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"Now , Severus," said Slughorn, hiccuping again, "it's Christ mas, do n't be too hard —"

"What's chat?" asked Harry. '

"So that's why you argued!" Harry blurted out. "It was in the Daily Prophet"'

He did not know what made him say it, but Harper did a dou-ble-take; he fumbled the Snitch, let it slip through his fingers, and shot right past it. Harry made a great swipe for the tiny, fluttering ball and caught it.

"Er," said Harry into the sudden silence; he had not expected his plan to backfire like this, "shall. . . shall we go up to the party, then?"


"Is that all?" said Harry at once. "Why did it go dark, what happened?"

Harry sat there feeling mutinous. How would it be if he refused to permit the change of subject, if he insisted upon arguing the case against Malfoy? As though he had read Harry's mind, Dumbledore shook his head.

"Because, I think, he is ashamed of what he remembers," said Dumbledore. "He has tried to rework the memory to show himself in a better light, obliterating those parts which he does not wish me to see. It is, as you will have noticed, very crudely done, and that is all to the good, for it shows that the true memory is still there beneath the alterations.

Infuriated by his failure and by Ron and Hermione's atti-

"Er . . . does he?" said Harry.


"That's right," said Hermione sweetly. "The one who *almost*" - she put a great deal of emphasis on the word - "bec a me Gryffindor Keeper."

They were all supposed to be listening to a Christmas broadcast by Mrs. Weasleys favorite singer, Celestina Warbeck, whose voice was warbling out of the large wooden wireless set. Fleur, who seemed to find Celestina very dull, was talking so loudly in the corner that a scowling Mrs. Weasley kept pointing her wand at the volume con-trol, so that Celestina grew louder and louder. Under cover of a par-ticularly jazzy number called "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love," Fred and George started a game of Exploding Snap with Ginny. Ron kept shooting Bill and Fleur covert looks, as though hoping to pick up tips. Meanwhile, Remus Lupin, who was thinner and more ragged-looking than ever, was sitting beside the fire, staring into its depths as though he could not hear Celestinas voice.

'... and so,' finished Slughorn, 'I want each of you to come and take one of these phials from my desk. You are to create an antidote for the poison within it before the end of the lesson. Good luck, and don't forget your protective gloves!'

"I agree," said Dumbledore. "Whatever Morfin was, he did not deserve to die as he did, blamed for murders he had not committed. But it is getting late, and I want you to see this other memory before we part. ..."

"She'll ban you from the library if you're not careful. Why did you have to bring that stupid book?"


When Harry and Hermione arrived in the Hall (Ron had come down with Lavender) they found that the tables had disappeared. Rain lashed against the high windows and the enchanted ceiling swirled darkly above them as they assembled in front of Professors McGonagall, Snape, Flitwick and Sprout - the Heads of House - and a small wizard whom Harry took to be the Apparition Instructor from the Ministry. He was oddly colourless, with transparent eyelashes, wispy hair and an insubstantial air, as though a single gust of wind might blow him away. Harry wondered whether constant dis-appearances and reappearances had somehow diminished his substance, or whether this frail build was ideal for anyone wishing to vanish.


"Oh, ha ha.."


"Listen to me," said Snape, his voice so low now that Harry had to push his ear very hard against the keyhole to hear. "I am trying to help you. I swore to your mother I would protect you. I made the Unbreakable Vow, Draco —"


And the rest of the evening passed amicably with both of them abusing the Minister of Magic, for Hermione, like Ron, thought that after all the Ministry had put Harry through the previous year, they had a great deal of nerve asking him for help now.,


"Yes, isn't it?" said Ron. "Gravy, Fleur?";