"Malfoy, the Heir of Slytherin?" said Hermione skeptically.
"Look at his family," said Harry. "The whole lot of them have been in Slytherin; he's always boasting about it. They could easily be Slytherin's descendants. His father's definitely evil enough."
"They could've had the key to the Chamber of Secrets for centuries!" said Ron. "Handing it down, father to son- I've got it!" said Ron in a triumphant voice. "Lucius Malfoy must've opened the Chamber when he was at school here and now he's told dear old Draco how to do it. It's obvious."
"Well," said Hermione cautiously, "I suppose it's possible..."
"But how do we prove it?" said Harry darkly.
Arth lit up with excitement.
"I know a way, just wait a bit." He said before running off in excitement.
Ron stared at the quickly retreating Arth with his mouth open.
"Can you actually believe how quickly he can disappear? I swear he has a natural invisibility spell on him."
"He might have a Dissipating Aura." Said Hermione with her eyebrows scrunched.
"Wassthat?" Said Harry, as clueless about magical things as ever.
"It's a kind of disposition that makes it hard for your presence to be conspicuous. Unless he focuses on marking himself there, he will naturally seem like an extra. In other words, he basically seems natural and blends in with the background."
"That must suck."
"It's actually pretty useful, when you learn to control it, it becomes very handy in assassinations. In fact, there was a research done that showed that most of the famous assassins in history had this disposition."
"So Arth is a born assassin?"
"Bloody hell, that's kinda cool," said Ron while giving another glance at the hallway that Arth had disappeared into. "So how are we going to get Malfoy to confess?"
"There might be a way," said Hermione slowly, dropping her voice still further with a quick
glance across the room at Percy. "Of course, it would be difficult. And dangerous, very dangerous. We'd be breaking about fifty school rules, I expect —"
"If, in a month or so, you feel like explaining, you will let us know, won't you?" said Ron irritably.
"All right," said Hermione coldly. "What we'd need to do is to get inside the Slytherin common room and ask Malfoy a few questions without him realizing it's us."
"But that's impossible," Harry said as Ron laughed.
"No, it's not," said Hermione. "All we'd need would be some Polyjuice Potion."
"What's that?" said Ron and Harry together.
"Snape mentioned it in class a few weeks ago —"
"D'you think we've got nothing better to do in Potions than listen to Snape?" muttered Ron.
"It transforms you into somebody else. Think about it! We could change into three of the
Slytherins. No one would know it was us. Malfoy would probably tell us anything. He's probably boasting about it in the Slytherin common room right now, if only we could hear him."
"This Polyjuice stuff sounds a bit dodgy to me," said Ron, frowning. "What if we were stuck looking like three of the Slytherins forever?"
"It wears off after a while," said Hermione, waving her hand impatiently. "But getting hold of the recipe will be very difficult. Snape said it was in a book called Moste Potente Potions and it's bound to be in the Restricted Section of the library."
There was only one way to get out a book from the Restricted Section: You needed a signed note of permission from a teacher.
"Hard to see why we'd want the book, really," said Ron, "if we weren't going to try and make one of the potions." "
"I think," said Hermione, "that if we made it sound as though we were just interested in the theory, we might stand a chance..."
""Oh, come on, no teacher's going to fall for that," said Ron. "They'd have to be really thick-"
"Ah, I forgot. We do have a stupid teacher."
Harry frowned suspiciously.
"You don't mean Lockhart do you?"
"Exactly who I'm talking about." Said Ron with a smug smile.
Twenty minutes later, they acquired the book.
"I don't believe it," Harry said as the three of them examined the signature on the note.
"He didn't even look at the book we wanted."
"That's because he's a brainless git," said Ron. "But who cares, we've got what we needed."
Hermione opened Moste Potente Potions carefully, and the three of them bent over the damp- spotted pages. It was clear from a glance why it belonged in the Restricted Section. Some of the potions had effects almost too gruesome to think about, and there were some very unpleasant illustrations, which included a man who seemed to have been turned inside out and a witch sprouting several extra pairs of arms out of her head.
"Here it is," said Hermione excitedly as she found the page headed The Polyjuice Potion. It was decorated with drawings of people halfway through transforming into other people.
"This is the most complicated potion I've ever seen," said Hermione as they scanned the recipe. "Lacewing flies, leeches, fluxweed, and knotgrass," she murmured, running her finger down the list of ingredients. "Well, they're easy enough, they're in the student store-cupboard, we can help ourselves... Oooh, look, powdered horn of a bicorn — don't know where we're going to get that — shredded skin of a boomslang — that'll be tricky, too and of course a bit of whoever we want to change into."
"Excuse me?" said Ron sharply. "What d'you mean, a bit of whoever we're changing into? I'm drinking nothing with Crabbe's toenails in it —"
Hermione continued as though she hadn't heard him.
"We don't have to worry about that yet, though, because we add those bits last..."
Ron turned, speechless, to Harry, who had another worry.
"D'you realize how much we're going to have to steal, Hermione? Shredded skin of a
boomslang, that's definitely not in the students' cupboard. What're we going to do, break into Snape's private stores? I don't know if this is a good idea..."
Hermione shut the book with a snap.
"Well, if you two are going to chicken out, fine," she said. There were bright pink patches on her cheeks and her eyes were brighter than usual. "I don't want to break rules, you know. I think threatening Muggle-borns is far worse than brewing up a difficult potion. But if you don't want to find out if it's Malfoy, I'll go straight to Madam Pince now and hand the book back in."
"I never thought I'd see the day when you'd be persuading us to break rules," said Ron. "All right, we'll do it. But not toenails, okay?"
"How long will it take to make, anyway?" said Harry as Hermione, looking happier, opened the book again.
"Well, since the fluxweed has got to be picked at the full moon and the lacewings have got to be stewed for twenty-one days...I'd say it'd be ready in about a month, if we can get all the ingredients."
"A month?" said Ron. "Malfoy could have attacked half the Muggle-borns in the school by then!" But Hermione's eyes narrowed dangerously again, and he added swiftly, "But it's the best plan we've got, so full steam ahead, I say. We just need to tell Arth when he gets back."
"Tell me what? And where were you guys. I've been running around looking for you guys for the past ten minutes."
Arth had come back from god knows where looking as though he had just gotten in a fight.
"Oh, we were just going to tell you that we have a plan to interrogate Malfoy. Were going to use the poly juice potion."
"What? We don't need to do that."
"Why!" Replied Hermione with an annoyed look. "Do you not want to take the risk?"
Arth had a weird look on his face.
"I didn't mean that, I meant that it would be stupid to do that when I got everything set up already."
"What do you mean set up?"
Arth raised an eyebrow.
"What else would I be talking about? The Malfoy Interrogation."
"What?" Said Hermione, Harry and Ron simultaneously.
"Oh just follow me to Myrtle's Bathroom, I got everything set up. You'll understand when we get there."
"What about Malfoy?"
"Oh don't worry. He's there too."
"What do you mean how? I just nicked him from the slytherin common room."
When Arth was out of ears range, Ron leaned towards Hermione's ear and whispered.
"Is it just me or does it seem like Arth will become an assassin in the future."
Harry and Hermione Just wryly smiled in response.