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A few minutes later Hermione, who had become so tired of Ron's recent unpleasant behavior that she had not come down to breakfast with them, paused on her way up the table.

Harry awoke next morning feeling slightly dazed and confused by a series of dreams in which Ron had chased him with a Beater’s bat, but by midday he would have happily exchanged the dream Ron for the real one, who was not only cold-shouldering Ginny and Dean, but also treating a hurt and bewildered Hermione with an icy, sneering indifference. What was more, Ron seemed to have become, overnight, as touchy and ready to lash out as the average Blast-Ended Skrewt. Harry spent the day attempting to keep the peace between Ron and Hermione with no success; finally, Hermione departed for bed in high dudgeon, and Ron stalked off to the boys' dormitory after swearing angrily at several frightened first years for looking at him.

"Hi," said Harry, "How're you? You're staying at Hogwarts, then? I heard your parents wanted you to leave."

Hermione was now waving her wand enthusiastically over her cauldron. Unfortunately, they could not copy the spell she was doing because she was now so good at non-verbal incan-tations that she did not need to say the words aloud. Ernie Macmillan, however, was muttering, 'Specialis revelio!' over his cauldron, which sounded impressive, so Harry and Ron hastened to imitate him.

'Good morning,' said the Ministry wizard, when all the stu-dents had arrived and the Heads of House had called for quiet. 'My name is Wilkie Twycross and I shall be your Ministry-Apparition Instructor for the next twelve weeks. 1 hope to be able to prepare you for your Apparition test in this time -'


"Snogging," said Harry.

"I was very lucky to collect this," he said, as he poured the gleaming mass into the Pensieve. "As you will understand when we have experienced it. Shall we?"

Ron thought that Harry was unlikely to have any trouble with Slughorn at all.

"You shut up and leave her alone!" shouted Peakes, who was about two-thirds Ron's height, though admittedly carrying a heavy bat.

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 17: A sluggish memory

"Not necessarily," said Lupin. "Jinxes go in and out of fashion like everything else."

"She can't complain," he told Harry. "She snogged Krum. So she's found out someone wants to snog me too. Well, it's a free country. I haven't done anything wrong."

Voldemort's eyes moved slowly around the hovel and then found the man in the armchair. For a few seconds they looked at each other, then the man staggered upright, the many empty bottles at his feet clattering and tinkling across the floor.

"I'm definitely not interested," said Harry firmly, "and I've just seen a friend of mine, sorry." He pulled Luna after him into the crowd; he had indeed just seen a long mane of brown hair disappear between what looked like two members of the Weird Sisters.


"No!" said Parvati, looking positively agog at thi s piece of gossip. "Wow , you like your Quidditch players, don't you? First Krum, then McLaggen. . ."


"Well, perhaps that will give you some clue as to when the Prince was at Hogwarts," said Lupin.


They stood in silence as icy as the ground beneath their feet. The gnome had finally managed to extricate his worm and was now sucking on it happily, leaning against the bottommost branches of the rhododendron bush.


Harry was disappointed; he had hoped that Hermione might have been able to give him a clue as to what Horcruxes were.,


"It's nothing, nothing," said Slughorn, waving away Malfoy's t hanks. "I did know your grandfather, after all....";