Chapter 11 : Making plans.
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Vowing to prove it was one thing; figuring out just how to do so was quite another, as the three youngsters quickly began to realise.
They had managed to find a deserted classroom and were finally able to talk freely, but they weren’t making all that much progress.
“I don’t really see what we can do.” Diana voiced their mutual frustration. “After all, this is Snape we are talking about. We can’t exactly start up a casual conversation with him and hope he gives himself away, can we?”
Rose shook her head slowly, unwilling to admit the difficulties that existed.
“There has to be something we can do,” she insisted. “I think we ought to keep an eye on him. If we watch him for long enough, he’s bound to do something that gives him away sooner or later.”
“He’ll kill us,” Diana muttered.
Michael had remained mostly quiet until this point, but now he spoke up.
“Well, we’d have to be very careful. Diana’s right. If he found out what we were up to, he would kill us. Snape is one guy I would not like to cross. And if he has Malfoy on his side…..”
“Do you think that Malfoy could be hiding around here somewhere?” Rose asked excitedly.
Michael pondered the issue for a moment.
“Well, no, I don’t really,” he said eventually. “I mean, this is Hogwarts, after all. Half of the staff were involved in the final battle against You-Know-Who. I doubt he’d come anywhere near the place.”
“But that might be the way they’d expect everybody to think. And, after all, nobody except us knows that Snape is helping him. Why should they think of looking around here?”
“I suppose it’s possible,” Michael replied doubtfully. “It would make it easier for Snape to keep on helping him. I mean he can hardly go down to Ollivanders and buy a wand or anything. But it doesn’t help us out much even if he is, does it? I mean, he’s hardly hiding him in the castle, is he? That would be just crazy.”
There was silence for a moment, then the same thought seemed to strike both girls simultaneously.
“The Shrieking Shack,” they both cried.
Michael glanced from one to the other, looking somewhat impressed.
“You could be right,” he admitted. “After all, Snape was at school with your dad, wasn’t he? He could have known about it.”
“Not just could; he did,” Diana said.
Michael and Rose looked at her. This was a story they hadn’t heard before.
“It’s sort of a long story, but one time when they were all at school, Sirius played a trick on Snape. He told him how to get into the Shack and stuff. Snape very nearly got bitten.”
“Pity he didn’t,” Rose muttered.
“Yeah, well, Dad was really mad at Sirius. I mean, can you imagine if he’d bitten him? He would have felt so guilty.”
“I wouldn’t,” Rose put in. “Not when it was Snape.”
“Well, you know Dad. He would never hurt anybody. And you don’t see what he goes through every month, Rose. He wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Neither would I, really. Not even Snape. But anyway, it means he knows how to get into the Shrieking Shack, so he could be hiding Malfoy in there.”
“Do you know how to get in there?” Rose asked.
Diana shook her head. “Do you really think Dad would tell me that? He’d be afraid I’d do something to get in trouble.”
“Fred and George would be the best people to ask,” Michael said. “George was boasting once that they know every passageway in and around Hogwarts. I bet they’d know. And they’d tell us.”
“Yeah, they would, wouldn’t they? If they do know, that is. The Shrieking Shack’s got to be your job, Michael. Me and Diana can’t go into Hogsmeade, so it’s up to you to find out if there’s been any sign of life there. Any sounds coming from it or anything. And if Fred or George is in their shop, you could ask them how to get into it.”
“Or we could owl them,” Michael suggested.
Rose agreed. “What should we say though?”
“It’s Fred and George. We don’t have to tell too many lies to them. Just ‘do you know how to get to the Shrieking Shack from Hogwarts, without any teachers knowing?’”
“Let’s not tell them why we want to know, though,” said Rose. “If Dad didn’t believe us, they probably won’t either. And I’m sick of people not believing us. Let’s just wait until we can prove it. Then everybody will have to believe.”
Michael sat down at one of the desks to write the note.
