Chapter 25 - A snake in his bosom

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"No" McGonagall shakes her head. "No, I can't let four of my students leave the castle premises during a class day for a round trip to France! This is out of question!"

Hermione bites her lips, I sigh. My two best friends, Draco and I were all gathered into the headmistress office to share our recent discovery with her. But she is rather reluctant to let us follow our plan to check that Draco's dad isn't in danger...

"But, Professor!" I say in a desperate attempt to convince her. "If Goyle knows where Mr Malfoy is, he'll attack him or worse!"

"Mr Goyle is within this castle, we all know this. How could he be both here and in France to attack Mr Malfoy –if he really is the culprit?"

From the corner of the eyes, I see Draco clenching his fists.

"So the old curse and the box proofs aren't enough to convince you?" he asks coldly. "Maybe you want a written confession with a pink ribbon on it to be sure he's guilty?"

The headmistress frowns and gives him a severe look across her glasses. If she disliked people arguing, what she hates most of all was sarcasm.

"Mr Malfoy, I know you are anxious of what can happen to your father, but be careful with the tone you employ with me" she warns him in a freezing cold voice. (His traits become grim, but he doesn't reply. She goes on.) "Before blaming your friend, I want to hear what he has to say. Like I did with Mr Longbottom when we founded your wand near his bed. Every student in Hogwarts deserves the same treatment, whether he is a Gryffindor or a Slytherin..."

Hermione makes a step forward to attract the teacher's attention.

"Professor, the problem is that we know there are two aggressors..." she starts. "Even if Goyle is, indeed, in the castle right now, he may have contacted his accomplice and... well, this other person may have found a way to harm Mr Malfoy. I mean, his dad" she adds, pointing at Draco.

McGonagall pounders for a moment, thinking silently, then she taps her desk with the tip of her fingers.

"This is a possibility... Even if this other person is someone from Hogwarts, maybe he or she has external support..." she nods.

Draco steps into the breach.

"You see?" he says hastily. "So we need to be quicker than them and thwart their plan!"

She shakes her head.

"I didn't say I wouldn't do anything, but I can't let four teenagers –well, four freshly turned-adults– leave school for who knows how long and go to France! We need to find another solution..." she tries to rationalise.

"I can go to my brother Bill and his wife" Ron explains. "She's from France and she could guide us there."

"And I would come with him because I speak French and I could translate everything for him" Draco adds.

She raises an eyebrow, not fooled for a second by our reasoning.

"Sure thing, I understood perfectly what you mean. Then, you'll tell me that you need Mr Potter as an interpreter because you can't talk to anyone else once you're a snake. And finally, you'll try to convince me that Ms Granger has to come as well, because, why not? The more the merrier!"

She gets up and starts pacing.

"Why not?" I wonder innocently. "We all reached our majority. Plus, last year we crossed England from South to North, we were on our own and nothing happened to us really."

"We almost died a dozen times, but sure" Ron grumbles.

Hermione glares at him.

"Mr Weasley is right" McGonagall sniffs scornfully. "Don't you want to survive this school year at all? You should stop pushing your luck, young people!"

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