted an affirmative. ‘Then walk to the door, please,’ he asked, keeping his wand hidden under the table. Goyle managed only two steps before he tripped over his lace.

‘Easy,’ said Theodore, revealing his wand. ‘I unfastened the knot and moved the lace under his other shoe. I recommend that you use a double knot in future, Goyle. Once might have been an accident, but twice, once in front of each door? As I think back, it seemed a little unlikely at the time, but we all dismissed it as Goyle’s clumsiness. It was a clever way to gain entry. And of course, once she was inside this room, Draco, you told us, and –X”, everything he was planning. I’m certain that she was working on her plan from the moment she saw us casting the protection spells on the cupboard. The Sketch Board was the obvious target. Without it, Craco, you have no idea who the mirror is seeing.’

‘But the door was locked, and the room was alarmed,’ Draco protested.

‘True, but unimportant. May I borrow your necklace, Pansy?’ said Theodore. ‘Thank you for not repairing it.’

He made a complex series of stabbing movements with his wand, and the tiny silver chain transformed into large steel one.

‘Had you been paying attention in Professor McGonagall’s class, Draco,’ Theodore said, ‘you’d know that Transfigured items retain a memory of the object they were Transfigured into. Pansy’s necklace was taken from her, the beads removed, and it was transfigured into this chain. The gap at the bottom of this door is rather deep, and this sturdy steel chain fits under it.’ He stood, and demonstrated the truth of his statement, but decided to be a little more circumspect about his second observation. It wouldn’t do to let Draco know that, like the thief, he had realise that the board could be slid under the door.

‘And apparently the Sketch Board must have fitted under the gap, too. So we know how, and now we must try to determine who.’

‘And what spectacular bit of magic are you going to use to determine that, Nott?’ snapped Draco. ‘Or are you going to simply announce that it was Weasley? Because who else could it be?’

‘It wasn’t Weasley!’ protested Zabini, horrified.

‘Then it must have been Lovegood,’ suggested Pansy, addng to Zabini’s discomfort.

‘Merlin, no!’ Zabini slumped in his chair, horrified at the thought. ‘It couldn’t have been Lovegood,’ he protested. ‘This girl could talk sensibly.’

‘I don’t think that it was either of them. But you may be able to tell us, Blaise. If you’d care to stand up, please,’ Theodore ordered.

Blaise didn’t move, but instead stared sullenly at Theodore, who simply glanced at Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle. Realisation struck, and Blaise obeyed. Theodore motioned him to move in front of the girls.

‘And if you will all stand too.’ He indicated the girls. They cautiously stood. Theodore had arranged them in order of height. Millicent was the tallest, taller than Blaise, and Tracey was the smallest, she and Perdita were the only ones shorter than Theodore himself. Blaise looked along the line, and then looked curiously at Theodore.

‘Height,’ Theodore demanded. ‘Was your head up, or down?’

‘Down when she started kissing him, but up when she finished,’ Daphne giggled.

Theodore looked at Daphne in confusion, and she laughed at him.

Blaise gazed thoughtfully between Pansy and Daphne. He bent forwards towards Daphne, moving his lips towards hers. When she lifted her head to reciprocate he stepped hastily backwards.

‘Taller than Pansy, almost Daphne’s height,’ he announced. ‘Perhaps she was a fraction shorter, but she was nowhere near as tall as Bulstrode.’

‘I’m five feet and nine inches tall,’ said Daphne.

‘And I’m five feet seven,’ said Pansy.

‘Arms,’ said Theodore.

Zabini grabbed Daphne’s upper arms and released them immediately. He turned and grabbed Pansy’s.

‘Not as flabby as Daphne’s, more like Pansy’s,’ he said confidently. Daphne hissed. Theodore watched with interest. Suddenly, Blaise was no longer bored and dismissive; he was prepared to play the game. He watched as Blaise pulled Pansy close.

‘She was nowhere near as…’ he hesitated ‘curvy as Pansy,’ Blaise announced. He stepped sideways and grabbed Perdita Spinks, who did not object. ‘More like Perdita.’

‘Flat-chested, then,’ said Pansy looking scornfully at Perdita.

‘So, we’re looking for a girl of five foot eight or nine, slim and, er, flat-chested,’ said Theodore. ‘That’s the best I can do for you, Draco; I’m sorry. But as Lovegood and Weasley are no taller than Davis, then we can be sure that it wasn’t them. Can you think of anyone from the library, Blaise?’

‘The Vane girl,’ said Draco. ‘She’s skinny.’

Theodore ignored Draco’s outburst and watched Zabini closely.

Blaise gave a slight shake of his head. ‘It wasn’t Romilda. I’d have recognised her scent,’ he said, and then he hesitated. For a second, Theodore thought that Blaise had identified the girl. But Blaise shook his head firmly. ‘No … not her,’ he said firmly.

