Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince 6

Nope, said Ron.

But he knows your dad was right all along now about Voldemort being back

Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right, said Hermione. I heard him telling your mum, Ron.

Sounds like the sort of mental thing Dumbledore would say, said Ron.

Hes going to be giving me private lessons this year, said Harry conversationally.

Ron choked on his bit of toast, and Hermione gasped.

You kept that quiet! said Ron.

I only just remembered, said Harry honestly. He told me last night in your broom shed.

Blimey private lessons with Dumbledore! said Ron, looking impressed. I wonder why hes ?

His voice tailed away. Harry saw him and Hermione exchange looks. Harry laid down his knife and fork, his heart beating rather fast considering that all he was doing was sitting in bed. Dumbledore had said to do it Why not now? He fixed his eyes on his fork, which was gleaming in the sunlight streaming into his lap, and said, I dont know exactly why hes going to be giving me lessons, but I think it must be because of the prophecy.

Neither Ron nor Hermione spoke. Harry had the impression that both had frozen. He continued, still speaking to his fork, You know, the one they were trying to steal at the Ministry.

Nobody knows what it said, though, said Hermione quickly. It got smashed.

Although the Prophet says began Ron, but Hermione said, Shh!

The Prophets got it right, said Harry, looking up at them both with a great effort: Hermione seemed frightened and Ron amazed. That glass ball that smashed wasnt the only record of the prophecy. I heard the whole thing in Dumbledores office, he was the one the prophecy was made to, so he could tell me. From what it said, Harry took a deep breath, it looks like Im the one whos got to finish off Voldemort At least, it said neither of us could live while the other survives.

The three of them gazed at one another in silence for a moment. Then there was a loud bang and Hermione vanished behind a puff of black smoke.

Hermione! shouted Harry and Ron; the breakfast tray slid to the floor with a crash.

Hermione emerged, coughing, out of the smoke, clutching the telescope and sporting a brilliantly purple black eye.

I squeezed it and it it punched me! she gasped.

And sure enough, they now saw a tiny fist on a long spring protruding from the end of the telescope.

Dont worry, said Ron, who was plainly trying not to laugh, Mumll fix that, shes good at healing minor injuries

Oh well, never mind that now! said Hermione hastily. Harry, oh, Harry

She sat down on the edge of his bed again.

We wondered, after we got back from the Ministry Obviously, we didnt want to say anything to you, but from what Lucius Malfoy said about the prophecy, how it was about you and Voldemort, well, we thought it might be something like this Oh, Harry She stared at him, then whispered, Are you scared?

Not as much as I was, said Harry. When I first heard it, I was but now, it seems as though I always knew Id have to face him in the end

When we heard Dumbledore was collecting you in person, we thought he might be telling you something or showing you something to do with the prophecy, said Ron eagerly. And we were kind of right, werent we? He wouldnt be giving you lessons if he thought you were a goner, wouldnt waste his time he must think youve got a chance!

Thats true, said Hermione. I wonder what hell teach you, Harry? Really advanced defensive magic, probably powerful countercurses anti-jinxes

Harry did not really listen. A warmth was spreading through him that had nothing to do with the sunlight; a tight obstruction in his chest seemed to be dissolving. He knew that Ron and Hermione were more shocked than they were letting on, but the mere fact that they were still there on either side of him, speaking bracing words of comfort, not shrinking from him as though he were contaminated or dangerous, was worth more than he could ever tell them.

and evasive enchantments generally, concluded Hermione. Well, at least you know one lesson youll be having this year, thats one more than Ron and me. I wonder when our OWL results will come?

Cant be long now, its been a month, said Ron.

Hang on, said Harry, as another part of last nights conversation came back to him. I think Dumbledore said our OWL results would be arriving today!

Today? shrieked Hermione. Today? But why didnt you oh my God you should have said

She leapt to her feet.

Im going to see whether any owls have come

But when Harry arrived downstairs ten minutes later, fully dressed and carrying his empty breakfast tray, it was to find Hermione sitting at the kitchen table in great agitation, while Mrs. Weasley tried to lessen her resemblance to half a panda.