We know that you and Fred found out a lot of the ways out of Hogwarts when you were at school. Now we need your help. We were wondering if you know how to get to the Shrieking Shack. Without any of the teachers knowing, you understand?
Thanks very much. You are our favourite uncles.
Love Michael and
Rose added her name to the end of the letter and Michael stuffed it into his pocket.
“I’ll send it off later, when I get a chance.”
“Don’t keep it too long,” Rose advised. “We’d be in a load of trouble if any of the teachers saw it.”
“I won’t. Is there anything else we can do? What if Malfoy isn’t in the Shrieking Shack?”
Rose shrugged. “I guess we can do like we said and keep an eye on Snape. We’d have to take it in turns, I suppose. One of us could hang around near the staff areas at all times and if he comes out, we could follow him or whatever. We’d have to be really careful though.”
After a day or two, it became obvious that even with the three of them taking turns, there was no possible way that they could watch Snape all day every day. For one thing, they had classes to attend. None of them was available until their afternoon classes ended. And there was no way they could watch him all night. It wasn’t that they objected to sneaking out of their dormitories at night, but they couldn’t do it every night. Not when each of them would have to cover a third of the night-time hours. Even the evenings, when they were actually free were difficult, as they all had homework to do, and Rose and Diana had hardly any time left to enjoy themselves together, if they both had to watch Snape separately and do their homework besides.
“At least we know where he is at dinner time,” Diana whispered to Rose, two days after they had started watching him.
“Do you think we should get some more people to help?” Rose asked, in a whisper.
“I thought you didn’t want people to know until we’d proof.”
“Yeah, well, not adults, but I was thinking more like James and people like that. It’s a pity Steve isn’t here. He’d help.”
“Don’t you think James would?”
Rose shrugged. “I don’t know. Should I ask him?”
“Well, we can’t keep doing it all by ourselves. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”
Even though they were at the same school now, it wasn’t always easy to talk to James. The different houses were kept quite separate and the fact that they were in different years made it even more difficult. However, she managed to corner him after breakfast the next morning.
“James, I need to talk to you.”
“Yeah,” he replied, turning to her.
“Not now, not when there are people around. Can I meet you in the grounds at say, five o’clock this evening.”
James rolled his eyes.
“All right,” he agreed.
“This is serious,” Rose insisted.
“I said ok.”
She knew that James didn’t take her need for secrecy seriously, but nevertheless, he did meet her in the place they agreed on at five that evening.
“Well, what is this all about?” he asked cheerfully.
“You remember the day we beat you at Quidditch?”
“Well, afterwards, Michael, Diana and I went to the Visual Contact room and we heard Snape talking to somebody. He was telling them that he’d helped Malfoy escape.”
James burst out laughing.
“James. This is serious. Snape is helping Malfoy. He’s a Death Eater.”
“Sure Rose. Just like Dad defeated all the Death Eaters single-handedly. And all Muggles have to light matches in order to light their houses, because they can’t use magic.”
“Well, ok, so I exaggerated a couple of times in the past. But I’m not exaggerating now. I swear on Merlin’s grave, James, Snape is a Death Eater!”
James relented a little.
“Look, all the Aurors are out looking for Malfoy and his accomplices. If Snape was helping him, then they’ll find out. There’s nothing for us to worry about.”
“Well, they’re taking long enough about it. Besides wouldn’t it be really fantastic if we solved it ourselves. Look at all the mysteries Dad and his friends solved when they were at Hogwarts. I bet you and me and Diana and Michael could do the same if we just put our heads together.”
James gripped his younger sister by the shoulders.
“Listen to me, Rose,” he said in what she supposed was meant to be his firmest tone. “Don’t you go getting involved in this. You’ll only end up getting into serious trouble. And what if you did stumble on something real? These are dangerous people, Rose. You know what Malfoy did! He’s not somebody you want to bump into; I can tell you that.”
“So you do believe me.”
