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"Now , Severus," said Slughorn, hiccuping again, "it's Christ mas, do n't be too hard —"
But Percy showed no sign of wanting to greet any of the rest of the family. He stood, poker-straight and awkward-looking, and stared over everybody else's heads. Mr. Weasley, Fred, and George were all observing him, stony-faced.
'Dumbledore put you up to this,' whispered Slughorn,
"What do you mean?" '
"No, I think it would be foolish to attempt to wrest the truth from Professor Slughorn by force, and might do much more harm than good; I do not wish him to leave Hogwarts. However, he has his weaknesses like the rest of us, and I believe that you are the one person who might be able to penetrate his defenses. It is most important that we secure the true memory, Harry. . . . How important, we will only know when we have seen the real thing. So, good luck . . . and good night."
tudes, Harry brooded for the next few days over what to do next about Slughorn. He decided that, for the time being, he would let Slughorn think that he had forgotten all about Horcruxes; it was surely best to lull him into a false sense of security before returning to the attack.
"How very rude of him."
When Harry did noi question Slughorn again, the Potions master reverted to his usual affectionate treatment of him, and appeared to have put the matter from his mind. Harry awaited an invitation to one of his little evening parties, determined to accept this time, even if he had to reschedule Quidditch prac- tice. Unfortunately, however, no such invitation arrived. Harry checked with Hermione and Ginny: neither of them had received an invitation and nor, as far as they knew, had anybody else. Harry could not help wondering whether this meant that Slughorn was not quite as forgetful as he appeared, simply determined to give Harry no additional opportunities to question him.
"Yeah," said Ron at once, "pretty eventful, Rufus Scrim —" ] "I've got something for you, Harry," said Hermione, neither looking at Ron nor giving any sign that she had heard him. "Oh, hang on — password. Abstinence."
"But how come the Ministry didn't realize that Voldemort had done all that to Morfin?" Harry asked angrily "He was underage at the time, wasn't he? I thought they could detect underage magic!" "You are quite right — they can detect magic, but not the perpetrator: You will remember that you were blamed by the Ministry for the Hover Charm that was, in fact, cast by —"
He looked away, staggering slightly, and Voldemort moved forward. As he did so, an unnatural darkness fell, extinguishing Voldemort's lamp and Morfin's candle, extinguishing everything. . . . Dumbledore's fingers closed tightly around Harry's arm and they were soaring back into the present again. The soft golden light in Dumbledore's office seemed to dazzle Harry's eyes after that impenetrable darkness. |
Chapter 18: Birthday Surprises
"I wont," said Ron, "let you see," he added under his breath, as he turned back to the sprout mountain.
The atmosphere in the changing room was jubilant. "Party up in the common room, Seamus said!" yelled Dean exuberantly. "C'mon, Ginny, Demelza!"
Harry stared at him.