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Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince 19



Oh, well, nothing at all onerous, I assure you, said Scrimgeour. If you were to be seen popping in and out of the Ministry from time to time, for instance, that would give the right impression. And of course, while you were there, you would have ample : opportunity to speak to Gawain Robards, my successor as Head of the Auror office. Dolores Umbridge has told me that you cherish an ambition to become an Auror. Well, that could be arranged very easily

Harry felt anger bubbling in the pit of his stomach: So Dolores Umbridge was still at the Ministry, was she?

So basically, he said, as though he just wanted to clarify a few points, youd like to give the impression that Im working for the Ministry?

It would give everyone a lift to think you were more involved, Harry, said Scrimgeour, sounding relieved that Harry had cottoned on so quickly. The Chosen One, you know Its all about giving people hope, the feeling that exciting things are happening

But if I keep running in and out of the Ministry, said Harry, still endeavoring to keep his voice friendly, wont that seem as though I approve of what the Ministrys up to?

Well, said Scrimgeour, frowning slightly, well, yes, thats partly why wed like

No, I dont think thatll work, said Harry pleasantly. You see, I dont like some of the things the Ministrys doing. Locking up Stan Shunpike, for instance.

Scrimgeour did not speak for a moment but his expression hardened instantly. I would not expect you to understand, he said, and he was not as successful at keeping anger out of his voice as Harry had been. These are dangerous times, and certain measures need to be taken. You are sixteen years old

Dumbledores a lot older than sixteen, and he doesnt think Stan should be in Azkaban either, said Harry. Youre making Stan a scapegoat, just like you want to make me a mascot.

They looked at each other, long and hard. Finally Scrimgeour said, with no pretense at warmth, I see. You prefer like your hero, Dumbledore to disassociate yourself from the Ministry? I dont want to be used, said Harry.

Some would say its your duty to be used by the Ministry! Yeah, and others might say its your duty to check that people really are Death Eaters before you chuck them in prison, said Harry, his temper rising now. Youre doing what Barty Crouch did. You never get it right, you people, do you? Either weve got Fudge, pretending everythings lovely while people get murdered right under his nose, or weve got you, chucking the wrong people into jail and trying to pretend youve got the Chosen One working for you! i



So youre not the Chosen One? said Scrimgeour.

I thought you said it didnt matter either way? said Harry, with a bitter laugh. Not to you anyway.

I shouldnt have said that, said Scrimgeour quickly. It was tactless

No, it was honest, said Harry. One of the only honest things youve said to me. You dont care whether I live or die, but you do care that I help you convince everyone youre winning the war against Voldemort. I havent forgotten, Minister

He raised his right fist. There, shining white on the back of his cold hand, were the scars which Dolores Umbridge had forced him to carve into his own flesh: I must not tell lies.

I dont remember you rushing to my defense when I was trying to tell everyone Voldemort was back. The Ministry wasnt so keen to be pals last year.

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.

What is Dumbledore up to? said Scrimgeour brusquely. Where does he go when he is absent from Hogwarts?

No idea, said Harry.

And you wouldnt tell me if you knew, said Scrimgeour, would you?

No, I wouldnt, said Harry.

Well, then, I shall have to see whether I cant find out by other means.

You can try, said Harry indifferently. But you seem cleverer than Fudge, so Id have thought youd have learned from his mistakes. He tried interfering at Hogwarts. You might have noticed hes not Minister anymore, but Dumbledores still headmaster. Id leave Dumbledore alone, if I were you.

There was a long pause.

Well, it is clear to me that he has done a very good job on you, said Scrimgeour, his eyes cold and hard behind his wire-rimmed glasses, Dumbledores man through and through, arent you, Potter?

Yeah, I am, said Harry. Glad we straightened that out.

And turning his back on the Minister of Magic, he strode back toward the house.