‘Perhaps Granger sneaked back into school,’ suggested Pansy. ‘In heels, she’d be about the right height and build.’

‘Mudbloods stink, Pansy,’ said Zabini dismissively. ‘I’d have been able to smell her.’

Draco nodded his agreement. ‘There are no Mudbloods in this school,’ he said. ‘We’re finally free of the filthy creatures.’

‘No Mudblood should ever be put in a position of power over Purebloods,’ said Daphne forcefully.

‘All we can do is look around the school, Malfoy. I’m sorry,’ said Theodore. ‘Unless your intimate knowledge of girls has given you anything else, Blaise.’

Everyone laughed, except Draco.

‘We must get the Sketch Board back,’ said Draco angrily. ‘This is no laughing matter. It must be everyone’s top priority. Tomorrow morning, everyone must try to track down the thief.’

‘We will, Draco,’ Pansy promised.

Draco snarled and stormed from the room. Theodore grabbed Zabini’s sleeve and indicated that he wanted a final word in private.

‘You thought of a name, Zabini, I saw it in your eyes,’ he told him after everyone else had left. ‘Who was it?’

Zabini shook his head. ‘I can think of one girl who fits the description, but it can’t possibly be her,’ he said.

‘Why not?’

‘Because I know for certain that Susan Bones has given at least four boys the brush off. She simply isn’t interested in boys.’
The Unexpected Actions of Susan Bones by Northumbrian
5. The Unexpected Actions of Susan Bones

Ernie Macmillan took a deep, angry breath and began to stand.

‘Don’t, Ernie,’ Susan warned, placing a warning hand on his arm. ‘Malfoy is up to something, and I’m going to find out what. Wait here. If I’m not back before the library closes, take my bag back to the common room, please.’

She opened her school bag and pulled out the pencil bag containing the collection of Weasley products she’d purchased, at a substantial discount, before she had returned to school. All Weasley products were, of course, banned by Headmaster Snape, but the twins had provided her, Neville, Ginny, and several other DA members with pencil bags enchanted with an Undetectable Extension Charm. The small canvas bag contained everything she had bought.

Stepping out of the library and thankful that she was wearing flat, soft soled shoes, Susan Disillusioned herself and dashed along the corridor after the four Slytherin boys.

‘I’ll have a surprise for that fat oaf Longbottom if he tries anything,’ she heard Draco say. Susan kept as close as she dared to the quartet and listened to Draco’s boasting.

When they reached the Slytherin common room, Susan used Goyle’s shoelace to trip him up, a trick she repeated to get into the –Head Boy’s Room”. As she entered, Susan stared at the brass plaque in disbelief. It was typically self-important of Draco Malfoy to try to make himself appear more important than others. Next, she thought sardonically, he’d be demanding his own private chambers; someone as important as Draco should surely have his own rooms, rather than have share a dormitory as Head Boys had done since the school was opened.

While Draco organised the Slytherin students, Susan slipped silently into a corner and sat on the floor. She watched and listened while Draco explained his plan. As she listened, Susan became more and more concerned. She considered setting off a Decoy Detonator, grabbing the mirror, and making a run for it. However, as she considered the odds, she dismissed the idea. Even invisible, could she avoid hexes from ten students, get through a common room full of younger students and escape? It was extremely unlikely, so instead she simply watched the Slytherins as they squabbled.

Susan was a loner; she kept herself to herself and worked hard. That was the only way to succeed; that was something both her father and his sister, her Aunt Amelia, had agreed on. She had a plan for her life, a plan she’d discussed with her aunt. Of course, the plan depended upon her aunt’s murderer being defeated, which was far from certain. Nevertheless one day Susan, like her Aunt Amelia before her, would be Head of Magical Law Enforcement.

There were three women Susan admired above all others: her aunt, the Head of her House, and the Head of Gryffindor. All three were professional, practical and single. It seemed obvious to Susan that an interest in boys would hold her back, although sometimes she wondered what she was missing.

As she sat, she watched Blaise Zabini closely. He was interested in girls, and he was of interest to many of them, too. He observed, he listened, and more importantly, he heard what they said. But while he was profligate with his affections, he was also picky. Zabini judged a girl by her appearance; he certainly wouldn’t be interested in a tall, skinny Hufflepuff half-blood. Susan felt herself blushing and tried to concentrate on the conversation and not on Blaise’s attractive, high-cheek-boned face. Her Aunt Amelia was right; boys were a distraction.