It just wont budge, Mrs. Weasley was saying anxiously, standing over Hermione with her wand in her hand and a copy of The Healers Helpmate open at Bruises, Cuts, and Abrasions. This has always worked before, I just cant understand it.

Itll be Fred and Georges idea of a funny joke, making sure it cant come off, said Ginny.

But its got to come off! squeaked Hermione. I cant go around looking like this forever!

You wont, dear, well find an antidote, dont worry, said Mrs. Weasley soothingly.

Bill told me W Fred and George are very amusing! said Fleur, smiling serenely.

Yes, I can hardly breathe for laughing, snapped Hermione.

She jumped up and started walking round and round the kitchen, twisting her fingers together.

Mrs. Weasley, youre quite, quite sure no owls have arrived this morning?

Yes, dear, Id have noticed, said Mrs. Weasley patiently. But its barely nine, theres still plenty of time

I know I messed up Ancient Runes, muttered Hermione feverishly, I definitely made at least one serious mistranslation. And the Defense Against the Dark Arts practical was no good at all. I thought Transfiguration went all right at the time, but looking back

Hermione, will you shut up, youre not the only one whos nervous! barked Ron. And when youve got your eleven Outstanding OWLs

Dont, dont, dont! said Hermione, flapping her hands hysterically. I know Ive failed everything!

What happens if we fail? Harry asked the room at large, but it was again Hermione who answered.

We discuss our options with our Head of House, I asked Professor McGonagall at the end of last term.

Harrys stomach squirmed. He wished he had eaten less breakfast.

At Beauxbatons, said Fleur complacently, we ad a different way of doing things. I think eet was better. We sat our examinations after six years of study, not five, and then

Fleurs words were drowned in a scream. Hermione was pointing through the kitchen window. Three black specks were clearly visible in the sky, growing larger all the time.

Theyre definitely owls, said Ron hoarsely, jumping up to join Hermione at the window.

And there are three of them, said Harry, hastening to her other side.

One for each of us, said Hermione in a terrified whisper. Oh no oh no oh no

She gripped both Harry and Ron tightly around the elbows.

The owls were flying directly at the Burrow, three handsome tawnies, each of which, it became clear as they flew lower over the path leading up to the house, was carrying a large square envelope.

Oh no! squealed Hermione.

Mrs. Weasley squeezed past them and opened the kitchen window. One, two, three, the owls soared through it and landed on the table in a neat line. All three of them lifted their right legs.

Harry moved forward. The letter addressed to him was tied to the leg of the owl in the middle. He untied it with fumbling fingers. To his left, Ron was trying to detach his own results; to his right, Hermiones hands were shaking so much she was making her whole owl tremble.

Nobody in the kitchen spoke. At last, Harry managed to detach the envelope. He slit it open quickly and unfolded the parchment inside.

Ordinary Wizarding Level Results Pass Grades:

Outstanding (O)

Exceeds Expectations (E)

Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades:

Poor (P)

Dreadful (D)

Troll (T)

Harry James Potter has achieved:

Astronomy A

Care of Magical Creatures E

Charms E

Defense Against the Dark Arts O

Divination P

Herbology E

History of Magic D

Potions E

Transfiguration E

Harry read the parchment through several times, his breathing becoming easier with each reading. It was all right: He had always known that he would fail Divination, and he had had no chance of passing History of Magic, given that he had collapsed halfway through the examination, but he had passed everything else! He ran his finger down the grades he had passed well in Transfiguration and Herbology, he had even exceeded expectations at Potions! And best of all, he had achieved Outstanding at Defense Against the Dark Arts!

He looked around. Hermione had her back to him and her head bent, but Ron was looking delighted.

Only failed Divination and History of Magic, and who cares about them? he said happily to Harry. Here swap

Harry glanced down Rons grades: There were no Outstandings there

Knew youd be top at Defense Against the Dark Arts, said Ron, punching Harry on the shoulder. Weve done all right, havent we?

Well done! said Mrs. Weasley proudly, ruffling Rons hair. Seven OWLs, thats more than Fred and George got together!

Hermione? said Ginny tentatively, for Hermione still hadnt turned around. How did you do?

I-not bad, said Hermione in a small voice.