 

 

CHAPTER 17: A Sluggish Memory

 

 

Late in the afternoon, a few days after New Year, Harry, Ron, and Ginny lined up beside the kitchen fire to return to Hogwarts. The Ministry had arranged this one-off connection to the Floo Network to return students quickly and safely to the school. Only Mrs. Weasley was there to say good-bye, as Mr. Weasley, Fred, George, Bill, and Fleur were all at work. Mrs. Weasley dissolved into tears at the moment of parting. Admittedly, it took very little to set her off lately; she had been crying on and off ever since Percy had stormed from the house on Christmas Day with his glasses splattered with mashed parsnip (for which Fred, George, and Ginny all claimed credit).

Dont cry, Mum, said Ginny, patting her on the back as Mrs. Weasley sobbed into her shoulder. Its okay

Yeah, dont worry about us, said Ron, permitting his mother to plant a very wet kiss on his cheek, or about Percy. Hes such a prat, its not really a loss, is it?

Mrs. Weasley sobbed harder than ever as she enfolded Harry in her arms.

Promise me youll look after yourself Stay out of trouble

I always do, Mrs. Weasley, said Harry. I like a quiet life, you know me.

She gave a watery chuckle and stood back. Be good, then, all of you

Harry stepped into the emerald fire and shouted Hogwarts! He had one last fleeting view of the Weasleys kitchen and Mrs. Weasleys tearful face before the flames engulfed him; spinning very fast, he caught blurred glimpses of other Wizarding rooms, which were whipped out of sight before he could get a proper look; then he was slowing down, finally stopping squarely in the fireplace in Professor McGonagalls office. She barely glanced up from her work as he clambered out over the grate.

Evening, Potter. Try not to get too much ash on the carpet.

No, Professor.

Harry straightened his glasses and flattened his hair as Ron came spinning into view. When Ginny had arrived, all three of them trooped out of McGonagalls office and off toward Gryffindor Tower. Harry glanced out of the corridor windows as they passed; the sun was already sinking over grounds carpeted in deeper snow than had lain over the Burrow garden. In the distance, he could see Hagrid feeding Buckbeak in front of his cabin.

Baubles, said Ron confidently, when they reached the Fat Lady, who was looking rather paler than usual and winced at his loud voice.

No, she said.

What dyou mean, no ?

There is a new password, she said. And please dont shout.

But weve been away, howre we supposed to ?

Harry! Ginny!

Hermione was hurrying toward them, very pink-faced and wearing a cloak, hat, and gloves.

I got back a couple of hours ago, Ive just been down to visit Hagrid and Buck I mean Witherwings, she said breathlessly. Did you have a good Christmas?

Yeah, said Ron at once, pretty eventful, Rufus Scrim ] Ive 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.

Precisely, said the Fat Lady in a feeble voice, and swung forward to reveal the portrait hole.

Whats up with her? asked Harry.

Overindulged over Christmas, apparently, said Hermione, rolling her eyes as she led the way into the packed common room. She and her friend Violet drank their way through all the wine in that picture of drunk monks down by the Charms corridor. Anyway

She rummaged in her pocket for a moment, then pulled out a scroll of parchment with Dumbledores writing on it.

Great, said Harry, unrolling it at once to discover that his next lesson with Dumbledore was scheduled for the following night. Ive got loads to tell him and you. Lets sit down

But at that moment there was a loud squeal of Won-Won! and Lavender Brown came hurtling out of nowhere and flung herself into Rons arms. Several onlookers sniggered; Hermione gave a tinkling laugh and said, Theres a cable over here Coming. Ginny?

No, thanks, I said Id meet Dean, said Ginny, though Harry could not help noticing that she did not sound very enthusiastic. Leaving Ron and Lavender locked in a kind of vertical wrestling, match, Harry led Hermione over to the spare table.

So how was your Christmas?

Oh, fine, she shrugged. Nothing special. How was it at Won-Wons?

Ill tell you in a minute, said Harry. Look, Hermione, cant you

No, I cant, she said flatly. So dont even ask.