“No, I don’t really,” James said, relaxing visibly. “I just don’t want you going out looking for Malfoy or anything. Not that it’s very likely you’ll find him. The Aurors are far more likely to find him than you are. But if you did…, well, it wouldn’t be very pleasant. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“It won’t. I’m not stupid, James.”
“That’s what’s worrying me,” he muttered. “Come on, let’s go back inside.”
“Well?” Diana asked, as Rose barged back into the Gryffindor common room.
“Great help he is! He doesn’t even believe me. And even if he did, he doesn’t think we should get involved. He thinks Malfoy is too dangerous for us to be dealing with.”
“Well, I suppose he might have a point,” Diana said quietly.
Rose turned on her.
“Merlin, Diana, don’t tell me you’re turning chicken on me!”
“No, of course I’m not, but we do need to be careful. I wouldn’t really like to sneak into the Shrieking Shack and find him standing there in front of us.”
“Well, he’s hardly going to have a wand,” Rose said irritably.
“You never know. I’d want to be pretty sure he didn’t before I went to face him.”
Rose turned around and stormed up to the dormitory. Nothing was working out the way it should. Her dad didn’t believe her, James didn’t believe her, they couldn’t watch Snape properly; there was still plenty of time when he could be sneaking out to help Malfoy unknown to them. Diana was reluctant to visit the Shrieking Shack with them and so far George hadn’t even replied to their letter asking if he knew how to get into it.
An owl arrived at the dormitory window and Rose leapt up to open it. Maybe it was from George.
It wasn’t, she realised as soon as she opened the window. She recognised the owl as her parents’. Nevertheless, she ripped the notes from its leg eagerly.
The first page was a short note from her mother.
Jessica asked us to send you this.
A letter from Jessica. It might not have been exactly what Rose had been hoping for, but it still cheered her up a little. It was great to hear from her.
Write soon? You’ve some cheek, saying that to me after the length of time it took you to reply to my letters. Still, at least you did answer finally. I was beginning to think you didn’t want to be friends anymore, now that you are off at your new school. Have you any new friends there, by the way? And if so, do you like them better than me? I know I’m not really supposed to ask stuff like that, but I want to know.
To answer your questions, yeah, Lucy’s mother is still coming up to the door of the school with her. They had a huge argument the first day of school, because her mother went up to the principal, asking her all about what classes Lucy would be in and telling her how shy Lucy was and stuff. She was so embarrassed. Can you imagine? If my mum did that, I’d kill her. Wouldn’t you? Guess what! Jenny got caught smoking just the day after I sent you the last letter, so she did get suspended. She’s unbelievable!
Your news was far more interesting than anything I have though. One of your teachers helping a criminal escape? What’s happened? Has he been arrested? That would be so exciting! I wonder if any of our teachers is a criminal. I bet Mrs. Caulfield is. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
Oh, you never told me the address of your school, so I had to give this to your mum to send to you. Don’t forget to tell me in your next letter.
And don’t forget to write back quickly!
Rose had every intention of “forgetting” to tell Jessica the address for her school again, but she would write back quickly. The truth was that she was glad of the chance to write to Jessica. Even if she did have to be a little vague with regard to the details, at least she could tell her some things that she couldn’t talk to anybody in Hogwarts about. And at least Jessica believed her.
Thanks for your letter.
It’s actually getting really annoying about that teacher, because nobody will believe us about what we heard. I can’t remember how much I actually told you, but I was going to phone Dad to tell him about us winning the match and Snape was on the phone, so we listened to his conversation. We can’t tell any of the teachers what we heard, because then we’d have to admit we were listening to his private phone calls. And Dad doesn’t believe me. I was sure he would, but he thinks I’ve misheard. Do you have any ideas about what we should do? Michael and me and a friend of mine have tried watching him to see what he does, but we can’t watch him all day everyday.
And yes, I do have friends here, but I don’t like them better than you. One of Dad’s friends has a daughter going here too. You remember Diana? I think I mentioned her to you before. Well, she is my best friend here, but you are still my best friend at home.
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