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  1. More out of habit than anything, Harry made his
  2. usual detour along the seventh-floor corridor, checking the Marauder’s
  3. Map as he went. For a moment he could not find Malfoy
  4. anywhere and assumed he must indeed be inside the Room of
  5. Requirement again, but then he saw Malfoy’s tiny, labeled dot
  6. standing in a boys’ bathroom on the floor below, accompanied, not
  7. by Crabbe or Goyle, but by Moaning Myrtle.
  8. Harry only stopped staring at this unlikely coupling when he
  9. walked right into a suit of armor. The loud crash brought him out
  10. of his reverie; hurrying from the scene lest Filch turn up, he dashed
  11. down the marble staircase and along the passageway below. Outside
  12. the bathroom, he pressed his ear against the door. He could
  13. not hear anything. He very quietly pushed the door open.
  14. Draco Malfoy was standing with his back to the door, his hands
  15. clutching either side of the sink, his white-blond head bowed.
  16. “Don’t,” crooned Moaning Myrtle’s voice from one of the cubicles.
  17. “Don’t . . . tell me what’s wrong . . . I can help you. . . .”
  18. “No one can help me,” said Malfoy. His whole body was shaking.
  19. “I can’t do it. . . . I can’t. . . . It won’t work . . . and unless I do
  20. it soon . . . he says he’ll kill me. . . .”
  21. And Harry realized, with a shock so huge it seemed to root him
  22. to the spot, that Malfoy was crying — actually crying — tears
  23. streaming down his pale face into the grimy basin. Malfoy gasped
  24. and gulped and then, with a great shudder, looked up into the
  25. cracked mirror and saw Harry staring at him over his shoulder.
  26. Malfoy wheeled around, drawing his wand. Instinctively, Harry
  27. pulled out his own. Malfoy’s hex missed Harry by inches, shattering
  28. the lamp on the wall beside him; Harry threw himself sideways,
  29. thought Levicorpus! and flicked his wand, but Malfoy blocked the
  30. jinx and raised his wand for another —
  31. “No! No! Stop it!” squealed Moaning Myrtle, her voice echoing
  32. loudly around the tiled room. “Stop! STOP!”
  33. There was a loud bang and the bin behind Harry exploded;
  34. Harry attempted a Leg-Locker Curse that backfired off the wall behind
  35. Malfoy’s ear and smashed the cistern beneath Moaning Myrtle,
  36. who screamed loudly; water poured everywhere and Harry
  37. slipped as Malfoy, his face contorted, cried, “Cruci —”
  38. “SECTUMSEMPRA!” bellowed Harry from the floor, waving his
  39. wand wildly.
  40. Blood spurted from Malfoy’s face and chest as though he had
  41. been slashed with an invisible sword. He staggered backward and
  42. collapsed onto the waterlogged floor with a great splash, his wand
  43. falling from his limp right hand.
  44. “No —” gasped Harry.
  45. Slipping and staggering, Harry got to his feet and plunged
  46. SECTUMSEMPRA
  47. 􀂑 523 􀂑
  48. toward Malfoy, whose face was now shining scarlet, his white hands
  49. scrabbling at his blood-soaked chest.
  50. “No — I didn’t —”
  51. Harry did not know what he was saying; he fell to his knees beside
  52. Malfoy, who was shaking uncontrollably in a pool of his own
  53. blood. Moaning Myrtle let out a deafening scream: “MURDER!
  54. MURDER IN THE BATHROOM! MURDER!”
  55. The door banged open behind Harry and he looked up, terrified:
  56. Snape had burst into the room, his face livid. Pushing Harry
  57. roughly aside, he knelt over Malfoy, drew his wand, and traced it
  58. over the deep wounds Harry’s curse had made, muttering an incantation
  59. that sounded almost like song. The flow of blood seemed
  60. to ease; Snape wiped the residue from Malfoy’s face and repeated
  61. his spell. Now the wounds seemed to be knitting.
  62. Harry was still watching, horrified by what he had done, barely
  63. aware that he too was soaked in blood and water. Moaning Myrtle
  64. was still sobbing and wailing overhead. When Snape had performed
  65. his countercurse for the third time, he half-lifted Malfoy
  66. into a standing position.
  67. “You need the hospital wing. There may be a certain amount of
  68. scarring, but if you take dittany immediately we might avoid even
  69. that. . . . Come. . . .”
  70. He supported Malfoy across the bathroom, turning at the door
  71. to say in a voice of cold fury, “And you, Potter . . . You wait here for
  72. me.”
  73. It did not occur to Harry for a second to disobey. He stood up
  74. slowly, shaking, and looked down at the wet floor. There were
  75. bloodstains floating like crimson flowers across its surface. He could not even find it in himself to tell Moaning Myrtle to be
  76. quiet, as she continued to wail and sob with increasingly evident
  77. enjoyment.
  78. Snape returned ten minutes later. He stepped into the bathroom
  79. and closed the door behind him.
  80. “Go,” he said to Myrtle, and she swooped back into her toilet at
  81. once, leaving a ringing silence behind her.
  82. “I didn’t mean it to happen,” said Harry at once. His voice
  83. echoed in the cold, watery space. “I didn’t know what that spell
  84. did.”
  85. But Snape ignored this. “Apparently I underestimated you, Potter,”
  86. he said quietly. “Who would have thought you knew such
  87. Dark Magic? Who taught you that spell?”
  88. “I — read about it somewhere.”
  89. “Where?”
  90. “It was — a library book,” Harry invented wildly. “I can’t remember
  91. what it was call —”
  92. “Liar,” said Snape. Harry’s throat went dry. He knew what Snape
  93. was going to do and he had never been able to prevent it. . . .
  94. The bathroom seemed to shimmer before his eyes; he struggled
  95. to block out all thought, but try as he might, the Half-Blood
  96. Prince’s copy of Advanced Potion-Making swam hazily to the forefront
  97. of his mind.
  98. And then he was staring at Snape again, in the midst of this
  99. wrecked, soaked bathroom. He stared into Snape’s black eyes, hoping
  100. against hope that Snape had not seen what he feared, but —
  101. “Bring me your schoolbag,” said Snape softly, “and all of your
  102. schoolbooks. All of them. Bring them to me here. Now!”
  103. There was no point arguing. Harry turned at once and splashed
  104. SECTUMSEMPRA
  105. 􀂑 525 􀂑
  106. out of the bathroom. Once in the corridor, he broke into a run toward
  107. Gryffindor Tower. Most people were walking the other way;
  108. they gaped at him, drenched in water and blood, but he answered
  109. none of the questions fired at him as he ran past.
  110. He felt stunned; it was as though a beloved pet had turned suddenly
  111. savage; what had the Prince been thinking to copy such a
  112. spell into his book? And what would happen when Snape saw it?
  113. Would he tell Slughorn — Harry’s stomach churned — how
  114. Harry had been achieving such good results in Potions all year?
  115. Would he confiscate or destroy the book that had taught Harry so
  116. much . . . the book that had become a kind of guide and friend?
  117. Harry could not let it happen. . . . He could not . . .
  118. “Where’ve you — ? Why are you soaking — ? Is that blood?”
  119. Ron was standing at the top of the stairs, looking bewildered at
  120. the sight of Harry.
  121. “I need your book,” Harry panted. “Your Potions book. Quick
  122. . . . give it to me . . .”
  123. “But what about the Half-Blood —”
  124. “I’ll explain later!”
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