“Well, I'm keeping an eye on him from now on,” he said firmly. “And the moment I see him lurking somewhere with Crabbe and Goyle keeping watch outside, it'll be on
with the old Invisibility Cloak and off to find out what he's—”
He broke off as Neville entered the dormitory, bringing with him a strong smell of singed material, and began rummaging in his trunk for a fresh pair of pants.
Despite his determination to catch Malfoy out, Harry had no luck at all over the next couple of weeks. Although he consulted the map as often as he could, sometimes
making unnecessary visits to the bathroom between lessons to search it, he did not once see Malfoy anywhere suspicious. Admittedly, he spotted Crabbe and Goyle moving
around the castle on their own more often than usual, sometimes remaining stationary in deserted corridors, but at these times Malfoy was not only nowhere near them,
but impossible to locate on the map at all. This was most mysterious. Harry toyed with the possibility that Malfoy was actually leaving the school grounds, but could
not see how he could be doing it, given the very high leve! of security now operating within the castle. He could only suppose ihat he was missing Malfoy amongst the
hundreds of tiny black dots upon the map. As for the fact that Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle appeared to be going their different ways when they were usually inseparable,
these things happened as people got older—Ron and Hermione, Harry reflected sadly, were living proof.
February moved towards March with no change in the weather except that it became windy as well as wet. To general indignation, a sign went up on all common-room
noticeboards that the next trip into Hogsmeade had been cancelled. Ron was furious.
“It was on my birthday!” he said, “I was looking forward to that!”
“Not a big surprise, though, is it?” said Harry. “Not after what happened to Katie.”
She had still not returned from St. Mungo's. What was more, further disappearances had been reported in the Daily Prophet, including several relatives of students at
“But now all I've got to look forward to is stupid Apparition!” said Ron grumpily. “Big birthday treat ...”
Three lessons on, Apparition was proving as difficult as ever, though a few more people had managed to Splinch themselves. Frustration was running high and there was a
certain amount of ill-feeling towards Wilkie Twycross and his three Ds, which had inspired a number of nicknames for him, the politest of which were Dog-breath and
“Happy birthday, Ron,” said Harry, when they were woken on the first of March by Seamus and Dean leaving noisily for breakfast. “Have a present.”