I thought maybe, you know, over Christmas

It was the Fat Lady who drank a vat of five-hundred-year-old wine, Harry, not me. So what was this important news you wanted to tell me?

She looked too fierce to argue with at that moment, so Harry dropped the subject of Ron and recounted all that he had overheard between Malfoy and Snape. When he had finished, Hermione sat in thought for a moment and then said, Dont you think ?

he was pretending to offer help so that he could trick Malfoy into telling him what hes doing?

Well, yes, said Hermione.

Rons dad and Lupin think so, Harry said grudgingly. But this definitely proves Malfoys planning something, you cant deny that.

No, I cant, she answered slowly.

And hes acting on Voldemorts orders, just like I said!

Hmm did either of them actually mention Voldemorts name?

Harry frowned, trying to remember. Im not sure Snape definitely said your master, and who else would that be?

I dont know, said Hermione, biting her lip. Maybe his father?

She stared across the room, apparently lost in thought, not even noticing Lavender tickling Ron. Hows Lupin?

Not great, said Harry, and he told her all about Lupins mission among the werewolves and the difficulties he was facing. Have you heard of this Fenrir Greyback?

Yes, I have! said Hermione, sounding startled. And so have you, Harry!

When, History of Magic? You know full well I never listened

No, no, not History of Magic Malfoy threatened Borgin with Kim! said Hermione. Back in Knockturn Alley, dont you remember? He told Borgin that Greyback was an old family friend and that hed be checking up on Borgins progress!

Harry gaped at her. I forgot! But this proves Malfoy s a Death Eater, how else could he be in contact with Greyback and telling him what to do?

It is pretty suspicious, breathed Hermione. Unless Oh, come on, said Harry in exasperation, you cant get round this one!

Well there is the possibility it was an empty threat. Youre unbelievable, you are, said Harry, shaking his head.

Well see whos right Youll be eating your words, Hermione, just like the Ministry. Oh yeah, I had a row with Rufus Scrimgeour as well

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.

The new term started next morning with a pleasant surprise for the sixth years: a large sign had been pinned to the common room notice boards overnight.

APPARITION LESSONS

If you are seventeen years of age, or will turn seventeen on or before the 31st August next, you are eligible for a twelve-week course of Apparition Lessons from a Ministry of Magic Apparition instructor. Please sign below if you would like to participate. Cost: 12 Galleons.

Harry and Ron joined the crowd that was jostling around the notice and taking it in turns to write their names at the bottom. Ron was just taking out his quill to sign after Hermione when Lavender crept up behind him, slipped her hands over his eyes, and trilled, Guess who, Won-Won? Harry turned to see Hermione stalking off; he caught up with her, having no wish to stay behind with Ron and Lavender, but to his surprise, Ron caught up with them only a little way beyond the portrait hole, his ears bright red and his expression disgruntled. Without a word, Hermione sped up to walk with Neville.

So Apparition, said Ron, his tone making it perfectly plain that Harry was not to mention what had just happened. Should be a laugh, eh?

I dunno, said Harry. Maybe its better when you do it yourself, I didnt enjoy it much when Dumbledore took me along for the ride.

I forgot youd already done it Id better pass my test first time, said Ron, looking anxious. Fred and George did, Charlie failed, though, didnt he? Yeah, but Charlies bigger than me Ron held his arms out from his body as though he was a gorilla so Fred and George didnt go on about it much not to his face anyway When can we take the actual test? Soon as were seventeen. Thats only March for me! Yeah, but you wouldnt be able to Apparate in here, not in the castle

Not the point, is it? Everyone would know I could Apparate if I wanted.

Ron was not the only one to be excited at the prospect of Apparition. All that day there was much talk about the forthcoming , lessons; a great deal of store was set by being able to vanish and reappear at will.

