Malfoy shrugged.  

Malfoy shrugged.

“Mother wants me to complete my education, but personally, I don’t see it as that important these days. I mean, think about it… When the Dark Lord takes over, is he going to care how many O.W.L.s or N.E.W.T.s anyone’s got? Of course he isn’t. It’ll be all about the kind of service he received, the level of devotion he was shown.”

“And you think you’ll be able to do something for him?” asked Zabini scathingly. “Sixteen years old and not even fully qualified yet?”

“I’ve just said, haven’t I? Maybe he doesn’t care if I’m qualified. Maybe the job he wants me to do isn’t something that you need to be qualified for,” said Malfoy quietly.

Crabbe and Goyle were both sitting with their mouths open like gargoyles. Pansy was gazing down at Malfoy as though she had never seen anything so awe-inspiring.

“I can see Hogwarts,” said Malfoy, clearly relishing the effect he had created as he pointed out of the blackened window. “We’d better get our robes on.”

Harry was so busy staring at Malfoy, he did not notice Goyle reaching up for his trunk; as he swung it down, it hit Harry hard on the side of the head. He let out an involuntary gasp of pain, and Malfoy looked up at the luggage rack, frowning.

Harry was not afraid of Malfoy, but he still did not much like the idea of being discovered hiding under his Invisibility Cloak by a group of unfriendly Slytherins. Eyes still watering and head still throbbing, he drew his wand, careful not to disarrange the cloak, and waited, breath held. To his relief, Malfoy seemed to decide that he had imagined the noise; he pulled on his robes like the others, locked his trunk, and as the train slowed to a jerky crawl, fastened a thick new traveling cloak round his neck.

Harry could see the corridors filling up again and hoped that Hermione and Ron would take his things out onto the platform for him; he was stuck where he was until the compartment had quite emptied. At last, with a final lurch, the train came to a complete halt. Goyle threw the door open and muscled his way out into a crowd of second years, punching them aside; Crabbe and Zabini followed.



“You go on,” Malfoy told Pansy, who was waiting for him with her hand held out as though hoping he would hold it. “I just want to check something.”

Pansy left. Now Harry and Malfoy were alone in the compartment. People were filing past, descending onto the dark platform. Malfoy moved over to the compartment door and let down the blinds, so that people in the corridor beyond could not peer in. He then bent down over his trunk and opened it again.

Harry peered down over the edge of the luggage rack, his heart pumping a little faster. What had Malfoy wanted to hide from Pansy? Was he about to see the mysterious broken object it was so important to mend?

“Petrificus Totalus!”

Without warning, Malfoy pointed his wand at Harry, who was instantly paralyzed. As though in slow motion, he toppled out of the luggage rack and fell, with an agonizing, floor-shaking crash, at Malfoy’s feet, the Invisibility Cloak trapped beneath him, his whole body revealed with his legs still curled absurdly into the cramped kneeling position. He couldn’t move a muscle; he could only gaze up at Malfoy, who smiled broadly.

“I thought so,” he said jubilantly. “I heard Goyle’s trunk hit you. And I thought I saw something white flash through the air after Zabini came back…” His eyes lingered for a moment upon Harry’s trainers. “That was you blocking the door when Zabini came back in, I suppose?”


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