Oh, come off it, said Ron, striding over to her and whipping her results out of her hand. Yep ten Outstandings and one Exceeds Expectations at Defense Against the Dark Arts. He looked down at her, half-amused, half-exasperated. Youre actually disappointed, arent you?

Hermione shook her head, but Harry laughed.

Well, were N.E.W.T. students now! grinned Ron. Mum, are there any more sausages?

Harry looked back down at his results. They were as good as he could have hoped for. He felt just one tiny twinge of regret This was the end of his ambition to become an Auror. He had not secured the required Potions grade. He had known all along that he wouldnt, but he still felt a sinking in his stomach as he looked again at that small black E.

It was odd, really, seeing that it had been a Death Eater in disguise who had first told Harry he would make a good Auror, but somehow the idea had taken hold of him, and he couldnt really think of anything else he would like to be. Moreover, it had seemed the right destiny for him since he had heard the prophecy a few weeks ago Neither can live while the other survivesWouldnt he be living up to the prophecy, and giving himself the best chance of survival, if he joined those highly trained wizards whose job it was to find and kill Voldemort?



CHAPTER 6: Dracos Detour



Harry remained within the confines of the Burrows garden over the next few weeks. He spent most of his days playing two-a-side Quidditch in the Weasleys orchard (he and Hermione against Ron and Ginny; Hermione was dreadful and Ginny good, so they were reasonably well matched) and his evenings eating triple helpings of everything Mrs. Weasley put in front of him.

It would have been a happy, peaceful holiday had it not been for the stones of disappearances, odd accidents, even of deaths now appearing almost daily in the Prophet. Sometimes Bill and Mr. Weasley brought home news before it even reached the paper. To Mrs. Weasleys displeasure, Harrys sixteenth birthday celebrations were marred by grisly tidings brought to the party by Remus Lupin, who was looking gaunt and grim, his brown hair streaked liberally with gray, his clothes more ragged and patched than ever.

There have been another couple of dementor attacks, he announced, as Mrs. Weasley passed him a large slice of birthday cake. And theyve found Igor Karkaroffs body in a shack up north. The Dark Mark had been set over it well, frankly, Im surprised he stayed alive for even a year after deserting the Death Eaters; Siriuss brother, Regulus, only managed a few days as far as I can remember.

Yes, well, said Mrs. Weasley, frowning, perhaps we should talk about something diff

Did you hear about Florean Fortescue, Remus? asked Bill, who was being plied with wine by Fleur. The man who ran

Is the ice-cream place in Diagon Alley? Harry interrupted, with an unpleasant, hollow sensation in the pit of his stomach. He used to give me free ice creams. Whats happened to him?

Dragged off, by the look of his place.

Why? asked Ron, while Mrs. Weasley pointedly glared at Bill.

Who knows? He mustve upset them somehow. He was a good man, Florean.

Talking of Diagon Alley, said Mr. Weasley, looks like Ollivanders gone too.

The wandmaker? said Ginny, looking startled.

Thats the one. Shops empty. No sign of a struggle. No one knows whether he left voluntarily or was kidnapped.

But whatll people do for wands?

Theyll make do with other makers, said Lupin. But Ollivander was the best, and if the other side have got him its not so good for us.

The day after this rather gloomy birthday tea, their letters and booklists arrived from Hogwarts. Harrys included a surprise: he had been made Quidditch Captain.

That gives you equal status with prefects! cried Hermione happily. You can use our special bathroom now and everything!

Wow, I remember when Charlie wore one of these, said Ron, examining the badge with glee. Harry, this is so cool, youre my Captain if you let me back on the team, I suppose, ha ha

Well, I dont suppose we can put off a trip to Diagon Alley much longer now youve got these, sighed Mrs. Weasley, looking down Rons booklist. Well go on Saturday as long as your father doesnt have to go into work again. Im not going there without him.

Mum, dyou honestly think You-Know-Whos going to be hiding behind a bookshelf in Flourish and Blotts? sniggered Ron.

Fortescue and Ollivander went on holiday, did they? said Mrs. Weasley, firing up at once. If you think securitys a laughing matter you can stay behind and Ill get your things myself

No, I wanna come, I want to see Fred and Georges shop! said Ron hastily.