How cool will it be when we can just Seamus clicked his ringers to indicate disappearance. Me cousin Fergus does it just to annoy me, you wait till I can do it back Hell never have another peaceful moment

Lost in visions of this happy prospect, he flicked his wand a little too enthusiastically, so that instead of producing the fountain of pure water that was the object of todays Charms lesson, he let out a hoselike jet that ricocheted off the ceiling and knocked Professor Flitwick flat on his face.

Harrys already Apparated, Ron told a slightly abashed Seamus, after Professor Flitwick had dried himself off with a wave of his wand and set Seamus lines: I am a wizard, not a baboon brandishing a stick. Dum er someone took him. Side-Along-Apparition, you know.

Whoa! whispered Seamus, and he, Dean, and Neville put their heads a little closer to hear what Apparition felt like. For the rest of the day, Harry was besieged with requests from the other sixth years to describe the sensation of Apparition. All of them seemed awed, rather than put off, when he told them how uncomfortable it was, and he was still answering detailed questions at ten to eight that evening, when he was forced to lie and say that he needed to return a book to the library, so as to escape in time for his lesson with Dumbledore.

The lamps in Dumbledores office were lit, the portraits of previous headmasters were snoring gently in their frames, and the Pen-sieve was ready upon the desk once more. Dumbledores hands lay on either side of it, the right one as blackened and burnt-looking as ever. It did not seem to have healed at all and Harry wondered, for perhaps the hundredth time, what had caused such a distinctive injury, but did not ask; Dumbledore had said that he would know eventually and there was, in any case, another subject he wanted to discuss. But before Harry could say anything about Snape and Malfoy, Dumbledore spoke.

I hear that you met the Minister of Magic over Christmas? Yes, said Harry. Hes not very happy with me.

No, sighed Dumbledore. He is not very happy with me either. We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on.

Harry grinned.

He wanted me to tell the Wizarding community that the Ministrys doing a wonderful job.

Dumbledore smiled.

It was Fudges idea originally, you know. During his last days in office, when he was trying desperately to cling to his post, he sought a meeting with you, hoping that you would give him your support

After everything Fudge did last year? said Harry angrily. After Umbridge ?

I told Cornelius there was no chance of it, but the idea did not die when he left: office. Within hours of Scrimgeours appointment we met and he demanded that I arrange a meeting with you

So thats why you argued! Harry blurted out. It was in the Daily Prophet

The Prophet is bound to report the truth occasionally, said Dumbledore, if only accidentally. Yes, that was why we argued. Well, it appears that Rufus found a way to corner you at last.

He accused me of being Dumbledores man through and through.

How very rude of him.

I told him I was.

Dumbledore opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again. Behind Harry, Fawkes the phoenix let out a low, soft, musical cry. To Harrys intense embarrassment, he suddenly realized that Dumbledores bright blue eyes looked rather watery, ami stared hastily at his own knees. When Dumbledore spoke, however, his voice was quite steady.

I am very touched, Harry.

Scrimgeour wanted to know where you go when youre not at Hogwarts, said Harry, still looking fixedly at his knees.

Yes, he is very nosy about that, said Dumbledore, now sounding cheerful, and Harry thought it safe to look up again. He has even attempted to have me followed. Amusing, really. He set Dawlish to tail me. It wasnt kind. I have already been forced to jinx Dawlish once; I did it again with the greatest regret.

So they still dont know where you go? asked Harry, hoping for more information on this intriguing subject, but Dumbledore merely smiled over the top of his half-moon spectacles.

No, they dont, and the time is not quite right for you to know either. Now, I suggest we press on, unless theres anything else ? There is, actually, sir, said Harry. Its about Malfoy and Snape.

Professor Snape, Harry.

Yes, sir. I overheard them during Professor Slughorns party well, I followed them, actually

Dumbledore listened to Harrys story with an impassive face. When Harry had finished he did not speak for a few moments, then said, Thank you for telling me this, Harry, but I suggest that you put it out of your mind. I do not think that it is of great importance.

Not of great importance? repeated Harry incredulously. Professor, did you understand ?

