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The Pencil Portrait Problem: A Theodore Nott Mystery by Northumbrian

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Chapter 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.



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.