Then you just buck up your ideas, young man, before I decide youre too immature to come with us! said Mrs. Weasley angrily, snatching up her clock, all nine hands of which were still pointing at mortal peril, and balancing it on top of a pile of just-laundered towels. And that goes for returning to Hogwarts as well!

Ron turned to stare incredulously at Harry as his mother hoisted the laundry basket and the teetering clock into her arms and stormed out of the room.

Blimey you cant even make a joke round here anymore

But Ron was careful not to be flippant about Voldemort over the next few days. Saturday dawned without any more outbursts from Mrs. Weasley, though she seemed very tense at breakfast. Bill, who would be staying at home with Fleur (much to Hermione and Ginnys pleasure), passed a full money bag across the table to Harry.

Wheres mine? demanded Ron at once, his eyes wide.

Thats already Harrys, idiot, said Bill. I got it out of your vault for you, Harry, because its taking about five hours for the public to get to their gold at the moment, the goblins have tightened security so much. Two days ago Arkie Philpott had a Probity Probe stuck up his Well, trust me, this ways easier.

Thanks, Bill, said Harry, pocketing his gold.

E is always so thoughtful, purred Fleur adoringly, stroking Bills nose. Ginny mimed vomiting into her cereal behind Fleur. Harry choked over his cornflakes, and Ron thumped him on the back.

It was an overcast, murky day. One of the special Ministry of Magic cars, in which Harry had ridden once before, was awaiting them in the front yard when they emerged from the house, pulling on their cloaks.

Its good Dad can get us these again, said Ron appreciatively, stretching luxuriously as the car moved smoothly away from the Burrow, Bill and Fleur waving from the kitchen window. He, Harry, Hermione, and Ginny were all sitting in roomy comfort in the wide backseat.

Dont get used to it, its only because of Harry, said Mr. Weasley over his shoulder. He and Mrs. Weasley were in front with the Ministry driver; the front passenger seat had obligingly stretched into what resembled a two-seater sofa. Hes been given top-grade security status. And well be joining up with additional security at the Leaky Cauldron too.

Harry said nothing; he did not much fancy doing his shopping while surrounded by a battalion of Aurors. He had stowed his Invisibility Cloak in his backpack and felt that, if that was good enough for Dumbledore, it ought to be good enough for the Ministry, though now he came to think of it, he was not sure the Ministry knew about his cloak.

Here you are, then, said the driver, a surprisingly short while later, speaking for the first time as he slowed in Charing Cross Road and stopped outside the Leaky Cauldron. Im to wait for you, any idea how long youll be?

A couple of hours, I expect, said Mr. Weasley. Ah, good, hes here!

Harry imitated Mr. Weasley and peered through the window; his heart leapt. There were no Aurors waiting outside the inn, but instead the gigantic, black-bearded form of Rubeus Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper, wearing a long beaverskin coat, beaming at the sight of Harrys face and oblivious to the startled stares of passing Muggles.

Harry! he boomed, sweeping Harry into a bone-crushing hug the moment Harry had stepped out of the car. Buckbeak Witherwings, I mean yeh should see him, Harry, hes so happy ter be back in the open air

Glad hes pleased, said Harry, grinning as he massaged his ribs. We didnt know security meant you!

I know, jus like old times, innit? See, the Ministry wanted ter send a bunch o Aurors, but Dumbledore said Id do, said Hagrid proudly, throwing out his chest and tucking his thumbs into his pockets. Lets get goin then after yeh, Molly, Arthur

The Leaky Cauldron was, for the first time in Harrys memory, completely empty. Only Tom the landlord, wizened and toothless, remained of the old crowd. He looked up hopefully as they entered, but before he could speak, Hagrid said importantly, Jus passin through today, Tom, sure yeh understand, Hogwarts business, yeh know.

Tom nodded gloomily and returned to wiping glasses; Harry, Hermione, Hagrid, and the Weasleys walked through the bar and out into the chilly little courtyard at the back where the dustbins stood. Hagrid raised his pink umbrella and rapped a certain brick in the wall, which opened at once to form an archway onto a winding cobbled street. They stepped through the entrance and paused, looking around.