When Draco announced that he was going to put the Sketch Board into a secure store room, Susan decided to examine the room. Reaching into the pencil case she scrabbled around for the small item she needed. It took some time, but her fingers eventually brushed the unpleasantly squishy object, the newest Weasley product, an Invisible Eye. Pulling it out, she cautiously unwound the fine, fleshy, line, released the small spongy ball and licked the soft cup at the other end of the line. Wishing that she’d tested it first, she opened her eyes wide, and gingerly placed the cup onto her right eyeball.

Until she closed her left eye, the effect was nausea-inducing and extremely unpleasant. She swivelled her eyes, and the Invisible Eye moved with them. She first looked back and checked the corner where she was hiding. She was grateful to see nothing.

The fact that Draco knew the location of the Room of Requirement was bad news, although it seemed to Susan that he believed it was merely some kind of secret store cupboard. However, with the Mirror and Sketch Board he’d be able to see everyone who entered the room. Even if they were invisible!

She worriedly checked the mirror as it lay on the table. Fortunately, it was covered. If Draco uncovered it, and it began to sketch the occupants of the room, she would need to escape! She quickly found two Decoy Detonators in her pouch and placed them in her pocket.

Susan then sent the eye soaring high above the table. The sensible thing to do would be to steal the Sketch Board. Without it, the mirror would be useless. She carefully examined the door to the store cupboard. It was ancient and very solid.

The eye would fit under the door, she realised. She sent it into the cupboard and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the eye adjusted itself for the low light. The light which streamed under the wide gap at the bottom of the door was enough to see that the hinges were large and firm.

As the conversation moved to protecting the cupboard, Susan hastily withdrew the eye. She sent the eye high above the heads of the Slytherins and then down onto the table, where she examined the Sketch Board. After her examination, she began to formulate a plan. If the eye fitted under the door, so would the board.

Susan waited patiently, and silently cursed when everyone but Blaise left. She hadn’t expected Draco to leave someone on guard. There was no alternative; she would have to Stun him and hope that none of the students in the common room heard the noise. As she slowly stood, Blaise walked across the room, opened a wooden chest and found himself a mug and a bottle of Butterbeer.

She had a Sleeping Draught in the pouch. That would be quieter than a Stunning Spell, which would almost certainly be heard in the common room. She found the Sleeping Draught; it was a Weasley twins special, and the stopper contained a small phial of antidote. –Just in case you accidentally knock out someone on your own side,” Fred had said when she bought it.

Susan tiptoed up behind Blaise, potion in hand. She tried to step around him, but he moved, and his arm brushed across her chest. He was fast, very fast. He whirled around, arms flailing, and managed to grab her. Strong hands held each of her arms, and all she had in her hand was the potion bottle.

‘Hello, invisible intruder,’ Blaise began. ‘Who are you, and how long have you been here?’ His smiling, handsome face was inches away from hers.

Susan needed time to think, so she kissed him.

So this is what it’s like to kiss a boy, part of her mind thought, while she desperately tried to think of an escape plan. Blaise was, she assumed, an experienced kisser. He certainly seemed to know what he was doing so she relaxed and began to enjoy the experience. She risked placing her empty hand on his waist, and he pulled her in close.

‘Well, I don’t think I’ve ever kissed you before,’ Blaise said when he finished. Unfortunately, he did not release her.

‘I sneaked in when the others left,’ Susan lied. ‘I wanted to be alone with you, close to you. Will you pour me a Butterbeer too?’ She tried to disguise her voice, lowering it to a husky whisper.

‘If I do, will you reveal yourself?’ Blaise asked.

‘Yes,’ Susan promised.

‘Don’t try anything stupid,’ Blaise warned. He released one arm, but held the other even tighter as he reached for a second mug and a second bottle. While he poured, Susan unstoppered the Sleeping Draught with her teeth. She bit into the phial containing the antidote and gulped it down. When Blaise finished pouring the second drink she stepped forwards and kissed him again, while he was distracted she clumsily poured the potion into both mugs.

‘Don’t you think that it’s more exciting, not knowing who I am?’ Susan asked breathlessly.

Blaise smiled, and for a second the creases in the corner of his eyes were almost enough to make Susan reveal herself.

‘True. But you might be Daphne’s little sister; that would be a severe disappointment,’ he said.

Susan hastily thrust the potion bottle into her pocket, on top of the Decoy Detonators, and grabbed a mug of Butterbeer.

‘Cheers,’ she said, taking a drink and relying on the twins’ antidote to keep her conscious.

‘So, the other one has the Love Potion in it, does it?’ Blaise said smugly. He plucked the mug from Susan’s grasp and took a deep gulp. ‘Whoever you are, you need to be smarter than that to fool…’

As he collapsed, Susan caught Blaise under the arms and lowered him gently into the high-backed chair Draco had been using. Picking up the empty mug from the floor she placed it on the table and began to implement her plan.