Yes, Harry, blessed as I am with extraordinary brainpower, I understood everything you told me, said Dumbledore, a little sharply. I think you might even consider the possibility that I understood more than you did. Again, I am glad that you have con-lided in me, but let me reassure you that you have not told me anything that causes me disquiet.

Harry sat in seething silence, glaring at Dumbledore. What was going on? Did this mean that Dumbledore had indeed ordered Snape to find out what Malfoy was doing, in which case he had already heard everything Harry had just told him from Snape? Or was he really worried by what he had heard, but pretending not to be?

So, sir, said Harry, in what he hoped was a polite, calm voice, you definitely still trust ?

I have been tolerant enough to answer that question already, said Dumbledore, but he did not sound very tolerant anymore. My answer has not changed.

I should think not, said a snide voice; Phineas Nigellus was evidently only pretending to be asleep. Dumbledore ignored him.

And now, Harry, I must insist that we press on. I have more important things to discuss with you this evening.

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 Harrys mind, Dumbledore shook his head.

Ah, Harry, how often this happens, even between the best of friends! Each of us believes that what he has to say is much more important than anything the other might have to contribute!

I dont think what youve got to say is unimportant, sir, said Harry stiffly.

Well, you are quite right, because it is not, said Dumbledore briskly. I have two more memories to show you this evening, both obtained with enormous difficulty, and the second of them is, I think, the most important I have collected.

Harry did not say anything to this; he still felt angry at the reception his confidences had received, but could not see what was to be gained by arguing further.

So, said Dumbledore, in a ringing voice, we meet this evening to continue the tale of Tom Riddle, whom we left last lesson poised on the threshold of his years at Hogwarts. You will remember how excited he was to hear that he was a wizard, that he refused my company on a trip to Diagon Alley, and that I, in turn, warned him against continued thievery when he arrived at school.

Well, the start of the school year arrived and with it came Tom Riddle, a quiet boy in his secondhand robes, who lined up with the other first years to be sorted. He was placed in Slytherin House almost the moment that the Sorting Hat touched his head, continued Dumbledore, waving his blackened hand toward the shelf over his head where the Sorting Hat sat, ancient and unmoving. How soon Riddle learned that the famous founder of the House could talk to snakes, I do not know perhaps that very evening. The knowledge can only have excited him and increased his sense of self-importance.

However, if he was frightening or impressing fellow Slytherins with displays of Parseltongue in their common room, no hint of it reached the staff. He showed no sign of outward arrogance or aggression at all. As an unusually talented and very good-looking orphan, he naturally drew attention and sympathy from the staff almost from the moment of his arrival. He seemed police, quiet, and thirsty for knowledge. Nearly all were most favorably impressed by him.

Didnt you tell them, sir, what hed been like when you met him at the orphanage? asked Harry.

No, I did not. Though he had shown no hint of remorse, it was possible that he felt sorry for how he had behaved before and was resolved to turn over a fresh leaf. I chose to give him that chance.

Dumbledore paused and looked inquiringly at Harry, who had opened his mouth to speak. Here, again, was Dumbledores tendency to trust people in spite of overwhelming evidence that they did not deserve it! But then Harry remembered something

But you didnt really trust him, sir, did you? He told me the Riddle who came out of that diary said, Dumbledore never seemed to like me as much as the other teachers did.

Let us say that I did not take it for granted that he was trustworthy, said Dumbledore. I had, as I have already indicated, resolved to keep a close eye upon him, and so I did. I cannot pretend that I gleaned a great deal from my observations at first. He was very guarded with me; he felt, I am sure, that in the thrill of discovering his true identity he had told me a little too much. He was careful never to reveal as much again, but he could not take back what he had let slip in his excitement, nor what Mrs. Cole had confided in me. However, he had the sense never to try and charm me as he charmed so many of my colleagues.