Diagon Alley had changed. The colorful, glittering window displays of spellbooks, potion ingredients, and cauldrons were lost to view, hidden behind the large Ministry of Magic posters that had been pasted over them. Most of these somber purple posters carried blown-up versions of the security advice on the Ministry pamphlets that had been sent out over the summer, but others bore moving black-and-white photographs of Death Eaters known to be on the loose. Bellatrix Lestrange was sneering from the front of the nearest apothecary. A few windows were boarded up, including those of Florean Fortescues Ice Cream Parlor. On the other hand, a number of shabby-looking stalls had sprung up along the street. The nearest one, which had been erected outside Flourish and Blotts, under a striped, stained awning, had a cardboard sign pinned to its front:


Effective Against Werewolves, Dementors, and Inferi!

A seedy-looking little wizard was rattling armfuls of silver symbols on chains at passersby.

One for your little girl, madam? he called at Mrs. Weasley as they passed, leering at Ginny. Protect her pretty neck?

If I were on duty said Mr. Weasley, glaring angrily at the amulet seller.

Yes, but dont go arresting anyone now, dear, were in a hurry, said Mrs. Weasley, nervously consulting a list. I think wed better do Madam Malkins first, Hermione wants new dress robes, and Rons showing much too much ankle in his school robes, and you must need new ones too, Harry, youve grown so much come on, everyone

Molly, it doesnt make sense for all of us to go to Madam Malkins, said Mr. Weasley. Why dont those three go with Hagrid, and we can go to Flourish and Blotts and get everyones school-books?

I dont know, said Mrs. Weasley anxiously, clearly torn between a desire to finish the shopping quickly and the wish to stick together in a pack. Hagrid, do you think ?

Dont fret, theyll be fine with me, Molly, said Hagrid soothingly, waving an airy hand the size of a dustbin lid. Mrs. Weasley did not look entirely convinced, but allowed the separation, scurrying off toward Flourish and Blotts with her husband and Ginny while Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid set off for Madam Malkins.

Harry noticed that many of the people who passed them had the same harried, anxious look as Mrs. Weasley, and that nobody was stopping to talk anymore; the shoppers stayed together in their own tightly knit groups, moving intently about their business. Nobody seemed to be shopping alone.

Migh be a bit of a squeeze in there with all of us, said Hagrid, stopping outside Madam Malkins and bending down to peer through the window. Ill stand guard outside, all right?

So Harry, Ron, and Hermione entered the little shop together. It appeared, at first glance, to be empty, but no sooner had the door swung shut behind them than they heard a familiar voice issuing from behind a rack of dress robes in spangled green and blue.

not a child, in case you havent noticed, Mother. I am perfectly capable of doing my shopping alone.

There was a clucking noise and a voice Harry recognized as that of Madam Malkin, the owner, said, Now, dear, your mothers quite right, none of us is supposed to go wandering around on our own anymore, its nothing to do with being a child

Watch where youre sticking that pin, will you!

A teenage boy with a pale, pointed face and white-blond hair appeared from behind the rack, wearing a handsome set of dark green robes that glittered with pins around the hem and the edges of the sleeves. He strode to the mirror and examined himself; it was a few moments before he noticed Harry, Ron, and Hermione reflected over his shoulder. His light gray eyes narrowed.

If youre wondering what the smell is, Mother, a Mudblood just walked in, said Draco Malfoy.

I dont think theres any need for language like that! said Madam Malkin, scurrying out from behind the clothes rack holding a tape measure and a wand. And I dont want wands drawn in my shop either! she added hastily, for a glance toward the door had shown her Harry and Ron both standing there with their wands out and pointing at Malfoy. Hermione, who was standing slightly behind them, whispered, No, dont, honestly, its not worth it.

Yeah, like youd dare do magic out of school, sneered Malfoy. Who blacked your eye, Granger? I want to send them flowers.

Thats quite enough! said Madam Malkin sharply, looking over her shoulder for support. Madam, please!

Narcissa Malfoy strolled out from behind the clothes rack.

Put those away, she said coldly to Harry and Ron. If you at-tack my son again, I shall ensure that it is the last thing you ever do.