By Transfiguring one of her hairs into a seven foot long steel wire, and using the Invisible Eye inside the store room to guide her, she was easily able to pull the Sketch Board off the easel and onto the floor. She Transfigured the wire back into hair and pulled it back out through the keyhole. Now all she needed was to find something to drag it out under the door.

Then the door opened. Susan spun around and opened her other eye to see Pansy Parkinson enter. There was a look of malevolent glee on the Head Girl’s face.

As Pansy approached Blaise, Susan, disorientated by the fact that one eye was looking at Pansy in a well lit room while the other one was looking at the dark stone floor of a cupboard, stumbled. The potion bottle she’d hastily stuffed into her pocket fell onto the wooden floor and broke.

‘Stupefy’ thought Susan, rapidly drawing her wand. Pansy flew back against the table, bounced off it and landed on top of Blaise.

Green lapis lazuli beads rolled everywhere, but Susan wasn’t interested in them. She pulled out the connection to the Invisible Eye and hastily re-orientated herself. The broken silver chain would be very useful, so she removed it from around Pansy’s neck. That done, she quickly arranged Pansy on Blaise’s lap, hoping that the position she’d placed them in would be enough to distract anyone who came through the door to investigate the noise of her stunning Spell.

Susan waited in silence for a very nervous few minutes, but fortunately, no one else came in.

Lengthening and Transfiguring the chain into a much longer half inch wide steel chain was easy. Using the eye and her recreated makeshift hook to loop the chain around the Sketch Board and pull it under the door was frustratingly difficult, but eventually she succeeded. As she slowly and carefully eased the Sketch Board out under the door she was finally able to use her hands to drag it. There was less tolerance than she had thought; another couple of sheets of parchment would have made the theft impossible.

Returning her hook and the chain to their original forms, she threw the chain into a corner and carefully pocketed her hair. She looked at Blaise and Pansy; his head had fallen forwards into Pansy’s cleavage. After a moment’s consideration, she decided not to move it, she had been in the room for a long time and she should leave. Vanishing the broken remains of the potion bottle, she held the Sketch Board under her robes and fled.

Several students in the common room looked up curiously as the door to the Head Boy’s Room opened and closed. But no one did anything. As she stealthily crept through the common room, Susan looked around the place in horror. Here, the anti-Muggle-born propaganda she was sometimes forced to remove from the Hufflepuff common room was proudly displayed on the walls.

She stared in disbelief at a poster entitled –Conquer and Breed”, which showed a beautiful but terrified witch in low cut robes, being chased by a leering, ugly and slavering semi-human figure. Just in case there was any doubt as to the meaning, the woman wore a pure-blood label and the creature was, apparently, a Mudblood. The writing underneath the vile image informed Susan that –Association Breeds Pollution”. She was fighting the urge to tear down the poster when the portrait opened and Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Nott entered. Taking the chance the slowly closing door offered, she dashed to freedom.




Susan slept late the following morning. It had been well after one o’clock in the morning when she had contacted Neville and Ginny, given a rapid explanation of what she had done and handed them the Sketch Board. The Gryffindor dormitories were, she knew, much more secure than her own.

Pleased with her night’s work, and still glowing from the praise she’d received from Neville and Ginny, Susan left the Hufflepuff dormitory and made her way towards the Great Hall for breakfast. As she strode along the corridor, Theodore Nott appeared in front of her. She looked down at him in surprise. Nott, a boy only marginally taller than Colin Creevey, never approached anyone.

‘Well done, Bones,’ he said.

‘What on earth are you talking about, Nott?’ she asked coldly.

Nott told her; he told her everything. He explained what she’d done, and how she’d done it. Susan tried her best to look confused.

‘I expect you’ve already moved it to somewhere more secure than your dormitory,’ he said. ‘But if I were you I’d create a copy of the Sketch Board, burn it, and leave the remains somewhere where they’ll be found. Malfoy will still want revenge of course, but at least he’ll stop looking for it. Zabini doesn’t think that it could possibly have been you, so you’re probably safe. Nevertheless, I suggest that you also spread the rumour that Granger, or one of the other Muggle-borns of your height and build, managed to sneak into the school.’

‘What?’ Susan croaked in disbelief.

‘At the moment, Bones, my turning you over to Malfoy would serve no purpose. Frankly, being associated with the Malfoys isn’t as important as it once was. But being associated with your side is an even worse option. This is going to be an exciting year for all of us, Bones, especially as this conversation never happened. Good luck, and don’t forget what I’ve told you.’ With that, he turned on his heels and left.
End Notes:
Note:
I suspect that I’ve turned this challenge upside down, again. In my defence, at no point does it say that ths criminal must be caught, simply that the case must be solved. Even the great Sherlock sometimes allowed the criminal to walk free. Nor does it say that the thief cannot be on the side of the good guys.
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