As he moved up the school, he gathered about him a group of dedicated friends; I call them that, for want of a better term, although as I have already indicated, Riddle undoubtedly felt no affection for any of them. This group had a kind of dark glamour within the castle. They were a motley collection; a mixture of the weak seeking protection, the ambitious seeking some shared glory, and the thuggish gravitating toward a leader who could show them more refined forms of cruelty. In other words, they were the forerunners of the Death Eaters, and indeed some of them became the first Death Eaters after leaving Hogwarts.

Rigidly controlled by Riddle, they were never detected in open wrongdoing, although their seven years at Hogwarts were marked by a number of nasty incidents to which they were never satisfactorily linked, the most serious of which was, of course, the opening of the Chamber of Secrets, which resulted in the death of a girl. As you know, Hagrid was wrongly accused of that crime.

I have not been able to find many memories of Riddle at Hogwarts, said Dumbledore, placing his withered hand on the Pensieve. Few who knew him then are prepared to talk about him; they are too terrified. What I know, I found out after he had left Hogwarts, after much painstaking effort, after tracing those few who could be tricked into speaking, after searching old records and questioning Muggle and wizard witnesses alike.

Those whom I could persuade to talk told me that Riddle was obsessed with his parentage. This is understandable, of course; he had grown up in an orphanage and naturally wished to know how he came to be there. It seems that he searched in vain for some trace of Tom Riddle senior on the shields in the trophy room, on the lists of prefects in the old school records, even in the books of Wizarding history. Finally he was forced to accept that his father had never set foot in Hogwarts. I believe that it was then that he dropped the name forever, assumed the identity of Lord Volde-mort, and began his investigations into his previously despised mothers family the woman whom, you will remember, he had thought could not be a witch if she had succumbed to the shameful human weakness of death.

All he had to go upon was the single name Marvolo, which he knew from those who ran the orphanage had been his mothers fathers name. Finally, after painstaking research, through old books of Wizarding families, he discovered the existence of Slytherins surviving line. In the summer of his sixteenth year, he left the orphanage to which he returned annually and set off to find his Gaunt relatives. And now, Harry, if you will stand :

Dumbledore rose, and Harry saw that he was again holding a. small crystal bottle filled with swirling, pearly memory.

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?

Harry stepped up to the stone basin and bowed obediently until his face sank through the surface of the memory; he felt the familiar sensation of falling through nothingness and then landed upon a dirty stone floor in almost total darkness.

It took him several seconds to recognize the place, by which time Dumbledore had landed beside him. The Gaunts house was now more indescribably filthy than anywhere Harry had ever seen. The ceiling was thick with cobwebs, the floor coated in grime; moldy and rotting food lay upon the table amidst a mass of crusted pots. The only light came from a single guttering candle placed at the feet of a man with hair and beard so overgrown Harry could see neither eyes nor mouth. He was slumped in an armchair by the fire, and Harry wondered for a moment whether he was dead. But then there came a loud knock on the door and the man jerked awake, raising a wand in his right hand and a short knife in his left.

The door creaked open. There on the threshold, holding an old-fashioned lamp, stood a boy Harry recognized at once: tall, pale, dark-haired, and handsome the teenage Voldemort.

Voldemorts 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.

YOU! he bellowed. YOU!

And he hurtled drunkenly at Riddle, wand and knife held aloft.

Stop.

Riddle spoke in Parseltongue. The man skidded into the table, sending moldy pots crashing to the floor. He stared at Riddle. There was a long silence while they contemplated each other. The man broke it.

You speak it?

Yes, I speak it, said Riddle. He moved forward into the room, allowing the door to swing shut behind him. Harry could not help but feel a resentful admiration for Voldemorts complete lack of fear. His race merely expressed disgust and, perhaps, disappointment.

Where is Marvolo? he asked.

Dead, said the other. Died years ago, didnt he?

Riddle frowned.

Who are you, then?

Im Morfin, aint I?

Marvolos son?

Course I am, then

Morfin pushed the hair out of his dirty face, the better to see Riddle, and Harry saw that he wore Marvolos black-stoned ring on his right hand.





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