Really? said Harry, taking a step forward and gazing into the smoothly arrogant face that, for all its pallor, still resembled her sisters. He was as tall as she was now. Going to get a few Death Eater pals to do us in, are you?

Madam Malkin squealed and clutched at her heart.

Really, you shouldnt accuse dangerous thing to say wands away, please!

But Harry did not lower his wand. Narcissa Malfoy smiled unpleasantly.

I see that being Dumbledores favorite has given you a false sense of security, Harry Potter. But Dumbledore wont always be there to protect you.

Harry looked mockingly all around the shop. Wow look at that hes not here now! So why not have a go? They might be able to find you a double cell in Azkaban with your loser of a husband!

Malfoy made an angry movement toward Harry, but stumbled over his overlong robe. Ron laughed loudly.

Dont you dare talk to my mother like that, Potter! Malfoy snarled.

Its all right, Draco, said Narcissa, restraining him with her thin white fingers upon his shoulder. I expect Potter will be reunited with dear Sirius before I am reunited with Lucius.

Harry raised his wand higher.

Harry, no! moaned Hermione, grabbing his arm and attempting to push it down by his side. Think You mustnt Youll be in such trouble

Madam Malkin dithered for a moment on the spot, then seemed to decide to act as though nothing was happening in the hope that it wouldnt. She bent toward Malfoy, who was still glaring at Harry.

I think this left sleeve could come up a little bit more, dear, let me just

Ouch! bellowed Malfoy, slapping her hand away. Watch where youre putting your pins, woman! Mother, I dont think I want these anymore.

He pulled the robes over his head and threw them onto the floor at Madam Malkins feet.

Youre right, Draco, said Narcissa, with a contemptuous glance at Hermione, now I know the kind of scum that shops here Well do better at Twilfitt and Tattings.

And with that, the pair of them strode out of the shop, Malfoy taking care to bang as hard as he could into Ron on the way out.

Well, really? said Madam Malkin, snatching up the fallen robes and moving the tip of her wand over them like a vacuum cleaner, so that it removed all the dust.

She was distracted all through the fitting of Rons and Harrys new robes, tried to sell Hermione wizards dress robes instead of witchs, and when she finally bowed them out of the shop it was with an air of being glad to see the back of them.

Got evrything? asked Hagrid brightly when they reappeared at his side.

Just about, said Harry. Did you see the Malfoys?

Yeah, said Hagrid, unconcerned. Bu they wouldn dare make trouble in the middle o Diagon Alley, Harry. Don worry abouI them.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione exchanged looks, but before they could disabuse Hagrid of this comfortable notion, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Ginny appeared, all clutching heavy packages of books.

Everyone all right? said Mrs. Weasley. Got your robes? Right then, we can pop in at the Apothecary and Eeylops on the way to Fred and Georges stick close, now

Neither Harry nor Ron bought any ingredients at the Apothecary, seeing that they were no longer studying Potions, but both bought large boxes of owl nuts for Hedwig and Pigwidgeon at Eeylops Owl Emporium. Then, with Mrs. Weasley checking her watch every minute or so, they headed farther along the street in search of Weasleys Wizard Wheezes, the joke shop run by Fred and George.

We really havent got too long, Mrs. Weasley said. So well just have a quick look around and then back to the car. We must be close, thats number ninety-two ninety-four

Whoa,said Ron, stopping in his tracks.

Set against the dull, poster-muffled shop Fronts around them, Fred and Georges windows hit the eye like a firework display. Casual passersby were looking back over their shoulders at the windows, and a few rather stunned-looking people had actually come to a halt, transfixed. The left-hand window was dazzlingly full of an assortment of goods that revolved, popped, flashed, bounced, and shrieked; Harrys eyes began to water just looking at it. The right-hand window was covered with a gigantic poster, purple like those of the Ministry, but emblazoned with flashing yellow letters:






Harry started to laugh. He heard a weak sort of moan beside him and looked around to see Mrs. Weasley gazing, dumbfounded, at the poster. Her lips moved silently, mouthing the name U-No-Poo.

Theyll be murdered in their beds! she whispered.

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